Suggested Reading: March 15, 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 now published on Wednesdays.

And the next Suggested Reading posting will be published on Wednesday, March 22, 2023.

At Sea by Emma Fedor

(Available Formats: Print Book)

At Sea

A young woman falls in love with a fishlike man in Fedor’s mesmerizing fantastical debut. Unable to find a job or internship after college, Cara stays at her aunt and uncle’s house on Martha’s Vineyard, a haven with fond memories of summers with her now-deceased mother. She meets Brendan, a member of the Army’s Special Forces, who reveals that his superhuman ability to stay underwater for long periods of time is the result of gill-like enhancements made by the military. Though Brendan’s mood swings and abrupt disappearances are concerning, Cara falls for him and abandons her plans to move in with a friend in New York City. After getting pregnant with Brendan and giving birth to their son Micah, Cara stays with Brendan until he and Micah abruptly disappear. Five years later, Cara is still living on Martha’s Vineyard and married to Graham, a comparatively stable guy whose “style is based entirely on comfort and practicality.” Still, she never gives up hope that she will find Micah, especially after a local fisherman says he saw a man and a boy swimming together far out in the ocean, and when she runs into Brendan at her art gallery. Fedor’s neatly plotted narrative keeps the pages turning, and Cara’s emotional pull toward her lost family makes the far-fetched conceit feel believable. This sparkling debut will hook readers. – Starred Publishers Weekly Review

Backpacking Through Bedlam by Seanan McGuire

(Available Formats: Print Book)

Backpacking Through Bedlam

Alice Price-Healy has been reunited with her husband, Thomas, after 50 years of searching dimensions for him. Returning hundreds of other people trapped by the Crossroads in a dying dimension finally ends, and Alice and Thomas can go home. Sure, they are going home with Thomas’s adopted daughter, Sally, and a lot of decades of baggage still not unpacked, but they can finally take some time to relax–or not. For the Covenant has declared war on the family, and they are willing, eager in fact, to kill every cryptid between them. Now in New York, Thomas and Sally must find a way to support the cryptids who are in hiding from the Covenant, kick them back across the ocean once again, and repair the damage that has been done with their long absence. Numerous family and friends are featured in the book from previous novels and stories, showing McGuire’s detailed worldbuilding and the intertwined lives of her characters. VERDICT Following on Spelunking Through Hell, this latest installment in the “InCryptid” series continues to highlight the fast action, delightful cryptids and the gloriously dysfunctional family dynamics the Prices are known for. Urban fantasy fans will rejoice. – Library Journal Review

Reader’s Note: As mentioned, this is the twelfth book in the series; if you’d like to start reading the series from the beginning check out book one: Discount Armageddon.

The Best Strangers in the World: Stories from a Life Spent Listening by Ari Shapiro

(Available Formats: Print Book)

The Best Strangers In The World

In this engaging memoir, Shapiro (host, NPR’s All Things Considered) gives insight into both his personal and professional life. As the only Jewish child in his elementary school and the first openly gay student in high school, Shapiro learned to make connections and communicate among disparate groups of people. His innate curiosity and natural storytelling ability led to an internship and eventual career with NPR. He reveals the personal side of various assignments, including his time in the White House press corps and as an international correspondent based in London. He also discusses his personal life, including his side job as a singer with the band Pink Martini and his musical show with Alan Cumming. Shapiro never shies away from telling of his missteps and embarrassing moments. Throughout, Shapiro elegantly and compassionately shares the stories of people he’s encountered and how their individual experiences connect with humanity as a whole.

VERDICT Shapiro’s confident, clear voice and self-deprecating humor, familiar to his many fans, translates well to the written word. His writing will resonate with many and is a treasure for biography readers. Highly recommended. – Starred Library Journal Review

Beyond That, The Sea: A Novel by Laura Spence-Ash

(Available Formats: Print Book)

Beyond That The Sea

At the end of summer in 1940, Millie and Reg made the tough choice to send 11-year-old Beatrix to a family in the U.S. as Germany intensified its attacks on England. Nancy and Ethan Gregory, along with 13-year-old William and nine-year-old Gerald, welcome Bea at Boston Harbor, and nothing will ever be the same again. With every new experience Bea shares with the Gregorys, what part of her previous life does she need to let go of? With lively characters that continue to grow and change over four decades, each providing their own unique perspective on historical events, Spence-Ash explores complex family dynamics without villains. Readers will feel the pull of new fictional friends from the first to the last page, and long afterward. Details of daily life build a strong sense of time and place in both countries and time frames further deepening this outstanding debut novelist’s portrayal of her characters. Spence-Ash’s first novel will appeal to fans of Pam Jenoff, Margot Livesey, and Ann Packer. – Booklist Review

Black Ball: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Spencer Haywood, and the Generation that Saved the Soul of the NBA by Theresa Runstedtler

(Available Formats: Print Book)

Black Ball

In this illuminating study, African American history professor Runstedtler (Jack Johnson, Rebel Sojourner: Boxing in the Shadow of the Global Color Line) analyzes 1970s professional basketball through the lens of race. In 1980, an L.A. Times article reported that there was an epidemic of cocaine use among NBA players, 75% of whom were Black. That exposé, Runstedtler notes, fed into a narrative that the league’s decline was due to the rise of Black athletes. The truth, Runstedtler argues, is that Black players “ultimately transformed basketball in this neglected yet crucial period.” Among the pivotal figures who ushered in change were Cornelius “Connie” Hawkins and Spencer Haywood, who both argued that the league was blocking their right to make a living and won antitrust lawsuits against the NBA. As well, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar “embodied the complexity of African American politics in the post-civil rights era” and toured Africa, changed his birth name to a Muslim name, and spoke out against sports media’s derogatory depiction of Black players. Runstedtler’s superior storytelling, buoyed by expert research, casts a new light on the league’s complex history. This savvy reappraisal of the NBA’s tumultuous evolution soars. – Starred Publishers Weekly Review

