Belated Suggested Reading January 27, 2023

Hi everyone, I’m running a bit late in getting our weekly suggested reading post out this week, due to our inclement weather on Wednesday – but better late than never – and just in time for the weekend; 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 usually published on Wednesdays.

And the next Suggested Reading posting will be published on Wednesday, February 1, 2023.

The Book of Everlasting Things: A Novel by Aanchal Malhotra

The Book of Everlasting Things

DEBUT New Delhi-born artist and oral historian Malhotra has written extensively about the 1947 Partition of India, including the Shakti Bhatt First Book Prize-shortlisted Remnants of Partition: 21 Objects from a Continent Divided, and she brings that knowledge to her first novel, rendering history in human, often poignant images. One January morning in 1938, Samir Vij, apprentice perfumer and a Hindu, meets Firdaus Khan, calligrapher’s apprentice and a Muslim, in his family’s ittar (a fragrant essential oil) shop in Lahore. Time passes, and their friendship deepens into love, until they find themselves on opposite sides of the border after Partition. The story glides back and forth in time, through two World Wars and the Partition and the recent past. Secrets are revealed, the intricacies of calligraphy and perfume-making are described, and the consequences of decisions made are recounted. Near the novel’s end, Samir sums it up: “It is difficult to forget, but it is even harder to keep remembering.” It will be difficult indeed to forget this exquisite story.
VERDICT A long and luxurious tale of love, loss, memory, and place, told against a backdrop of tumultuous historical events. – Starred Library Journal Review

A Fashionable Fatality by Alyssa Maxwell

A Fashionable Fatality
Set in 1921, Maxwell’s engrossing eighth Lady and Lady’s Maid mystery (after 2021’s A Deadly Endowment) takes plucky Lady Phoebe Renshaw and her intrepid lady’s maid, Eva Huntford, to the Cotswolds, where Phoebe’s sister, Julia, the Marchioness of Allerton, is hosting a house party. The guests include up-and-coming French fashion designer Coco Chanel, but unfortunately Coco has decided that Julia’s estate would be the perfect place to stage a fashion shoot and has brought her entire entourage without consulting her hostess. Julia endures the imperious Coco and her battling crew—a caddish photographer, two miserable assistants, and two bitterly competitive models. When one of the models is found dead of smoke inhalation, Julia is quick to blame a servant for forgetting to open the flue in the woman’s bedroom, but Phoebe is convinced it was murder. Phoebe and Eva make a great team, seamlessly working together above stairs and below stairs to uncover the truth. An evocative setting, realistic relationships, and a nicely crafted plot more than make up for the unlikely murderer simply confessing at the end. Fans of lighter historicals should be satisfied. – Publishers Weekly Review

The Local by Joey Hartstone

The Local

James Euchre, the narrator of film and TV writer Hartstone’s impressive debut, has built a successful career as a patent lawyer in Marshall, Tex., which has become the country’s leading jurisdiction for intellectual property litigation under the leadership of federal judge Gerald Gardner. When Gardner, Euchre’s mentor, is fatally stabbed after a holiday party, the prime suspect is Amir Zawar, a wealthy tech entrepreneur whom Euchre was defending against a claim of copyright infringement before Gardner. After the judge denied Zawar’s motion to dismiss the case, the irate Zawar cursed him out and threatened his life. Despite Euchre’s lack of experience in criminal defense and close relationship with the murdered man, he’s brought onboard as local counsel in the hopes that he’ll be more relatable for the jury. Euchre and his colleagues pursue a two-track defense, poking holes in the prosecution’s case to establish reasonable doubt while also investigating independently to identify a credible alternate suspect. The surprising twists are rendered plausible by Hartstone’s mastery of conveying detailed trial strategies. Scott Turow readers should take a look. – Publishers Weekly Review

