Suggested Reading May 10, 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,

Carolina Built by Kianna Alexander

(Available Formats: Print Book)

Carolina Built

This historical fiction account illuminates the extraordinary life of real-estate magnate Josephine “”Jo”” N. Leary, a pioneering woman freed from slavery and always reaching for the stars. After emancipation, Jo Napoleon marries Archer “Sweety” Leary and begins a life of freedom, ambition, and fortitude. Together, the Learys open a barbershop, and Jo kicks off her own goals of owning land and building an empire to pass on to her descendants. They have two daughters, Flora and Florence, whom they raise with the help of family in Edenton, North Carolina. Jo faces blatant racism, sexism, and the cultural expectations of married women in a small town that is still reeling with the new realities of life after the Civil War. She challenges the status quo, though, and demonstrates to her daughters the values of hard work and perseverance in a world intent on keeping her in the home. Her inspiring story transcends one life in the years after emancipation to encompass all women who take the chance to secure their own happiness.

Death is Hard Work by Mustafa Khalifa

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

Death Is Hard Work

FINALIST FOR THE NATIONAL BOOK AWARD FOR TRANSLATED LITERATURE

A dogged, absurd quest through the nightmare of the Syrian civil war

Khaled Khalifa’s Death Is Hard Work is the new novel from the greatest chronicler of Syria’s ongoing and catastrophic civil war: a tale of three ordinary people facing down the stuff of nightmares armed with little more than simple determination.

Abdel Latif, an old man from the Aleppo region, dies peacefully in a hospital bed in Damascus. His final wish, conveyed to his youngest son, Bolbol, is to be buried in the family plot in their ancestral village of Anabiya. Though Abdel was hardly an ideal father, and though Bolbol is estranged from his siblings, this conscientious son persuades his older brother Hussein and his sister Fatima to accompany him and the body to Anabiya, which is―after all―only a two-hour drive from Damascus.

There’s only one problem: Their country is a war zone.

With the landscape of their childhood now a labyrinth of competing armies whose actions are at once arbitrary and lethal, the siblings’ decision to set aside their differences and honor their father’s request quickly balloons from a minor commitment into an epic and life-threatening quest. Syria, however, is no longer a place for heroes, and the decisions the family must make along the way―as they find themselves captured and recaptured, interrogated, imprisoned, and bombed―will prove to have enormous consequences for all of them.

Goodbye, Vitamin: A Novel by Rachel Khong

(Available Formats: Print Book)

Goodbye Vitamin

When Ruth’s mom, Annie, asks her to extend her visit home for Christmas by an entire year, Ruth figures she may as well. She won’t be leaving much behind in San Francisco, besides the still-stinging breakup with her fiance, Joel. Besides, Annie needs help: Ruth’s dad, Howard, has been extra forgetful and was just told he won’t be returning to his job as a university professor. Since Alzheimer’s can’t be diagnosed in a living person, doctors rule out what Howard doesn’t have, and everyone hopes his memory loss might cease, or reverse itself. Annie’s convinced the dementia was caused by aluminum cookware, so they subsist on takeout and vitamins. Ruth’s younger brother, Linus, is wary of Howard, having witnessed family troubles Ruth was too wrapped up in her life with Joel to notice. Ruth’s new preoccupation with memory, in its most concrete form, gives her a different glimpse of her father and family, while they all cope with what they know is a one-way-only illness. In her tender, well-paced debut novel, which spans Ruth’s year at home, Khong (All about Eggs, 2017) writes heartbreaking family drama with charm, perfect prose, and deadpan humor. Starred Booklist Review

The Harbor by Katrine Engberg

(Available Formats: Print Book)

The Harbor

The disappearance of 15-year-old Oscar Dreyer-Hoff drives Engberg’s engrossing third novel featuring Copenhagen police detectives Jeppe Korner and Anette Werner (after 2020’s The Butterfly House). When Oscar’s affluent parents, who own an auction house, find a cryptic, threatening note addressed to them in their kitchen, they’re convinced Oscar is being held ransom. Soon, Oscar’s Danish teacher, Malthe Saether, is found strangled. Convinced that Oscar’s apparent kidnapping and Malthe’s death are tied together, Jeppe and Anette begin their investigation, aided by a large cast of supporting characters, all of whom, like retired academic Esther de Laurenti (who had a lead role in 2019’s The Tenant), are delightfully fleshed out. Meanwhile, Jeppe struggles to maintain an amicable relationship with his girlfriend’s daughters, and Anette becomes attracted to one of the witnesses. The plot takes some unexpected turns as the detectives unearth some shocking secrets involving fraud and pornography en route to the satisfying conclusion. Readers will eagerly await Jeppe and Anette’s next case. Publishers Weekly Review

