Suggested Reading May 24, 2023

Hi everyone, here are our recommended reads for the week!

Weekly Suggested Reading postings are published on Wednesdays.

And the next Suggested Reading posting will be published on Wednesday, May 31, 2023.

*More information on the three catalogs and available formats is found at the end of the list of recommended reads*

Beware The Woman: A Novel by Megan Abbott

(Available Formats: Print Book)

Beware The Woman

In this spine-tingling suspense yarn from Edgar Award winner Abbott (The Turnout), pregnant second grade teacher Jacy learns there’s plenty she still doesn’t know about her taciturn artist husband Jed or the family he rarely mentions—maybe a dangerous amount. The action unfolds during the couple’s summer road trip from New York City to visit Jed’s father, a retired physician, at his cottage on Michigan’s remote Upper Peninsula. At first, Jacy feels transported by the surroundings and her father-in-law’s near-courtly solicitousness. (His brusque caretaker, Mrs. Brandt, is a different story.) But things shift when Jacy has a miscarriage scare and, in the aftermath, Jed aligns with his father’s alarmingly old-school notions about women and pregnancy. Rightly or wrongly, Jacy starts to feel like a prisoner. Manipulating the sense of menace like a virtuoso violinist, Abbott expertly foreshadows the wrenching family secrets that are exposed in a ferocious finale. Sinewy prose and note-perfect pacing make this a masterful and provocative deep dive into desire, love, and gender politics. Readers will be left breathless. – Publishers Weekly Review

Black Moses by Alain Mabanckou

(Available Formats: Print Book & Hoopla instant check out eBook)

Black Moses

A small book with a big narrative voice, this wacky new novel by Mabanckou follows the existential misfortunes of an orphan whose “kilometrically extended name” means “Thanks be to God, the black Moses is born on the earth of our ancestors.” Things were always bad for Moses at the orphanage in Loango, a place full of corrupt and unscrupulous administrators who treat children “no better than cattle.” But after the orphanage’s director and his cronies, all relatives, change allegiance as the socialist revolution takes over the Congo, Moses decides to escape to the city of Pointe-Noire with the twins Songi-Songi and Tala-Tala. They agree to let him join them and give him the nickname Little Pepper when he spikes their food with chilis. The sordid streets of the city offer few better opportunities, however, and in colorful, weird prose, Moses recounts his few triumphs and many travails. His fellow escapees form a gang of petty thieves, but at 16, Moses is taken in by a kindly Zairian madam called Maman Fiat 500, who—with her employees, “ten girls, each more beautiful than the last”—provides him with the only family he will ever know. Moses ages quickly, spiraling into madness and forgetting. He wishes to become his own hero, Robin Hood, but he more closely resembles Don Quixote, eventually striking out on a last noble and violent quest worthy of his long name. This mythic, beguiling novel is a journey to discover what is hard-wired in us and what we make up about ourselves. Starred Publishers Weekly Review

Central Park West: A Crime Novel by James B. Comey Jr.

(Available Formats: Print Book)

Central Park West

Former FBI director Comey (A Higher Loyalty) makes a sturdy crime fiction debut with this twisting account of the murder of a disgraced former New York governor. The novel opens as Tony Burke, who left office tainted by a #MeToo scandal, is murdered in his Central Park West apartment. With the assassin having dressed up like Tony’s estranged wife, Kyra, to gain access to the building, Kyra herself is soon hauled up on murder charges. Meanwhile, assistant U.S. attorney Nora Carleton is prosecuting a mob case that gets derailed after her star witness tells her the mafia was involved in Burke’s death—shortly before turning up dead himself. The stakes climb as the wheels of justice churn, with Kyra’s case hanging in the balance while a team of investigators works to identify the killer who framed her. Comey draws on his vast experience in the criminal justice world to bring a sense of authenticity to the setting and plot machinations, though he’s occasionally guilty of leaning a bit too much toward education over entertainment. A sequel would be welcome. – Publishers Weekly Review

The Chateau: A Novel by Jaclyn Goldis

(Available Formats: Print Book)