Moon Rise Over New Jessup by Jamila Minnicks

Moonrise Over New Jessup
A Southern community confronts the meaning of Black power. In a warmly appealing book debut, Minnicks, winner of the 2021 PEN/Bellwether Prize for Socially Engaged Fiction, considers the fraught question of integration from the perspective of an all-Black community in rural Alabama. It’s 1957, and Alice Young is on her way to Birmingham after fleeing abuse in the segregated town where she grew up. Getting off the bus to stretch her legs, she is incredulous to find herself in a place with no “WHITES ONLY signs and backdoor Negro entrances.” New Jessup, she learns, had been established by freedmen who separated from the White community “across the woods,” where they had worked “from field to house and everywhere inside.” Even after Whites tried to run the Black people of New Jessup off the land, they rebuilt and set down roots, started thriving businesses, a school, a hospital, and farms. But, Alice soon discovers, there are troubles: A growing national movement for desegregation has incited dissension. Some in New Jessup agree with the NAACP that integration will be favorable for Blacks; others, that “independence, and not mixing” is a better goal. In New Jessup, the independence movement is adopted by the National Negro Advancement Society, whose aim is “keeping folks from across the woods outta our hair and our pockets for good!” Alice would prefer to distance herself from politics, but she becomes immersed in the controversy when she falls in love with an NNAS activist. How, the NNAS asks, can separation work for Negro communities? Will integration mean equal rights–or merely upending lives for something neither Blacks nor Whites want? What is a viable path to real power? Minnicks’ impassioned characters struggle with those questions as they think about the consequences of court-mandated integration and the reality of living in a society where, Alice realizes, “not all unwelcoming is posted in the window at eye level.” A thoughtful look at a complex issue. – Kirkus Review

The Night Travelers: A Novel by Armando Lucas Correa

The Night Travelers

Correa (The Daughter’s Tale) unfurls a stunning multigenerational story involving WWII Germany and the Cuban Revolution. In 1931 Berlin, poet Ally Keller gives birth to Lilith, her daughter with jazz musician Marcus, a Black German man. After Marcus goes missing, and as Germany marches toward war, Ally fears Lilith may be targeted by the Nazis because of her skin color, so she begs her Jewish neighbors, Beatrice and Albert Herzog, to take seven-year-old Lilith with them to Cuba. As Lilith adapts to life in Cuba with the Herzogs, she befriends Martín Bernal, and they eventually marry. But Martín’s alliance with Batista’s government puts him in danger when Fidel Castro comes to power, forcing him to leave Lilith and their daughter Nadine alone after he is captured, and Lilith arranges for Nadine to leave Cuba for the U.S., where she’s adopted by an American couple. Years later, Nadine attends college in Germany, and while working as a scientist at a research center in Berlin, her interest in her heritage leads her to information about her birth mother’s early years. Correa makes palpable the sacrifices made by Ally and Lilith for their children’s survival, and the taut pacing keeps the pages flying. Readers will be deeply moved. – Starred Publishers Weekly Review

This Other Eden by Paul Harding

This Other Eden

Pulitzer winner Harding (Tinkers) suffuses deep feeling into this understated yet wrenching story inspired by an isolated mixed-raced community’s forced resettlement in 1912 Maine. Formerly enslaved Benjamin Honey and his Irish-born wife Patience settled Apple Island more than a century earlier. Now, the hardscrabble community includes gender-bending and incestuous siblings Theophilus and Candace Lark and their four, mentally disabled children; a Civil War veteran named Zachary Hand to God Proverbs, who lives in a hollow tree; Irish sisters Iris and Violet McDermott, who raise three orphaned Penobscot children; and the Honeys’ descendents. Christian missionary and retired schoolteacher Matthew Diamond has spent the past five years visiting the island during the summer to teach the community’s children. A deeply prejudiced man, he prays for the strength to overcome his “visceral, involuntary repulsion” to Black people, and is continually shocked at the children’s quick minds as well as Ethan Honey’s talent for drawing. With eugenics on the rise, the state sets in motion a plan to clear the island and Diamond contrives to send Ethan to a colleague in Massachusetts, where he can pass as white and study art. Harding’s close-third narration gives shape and weight to the community members’ complicated feelings about their displacement, while his magisterial prose captures a sense of place (“the island a granite pebble in the frigid Atlantic shallows”). It’s a remarkable achievement. – Publishers Weekly Review

