Suggested Reading August 30, 2022

Hi everyone, here are our recommended reads for the week!

*More information on the three catalogs and available formats 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, September 6, 2022.

Be The Serpent by Seanan McGuire

(Available Formats: Print Book & eBook)

Be The Serpent

At long last, Toby has actually managed to get married. True to form, what that means is that she’s well-rested for the chaos to come: and there is going to be so much chaos. McGuire packs a lot into this one, both story and history. As soon as the matter of Rayseline Torquill has been resolved, events start to spiral. Toby, sent to her childhood friend’s home by the court seers, isn’t quite fast enough to avert tragedy. She can ride the blood, though, and find out who is responsible. At least, that’s how it should work. From there, the horrible mess that Oberon made by abdicating after Maeve’s Ride was broken and Titania disappeared starts to unravel. McGuire’s ability to pack cascading disasters into a single book is showcased here, with a satisfying number of threads picked up from earlier in the series (most recently, When Sorrows Come, 2021) and woven into something both inevitable and surprising. Fortunately, McGuire has proven again and again that she can follow up a cliffhanger ending with spectacular payoffs, and fans will find the path to the cliff well worth the effort. – Booklist Review

Diary of a Misfit: A Memoir and a Mystery by Casey Parks

(Available Formats: Print Book)

Diary of a Misfit

In this tantalizing blend of personal history and reportage, Washington Post reporter Parks seeks out the story of an enigmatic small-town country singer to reckon with her own fraught past. When, in 2002, Parks’s grandmother shared that she’d once been neighbors in the 1950s with “a woman who lived as a man” named Roy Hudgins, Parks pledged to find out what happened to him. As a college freshman in the South who’d recently faced rejection after coming out to her family—a confession met by a plea from her pastor for “God to kill me”—Parks writes, “I couldn’t believe there was a place where you could be different, and people would love and accept you.” Seven years later, she set off on a series of trips through rural Louisiana to interview people who had known Roy. As Parks uncovers the mystery surrounding Roy’s life and death, she attempts to reconcile her sexuality with the specters of the home she left behind, as well as her complicated relationship with her mother, an opioid addict who was “bright and joyous when she was off the nose spray, vacant and mean when she was on.” Out of this comes a brilliantly rendered and complex portrait of Southern life alongside a tender exploration of queer belonging. Parks’s writing is a marvel to witness. – Publishers Weekly Review

Hell And Back by Craig Johnson

(Available Formats: Print Book & eBook coming soon)

Hell & Back

Nightmare, out-of-body experience, time travel, and mental illness are all possibilities for a man who awakens knowing neither his name nor where he is. Sheriff Walt Longmire of Absaroka County, Wyoming, wakes up in a heavy snowstorm frozen to the street. At first his only reality is snow, the sound of bells, and two silver dollars in his lap. Then he sees a sign for the Fort Pratt Industrial Indian Boarding School. His period of hell on earth starts with a visit to a restaurant staffed by a stunning blond woman who looks familiar. She tells him his name, which is written in his hat’s sweatband, and identifies their locale as Fort Pratt, Montana. His next interaction is with an enormous man whom the waitress can’t see, a man dressed in the clothes of a Mountain Crow, who departs with an enigmatic comment. The two meet again while Walt, who’s looking for a policeman, discovers a woman in a movie theater who again seems familiar and a priest who claims to be researching a book on the Indian boarding school where 31 children reportedly perished in a fire. In the meantime, Walt’s best friend, Henry Standing Bear, and his deputy, Vic Moretti, come looking for him. Just like Walt, they keep running into the same people whose lives make no sense in a town where the time is always 8:17 p.m. After Walt manages to save the children from that fire, which took place many years before the time he seems to be living in, he gets locked in a desperate battle with a shape-shifting monster whose name just might be death. A mystical thriller that offers a wild ride through a thoroughly altered reality. Kirkus Review

On Readers’ Note: Hell And Back is the eighteenth book in the Walt Longmire Mystery Series. If you’d like to start reading from the beginning checkout book one, The Cold Dish.

On A Listeners’ Note: The audiobook versions of all eighteen books in the Longmire series to-date are outstanding – they are narrated by perfect narrator – George Guidall.

