Suggested Reading: February 22, 2023

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 usually published on Wednesdays, unless Linda is swamped and then they are occasionally published on Thursdays.

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

The Angel Maker by Alex North

(Available Formats: Print Book – coming out February 28 – you can place a  hold for it now!)

The Angel Maker

This third thriller from North (after The Shadows, 2020) is impossible to define. At its center is a present-day murder, but embedded in its core are the paranormal, elements of cringeworthy horror, and a riveting study of the bonds and boundaries of sibling devotion, as well as a master study on determinism. If every detail of the past is set, then everything in the future must also be determined. The narrative spans decades, moving backward and forward in time, and is told from multiple perspectives beginning in the past with Jack Lock, the Angel Maker, a serial killer directed by his supposed ability to see the future. When philosophy professor Alan Hobbes is found murdered, it appears he had known death was coming for him and believed the suffering was due to having gone against what was predetermined. Detective Laurence Page is facing a complicated case, because every lead on Hobbes’ murder points back to the Angel Maker’s crimes and to a savage attack on teenager Christopher Shaw, whose sister, Katie, is experiencing her own terrors relating back to her brother’s assault. Everything in this story is connected in ways the reader can’t begin to imagine until a series of stunning parallels and revelations are disclosed. Wait for it! – Booklist Review

An Autobiography of Skin: A Novel by Lakiesha Carr

(Available Formats: Print Book, coming out February 28 – place a hold for it now!)

An Autobiography of Skin

Carr’s multigenerational debut explores the stories of three Black women in east Texas. Jeanette, in middle age, is in a loveless marriage and often finds herself in a secret gambling den. The adrenaline is short-lived before she inevitably heads home and faces the reality of the anniversary of her mother’s passing. Bookworm Maya marries a street guy who, working as a director of adult entertainment, is too busy to help Maya in her postpartum struggles. Two children later, Maya eventually succumbs to mental health issues because she realizes she can’t protect her two sons from the mortality of racism. Ketinah has the ability to see spirits and moves home to help her family overcome a ghost that haunts them. Emotions practically drip off the page as Carr immerses the reader in the lives of these women. Trauma nearly swallows them whole before victory emerges towards the end. The protagonists often appear two-dimensional, and their story ultimately leaves the reader wanting more, but Carr’s writing is eloquent and engaging, and her supporting characters are strong. – Booklist Review

Best Served Hot by Amanda Elliot

(Available Formats: Print Book)

Best Served Hot

A foodie influencer teams up with a pretentious food critic in this zesty rom-com from Elliot (Sadie on a Plate). Julie Zimmerman works as an executive assistant but her true passion is trying trendy New York City restaurants and posting food reviews on social media. However, her meager salary has always placed a limit on her success; without a newspaper backing her financially, she has to pay for all her meals out of pocket. When she runs into haughty Bennett Wright, new restaurant critic for the powerful New York Scroll, at a food festival, his entitled demeanor sets her off, and their encounter ends in a shouting match. But when a video of them squabbling goes viral, boosting both of their platforms, they reluctantly agree that working together could be mutually beneficial. Despite their vastly different lifestyles, their shared love for food brings them closer, and their early contempt is replaced by undeniable, intoxicating chemistry. This classic enemies-to-lovers plot is a slow burn, but the result is worth the wait and the food descriptions along the way will make readers salivate. Romance fans are sure to be charmed. – Publishers Weekly Review

Burner by Mark Greaney

(Available Formats: Print Book)


Bestseller Greaney’s solid 12th Gray Man novel (after 2022’s Sierra Six) finds former CIA officer Court Gentry (aka the Gray Man) sinking the yachts of wealthy criminal Russians on the behalf of an ex-pat Ukrainian oligarch, a freelance job Gentry considers honorable in the face of Moscow’s war on Ukraine, but next is locating his lost lover, former SVR operative Zoya Zakharova. In Zurich, Swiss banker Alex Velesky meets with Russian financial planner Igor Krupkin, who wants to strike at Russia because his son died while fighting in Ukraine. Krupkin has two phones loaded with state secrets regarding money that Russia has used to finance secret illegal operations in the West. He wants Velesky, who also hates Russia, to give one phone to the owner of a forensic accounting firm and the other to a shady lawyer so the material can be organized and made public. Gentry and Zoya are hired independently of each other to retrieve the phones. The two plots run parallel until the missions intersect and the two lovers are reunited and face almost impossible odds. Impressive spycraft and action scenes that are intense without being cartoonish make up for the drawn-out plot. Series fans will be satisfied. – Publishers Weekly Review

Homestead by Melinda Moustakis

(Available Formats: Print Book)


Moustakis shines in her debut, the dramatic rendering of a young couple’s homesteader life in mid-1950s Alaska. Marie Kubala, having fled a dreary life in Texas, visits her sister and her husband, Sly, in Alaska, hoping to find a husband. Meanwhile, Lawrence Beringer, a Korean War vet from a small Minnesota farm, arrives with big dreams for his 150-acre claim in the Alaskan territory. The two meet at a lodge, where they bond over a shared excitement at the prospect of owning their own land. Moustakis adroitly traces their trajectory as they marry and throw themselves into the rigors of setting up a home in the wild. It takes a while for Lawrence to become intimate with Marie, and their relationship strengthens under false pretenses after he lies about adding her name to the land deed. Later, they face devastating challenges while trying to start a family, as well as catastrophic dangers in the wild, and Marie’s questions about the deed push them to a boiling point. The wondrous descriptions of the back-breaking labor involved in clearing and farming the land, and of the region’s vast beauty, will make readers feel like they’re there. This evocative, well-drawn account of Alaska’s American settlers is so convincing it ought to come with a pair of mittens. Starred Publishers Weekly Review

