Suggested Reading May 24, 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, May 31, 2022.

After The Summer Rain by Gerri Hill

(Available Formats: Print Book)

After The Summer Rain

Workaholic Erin Ryder was on the fast track to self-destruction. Reeling after her lover walked out on her, she turned to booze and caffeine to make it through each day. After a family intervention, she finds herself on a remote ranch in New Mexico—on womyn’s land—to detox and heal. No cell service, no Internet—she’s convinced she won’t last three days, much less for the three-month sentence her father has mandated.

Running from the chaos that had become her life, Melanie West moved to Eagle Bluff Ranch seven years ago.

By far the youngest there, she embraced the compassionate, peaceful life that the elders espoused. Living off what her garden produced, her chickens and goats became her friends and confidants. Exposure to the outside world was limited to the handful of guests who stayed a few days at the ranch each year.

This summer would be different. Melanie found herself hosting a young woman for three months. A young woman who wanted to be anywhere but there. As the days and weeks passed, their animosity turned to friendship as they helped the other heal from their past failures.

Erin soon found herself loving life on Mel’s little farm. Loving life and loving Mel. Saying goodbye would be the hardest thing she had to do—saying goodbye to Mel… or saying goodbye to her previous life.

Anniversaries: From a Year in the Life of Gesine Cresspahl by Uwe Johnson, translated by Damion Searls

(Available Formats: Print Book)


In this sprawling multivolume novel, the events of one woman’s life over the course of a year in New York hearken back to several decades’ worth of German history and political upheaval. Gesine Cresspahl is a German woman in her mid-30s who lives with her daughter in New York and works for a bank.

Johnson’s novel opens in the late summer of 1967, and proceeds through the following year day by day, with all of the political turmoil that that entails—both in the United States and behind the Iron Curtain. Interspersed with this are occasional meditations on the New York Times and, more prominently, the story of Gesine’s family over the course of her early life. In this way, Johnson covers the rise of fascism in Germany, the wartime experience there, and the separation of the nation into East and West.

The novel’s 1967 segments occasionally trace the aftereffects of fascism and sometimes parallel the tumultuous American politics of the moment, including the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy. Johnson keeps the line between past and present murky, which seems in keeping with his larger points about the nature of history as it’s remembered versus history as it’s lived. The growing political consciousness of Gesine’s daughter, Marie, provides a wonderful counterpoint to the novel’s themes of crises personal, national, and global. This is a haunting and unforgettable portrait of the momentous and the historical. Starred Publishers Weekly Review

Blood of the Four by Christopher Golden & Tim Lebbon

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

Blood of the Four

This hefty sword-and-sorcery adventure from frequent collaborators Golden and Lebbon leaves room to bring its large, entangled cast of characters to a wider stage. At the beginning, the kingdom of Quandis is at peace. The study of magic has been left to the priesthood and largely ignored. Cunning and ruthless Princess Phela sees the awful effects of her mother’s addiction to magical lore, but once Phela becomes queen, she can’t resist the temptation of supernatural power. Meanwhile, Demos, the studly betrothed of Phela’s younger sister, is sold into slavery after his father is executed for blasphemy; Blane, a young member of the Bajuman caste (hereditarily lower than any slave) who doesn’t believe in the gods, stealthily trains as a priest but unwillingly begins to suspect that the gods and their magic are real; and Blane’s supposedly dead sister, Daria, becomes a swashbuckling admiral in the Quandian fleet. There’s something for everyone here, including some subtly feminist themes and several spectacular displays of magical conflict. This novel is an expert crowd-pleaser. Publishers Weekly Review

Clash of Empires by Ben Kane

(Available Formats: Print Book)

Clash of Empires

The great general Hannibal Barca is on the verge of defeat. As the ambitious senator Flamininus plots his path to power, he knows victory will crown Rome the most powerful in the world. Only unconquered Greece stands in the way of glory. King Philip V of Macedon’s mighty phalanx is an enemy Rome has long feared, and one that has never known defeat. Demetrios has dreamed of fighting with the phalanx his whole life, but the young villager will soon learn that, in a clash of empires, you’re only ever one swing of the sword away from death–or entering legend.