The Ink Black Heart by Robert Galbraith

(Available Formats: Print Book & CD audiobook)

The Black Ink Heart

The latest installment in the highly acclaimed, internationally bestselling Strike series finds Cormoran and Robin ensnared in another winding, wicked case.

When frantic, disheveled Edie Ledwell appears in the office begging to speak to her, private detective Robin Ellacott doesn’t know quite what to make of the situation. The cocreator of a popular cartoon, The Ink Black Heart, Edie is being persecuted by a mysterious online figure who goes by the pseudonym of Anomie. Edie is desperate to uncover Anomie’s true identity.

Robin decides that the agency can’t help with this—and thinks nothing more of it until a few days later, when she reads the shocking news that Edie has been tasered and then murdered in Highgate Cemetery, the location of The Ink Black Heart.

Robin and her business partner, Cormoran Strike, become drawn into the quest to uncover Anomie’s true identity. But with a complex web of online aliases, business interests and family conflicts to navigate, Strike and Robin find themselves embroiled in a case that stretches their powers of deduction to the limits – and which threatens them in new and horrifying ways . . .

A gripping, fiendishly clever mystery, The Ink Black Heart is a true tour-de-force.

The Rising Tide: A Vera Stanhope Novel by Ann Cleeves

(Available Formats: Print Book)

Rising Tide

In bestseller Cleeves’s melancholy 10th Vera Stanhope novel (after 2020’s The Darkest Evening), sexagenarians Rick Kelsall, Annie Laidler, and two other old friends reunite at the tidal island convent-turned-guesthouse where they met as teens during a school retreat. When Annie finds Rick’s body hanging from a rafter, Det. Insp. Stanhope and her Northumbria Police colleagues cross the island’s causeway to investigate. Rick may have lost his BBC hosting gig over sexual misconduct allegations, but he recently signed a lucrative book deal and didn’t leave a suicide note. After an autopsy reveals someone smothered Rick before stringing him up, Vera and company uncover myriad viable suspects; not only was Rick’s BBC departure more contentious than reported, but he was writing a roman à clef in which he planned to expose his oldest pals’ darkest secrets. Cleeves crafts a clever central puzzle, then confers remarkable emotional complexity using her keenly drawn characters’ advancing age, wistful nostalgia, and thorny shared history. A pinwheeling third-person narrative drives the pace, while Vera’s candor tempers the plot’s darker elements. Fair-play mystery fans will delight. – Publishers Weekly Review

Readers’ Note: If you’d like to start reading the Vera series from the beginning, check out book one The Crow Trap.

Scenes from My Life: A Memoir by Michael K. Williams

(Available Formats: Print Book)

Scenes From My Life

The late Emmy-nominated actor recounts his endeavor to overcome poverty, abuse, and addiction in this immensely inspiring and candid debut. Born in Brooklyn in 1966, Williams endured a difficult childhood marked by an absentee father, a suffocating and abusive mother, bullying friends, and molestation, before turning to drugs as a way of “letting me disappear from myself.” Employing the arts as a “form of rebellion,” Williams became a backup dancer and began appearing in music videos, where he started to unlearn “macho code” of suppressing his feelings: “If you push something down, it’ll find its way out,” he writes in one of the book’s many raw and moving scenes. “Jay-Z says we can’t heal what we never reveal. And it’s true.” A couple years later, Tupac Shakur spotted Williams’s headshot and launched his acting career in the mid 1990s, leading Williams to land his breakout role nearly a decade later as Omar on The Wire. While the intensity of his performances often reawakened Williams’s addiction struggles, he recounts how he used his hardships as inspiration “to bring others up” via organizations—such as his own nonprofit, Making Kids Win—that were dedicated to ending cycles of violence and poverty in marginalized communities. This bittersweet and poignant work will leave readers in awe. Starred Publishers Weekly Review

Small Town, Big Magic by Hazel Beck

(Available Formats: Print Book)

