Suggested Reading June 22, 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, unless Linda is swamped, and then the come out on Wednesday as is the case today!

The next Suggested Reading posting will be published on Tuesday, June 28, 2022.

Asylum by Madeleine Roux

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


Horror author Roux makes a strong YA debut with this creepy tale of a haunted asylum and the teenagers who are drawn to it. When Dan Crawford attends a summer program at New Hampshire College, he ends up housed in Brookline, a former asylum now being turned into a dorm. Along with fellow students Abby and Jordan, he starts exploring the basement of the dorm, where (conveniently) old records are stored. As they investigate, the students are plagued by horrifying dreams, and Dan starts to have blackouts, discovering strange unsent texts and emails and learning about conversations that he doesn’t remember. Students are being attacked in the dorms, and as Dan begins to unravel his own ties to the asylum, he wonders if he might be responsible for the crimes. Roux (aided by unsettling photo illustrations of abandoned asylums and tormented patients) creates an entertaining and occasionally brutal horror story that reveals the enduring impact of buried trauma and terror on a place. Open questions at the end invite a sequel, though there’s also a good sense of closure. Publishers Weekly Review

Companion Piece: A Novel by Ali Smith

(Available Formats: Print Book)

Companion Piece

Artist Sandy is forced out of her habitual, contented solitude when her father lands in the hospital with heart trouble during the COVID-19 pandemic. They have a prickly relationship; he’s never forgiven her for being gay or for being a painter who paints poems, but they’re all the family they have, except for his old dog. More intrusions occur when Martina, a forgotten college classmate, calls and recounts the first of the entrancing and mysterious tales that entwine to form Smith’s dialogue-driven, deeply imagined, hilarious, and affecting tale of unexpected companionship during a plague. Martina’s story involves an exquisitely constructed sixteenth-century lock and a disembodied voice saying, “Curlew or curfew. You choose.” She is certain that Sandy, who always “knew what things meant,” can make sense of this. Soon Martina’s distraught, bossy, grown twin daughters invade Sandy’s home, as does a strange, filthy teenage girl with a curlew, a now endangered bird once considered divine. Back in the bubonic plague era, a girl gifted in the metal arts is brutally ostracized. Returning to the present, witty and besieged Sandy is profoundly grateful to the valiant, caring hospital staff, and to the steadfast dog. Smith follows her award-winning Seasonal Quartet with a bristling yet tender, richly layered, brilliant, and dynamic novel of connections forged and love affirmed. – Booklist Review

The Great Stewardess Rebellion: How Women Launched a Workplace Revolution at 30,000 Feet by Nell McShane Wulfhart

(Available Formats: Print Book)

The Great Stewardess Rebellion

Travel writer Wulfhart (Off Menu) delivers a rousing history of how airline stewardesses in the 1960s and ’70s “harness the energy of the women’s movement to make radical change.” At the time, Wulfhart explains, female flight attendants were banned from marrying or getting pregnant and aged out of the job in their early 30s. They also made five times less than pilots, had no retirement benefits, and had strict weight limits. Wulfhart spotlights a trio of women who spearheaded the fight: stewardess Patt Gibbs led the movement to break away from the male-dominated Transport Workers Union and form the independent Association of Professional Flight Attendants; her colleague, Tommie Hutto, helped launch the feminist group Stewardesses for Women’s Rights. Sonia Pressman, a lawyer at the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission, pushed the agency to find that the airlines were in violation of the 1964 Civil Rights Act’s prohibition on sex-based discrimination. Throughout, Wulfhart lucidly contextualizes the stewardesses’ campaign within the larger feminist movement, and shares striking anecdotes of the insults they endured and the dedication it took to reform “the most sexist workplace in America.” The result is an invigorating and inspiring story of women triumphing over discrimination. – Publishers Weekly Review

Hatchet Island by Paul Doiron

(Available Formats: Print Book)

