Suggested Reading December 14, 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 now published on Wednesdays.

And we are getting closer to the end of the year (how did that happen so fast?!), the suggested reading posts for this month will feature some of the most popular and critically acclaimed titles published in 2022.

And the next Suggested Reading posting will be published on Wednesday, December 21, 2022.

Afterlives by Abdulrazak Gurnah

(Available Formats: Print Book & eBook)


The latest novel from Nobel laureate Gurnah resists categorization. As a breathtaking historical account, this underscores decades-long horrors of war, displacement, slavery, and colonial conquest. Yet Gurnah also intimately captures luminous facets of humanity through unique characters, each with a rich personal background and attention-grabbing, often humorous, sometimes disturbing idiosyncrasies. Ultimately, in this story of a love that transcends pain, suffering, tragedy, and misfortune, Gurnah constructs a remarkable portrait of tenderness, deep affection, and longing that stretches over time and across continents. Set in colonial East Africa in the early twentieth century, the book centers on Hamza, who volunteers as an askari (local soldier) fighting for German colonial troops. After recovering from a debilitating injury, Hamza flees to his old home. He secures work and meets Afiya, who was rescued by her brother, Ilyas, from a terrifyingly abusive childhood and a life of oppressive and violent servitude. As Hamza and Afiya begin their courtship and find love, Ilyas, who also volunteered as an askari, has disappeared, perhaps as a casualty of war. While Ilyas’ whereabouts remain unknown, Afiya discovers, through Hamza’s old war contacts, priceless information regarding her long-lost but never-forgotten brother. Absorbing, powerful, and enduring, Afterlives is an extraordinary reading experience by one of the great writers of our time. –Booklist Review

The Atlas Paradox by Olivie Blake

(Available Formats: Print Book)

Atlas Paradox

Following the events of The Atlas Six (2020), Blake returns readers to the elite Alexandrian Society’s second year of study for the strongest, most powerful medeians in the world. Libby Rhodes is gone, and the five initiates who remain have promised to find her. Their search for Libby is not as straightforward as it seems when it appears the question is not where Libby Rhodes is but when. Between a sentient library with an agenda of its own, shifting alliances, and a caretaker who is increasingly hostile to the initiates, the group struggles to come together to find Libby and reestablish their own lives in the outside world, all while being hunted by the mysterious Forum, the Alexandrian Society’s rival. The society’s initiates are incredibly powerful yet incredibly flawed human beings, demonstrating Blake’s masterful skills at characterization. Fantasy fans will not be disappointed by the complex and varied magic system that relies more on solid scientific principals than do other series treading similar ground. Blake has built a unique and interesting dark-academia fantasy full of intrigue and suspense. HIGH-

DEMAND BACKSTORY: Dark academia is hot right now, and readers have been clamoring for more since 2020’s viral, best-selling The Atlas Six, so expect lots of holds. –Booklist Reivew

Black Cake by Charmaine Wilkerson

(Available Formats: Print Book, eBook & Downloadable Audiobook)

Black Cake

Wilkerson debuts with a shining family saga that stretches from the 1960s Caribbean to present-day Southern California. After septuagenarian Eleanor Bennett dies, her lawyer plays a lengthy message she has recorded for her children Byron and Benny. The siblings have made for uneasy company with each other since a rift grew between them—Byron, the oldest, is laser-focused on his career, while his sister Benny is drifting. They knew their mother as a stern presence and an accomplished swimmer from somewhere in the Caribbean (who was also known to bake a rum and port soaked “black cake” from an old family recipe), but neither is prepared for what they learn from the recording. Eleanor is in fact Coventina “Covey” Lyncook, who was married off to a gangster named Little Man in 1965 by her debt-ridden father. At the wedding, Little Man drops dead, poisoned. Covey runs from the scene and, knowing she will be suspected of murder, swims away from the island. At first shocked by the revelations, Byron and Benny reconcile, and their mother’s instructions to share a black cake she’d left in the freezer “when the time is right” take on great poignancy. Wilkerson offers superb descriptions of Covey’s homeland, from the tension between those who speak patois and those who believe in the superiority of standard English, to sensual descriptions of food, surfing, and coastal terrain. Readers will adore this highly accomplished effort from a talented new writer. –Publishers Weekly Review