Small Town Big Magic

This spellbinding magic-infused rom-com from Nicole Helm (the North Star series) and Megan Crane (the Alaska Force series), writing as Beck, brings modern witchcraft away from the typical New England setting, with quirky protagonists, stoic love interests, and fanciful interpretations of history in tow. Emerson Wilde has backup plans for her backup plans, and she’s determined to see her beloved hometown of St. Cyprian, Mo., thrive. But there’s more to St. Cyprian than meets the eye—as Emerson learns when a vicious attack by magical beasts awakens her innate magical power and her best friends let her in on a secret: they’re all witches. A decade ago, Emerson’s magical memory was wiped after she failed to show enough potential during a magical aptitude test. Unused to being unprepared, Emerson struggles to make sense of this new world order, control her abilities, solve the mystery of her power’s resurgence—and reckon with the chemistry that’s reignited between her and Jacob, a member of her coven. Beck delivers a wonderfully realized heroine with a voice so clear readers will feel like one of her friends. This is sure to be a hit with any fan of paranormal romance. – Publishers Weekly Review

A Song of Comfortable Chairs: No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith

(Available Formats: Print)

A Song Of Comfortable Chairs

McCall Smith choreographs an ingenious “trickster tricked” plot here, centered on a swarm of cutthroat businesspeople and one surly teenager. Precious Ramotswe, founder of the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency, Botswana’s only private-investigations business run by women, is on the case in this twenty-third adventure in the series. First on the agenda is a plot that might destroy the Double Comfort Furniture Store, the life’s work of Phuti, the husband of Precious’ friend and colleague, Grace Makutsi. A rival business, specializing in minimalist “Twenty-first Century Chairs,” is slashing prices and using the alluring, ever-scheming Violet Sephotho (sworn enemy of Grace Makutsi) in its advertising. Then there’s the surly teenager and his role in derailing the happiness of Grace’s childhood friend, a woman who was forced, as a teen herself, to bear a child after being raped. Precious and Grace join forces in an elaborate sting operation designed to expose these agents of mayhem. Their plot includes concocting an ad campaign of their own and hiring an actor to play a domestic scene. As they would sink into one of Phuti’s large, overstuffed, extremely comfortable armchairs, so will readers delightedly immerse themselves in descriptions of the Botswana landscape; in Precious and Grace’s conversations over mugs of red bush tea; and in the doings of the rest of the cast of comic characters. Another delight from the prolific McCall Smith. – Booklist Review

Soul Taken by Patricia Briggs

(Available Formats: Print Book & eBook)

Soul Taken

A new threat comes to Washington State’s Tri-Cities in Briggs’s solid 13th Mercy Thompson urban fantasy (after Smoke Bitten). Secrets come out and tensions rise among the Columbia Basin shape-shifter pack when it is implicated in the disappearance of Wulfe, the vampire who has been stalking shape-shifter mechanic Mercy. Marsilia, the mistress of the local vampire seethe, threatens to end the alliance between vampires and werewolves if the pack can’t prove its innocence by finding and returning Wulfe to her. Complication arises when a series of dead bodies turn up throughout the Tri-Cities in murders that mimic the killings featured in a new horror movie and appear to be magic in origin. With the pack in danger and Mercy herself targeted by the murderer, she and her allies race to uncover who—or what—is doing the killings. As they peel back the layers of the mystery, they find themselves enmeshed in a more complex and much older supernatural plot. Briggs does a good job integrating exposition into her story, offering fans a refresher course on the characters and their backstories and even allowing new readers to jump in fairly easily. This keeps the series going strong.

Readers’ Note: Soul Taken is the thirteen book in the Mercy Thompson series. If you’d like to start reading the series from the beginning, checkout book one Moon Called.

The Very Secret Society Of Irregular Witches by Sangu Mandanna

(Available Formats: Print Book)

The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches

DEBUT Mika Moon lives a very lonely life most of the time. Orphaned at a young age, Mika was raised by a series of nannies and tutors. Other than infrequent meetings with her fellow witches, Mika doesn’t get to share her love of magic with others, so she starts a YouTube channel where she plays a fake witch. She never expected anyone to realize she was a real witch, but to her surprise, she gets a message asking her to tutor three young witches. Mika knows she shouldn’t take this job, but the idea of sharing her passion for potions and spells with the young witches is hard to resist. Before long, she finds herself a welcome part of their little found family–by all except the cute, grumpy librarian named Jamie. Mika and her new family shine with a glow all their own. This book is like a warm welcome home and is sure to find itself being a comfort read for many. VERDICT Mandanna’s (Kiki Kallira Conquers a Curse) first adult novel is a positively adorable romantic fantasy and a must-buy for all public libraries. – Starred Library Journal 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.

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).

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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