Suggested Reading September 27, 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, October 4, 2022.

Act Of Oblivion: A Novel by Robert Harris

(Available Formats: Print Book)

Acto of Oblivion

The latest novel by the author of V2 (2020) and Imperium (2006), among many others, is set in Massachusetts in 1660. It’s been 11 years since King Charles I was executed during the Civil War of 1642-51. Several of the people behind the king’s murder are still free. Richard Nayler, an officer of the Privy Council, is determined to bring them to justice. Harris focuses on two of the “regicides,” Edward Whalley and William Goffe, who fled to Massachusetts. Like most of the characters in the book, Whalley and Goffe are real people, and, as he usually does, Harris sticks closely to the known facts as much as he can (Nayler, the manhunter, is fictional, as is the story of his pursuit of the two regicides). It will come as no surprise to readers familiar with Harris’ work that this is a splendidly written historical novel. Harris really is a joy to read, and it’s interesting to see how he adjusts his writing style with each book to reflect the story’s time period (this one is less ornate than his books set in ancient Rome but more ornate than his WWII novels). Another top-flight effort from a master storyteller. – Booklist

Because I Could Not Stop for Death by Amanda Flower

(Available Formats: eBook)

Because I Could Not Stop for Death

Emily Dickinson plays sleuth in this sprightly series launch from Flower (the Magical Bookshop mysteries). One night in 1855, Henry Noble, a stable hand with a tendency to get into trouble, tells his sister, Willa, a shy, insecure maid who’s just been hired to work for the Dickinsons, a well-to-do family in Amherst, Mass., that he’s about to make enough money to change both their lives—but he won’t tell her how until this coming Sunday. When Henry dies in a seeming accident at the town stable before Sunday, 25-year-old Emily, moved by Willa’s grief, insists that she and Willa launch their own investigation, starting with the stable. Courageous and intelligent, Emily asks uncomfortable questions of those with money and power, not just in Amherst but in Washington, D.C., a trip that the Dickinson family actually made by train in 1855. This mystery works best when it delves into the complexities of the Dickinson family, particular its depiction of Emily’s cold father, Congressman Edward Dickinson, and her controlling sister, Lavinia. This is a good start to what could be a rich historical series. – Publishers Weekly Review

Gather The Bones by Alison Stuart

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

Gather The Bones

Likable, relatable characters augment Stuart’s compelling romantic ghost story set in post-WWI England. When war widow Helen Morrow visits the family home of Charlie, her deceased husband, for the first time, she is greeted by his resentful mother. The fact that Helen is Australian is enough to turn Lady Evelyn Morrow and all of her peers against the “colonial interloper,” even to the point of snubbing Helen and Charlie’s young child. Helen’s only ally is Charlie’s cousin Paul, a recluse recovering from his own war injuries and tortured by painful memories. When eerie manifestations begin to haunt the pair, it’s easy for Paul to dismiss them as nothing—or perhaps as symptoms of his battle-related trauma. But as ghosts from both the recent and the distant past encroach, Paul and Helen are drawn toward each other. A little predictability doesn’t detract from Stuart’s beautifully drawn story about the damage wrought by war and xenophobia, and the transcendent power of love.

Gmorning, Gnight!: Little Pep Talks for Me & You by Lin-Manuel Miranda

(Available Formats: Print Book & downloadable audiobook)

Gmorning And Gnight

Suggested way to listen to this audiobook–one “gmorning” and “gnight” at a time, when you wake up and before you go to sleep. That way, you’ll begin and end your day with Lin-Manuel Miranda’s gentle, encouraging voice offering tiny but powerful doses of affirmation and inspiration. The audiobook is an intimate experience: Listeners hear Miranda deliberately take a deep breath, or yawn, or let out a long groan, or sip a cup of coffee as he shares these sometimes sweet, sometimes moving, sometimes funny greetings, compiled from years of his posts on Twitter. It’s like having a friend in your ear reminding you that you’re not alone, that you’ll get through this, that there’s always a chance for a fresh start, and a rest at the end of it. – AudioFile Review

The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien

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

Hobbit

If you aren’t already a Lord of the Rings fan, you will be once you read The Hobbit. Tolkien’s writing is ethereal, his vivid imagery and detailed descriptions fully immersing you into his fictional world of Middle-earth. So go ahead, go on this adventure with Bilbo Baggins as he finds himself roped into a quest to defeat Smaug the dragon!

The journey through Middle-earth begins here with J.R.R. Tolkien’s classic prelude to his Lord of the Rings trilogy.

“A glorious account of a magnificent adventure, filled with suspense and seasoned with a quiet humor that is irresistible… All those, young or old, who love a fine adventurous tale, beautifully told, will take The Hobbit to their hearts.”—The New York Times Book Review

“In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.” So begins one of the most beloved and delightful tales in the English language—Tolkien’s prelude to The Lord of the Rings. Set in the imaginary world of Middle-earth, at once a classic myth and a modern fairy tale, The Hobbit is one of literature’s most enduring and well-loved novels.

Bilbo Baggins is a hobbit who enjoys a comfortable, unambitious life, rarely traveling any farther than his pantry or cellar. But his contentment is disturbed when the wizard Gandalf and a company of dwarves arrive on his doorstep one day to whisk him away on an adventure. They have launched a plot to raid the treasure hoard guarded by Smaug the Magnificent, a large and very dangerous dragon. Bilbo reluctantly joins their quest, unaware that on his journey to the Lonely Mountain he will encounter both a magic ring and a frightening creature known as Gollum.