Hatchet Island

Edgar finalist Doiron’s exceptional 13th mystery featuring Maine game warden Mike Bowditch (after 2021’s Dead by Dawn) takes Bowditch and his significant other, biologist Stacey Stevens, to Baker Island after Stacey receives a request for help from her college roommate and former colleague, Kendra Ballard, who’s been working on the island as the project manager for the Maine Seabird Initiative’s restoration efforts there. Kendra is worried about her boss, Maeve McLeary, who hasn’t been heard from for several days. That disturbing silence comes shortly after Maeve incurred the wrath of local lobstermen by successfully backing a proposal to close part of the Gulf of Maine to their boats to protect endangered whales. The restoration project has since been receiving anonymous threats, and someone shot up its observation blinds. Kendra’s fears of violence prove justified as Bowditch soon has two murders on the island to solve, which may be connected to a young man’s recent death by suicide. The author is especially good at conveying the island’s creepy atmosphere, and the taut plot features numerous shocking twists while further developing an already complex lead. Doiron is writing at the top of his game. Publishers Weekly Review

How To Fake It In Hollywood by Ava Wilder

(Available Formats: Print Book)

How To Fake It In Hollywood

Don’t be fooled by the lighthearted title and fun cover. Wilder delivers an emotional punch in her debut novel. The story follows former teen soap-opera star, Grey Brooks, and reclusive megastar Ethan Atkins. Grey has been out of work since her show wrapped after a long run, and Ethan hasn’t worked in years in the aftermath of a tragic event. In short, they’re both just trying to stay afloat, albeit with very different back stories. Told in chapters alternating between her and him, this tale jumps right into the action in the first few pages when the two are recruited for a PR stunt by their mutual publicist. The premise sounds simple enough: two very different but waning celebrities enter a fake relationship to boost their visibility and status. However, there is much more depth to this romance as Wilder successfully tackles tough issues like alcoholism and grief. This strong debut is perfect for readers who enjoy romances with intense feelings, complex issues, and steamy love scenes. Booklist Review

An Immense World: How Animal Senses Reveal the Hidden Realms Around Us by Ed Yong

(Available Formats: Print Book)

An Immense World

An ingenious account of how living organisms perceive the world. In his 1974 essay, “What Is It Like To Be a Bat?” philosopher Thomas Nagel argued that other animals experience a world utterly foreign to us, one nearly impossible to describe. In this follow-up to I Contain Multitudes, Yong, a staff reporter for the Atlantic who won a Pulitzer in 2021 for his reporting on Covid-19, mostly follows the traditional popular science format (travel the world, interview experts), but he takes a different, realistic, and utterly fascinating approach, emphasizing that every organism perceives only a tiny slice of the world accessible to its senses. A tick searching for blood is exquisitely sensitive to body heat, the touch of hair, and the odor of butyric acid from skin. The tick doesn’t willfully ignore the surrounding plants and animals; it doesn’t know that they exist. This involves the zoological term umwelt, the German word for environment that refers to what an animal can sense: its perceptual world. The human umwelt includes excellent vision, tolerable hearing, mediocre smell (but better than dog enthusiasts claim), some chemical sensitivity (mostly in the nose and taste buds), a touch of echolocation, and no ability to detect electromagnetic fields. In a dozen chapters, Yong delivers entertaining accounts of how animals both common and exotic sense the world as well as the often bizarre organs that enable them to do so. “There are animals with eyes on their genitals, ears on their knees, noses on their limbs, and tongues all over their skin,” writes the author. “Starfish see with the tips of their arms, and sea urchins with their entire bodies. The star-nosed mole feels around with its nose, while the manatee uses its lips.” Building on Aristotle’s traditional five senses, Yong adds expert accounts of 20th-century discoveries of senses for echoes, electricity, and magnetism as well as perceptions we take for granted, including color, pain, and temperature. One of the year’s best popular natural histories. – Kirkus Review

Island Time by Georgia Clark

(Available Formats: Print Book)

Island Time

A woman’s plan to have her extended family meet her almost-fiancé on a tiny, secluded island off the coast of Queensland, Australia, goes spectacularly wrong in this fun, steamy rom-com about finding love in unexpected places from Clark (It Had to Be You). Amelia’s boyfriend, James, never makes it, and after a volcano erupts, Amelia; her parents; her older sister, Matty; Matty’s wife, Parker; and Parker’s parents all wind up stranded together on the beautiful but remote Mun’dai. With them are Liss Chambers, the island’s caretaker, and Jarrah, a local ranger. These nine individuals—all with distinct (and big) personalities—must live in close proximity for six weeks with a diminishing food supply, sparking new romances between Amelia and Liss, and Amelia’s mother, Jules, and Jarrah, and leading Matty and Parker to ponder their future. Clark’s vibrant descriptions of the fictional island create a great sense of place, and Amelia and Matty’s reckonings with family secrets and the challenges of career and maternity add some gravitas to the breezy proceedings. The result is a feel-good sapphic love story ideal for armchair travelers. – Publishers Weekly Review

