Suggested Reading July 13, 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 I’m swamped and then, occasionally, they are published on Wednesday as is the case today!

And the next Suggested Reading posting will be published on Tuesday, July 19, 2022.

20th Century Ghosts by Joe Hill

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

20th Century Ghosts

Fully developed characters with complex emotional lives enhance the 14 horror stories in Hill’s extraordinary debut collection. In “Abraham’s Boys,” Count Dracula’s nemesis, Dr. Van Helsing, tries to teach his young sons his dispassionate methods of vampire slaying, but succeeds only in demonstrating his soullessness. “Voluntary Committal” tells of an idiot savant who applies his uncanny architectural skills to helping his adored older brother find a suggestively sinister way to remove problems from his life. Whether detailing relationships between children and parents or between teenage peers, Hill is flawless in his ability to articulate frailties that humanize his characters and make them vulnerable to intrusions of the strange. This is particularly noticeable in the title story, about a haunted cinema whose young female ghost seduces patrons with unfulfilled lives, and the surreal “My Father’s Mask,” which disturbs with subtle hints of taboo sexuality. There’s not a false note or disappointing effort in this book, which introduces one of the most confident and assured new voices in horror and dark fantasy to emerge in recent years. Starred Publishers Weekly Review

Reader’s Note: 20th Century Ghosts was Joe Hill’s first book and was originally published in 2005. So just know, if you like what you read – there are many more of his books to enjoy in 2022!

American Royalty: A Novel by Tracey Livesay

(Available Formats: Print Book)

American Royalty

A concert in honor of the late Prince John seems like the perfect way to repair the tattered reputation of the British monarchy until Prince Jameson, a publicity-adverse professor of philosophy, discovers that his grandmother, Queen Marina, has appointed him to be the royal “face” at the event. American rapper Danielle “Duchess” Nelson is dealing with her own PR issues involving a fabricated feud with a scheming pop star that threatens the future of Dani’s successful skin-care line. Singing at a benefit would definitely help turn the tide of public opinion in Dani’s favor, so saying yes to Jameson’s invitation is easy. Until Dani and Jameson meet, and their immediate chemistry threatens to set off a whole different kind of PR storm. Livesay (Like Lovers Do, 2020) puts her own ingenious spin on the royal romance trope, and the result is a scorchingly sensual love story that is made all the more addictively readable by its beautifully nuanced protagonists and grit-and-glamour story line that deftly delves into the very real challenges women in the rap and hip-hop music business face. – Booklist Review

The Daughter of Doctor Moreau by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

(Available Formats: eBook)

Daughter of Doctor Moreau

In this thorny riff on The Island of Doctor Moreau, bestseller Moreno-Garcia (Mexican Gothic) interweaves several threads in 19th-century Mexico. Carlota, the naive daughter of a mad scientist bent on creating a race of hybrid animal-humans in remote Yaxaktun, strains against the boundaries of her life as she searches for love and connection beyond the world her father has engineered to contain her; Montgomery, a caretaker who self-medicates with alcohol in order to cope with a tragic past, pines for Carlota even as she explores her attraction to Eduardo, the spoiled aristocratic son of her father’s benefactor; and the hybrid creatures created by the eponymous doctor struggle to maintain their autonomy and personhood as the forces surrounding them attempt to subjugate their wills for their own ends. Moreno-Garcia’s world-building chops are on display as she creates a distinct, vibrant backdrop to her audacious retelling. The prose, however, exhibits a cold remove that occasionally makes it difficult to remain invested in the action, and though the characters’ arcs reach satisfying conclusions, wonky pacing makes the work of reaching them a challenge. The third act rights the ship, however, with an ending that will linger long in readers’ minds. Fans of cerebral, atmospheric historical horror won’t want to miss this. Publishers Weekly Review

Death Along The Spirit Road by C. M. Wendelboe

(Available Formats: Print Book)

Death Along The Spirit Road

First in a new series featuring FBI agent Manny Tanno- a Native American returning to the reservation home he thought he left behind.

The body of local Native American land developer Jason Red Cloud is found on the site for his new resort on the Pine Ridge Reservation. A war club is lodged in his skull-appearing as if someone may have performed a ritual at the crime scene.