The Less People Know About Us: A Mystery of Betrayal, Family Secrets, and Stolen Identity by Axton Betz-Hamilton

(Available Formats: Print Book)

The Less People Know About Us

This shocking debut charts how Betz-Hamilton’s family suffered after falling victim to identity thieves. When Betz-Hamilton was 12 in the early 1990s, her parents stopped receiving their mail, including their bills. The author’s often depressed mother, who was in charge of household finances, concluded that some vindictive person was out to get the family. The author watched as troubles piled on: her parents had their utilities turned off and received a foreclosure notice, her mother was accused of passing bad checks at a store she supposedly never went to, her father learned he had property he never knew existed. “Closed curtains became a hard-and-fast rule in our house,” writes the author, who became paranoid and wary of strangers. When Betz-Hamilton went to college, she learned via a credit report that she’d had her identity stolen, too, at age 11. This discovery, which Betz-Hamilton relays with the tension of a thriller, compelled her to focus her studies on identity theft. It is only after her mother’s death that a cache of incriminating documents is discovered on the family property. Betz-Hamilton then begins an investigation into her mother’s past, a process that leads to jaw-dropping revelations. Astonishing and disturbing, this emotionally resonant book is perfect for true crime fans. Starred Publishers Weekly Review

Little Souls by Sandra Dallas

(Available Formats: Print Book & CD audiobook)

LIttle Souls

Sandra Dallas’s Little Souls is a gripping tale of sisterhood, loyalty, and secrets set in Denver amid America’s last deadly flu pandemic

Colorado, 1918. World War I is raging overseas, but it’s the home front battling for survival. With the Spanish Flu rampant, Denver’s schools are converted into hospitals, churches and funeral homes are closed, and nightly horse-drawn wagons collect corpses left in the street. Sisters Helen and Lutie have moved to Denver from Ohio after their parents’ death. Helen, a nurse, and Lutie, a carefree advertising designer at Neusteter’s department store, share a small, neat house and each finds a local beau – for Helen a doctor, for Lutie a young student who soon enlists. They make a modest income from a rental apartment in the basement. When their tenant dies from the flu, the sisters are thrust into caring the woman’s small daughter, Dorothy. Soon after, Lutie comes home from work and discovers a dead man on their kitchen floor and Helen standing above the body, an icepick in hand. She has no doubt Helen killed the man—Dorothy’s father—in self-defense, but she knows that will be hard to prove. They decide to leave the body in the street, hoping to disguise it as a victim of the flu.

Meanwhile Lutie also worries about her fiancé “over there”. As it happens, his wealthy mother harbors a secret of her own and helps the sisters as the danger deepens, from the murder investigation and the flu.
Set against the backdrop of an epidemic that feels all too familiar, Little Souls is a compelling tale of sisterhood and of the sacrifices people make to protect those they love most.

The Magnificent Lives of Marjorie Post: A Novel by Allison Pataki

(Available Formats: Print Book & eBook)

Magnificent Lives of Marjorie Post

ONE OF THE MOST ANTICIPATED BOOKS OF 2022—Town & Country

Mrs. Post, the President and First Lady are here to see you. . . . So begins another average evening for Marjorie Merriweather Post. Presidents have come and gone, but she has hosted them all. Growing up in the modest farmlands of Battle Creek, Michigan, Marjorie was inspired by a few simple rules: always think for yourself, never take success for granted, and work hard—even when deemed American royalty, even while covered in imperial diamonds. Marjorie had an insatiable drive to live and love and to give more than she got. From crawling through Moscow warehouses to rescue the Tsar’s treasures to outrunning the Nazis in London, from serving the homeless of the Great Depression to entertaining Roosevelts, Kennedys, and Hollywood’s biggest stars, Marjorie Merriweather Post lived an epic life few could imagine.