Confessions in B-Flat by Donna Hill

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

Confessions In B Flat

Hill spins a powerful romance between passionate young activists during the American Civil Rights Movement. After marching on Washington, D.C., Atlanta native Jason Tanner, a committed advocate of nonviolence, is tapped to open Martin Luther King Jr.’s Harlem field office. On the bus to New York, he meets Anita Hopkins, a Brooklyn-born firebrand who firmly believes in Malcolm X’s message to demand equal treatment using any means necessary. Opposites attract and the pair quickly fall in love—but can they make their relationship last amid the turbulent times and despite their differing ideologies? Hill doesn’t hold back from discussing the atrocities perpetuated on African Americans or the risks her courageous characters take in advocating for their rights. Historical photos, famous speeches, and news articles from the day punctuate the narrative, and Hill skillfully weaves in real heroes of the movement, including the late John Lewis, to whom the book is dedicated. Meticulous research, achingly real characters, and convincing romance power this enthralling tale, which ultimately lands on a message of love and compromise. This is a knockout. Starred Publishers Weekly Review

Hot Flash by Carrie Johnson

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

Hot Flash

In this thrilling debut novel from Carrie H. Johnson, one woman with a dangerous job and a volatile past is feeling the heat from all sides . . .

READY, AIM . . .
She sweats every detail as a forensic firearms specialist—and as a forty-something single mother. She’s got more responsibilities than she can count, more baggage than she wants to claim, and way too many regrets. But Muriel Mabley will do whatever it takes to put Philadelphia’s most vicious killer in lockdown for good…

BURN . . .
Until her troubled younger sister in witness protection receives a terrifying warning—and Muriel’s long-time partner, Laughton, reveals he knows more than he should about her and Muriel’s shattered past. And when Laughton’s ex-wife and her new husband turn up dead, his own secrets will send Muriel down a twisted trail of lethal leads, disappeared witnesses, and the ultimate wrenching betrayal…

The House at Bishopsgate: A Novel by Katie Hickman

(Available Formats: Print Book)

The House at Bishop's Gate

In 1611, married couple Celia and Paul Pindar return to London from Aleppo, Syria, where Celia had been kidnapped and forced into the Great Turk’s harem. Weakened by her experience and with her marriage strained, Celia relies increasingly upon their beguiling companion, widow Frances Sydenham. Celia’s old friend Annetta arrives at the house at Bishopsgate to find the couple under Frances’s sway, and all of London clamoring to see the mysterious diamond Celia and Paul brought back from Syria: the Sultan’s Blue. The jewel is highly sought despite the dark properties it is rumored to possess. Nothing is quite what it seems, and secrets abound. VERDICT Transporting readers back to 17th-century England, this exceptionally engaging third entry in Hickman’s “Aviary Gate” series (The Aviary Gate; The Pindar Diamond) can be read and enjoyed on its own. Historical fiction fans and readers looking for a riveting tale with an aura of mystery will be enthralled. – Library Journal Review

Nobody Walks by Mick Herron

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

Nobody Walks

Herron’s remarkable novel has enough suspense, action, and deductive dazzle to keep genre fans happy. But be warned: these are deep waters, and this is not nodding-off, night-table reading. Tom Bettany, a British ex-spy crammed with dark skills, comes out of retirement when he learns his estranged son is dead. An examination of the death scene convinces him it was murder, and indelible moments follow as this gaunt, haunted man walks about London with his boy’s ashes, seeking anyone who knew him. Then the higher reptiles from the service emerge and Tom (along with the reader) wonders: Is all this a ploy to bring him back to killing? Not killing enemies of the state, mind you, but people who won’t do what the reptiles want. Will Tom catch on, and will it make any difference? There’s no pat ending, and the story is told in a clipped style that occasionally throws the rhythm off but can deliver knockouts, too. When the final revelation comes, it’s like a physical blow. Could it be that public servants serve only themselves? – Starred Booklist Review