Carrie Soto Is Back by Taylor Jenkins-Reid

(Available Formats: Print Book, Large Print, CD Audiobook, eBook & Downloadable Audiobook)

Carrie Soto Is Back

A retired tennis player returns to the game to defend her Grand Slam record. Carrie Soto is the best tennis player in the world, and she knows it. Her father, Javier, is a former tennis champion himself, and he’s dedicated his life to coaching her. By the time she retires in 1989, she holds the record for winning 20 Grand Slam singles titles. But then, in 1994, Nicki Chan comes along. Nicki is on the verge of breaking Carrie’s record, and Carrie decides she can’t let that happen: She’s coming out of retirement, with her father coaching her, to defend her record…and her reputation. Carrie was never a friendly player, preferring to focus on both a brutal game and brutal honesty, and now the media has a field day with her return to the sport as a 37-year-old. At times, it seems like everyone is waiting for her to fail, but when Carrie wants something, she doesn’t give up easily. Along the way, she reconnects with Bowe Huntley, a 39-year-old tennis player she once had a fling with. Now they need to help each other train, but Carrie quickly realizes she might need him for more than just tennis–if she can let herself be vulnerable for the first time in her life. Reid writes about the game with suspense, transforming a tennis match into a page-turner even for readers who don’t care about sports. Will Carrie win? And, more importantly, will she finally make time for a life outside of winning? Reid has scored another victory and created another memorable heroine with Carrie Soto, a brash, often unlikable character whose complexity makes her leap off the page. Sports commentators may call her “The Battle Axe” or worse, but readers will root for her both on and off the court. A compulsively readable look at female ambition. –Kirkus Review

Daughter of the Moon Goddess by Sue Lynn Tan

(Available Formats: Print Book, eBook & Downloadable Audiobook)

Daughter of the Moon Goddess

DEBUT Tan’s epic fantasy (the first in a duology) draws on the mythology of Chang’e, the Chinese goddess of the moon. Protagonist Xingyin has only ever known a life of solitude on the moon with her mother and trusted servants. She’s unaware that her mother is in exile, for stealing the Celestial Emperor’s elixir of life and transforming into the Moon Goddess. Xingyin’s existence has been kept hidden, until her magic flares and the Emperor investigates; she’s forced to run away to the beautiful, secretive Celestial Kingdom. Hiding her identity becomes second nature to Xingyin, even when she becomes study partner and servant to the Celestial Crown Prince. As Xingyin searches for a way to free her mother from exile, she must also face battles of honor, love, and sacrifice; following her heart could destroy the kingdom she has been trained to protect.

VERDICT An exquisitely detailed fantasy with a strong, vulnerable protagonist. The intimate prose makes Tan’s wonderful debut an immersive experience; share with fans of Shelley Parker-Chan and Katherine Arden. –Starred Library Journal Review

Horse by Geraldine Brooks

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

The Horse

In this powerful story from the Pulitzer Prize-winning Brooks, an enslaved groom named Jarrett leads the bay foal he’s bonded with to record-shattering racing victories across the 1850s South. During the Civil War, the two meet up dangerously with an itinerant artist who’s won fame with his many paintings of the stunning racehorse. A gallery owner in 1950s New York becomes fascinated with the paintings, but it’s not until 2019 that a Nigerian American art historian uncovers the true story of the horse and groom and links up with a Smithsonian scientist who’s studying the horse’s bones to learn the secret of its extraordinary endurance. Based on the true story of a racehorse named Lexington and sure to attract a wide range of readers. –Library Journal Review

If I Survive You by Jonathan Escoffery

(Available Formats: Print Book & Downloadable Audiobook)

