Suggested Reading July 6, 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 Monday happens to be a holiday and then, sometimes, they are posted on Wednesdays as is the case this week!

And the next Suggested Reading posting will be published on Tuesday, July 12, 2022.

The Ballad of Perilous Graves by Alex Jennings

(Available Formats: Print Book)

The Ballad of Perilous Graves

Magic and music—here “one and the same”—bring to life a vibrant alternate New Orleans in Jennings’s stunning urban fantasy debut. When Perilous “Perry” Graves encounters the city’s famed undead pianist Doctor Professor, he knows something’s wrong. Nine of the powerful songs that “keep Nola humming” have been stolen, and the city starts to break down: its sky trolleys stop running, and the magic that maintains the city’s music fizzles. From there, the jazzy tale alternates timelines and perspectives between Perry; his younger sister, Brendy; his best friend, Peaches; and Casey Ravel, a trans man who’s moved back to town years after fleeing Hurricane Katrina. As Casey reconnects with his cousin, Jaylon, now a celebrated artist, they look back on their teenage graffiti and the uncanny ways their paintings have changed. And, after Perry and Brendy’s grandfather goes missing, it appears his disappearance may be linked to the music thief, leading the pair to offer to help Doctor Professor investigate. Jennings develops a rich, enveloping world brimming with mesmerizing art, music, and fantasy, and sets within it a rich discussion of community and culture. The unmistakable love for New Orleans that emanates from these pages will stick in readers’ heads—and hearts—like the catchiest of tunes. Starred Publishers Weekly Review

The Do-Over by Bethany Turner

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

The Do-Over

Sometimes dreams come true. Other times, the best outcome begins with an epic fail.

Career-driven McKenna Keaton has devoted her life to attaining the senior partnership at her law firm. So asking a man on a date should be nothing. But the past four days have been the worst of her life and have called everything she thought she knew about herself into question. Besides, she can’t remember her last real date—one that didn’t involve using a blind date as an opportunity to get a stranger’s perspective on effective cross-examination techniques. (It’s like sharing fondue with a jury!)

But a real date? And with shy, nerdy Henry Blumenthal—McKenna’s high school rival for valedictorian who once took three hours to beat her at chess? Scratch that. He’s Hank Blume now, the famed documentarian, Durham’s darling son, who has attained all his dreams and more. He also happens to look like he stepped out of an Eddie Bauer catalog.

Whereas McKenna is a disgraced workaholic from New York on unpaid leave, accused of a white-collar crime she would never commit, succumbing to panic attacks, watching her dreams unravel. At age thirty-eight—and destined by the family curse to die before she turns forty, it appears—it’s absolutely the wrong time to have a major crush on a man. Especially one who treasures his memories of McKenna as the girl Most Likely to Succeed.

A Down Home Meal for These Difficult Times: Stories by Meron Hadero

(Available Formats: Print Book)

A Down Home Meal For This Difficult Times

In this impressive debut collection, award-winning Ethiopian American writer Hadero showcases the lives of displaced people trying to create a space for themselves to call home in America and Ethiopia. In “The Suitcase,” Saba visits her relatives in Ethiopia and comes to realize that, though she lives in such a vastly different culture, kindness and family can bridge those differences. An Ethiopian boy new to the American Midwest connects with an older man due to their shared language, German, and refugee past in “”The Wall.”” Winner of the 2021 AKO Caine Prize for African Writing, “”The Street Sweep”” introduces street cleaner Getu, who dresses up to attend the farewell party of a foreigner he befriended in hopes of obtaining a job that will save his Addis Ababa home and give him a fresh start. In “Mekonnen aka Mack aka Huey Freakin’ Newton,” teenage Huey joins an exclusive Brooklyn neighborhood clique and learns harsh lessons about racial divisions and what it means to have pride in who you are. Hadero’s powerful stories usher characters along their searches for belonging, often with nothing but hope and a sense of community pushing them forward. – Starred Booklist Review