But Have You Read the Book? 52 Literary Gems That Inspired Our Favorite Films by Kristen Lopez

(Available Formats: Print Book)

But Have You Read The Book

“I liked the book better” is a comment often heard after viewing a film based on a book. Lopez has selected 52 classic books that inspired movies and summarizes the differences between the books and the film versions. In some cases, the feature film was mostly faithful to the book, such as No Country for Old Men and Call Me by Your Name. In others, the film incorporated scenes that were not in the book, such as The Talented Mr. Ripley and Clueless. Lopez clearly loves and knows her books. And she loves and knows her movies, too, adding all kinds of insider tidbits about the making of each film. Interestingly, the author never weighs in whether the book or movie was better. She just points out the differences to inspire readers to read the books or see the films, possibly again, and make their own judgments. VERDICT This well-researched book with its 10-page bibliography and addictive compendium will likely inspire movie buffs and literature mavens alike to take her advice. – Library Journal Review

Code 6 by James Grippando

(Available Formats: Print, Large Print & CD Audiobook)

Code 6

There’s a lot going on in the new stand-alone novel from the author of the Jack Swyteck novels. A big-name theatrical director wants to put on Kate Gamble’s play, which is inspired, obliquely, by her father and his work in the tech industry. An old friend who works for Kate’s father has disappeared on a corporate retreat. Kate’s mother recently killed herself, leaving behind a note that said, “I did it for Kate.” Grippando masterfully weaves the various plot threads together, revealing unexpected connections until the reader’s ability to keep the subplots straight is pushed to the edge–but never over the edge: this is an ambitious thriller that asks the reader to follow a complex story and delivers a deeply satisfying conclusion. Grippando’s biggest strength has always been his ability to create characters who feel as real as people we might meet on the street, the kind of people we worry about and share in their triumphs. Code 6 features some of Grippando’s most compelling characters and one of his most intriguing stories. –Booklist Review

The Golden Spoon by Jessa Maxwell

(Available Formats: Print Book & eBook)

The Golden Spoon

DEBUT A delectable tour de force of baking and mayhem, Maxwell’s debut mystery is one to savor. Change is in the air for the popular TV show Bake Week, starring “America’s Grandmother,” Betsy Martin. For the first time in the show’s history, Betsy will be joined by a cohost, fellow award-winning baker Archie Morris, whose bulldog personality contrasts with her approachable image. Betsy is livid about the change, but the show funds her sprawling estate, Grafton Manor, where the series is also filmed, so she agrees. Tensions are already high when the six contestants arrive, all ready to wow their idol with their tasty pies and perfectly formed breads. Things quickly go awry as ingredients are mislabeled and temperatures are fiddled with in the flawlessly manicured kitchens. Through unfolding narratives by each of the bakers and Betsy herself, readers come to realize that not everyone at Grafton Manor is there to compete. Past traumas and the manor itself come into play, culminating in a horror-filled evening.

VERDICT With meticulous plotting and the grand backdrop of a country home, this is a thoroughly entertaining, well-crafted read. Highly recommended for all mystery collections and for those who appreciate an ensemble cast in their whodunits. – Starred Library Journal Review

The Night Flight To Paris: A Novel by Cara Black

(Available Formats: Print Book)

Night Flight To Paris

Set in 1942, bestseller Black’s stirring sequel to 2020’s Three Hours in Paris finds American markswoman Kate Rees in the Scottish Highlands, serving as a rifle/sniper instructor. Kate, who learned her sharpshooting skills growing up in Oregon, receives orders to travel to London, where British intelligence demands she undertake a dangerous mission to Paris. She must disguise herself as a Red Cross nurse, as her face is well known to the German occupiers who hunted her after her failed attempt to assassinate Hitler in Paris in the previous book. Kate knows only a fraction of the plans at first, but eventually learns that she must assassinate a high-ranking German official and rescue a British agent who once saved her life. Meanwhile, Kate still obsesses about killing Hitler and mourns her husband and daughter, who were killed during a German U-boat attack in the Orkneys early in the war. Black vividly evokes the sights, sounds, and smells of Paris under Nazi occupation. The gritty, determined Kate is a heroine for the ages. – Publishers Weekly Review

Now You See Us: A Novel by Balli Kaur Jaswal

(Available Formats: Print Book)

Now You See Us

Jaswal presents a tale about three Filipino domestic workers in Singapore. In her fifties, Corazon is a longtime helper who sticks to her routines and observes boundaries. Angel is a lesbian with a broken heart, who mostly keeps to herself and plans to become a nurse’s assistant. Donita is a feisty newbie who skirts around the unspoken rules of the job and does whatever she wants. A suspicious death riles the wealthy neighborhood in which they all work, and the blame is pinned on Flordeliza, the household maid. Though busy with their own problems, as the news spreads across social media, the women are propelled to act when they uncover critical details that convince them that Flordeliza may be innocent. Jaswal’s well-crafted novel blends mystery, social commentary, and human drama into a fascinating amalgam that highlights the plight of decidedly unseen women undertaking cheap labor that exposes them to all sorts of abuse. The story feels authentic and is timely as it portrays enterprising women and the unfortunate circumstances that galvanize them.

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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