FBI Special Agent Manny Tanno arrives in Pine Ridge to find that not everything has changed since he left. His former rival, now in charge of the Tribal Police, is just as bitter as ever, and has no intention of making Manny’s life easy. And the spirit of Red Cloud haunting Manny’s dreams is not much help either, leaving him on his own in hunting down a cold-blooded killer-and one misstep could send him down the spirit road as well…

Even The Darkest Night by Javier Cercas

(Available Formats: Print Book)

Even The Darkest Night

The shadow of Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables looms large over the engrossing latest from Spanish writer Cercas (Outlaws). Hugo’s classic is the favorite of ex-con Melchor Marín, who read the book while serving time for his involvement with a Colombian drug cartel and who identifies with police inspector Javert, whom he thinks of as a “false bad guy.” Now a detective in the Spanish town of Terra Alta, Melchor begins to channel some of Javert’s implacable pursuit of justice in his investigation of the murder of a printing magnate and his wife. Though the businessman had many enemies, no evidence turns up to implicate anyone for the crime, prompting his department to close the case. That rankles Melchor, in part because it reminds him of the death of his mother, a sex worker whose murder was never solved. Melchor’s dogged determination to keep investigating the case behind the backs of his superiors eventually risks danger to himself and his loved ones. While Cercas resorts to lengthy swaths of exposition to relate the characters’ back stories, the narrative is generally well paced and suspenseful, and a surprise ending firmly roots the novel in Spain’s troubled 20th-century history and brings Melchor’s Javert fixation full circle. Fans of literary detective novels ought to take a look. – Publishers Weekly Review

Floating Girls by Lo Patrick

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

The Floating Girls

Both comic and heartrending, Patrick’s superb debut sets a bildungsroman and murder mystery in the wetlands of coastal Georgia. Brash and lonely Kay Whitaker, 12, is frustrated by her unemployed father, Clay; her emotionally absent mother, Sue-Bess; and her remote older sister, Sarah-Anne, whose favorite activity Kay describes as “standin’ in the yard like a twig in mud.” While exploring the wetlands beyond their isolated home, Kay meets Andy Webber, a handsome boy her age who lives with his crabber father, Nile. Clay orders her to avoid the Webbers but won’t explain why. Later, Kay discovers Nile was suspected in the drowning death of his wife a decade earlier. As Kay defies her father by jockeying for Andy’s attention, unidentified authorities her parents refer to only as “people from the state” routinely visit the Whitaker home. (Her parents also hide Sarah-Anne during the visits.) Then Sarah-Anne disappears, and secrets begin to surface. The crackling energy of Kay’s narration—a winning mixture of insight and naiveté, humor and pathos, vulnerability and strength—provides a welcome counterbalance to the oppressive setting and the pain the characters try to suppress. It’s a masterly achievement. Starred Publishers Weekly Review

For The Wolf by Hannah Whitten

(Available Formats: Print Book & eBook)

For The Wolf

DEBUT Centuries ago in a vaguely European fantasy world, a bargain was struck: the First Daughter for the throne, the Second Daughter for the Wolf. Now Redarys, the Second Daughter of Valleyda, is approaching her 20th birthday, when she is to be sacrificed so that the Wolf of the Wilderwood releases the Five Kings, the imprisoned old gods of their world. Red agrees to render herself to the Wilderwood–not to secure the release of the old gods, but to protect everyone, especially her beloved twin sister, Neve. In the Wilderwood, Red learns that the legends are lies: the Wolf is just a man, and the Wilderwood holds at bay an evil that overshadows all the monster stories that have been told. It turns out that some in Red’s world feel that the Five Kings must return, however evil they have become. Only Red can pay the costs of the old gods’ return, if she accepts her power. Love will compel Red and others in her world to make difficult choices that might destroy everyone. VERDICT This hauntingly beautiful, fractured retelling of Little Red Riding Hood is dark, emotional, and filled with tense action. Whitten’s debut is epic and enthralling. Starred Library Journal Review

The Girl In His Shadow by Audrey Blake

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

Girl In His Shadow

This is the current Libby Big Read title! You can think of the Big Read as an online book club where everyone has access to the eBook title at the same time – no holds required!