The Swallows of Kabul by Yasmina Khadra

(Available Formats: Print Book)

The Swallows of Kabul

Khadra is the nom de plume for Algerian army officer Mohamed Moulessehoul, who illustrates the effects of repression on a pair of Kabul couples in this slim, harrowing novel of life in Afghanistan under Taliban rule. Gloomy prison guard Atiq Shaukat is tired of his grim duties, keeping watch over prisoners slated for public execution. Life at home, where his wife, Musarrat, is slowly dying of a chronic illness, is no better. Mohsen Ramat, meanwhile, clings to the remains of his middle-class life together with his beautiful, progressive wife, Zunaira, after the Taliban strip them of their livelihood and dignity. Khadra’s storytelling style recalls that of Naguib Mahfouz in the early chapters, in which the tense dissatisfaction of both couples is revealed. The pivotal event occurs when Ramat discharges his frustrations by participating in the brutal stoning of a female Taliban prisoner. The incident changes the dynamic of his marriage; after an extended argument about the incident, Ramat persuades Zunaira to go for a stroll in downtown Kabul and the couple is harassed and nearly brutalized by Taliban soldiers. Zunaira continues to bridle at her situation, and when their next argument turns physical, Ramat falls and dies after hitting his head on the wall. Shaukat is given the assignment of guarding Zunaira after she is arrested and charged with murder, and his instant infatuation with her sets off a remarkable chain of events. Khadra’s simple, elegant prose, finely drawn characters and chilling insights (“Kabul has become the antechamber to the great beyond”) prepare the way for the terrible climax. Like Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner, this is a superb meditation on the fate of the Afghan people. – Starred Publishers Weekly Review

Wicked Wonders by Ellen Klages

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

Wicked Wonders

Magical stories unfurl with marvelous subtlety in this delightful collection from Klages (The Green Glass Sea). Some are set in a variant of our own world, including “The Education of a Witch,” which builds a small girl’s fondness for Maleficent up to an ominous climax. Others transport readers elsewhere: “Friday Night at St. Cecilia’s” takes place inside several board games, where the player is at a fairy queen’s mercy. In “Amicae Eternum,” a young girl tries to absorb memories of Earth as she prepares to leave with her parents on a colony ship, and the astronaut in “Goodnight Moons” is already on Mars before she learns that her unexpected baby means she’s never going back home; both tales focus on the quiet moments and joy in life. The last two stories of the collection, “Woodsmoke” and “The Scary Ham,” are slices of life, not speculative at all. Queer characters appear often, warmly included without any fuss. The emotional impact of the stories is carefully managed in a way that’s meant to sweep readers up, not knock them down. The tie that binds these works together is humanity, lovingly and quietly explored no matter the genre. – Starred Publishers Weekly Review

Have a great week!

Linda Reimer

*Information on the Three Catalogs*

Digital Catalog:

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:

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:

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.

1 thought on “Suggested Reading May 24, 2022”

  1. If you’re into anti-Bond Mick Herron publications also worth a read is Beyond Enkription, the first stand-alone espionage thriller in The Burlington Files series, which is based on the real life of Bill Fairclough, aka Edward Burlington, who was an agent for MI6 and the CIA, established FaireSansDire and wrote the series.

    Beyond Enkription (intentionally misspelt) is set in London, Nassau and Port au Prince in the seventies when Edward Burlington unwittingly started working for MI6 and infiltrated a global organised crime syndicate. The protagonist has been likened to a “posh Harry Palmer”. Indeed, Len Deighton and Mick Herron could be forgiven for thinking they co-wrote this monumental thriller. Interestingly, you may not have heard of The Burlington Files before, but time will remedy that.

    Just like Mick Herron’s Slough House series, The Burlington Files series was rejected by know-all publishers who probably thought they understood espionage having read about 007. Nevertheless, in real life Fairclough and Co’s wires crossed those of many spooks who have been written about such as Oleg Gordievsky, Greville Wynne, Oleg Penkovsky, David Cornwell, Graham Greene, Kim Philby, Anthony Blunt et al.

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