A County You Can Leave by Asale Angel-Ajani

(Available Formats: Print Book)

A Country You Can Leave Behind

Lara is nothing like her heavily sequined, chain-smoking mother, Yevgenia, who left Russia in the early eighties and has been nomadic ever since. Brash, always reading, and always complaining about the lack of intellectualism in the U.S., Yevgenia works as a waitress at a rural desert dive bar outside Los Angeles. Lara is Black–half Slavic, half Afro-Cuban–and, thanks to her latent Soviet mentality, Yevgenia sees social class as more pertinent than race, leaving Lara alone to navigate so much. This impressive debut novel follows Lara through her late teenage years as she struggles to make sense of herself, her mother, and her place in the world. Lara is an enchanting protagonist, equal parts skeptic and romantic. She dreams beyond the Oasis, the plot of mobile homes where she and Yevgenia currently reside. Lara’s quest morphs into a journey to find friendship, then her father, and then what, exactly, her future might hold. Angel-Ajani’s book is breathless and beautiful, and Lara is a gloriously brave American hero. – Booklist Review

The Headmaster’s List by Melissa de la Cruz

(Available Formats:Print Book)

The Headmaster's List

After leaving a party, four teens get into a car crash that results in traumatic injuries and death in this riveting mystery by de la Cruz (Going Dark). Eighteen-year-old Spencer Sandoval, an astronaut hopeful with plans to attend Caltech, is a top student and on the coveted Headmaster’s List at her elite L.A. prep school. Following the accident—which involved über-popular Christopher Moore, who was killed in the crash; classmate Tabby Hill; and ex-boyfriend Ethan Amoroso—Spencer wakes up in the hospital with serious injuries and few memories of the party. She’s given a service dog named Ripley and assigned a student aide, Ethan’s best friend Jackson Chen, to help her take notes in class. As she and Jackson grow closer, rumors claiming that Ethan was responsible for the crash begin circulating. Spencer and Jackson decide to investigate the incident, hoping to prove Ethan’s innocence, especially as an even more concerning rumor comes to light: that the crash was actually a premeditated murder. Employing familiar prep school tropes, de la Cruz renders an invigorating thriller populated by well-rounded characters and teeming with anticipatory tension. Character descriptions imply racial diversity throughout.

The Neighbor Favor by Kristina Forest

(Available Formats: Print Book)

The Neighbor Favor

In this bookish romance, two people who fell for each other through email unknowingly become neighbors. Lily Greene’s dream job is to edit children’s books, specifically fantasy books with Black characters reminiscent of The Elves of Ceradon by the pseudonymous N.R. Strickland, her favorite little-known book, which is out of print. On a whim, Lily emails the author and is shocked when he responds. They strike up a correspondence that grows increasingly personal…until he ghosts her. Months later, needing a date to her sister’s wedding, she decides to ask her new “fine as hell” neighbor, not knowing he’s the man who just broke her heart. Nick Brown thought he’d put N.R. Strickland behind him, but when his literary agent strikes a major deal to republish The Elves of Ceradon and write two sequels, he moves to New York City, where he knows Lily lives. He stopped emailing her so he could continue to protect his closely held anonymity, but he misses her. When he discovers that the cute neighbor who asked him on a date is in fact Lily, he has to figure out if he’ll disclose the truth or keep his distance. Although the story relies on formulaic plotting, this romance has thoughtful portrayals of characters working on their self-esteem and learning to speak up for themselves, giving both leads room to grow. Realistic and interesting relationships between the leads and their families and friends add richness. Book-loving romantics will be charmed. – Kirkus Review

The Writing Retreat: A Novel by Julia Bartz

(Available Formats:Print Book)

Aspiring novelist Alex—the narrator of Bartz’s audacious psychological thriller debut—idolizes button-pushing feminist horror writer Roza Vallo, so she’s elated when Roza selects her to attend an exclusive, all-female writing retreat at Blackbriar, Roza’s remote Adirondacks estate. Upon arriving, Alex and the other four invitees learn they must each conceive of and complete an entirely new book in the next 28 days. Roza will eject anyone who doesn’t make their daily word count, but her editor will publish the best finished manuscript and pay its author a $1 million advance. With Roza’s encouragement, Alex begins a fictionalized account of the bizarre, unsolved deaths of Blackbriar’s builder and his occultist wife. The story flows as though channeled, but when unsettling events start happening and one of the participants disappears during a blizzard, Alex wonders if perhaps she should focus less on potential fame and more on survival. Boldly drawn characters complement Bartz’s gleefully twisted plot. Excerpts from Alex’s work-in-progress pepper her increasingly paranoid narration, underscoring her shifting mindset. Sara Gran fans, take note. – Publishers Weekly Review

Have a great rest-of-the 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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