The girl of the title is Nora Beady, ward of Dr. Horace Croft, a brilliant and eccentric London surgeon. Nora is intelligent, independent, and possessed of a natural talent for medicine and medical illustration. Dr. Croft has trained her to work as his assistant, but her role must be kept secret; although the book’s setting, the mid-19th-century medical field, is in the process of evolving, it still has no role for women, except as nurses. If word were to get out about exactly what Nora did in his private clinic, Dr. Croft could face criminal charges and lose his medical credentials. When surgical resident Daniel Gibson arrives, Nora’s role in Dr. Croft’s practice is threatened, and she is forced to decide whether to stay in the background or claim her rightful place. Jaima Fixson and Regina Sirois, writing under the name “Audrey Blake,” have created a compelling story, set in a gritty, sometimes brutal 1840s London that is mostly white. Drawing on deep research, their description of medical practices and procedures is harrowing. VERDICT With its strong woman protagonist and authentic period detail, this is the best kind of historical fiction, transporting readers to a place and time peopled with memorable characters. Readers who enjoy medical drama will gravitate to this book. – Library Journal Review

Giving The Devil His Due: Short Stories, edited by Rebecca Brewer

(Available Formats: Print Book)

Giving The Devil His Due Short Stories

“In Giving the Devil His Due, sixteen of speculative fiction’s brightest authors tell the unflinching stories of survivors, of their strength and courage, as well as a righteous castigation of gender-based violence and the patriarchal societies all too willing to remain silent. This stirring, vital anthology demands your attention as it demands justice and the end of violence of against women.” —Paul Tremblay, Bram Stoker award-winning author of The Cabin at the End of the World and A Head Full of Ghosts

Nobody’s Sweetheart Now by Maggie Robinson

(Available Formats: Print Book & eBook)

Nobody's Sweetheart Now

Set in England in 1924, this promising series launch from romance writer Robinson (the Ladies Unlaced series) introduces Lady Adelaide, the recent widow of Maj. Rupert Compton. Theirs “was not a happy union, and there was no one in Britain more relieved than Addie when Rupert smashed up his Hispano-Suiza on a quiet Cotswold country road with Mademoiselle Claudette Labelle in the passenger seat.” Six months after the funeral, Addie is preparing for a dinner party at her country house, Compton Chase, when Rupert’s ghost appears in her dressing room, offering unasked-for criticism about her dress: “far too flimsy and sheer and short.” It seems that Rupert must do some good deeds in order to be allowed into heaven. How he will do this is a mystery to them both. Addie joins her guests downstairs, but the dinner is interrupted when a dead—and nude—body is found in her barn. Insp. Devenand Hunter investigates, aided by Addie and the meddlesome spirit of her dead husband. Suspects abound among her guests. This paranormal cozy is light, frothy fun. -Publishers Weekly Review

Summer In The City of Roses by Michelle Ruiz Keil

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

Summer in the City of Roses
Though no wicked stepmothers or Greek gods inhabit the world of this surreal, magical realist tale set in 1990s Portland, Ore., Keil (All of Us with Wings) steeps the narrative in fairy tale and myth. Following Greek and Mexican American siblings Iphigenia “Iph” Santos Velos, 17, and Orestes “Orr” Santos Velos, 15, the novel opens in the wake of their father’s decision to send sensitive Orr to Meadowbrook Rehabilitation Center for Boys—without notifying either sibling in advance. While Orr escapes, fleeing the toxic masculinity of “boot camp,” and finds refuge with all-girl punk band the Furies, aspiring actor Iph runs away from home to reunite with her brother, en route receiving assistance from a queer Robin Hood figure. With ample ’90s references and an empathic, feminist bent, Keil brings a past incarnation of Portland to life in vivid detail. Though several of the novel’s narrative threads take unusual turns that may frustrate some readers, Keil’s lush language (“Honey to tongue, throat to heart, and she is shrinking like Alice”) and endearing cast of free spirits enchant the whole way through. A nostalgic, heady read perfect for a summer day. – Publishers Weekly Review

And on a final, FYI  note, NPR has regular posts on the subject of “What’s making us happy: A guide to your weekend reading, listening and viewing”

And here is a link to the one for last Friday, July 8; offering additional tips on reading, viewing and listening!

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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