Marjorie’s journey began gluing cereal boxes in her father’s barn as a young girl. No one could have predicted that C. W. Post’s Cereal Company would grow into the General Foods empire and reshape the American way of life, with Marjorie as its heiress and leading lady. Not content to stay in her prescribed roles of high-society wife, mother, and hostess, Marjorie dared to demand more, making history in the process. Before turning thirty she amassed millions, becoming the wealthiest woman in the United States. But it was her life-force, advocacy, passion, and adventurous spirit that led to her stunning legacy.

And yet Marjorie’s story, though full of beauty and grandeur, set in the palatial homes she built such as Mar-a-Lago, was equally marked by challenge and tumult. A wife four times over, Marjorie sought her happily-ever-after with the blue-blooded party boy who could not outrun his demons, the charismatic financier whose charm turned to betrayal, the international diplomat with a dark side, and the bon vivant whose shocking secrets would shake Marjorie and all of society. Marjorie did everything on a grand scale, especially when it came to love.

Sing Her Name: A Novel by Rosalyn Story

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

Sing Her Name

Story tells the tales of two African American female singers with nearly a century between them. Celia, based on the real-life Sissieretta Jones, is an operatic phenomenon in New Orleans in the early 1900s but fades into obscurity due to the erasure of racism. Eden is a musically gifted Hurricane Katrina refugee struggling to stay atop of bills and family needs in New York City. The past and present converge when Eden comes upon a box of Celia’s mementos and embarks on her own musical journey while trying to revive appreciation for Celia’s forgotten accomplishments. Readers may wish for more time in Celia’s world and less focus on Eden’s backstory. Nonetheless, Story’s background as a musician and nonfiction writer about African American opera (And So I Sing: African American Divas of Opera and Concert, 2000) primes her to tell this musical tale of the ghosts of wronged artists and the burdens they pass on, the legacy of place, and how we can forgive others and move on, with or without them. This truly is a novel that sings. Booklist Review

Unlikely Animals: A Novel by Annie Hartnett

(Available Formats: Print Book)

Unlikely Animals

When Emma Starling returns to Everton, New Hampshire after four years away in order to help her ailing father, she isn’t the successful young healer everyone believed she would be. Instead, she feels lost at home, with an eccentric father who sees hallucinations of animals and the ghost of naturalist Ernest Harold Baynes, a brother overcoming his drug addiction, and a controlling mother trying to hold the family together. Emma hopes to find some direction in her life and get out of town. But when she learns her former best friend has been missing and only Emma’s father is continuing the search, she slowly realizes how much she took her community for granted. She stumbles upon a substitute-teaching job for a fifth-grade class traumatized by losses resulting from the opioid crisis. The longer Emma stays in Everton, the more she must confront her past before, unexpectedly, embarking on a healing journey of her own. As in her debut, Rabbit Cake (2017), Hartnett masterfully balances a story of deep loss with the perfect amount of hilarity and tenderness. Unlikely Animals explores complex family dynamics and the growth that can occur after tragedy, with just a little help. Booklist Review

The Wrong Victim: A Novel by Allison Brennan

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

The Wrong Victim

In bestseller Brennan’s busy third Costa and Quinn novel (after 2021’s Tell No Lies), FBI special agent Matt Costa, head of the agency’s Mobile Response Team, and LAPD officer Kara Quinn, who’s on loan to the FBI, travel to Washington’s San Juan Island to investigate the bombing of a private charter boat piloted by retired FBI agent Neil Devereaux. Neil and his eight wealthy passengers died in the explosion, and the FBI is in a quandary about who the intended victim might have been. Was a businessman marked for death by his lovely young widow? Was Neil murdered by a criminal connected to a cold case he was investigating? Was the charter service the target of a domestic terrorist attack? Or is there something else afoot on San Juan Island? The tension rises as a top FBI forensic psychiatrist questions Kara’s assessments of the suspects, as well as Matt’s reasons for including her on the team. Brennan tends to overdo the details of her many characters’ emotional lives, but she keeps readers guessing whodunit to the end as the attraction between Matt and Kara heats up. Romantic suspense fans will be satisfied. 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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