Grey Bees by Andrei Kukov

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

Grey Bees

Written in 2018, this recently translated work from Kurkov (Death and the Penguin), one of Ukraine’s great writers, illuminates a world tragedy today. Sergey Sergeyich, a divorced disabled mine safety inspector and devoted beekeeper, lives in a small village in the grey zone, an area in the Donbas region that separates larger Ukraine from Russian-backed separatists. With no electricity, mail, or food, Sergey survives on rations from neighboring towns, candles from the destroyed church, and sheer resourcefulness. Visits from Pashka, a childhood frenemy, and Ukrainian soldier Petro relieve the boredom. Increased shelling and the approach of better weather motivate Sergey to find a more peaceful place for his bees to pollinate. He travels first to a Ukrainian village, but when townsfolk become suspicious and violent, he moves on to Russian-controlled Crimea. There he calls upon the Tartar beekeeper, Akhtem, only to find that he disappeared, and endures confrontations and interrogations from both Ukrainian and Russian authorities even as he befriends Akhtem’s family.

VERDICT Kurkov successfully portrays the tensions of living in a war zone in a story featuring a naive Everyman intent on surviving, while giving readers keen insight into Ukraine today. – Starred Library Journal Review

The Lunar Housewife: A Novel by Caroline Woods

(Available Formats: Print Book)

The Lunar Housewife

This cleverly inventive yet authentic–feeling early Cold War thriller from Woods (Fräulein M.) takes on the New York publishing world from a woman’s perspective, while containing a novella-length American-Soviet space romance written by the protagonist with parallels to her own life. In 1953, Louise Leithauser has been pseudonymously writing about politics for a hot new literary magazine cofounded by her boyfriend, Joe Martin, and his charismatic partner, Harry Billings. The role brings her close to publishing celebrities who could be interested in the romance she’s working on, but also forces her into socializing with Harry and the woman he’s dating behind his wife’s back, a waitress who also knows the unglamorous secrets of Louise’s past.

Meanwhile, an overheard conversation leads Louise to investigate Joe’s connections to government censorship of literary expression. Real-life writers add spice, including a playfully frank Ernest Hemingway, whom Louise befriends during an interview for which he requests a female reporter. The suspense builds as Woods shifts between the main narrative and the space romance, which provides a window into Louise’s frustrated mindset about gender dynamics, politics, and power. This is a delightfully different variety of spy story. Starred Publishers Weekly Review

Marrying The Ketchups: A Novel by Jennifer Close

(Available Formats: Print Book & eBook)

Marrying The Ketchups

Within two weeks, Donald Trump was elected president, the Chicago Cubs won the World Series, and Bud Sullivan died. The Sullivan family felt like the world itself had tipped on its axis, but JP Sullivan’s, the family restaurant, served as their emotional and physical anchor. The restaurant was Bud’s legacy, and the next generation of Sullivans had learned everything they knew about restaurant life from him.

Four Sullivan cousins, Teddy, Jane, Gretchen, and Riley, find themselves increasingly unsure about their individual futures but confident that walking into JP Sullivan’s will always feel like home. Close (The Hopefuls, 2016) drops readers smack into Oak Park, a leafy Chicago suburb, and lets them hear the hiss of fryers hitting hot oil and catch an ice-cold Old Style sliding across the bar. The Sullivans are a close-knit Catholic family full of guilt and love and long-standing grudges, but Close lets each character’s unique personality shine. Fans of Tracey Lange’s We Are the Brennans (2021) and Taylor Jenkins Reid’s Malibu Rising (2021) will fall in love with these maddening, loving, stubborn relatives. Setting nostalgia against progress, tradition against rebirth, Close outlines the cousins’ grief and personal growth as they work with, and against, one another. – Booklist Review