The Manhattan Girls by Gill Paul

(Available Formats: Print Book & Large Print)

Manhattan Girls

Dorothy Parker’s wit is famous (if not infamous), but her fragile ego and intense longing are less often discussed. In her latest piece of historical fiction, Paul introduces the reader to Parker’s circle of friends in early 1920s New York. Parker’s acerbic sense of humor lays the foundations for the group at the “Gonk” (the Algonquin Hotel) to chat and gossip and drink. Among Parker’s closest friends are Jane Grant, the first woman reporter at the New York Times; Winifred Lenihan, Broadway star; and Peggy Leach, a brilliant writer disguised as a mousy spinster. Each woman takes a turn narrating as Paul moves around Manhattan, from speakeasies to run-down, walk-up apartments. The women must navigate the heady and confusing atmosphere of postwar NYC. They become united in their efforts to keep Parker from falling completely apart when her marriage begins to falter. Paul (The Lost Daughter, 2019) strikes a balance between the cynicism of the Lost Generation and the characters’ sincere desires to find happiness and stability. Witty, emotional, and intelligent. – Booklist Review

Need To Know: World War II and the Rise of American Intelligence by Nicholas Reynolds

(Available Formats: Print Book)

Need To Know

Former CIA officer Reynolds (Writer, Sailor, Soldier, Spy) delivers an exhaustively researched critical history of American military intelligence from 1940 to the beginning of the Cold War. Before WWII, Reynolds notes, the U.S. had no permanent spy agency. At the war’s outset, President Franklin Roosevelt’s “haphazard approach” led to multiple counterintelligence programs: the Army and Navy each had its own systems for tracking and breaking encrypted messages; J. Edgar Hoover’s nascent FBI had begun foreign campaigns in Latin America; and William “Wild Bill” Donovan’s Office of Strategic Services, an independent department based on the British intelligence services, changed its mission according to the whims of its impulsive founder. Reynolds spends little time recounting far-flung spy missions, choosing instead to focus on the internal conflicts and personality clashes that roiled these intelligence agencies, including the battle for power between Donovan and Hoover. Light is also shed on lesser-known figures including Kenneth A. Knowles, a former gunnery officer who led the Navy’s efforts to track German U-boats in the Atlantic. Though the extensive cast of characters can be hard to keep track of, Reynolds’s scrupulous and well-rounded approach reveals the good, the bad, and the reckless in the early days of U.S. intelligence. Espionage buffs will be fascinated. – Publishers Weekly Review

The Old Place by Bobby Finger

(Available Formats: Print Book & eBook)

The Old Place

Long-buried secrets lurk everywhere in Billington, the small Texas town of this debut from journalist and Who? Weekly celebrity podcast cohost Finger. Curmudgeonly protagonist Mary Alice, a widow, lost her only son when he was just 18; both her husband’s and her son’s deaths occurred under bizarre circumstances. Her best friend, Ellie, lost a son, too, just before Mary Alice’s son passed. Finally retired from her position teaching math at the local high school, where she had become an institution, Mary Alice is irked by her replacement, Josie. New York City transplant Josie’s urbanity triggers something scornful inside Mary Alice, and this is when things really begin to unravel. The return of Mary Alice’s estranged sister Katherine further sends Mary Alice’s quaint routine into upheaval. The repercussions of spilled secrets and the appearance of town ghosts could mean the rewriting of history . . . something Mary Alice fears she is not built to survive. Cozy, enthralling, and driven by complex, endearing women, The Old Place explores the mysterious act of realizing the worst in oneself and pushing forward anyway. – Booklist Review

On The Rooftop: A Novel by Margaret Wilkerson Sexton

(Available Formats: Print Book, Large Print & eBook)

On The Rooftop

For years, Vivian trained her daughters, Ruth, Esther, and Chloe, on their building’s rooftop to sing as the Salvations. In 1953, her dream of a better life for them is on the cusp of coming true. Vivian and her late husband, whom she still grieves, came to San Francisco from Louisiana to escape white hoods and threats. When Vivian shares the news that a man with connections wants to manage the Salvations on a national tour, Ruth has news of her own. Later, Esther is drawn to a cause, and Chloe to a man that she perhaps shouldn’t be. All this unfolds as their supportive, Black-owned neighborhood is targeted by white gentrifiers. Sexton (The Revisioners, 2019) offers another rich, complex novel that tells deeply personal stories against a national and historical backdrop. Narrating duties rotate among Vivian and each of her daughters, illuminating the stressors and conflicting values that the women must navigate as they try to find themselves within their singing family, their Black community, and their unjust country. Once again, Sexton delivers. – Booklist Review

Seasonal Work: Stories by Laura Lippman

(Available Formats: Print Book)

Seasonal Work

These 12 stories were written between 2007 and 2019 and appeared in various anthologies, except for “”Just One More,”” a never-previously-published novella about a married couple in the midst of the pandemic who decide to sign up for a dating app just for fun–something to vary the routine of streaming Columbo. This excruciatingly timely story perfectly captures the quotidian sameness of life during lockdown until it corkscrews into something very different. Throughout the collection, Lippman showcases a pitch-perfect sense of how to end a short piece, surprising us with revelatory twists but never doing so in a formulaic, O. Henry way. Also on display is Lippman’s ability to create compelling female characters of varying ages, from forty-somethings to teens and children, who combine resolute determination with sometimes-heartbreaking personal vulnerability. Fans will be pleased to find two Tess Monaghan stories here, along with one about the early lives of Tess’ parents, Judith and Patrick. The outstanding title story has Tess, still a reporter before launching her PI business, exposing an audacious Christmas scam but being outmaneuvered by the teenager she attempts to rescue. (Lippman’s great feel for teen characters inspires hope that a YA thriller might be in her future.) All in all, this is a first-rate collection, an obvious must for the legions of Lippman fans, but also great reading for anyone who savors short crime fiction. – Booklist 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.

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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