Paris Daillencourt Is About to Crumble by Alexis Hall

Paris is About To Crumble

Centering the depiction of a romantic protagonist on mental illness is a risk; making that depiction comic is riskier. If anyone can pull it off, it’s Hall (Rosaline Palmer Takes the Cake), but even so, this laugh-cry rom-com about anxiety disorder succeeds more as a personal growth story than a love story. Wealthy, white university student Paris Daillencourt’s crippling anxiety means he’s most at ease in his London flat. But his roommate pushes him to compete in a Great British Bake Off–style reality show, and because Paris can’t face conflict, he does as he’s told. Initially the spirals of paralyzing antilogic that dog his every thought have a Robin Williams quality, but once he starts negotiating the flirtatious overtures of Tariq, a Bangladeshi Muslim fellow contestant, the wrecking ball of Paris’s anxiety overcomes the humor. Internalized bias and social pressure exacerbate the damage to the men’s budding relationship, but luckily, as the wince factor rises, expertly sketched supporting characters assume the comedic responsibility. Resolving the lovers’ angst requires something of a fairy tale twist, but the rocky road to their happy ending is thoughtful, worthwhile, and, yes, funny. Series fans will not be disappointed. – Publishers Weekly Review

The Reunion: A Novel by Kayla Olson

The Reunion

In YA novelist Olson’s (This Splintered Silence) first foray into romance, Liv Latimer, the star of the popular teen drama Girl on the Verge, has returned to film a reunion episode of the show. This reunites her with co-star and former best friend Ransom Joel, who she hasn’t spoken to since their friendship imploded after the series finale 14 years prior. Sparks quickly fly between the two, but Liv, whose career has taken a different, more serious trajectory since the end of the series, must figure out how to balance her career ambitions, the possibility of a Girl on the Verge reboot series, and her budding attraction to Ransom. The second-chance, friends-to-lovers romance is well-paced and well-developed, as are Liv and Ransom’s external ambitions and challenges. Readers, especially those who were fans of Dawson’s Creek, One Tree Hill, and similar shows, will enjoy the Hollywood setting and cast of fully realized supporting characters in this excellent contemporary romance.

VERDICT A must-read for fans of Christina Lauren, Emily Henry, and early 2000s teen drama shows. – Library Journal Review

Sleep No More by Jayne Ann Krentz

Sleep No More
What’s going on at the Carnelian Sleep Institute in the quiet college town of Carnelian, Calif.? That’s the question at the heart of this enticing romantic suspense novel and Lost Night Files series launch from bestseller Krentz (Lightning in a Mirror). Months before the start of the book, Pallas Llewellyn and two strangers, Talia and Amelia, all lost their memories of the exact same window of time while staying at Lucent Springs Hotel. Since then, the women have become friends and started the podcast that gives this series its name, using it to investigate what happened to them and explore other potentially paranormal cases. Ambrose Drake turns to this podcast for help after a disturbing experience. While participating in an overnight sleep study, he’s positive that he heard screams from the adjoining room and believes a fellow patient may have been murdered, though the medical staff assure him he was only dreaming. The stakes ratchet higher when institute assistant Emery Geddings mysteriously disappears, leading Pallas and Ambrose to investigate—with explosive results. Krentz’s plot is characteristically twisty and her characters are well-shaded. The cliffhanger ending will undoubtedly frustrate some readers, but it successfully builds anticipation for future installments. Readers will be on the edges of their seats. – Publishers Weekly Review

The Vibrant Years by Sonali Dev

Vibrant Years

Regrets, secrets, and love drive this beautifully told multigenerational saga from Dev (The Emma Project). App developer Cullie Desai hit it big with Shloka, which she created to help others deal with anxiety. She then had an affair with Steve, who helped take the app to market. Now, six months after Steve went back to his wife, he’s trying to sabotage the program by charging users a subscription fee, prompting Cullie to come up with another winner so she can boot him from the team. Meanwhile, her mother, Aly, is still chasing her dream of becoming a television news anchor, a career that’s already cost Aly her marriage and 10 years of being pushed into the background by her boss. Meanwhile, Cullie’s paternal grandmother, Bindu, who’s just received a substantial inheritance, tries to create a new life at an upscale seniors’ residence. Unfortunately, the inheritance is tied to a painful secret from her distant past. Dev easily gets the reader to root for her well-rounded characters, and the intertwined story lines wrap up with a delightful ending. This effervescent tale is sure to please the author’s fans and win her new ones. – Publishers Weekly 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.

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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