If I Survive You

Escoffery’s vibrant and varied debut, a linked collection, chronicles the turbulent fate of a Jamaican American family in Miami. Trelawny, the main character in most of the entries, is the younger of two sons. He questions where his light skin places him within America’s racial categories and where he fits into family hierarchy: “You want to prove your father bet on the wrong son,” Trelawny narrates in the title story, addressing his father’s favorable treatment of his older brother, Delano, an arborist and musician. “In Flux” recounts Trelawny’s liberal arts education as he leaves Miami and attends college in the colder, and more racially homogenous, Midwest. “Odd Jobs,” “Independent Living,” and the title story center on the strange and ethically dubious gigs Trelawny takes to survive, including a running stint as a voyeur for a rich Miami couple, asking himself all the while: “What kind of employee are you? And just what kind of man?” Two stories exert a thrilling dramatic pull: In “Splashdown,” Trelawny’s cousin Cukie learns the lobster trapping trade, and something darker, from his estranged father; and “If He Suspected He’d Get Someone Killed…” follows Delano rushing to secure a bucket truck and a tree-trimming contract before a dangerous storm arrives. This charged work keeps a tight hold on the reader. –Starred Publishers Weekly Review

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

(Available Formats: Print Book, eBook & Downloadable Audiobook)

An Immense World

Pulitzer-winning journalist Yong (I Contain Multitudes) reveals in this eye-opening survey animals’ world through their own perceptions. Every animal is “enclosed within its own unique sensory bubble,” he writes, or its own “perceptual world.” Yong’s tour covers vision (mantis shrimp have “12 photoreceptor classes”), sound (birds, researchers suggest, hear in a similar range as humans but they hear faster), and nociception, the tactile sense that sends danger signals (which is so widespread that it exists among “creatures separated by around 800 million years of evolution”). There are a wealth of other senses outside the standard five: sea turtles have two magnetic senses, electric fish generate currents to “sense their surroundings” as well as to communicate with each other, and the platypus’s sensitive bill gives it what scientists think may be “electrotouch.” Yong ends with a warning against light and sound pollution, which can confuse and disturb animals’ lives, and advocation that “natural sensescapes” ought to be preserved and restored. He’s a strong writer and makes a convincing case against seeing the world as only humans do: “By giving in to our preconceptions, we miss what might be right in front of us. And sometimes what we miss is breathtaking.” This is science writing at its best. – Publishers Weekly Review

Killers of a Certain Age by Deanna Raybourn

(Available Formats: Print Book, eBook & Downloadable Audiobook)

Killers of a Certain Age

Edgar finalist Raybourn (the Speedwell series) makes a dazzling excursion out of the Victorian era with this uproarious contemporary thriller. Billie, Mary Alice, Natalie, and Helen have been a cozy quartet of “avenging goddesses” for more than 40 years, one of the “most elite assassin squads on earth,” recruited in late 1978 by an “extra governmental” organization called the Museum. Soon after they’re forced to go on an all-expenses-paid retirement cruise in the Caribbean, they discover they’ve apparently been targeted for death by the Museum board. They immediately go into investigative overdrive, relying on their expert training and experiences to uncover the means and motives behind their potential demise. Flashbacks to several of their high-profile cases, including a Zanzibar hit on an aging baroness that comes back to haunt Billie, keep the reader guessing. Colorful regional details and vividly portrayed secondary characters flesh out this rollicking tale. Fans of Helen Tursten and Richard Osman will relish watching these badass women in their 60s (“no one notices you unless you want them to,” Billie observes) swing into action. Raybourn has outdone herself. –Publishers Weekly Review

Things We Never Got Over by Lucy Score

(Available Formats: Print Book)

Things We Never Got Over

Bearded, bad-boy barber Knox prefers to live his life the way he takes his coffee: Alone. Unless you count his basset hound, Waylon.

Knox doesn’t tolerate drama, even when it comes in the form of a stranded runaway bride.

Naomi wasn’t just running away from her wedding. She was riding to the rescue of her estranged twin to Knockemout, Virginia, a rough-around-the-edges town where disputes are settled the old-fashioned way with fists and beer. Usually in that order.

Too bad for Naomi her evil twin hasn’t changed at all. After helping herself to Naomi’s car and cash, Tina leaves her with something unexpected. The niece Naomi didn’t know she had. Now she’s stuck in town with no car, no job, no plan, and no home with an 11-year-old going on thirty to take care of.

There’s a reason Knox doesn’t do complications or high-maintenance women, especially not the romantic ones. But since Naomi’s life imploded right in front of him, the least he can do is help her out of her jam. And just as soon as she stops getting into new trouble he can leave her alone and get back to his peaceful, solitary life. At least, that’s the plan until the trouble turns to real danger.

Have a great day!

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.

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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