Last Summer on State Street by Toya Wolfe

(Available Formats: Print Book)

Last Summer on State Street

Wolfe debuts with the heartbreaking story of a young girl and her family during a summer of destruction and tragedy. It’s 1999 and the Chicago Housing Authority is tearing down the Robert Taylor Homes, where 12-year-old FeFe Stevens lives with her mother and older brother, Meechie. FeFe enjoys the summer double-dutching and running around with her friends Stacia Buchanan, part of the building’s ruling gang family, and Precious, a religious girl from FeFe’s church. After a new girl, Tonya, appears, FeFe invites her to play with them despite Stacia’s dislike of her. Wolfe’s richly realized characters endure racism, displacement, and violence, but also experience love. Short, evocative chapters build a foreboding sense of the inevitable while FeFe is forced to reckon with harsh realities around her, among them Tonya’s mother’s crack addiction, Stacia’s gang loyalty, Meechie’s struggle to resist gang life, and other ravages of life in the project. As the destruction of their building approaches, tensions and violence rise. By the traumatic end, FeFe is left lonely and scared, but her pain pushes her to escape. Wolfe’s arresting and atmospheric narrative comes fully realized. This is a gut punch. Starred Publishers Weekly Review

The Omega Factor by Steve Berry

(Available Formats: eBook, Print Book & CD audiobook)

The Omega Factor

Berry has written a handful of stand-alones along with 16 novels starring Cotton Malone, the former Justice Department operative. It’s unclear at this point whether his latest is another stand-alone or the first in a new series. It introduces a new character, a UNESCO investigator named Nicholas Lee, who chances upon a clue to the location of a missing (and generally presumed lost) piece of fifteenth-century art–a panel from the famed Ghent Altarpiece. Soon he finds himself caught up in a two-millennia-old war between the Vatican and an ancient order determined to keep certain facts hidden from history. Although similar in theme and execution to the Malone novels, The Omega Factor feels different: the pace is a bit slower, the action is slightly less raucous, and Nick is younger and less experienced than Cotton. This ancient-mystery stuff is new to him, and that point of view makes the familiar theme seem fresh to the reader as well. Nick is a good character, with plenty of room to grow. Here’s one vote for Berry making a series out of Nick’s adventures. Booklist Review

Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Keans Goodwin

(Available Formats: Print Book, CD audiobook & eBook)

Team of Rivals

One of the most influential books of the past fifty years, Team of Rivals is Pulitzer Prize–winning author and esteemed presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin’s modern classic about the political genius of Abraham Lincoln, his unlikely presidency, and his cabinet of former political foes.

Winner of the prestigious Lincoln Prize and the inspiration for the Oscar Award winning–film Lincoln, starring Daniel Day-Lewis, directed by Steven Spielberg, and written by Tony Kushner.

On May 18, 1860, William H. Seward, Salmon P. Chase, Edward Bates, and Abraham Lincoln waited in their hometowns for the results from the Republican National Convention in Chicago. When Lincoln emerged as the victor, his rivals were dismayed and angry.

Throughout the turbulent 1850s, each had energetically sought the presidency as the conflict over slavery was leading inexorably to secession and civil war. That Lincoln succeeded, Goodwin demonstrates, was the result of a character that had been forged by experiences that raised him above his more privileged and accomplished rivals. He won because he possessed an extraordinary ability to put himself in the place of other men, to experience what they were feeling, to understand their motives and desires.

It was this capacity that enabled Lincoln as president to bring his disgruntled opponents together, create the most unusual cabinet in history, and marshal their talents to the task of preserving the Union and winning the war.

We view the long, horrifying struggle from the vantage of the White House as Lincoln copes with incompetent generals, hostile congressmen, and his raucous cabinet. He overcomes these obstacles by winning the respect of his former competitors, and in the case of Seward, finds a loyal and crucial friend to see him through.

This brilliant multiple biography is centered on Lincoln’s mastery of men and how it shaped the most significant presidency in the nation’s history.

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.

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