My Name Is Yip: A Novel by Paddy Crewe

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

My Name Is Yip

Yip Tolroy is different: tiny, hairless, and mute. The inhabitants of Heron’s Creek, Georgia, learn to tolerate him, but his is a lonely existence. His father disappeared on the night of his birth, and relations are strained with his stoic mother. When gold is discovered near the small town, treachery and murder result. Teenaged Yip is thrown in with the wily but reckless Dud Carter, an alliance that alters the course of his life. The novel is billed as a western, in the sense that Georgia was on the frontier in the early part of the nineteenth century. But this can more accurately be described as essentially a British literary take on an American-style folk tale, presented from Yip’s perspective in a near stream-of-consciousness; his narration is an eccentric hodgepodge of faux backwoods grammar and Dickensian eloquence. Adventure, characterization, and illumination of the human condition are the standouts here, pathos misting over the tale like water on the gold-flecked stones of the town’s creek. This is Crewe’s debut, and with this distinctive offering, he’s proved himself to be an author to watch. – Booklist Review

The Pallbearers Club by Paul Tremblay

(Available Formats: Print Book & downloadable audiobook)

The Pallbearers Club

“I am not Art Barbara,” declares the narrator of this ambitious, metafictional pseudo-vampire thriller set in 2007 from Tremblay (Survivor Song), but he adds he’ll be calling himself that throughout the memoir that follows. In 1988, Art began the Pallbearers Club in high school in Beverly, Mass., to serve as attendants at funerals that would otherwise be without mourners. One member of Art’s club is the pseudonymous Mercy Brown, named by Art after a late 19th-century New England vampire. Mercy contributes to the “manuscript” that is this book, sniping at Art’s characterizations of her and appending extended remarks to each chapter. Art, an unsuccessful musician who’s constantly doubting himself, comes to believe that Mercy is a vampire, subtly leeching life from him, and that he’s a vampire as well. Eventually, Art has recurring sightings and visions of jackets with faces draining the life from victims. Tremblay has a way with words (“Time is not linear but a deck of cards that is continuously shuffled”), and Mercy’s snarky commentary contrasts nicely with Art’s often maudlin narrative. This one will find a certain readership, but its overall oddness will keep it niche. Publishers Weekly Review

A Trail of Crab Tracks: A Novel by Patrice Nganang

(Available Formats: Print Book)

A Trial of Crabtracks

Family dynamics and the siren song of a war-torn homeland play out in Nganang’s elegant, involving latest (after When the Plums Are Ripe). In 2013, Nithap moves to New Jersey to stay with his son, Tanou, and his family, after a long career as a doctor in his native Cameroon. Tanou struggles to connect with Nithap, who has his own trouble settling in, though he eventually finds kindred spirits in Tanou’s older married neighbors, a retired American poet and Frenchwoman. A road trip exploring monuments of the American Civil War only amplifies the bewilderment of “Old Papa.” Flashbacks involve Nithap’s travails in Cameroon under French rule, where he fought in the 1960 revolution that led to Cameroon’s independence. Then, Tanou returns alone to Cameroon after his mother dies, to retrace his father’s history. The story moves fluidly through time and location, providing juicy juxtapositions. Nganang’s genius is in his ability to express the personal and the panoramic with equal artistry. Both intimate and sweeping, this epic brings a satisfying and profound closure to historic events. Starred Publishers Weekly Review

Vacationland: A Novel by Meg Mitchell Moore

(Available Formats: Print Book)

Vacationland

Moore (The Islanders) follows a family’s tribulations while summering in Maine in her delectable latest. NYU history professor Louisa McLean brings her three children to her parents’ summer home in Rockland without her husband, Steven, who stays behind and continues putting in long hours in chasing his dream of selling his podcast company. Louisa, resentful at having to deal with the kids herself, also hopes the time away will help her stop procrastinating on writing her book. Tensions mount as her mother reveals that paying to care for Louisa’s father, Martin, a judge who now has Alzheimer’s, might require them to sell the family house as soon as the following year. Then a young woman named Kristie Turner arrives by Greyhound after her mother’s death, determined for reasons that are only revealed later to gain an audience with Martin. She decides to stay a while, gets a job as a waitress, and worries about money after learning she’s pregnant. Kristie’s life is detailed in sharp contrast to Louisa’s leisurely days, as Louisa weighs a desire to help Kristie with her parents’ needs. Steven’s lack of understanding over how much the house means to Louisa, meanwhile, causes tensions to flare. Moore details the dicey situation with nuance and grace. Readers are in for a treat. – 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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