The Chateau

Provence is the stunning backdrop for this murder mystery, in which a much-anticipated vacation turns deadly and friends struggle to discover the killer in their midst. Visiting the lush lavender fields and olive groves of the French countryside is a dream come true for Darcy, Jade, Vix, and Arabelle when Darcy’s Grand-mere Seraphine invites them to stay at her chateau. The women have known each other for decades and are looking forward to their reunion. But not long after their arrival Seraphine is stabbed to death. Reeling from the horrific attack, the four friends are even more unsettled when they receive a follow request from an anonymous Instagram account entitled @imwatchingyou88. The feed contains photos of the women at the chateau and includes menacing messages: “You can’t hide,” and “I know what you did. You won’t get away with it.” In the tradition of a classic Agatha Christie locked-room mystery, everyone in the chateau is a suspect, and each of the women may have a motive unknown to the other three. At least three of them have serious financial issues and could benefit if they are included in Seraphine’s will. Goldis is in firm control of her plotting and stealthily employs the unreliable narrator trope with alternating first-person chapters told by Darcy, Jade, Vix, and Arabelle as well as Seraphine; the groundskeeper, Raph; and Seraphine’s housekeeper, Sylvie. They all have reasons for hiding their truths, but past traumas and secrets slowly come to light. A messy extramarital affair, a missing Van Gogh painting, and a Holocaust-era betrayal spin the plot toward shocking revelations that do not stop until the very last page. Sex, lies, and secrets turn deadly in this modern-day tale built on classic plot devices. – Kirkus Review

Graveminder by Melissa Marr

(Available Formats: Print Book & Hoopla instant check out eBook)


YA bestseller Marr (Wicked Lovely), in her first novel for adult readers, serves up a quirky dark fantasy fashioned around the themes of fate, free will and zombies. When Rebekkah Barrow is summoned home to Claysville for the funeral of her beloved grandmother, Maylene, Rebekkah doesn’t know that she’s been designated Maylene’s successor as the town Graveminder, whose job it is to give the recently deceased food to keep them in the Land of the Dead. Not coincidentally, her sometimes lover, Byron Montgomery, has just succeeded his dad as the Undertaker, who works intimately with the Graveminder. Even as the pair ponder the grave responsibilities that their weird destinies have thrust upon them, they doggedly pursue Daisha, an adolescent who died under suspicious circumstances and who, unburied and untended, is wreaking havoc around town as a rampaging member of the Hungry Dead. Not everything adds up in Marr’s story, but the well-drawn characters and their dramatic interactions keep the tale loose and lively. – Publishers Weekly Review

Look for Me There: Grieving My Father, Finding Myself by Luke Russert

(Available Formats: Print Book, eBook, Hoopla instant check out eBook & Audiobook)

Look For Me There

Former NBC correspondent Russert shares stories from his peripatetic life after the death of his father, Meet the Press host Tim Russert. He primarily focuses on the highs and lows of a three-year trip around the world, with stops in 67 countries. Luke quit his NBC job to find himself during this voyage, but he loses his way. It’s easy to groan over some of his choices even as one comes to understand his grief and the pressure he felt as the only child of two famous journalists. His mom, Maureen Orth, wrote acclaimed pieces for Newsweek, National Geographic, and Vanity Fair. His well-meaning parents named him after St. Luke, who said, “”To whom much is given, much is expected.”” Heartbreakingly, Luke writes, “”The inadequacy cuts deep.”” Just as his dad wrote a letter to his dad in Big Russ & Me (2004), Luke pens one to his father, pledging to keep believing in the American promise and trying to help others with his words. Readers will sympathize with Luke as he mourns, feeling both self-doubt and gratitude. – Booklist Review

Once More With Feeling: A Novel by Elissa Sussman

(Available Formats: Print Book)

Once More With Feeling

Sussman (Funny You Should Ask) dazzles in this smart second-chance romance. The artist formerly known as Katee Rose—now Kathleen Rosenberg—gets a second chance at her Broadway dreams 10 years after her music career was torpedoed by her vengeful ex-boyfriend, Ryan. Her best friend, songwriter Harriet Watson, has written a part specifically for Kathleen in her new 1940s-set musical. There’s just one problem: the director is Cal Kirby, who was in a popular boy band with Ryan and whom Kathleen has been crushing on since their theater camp days. The press has painted Kathleen as a man-eating “slut” ever since Ryan leaked news that Kathleen cheated on him—but no one knows that she cheated with Cal. In the fallout, Cal stayed far away, and Kathleen struggled to rebuild her life. But when they’re forced to work together, old feelings reignite. Sussman skillfully toggles between flashbacks and the present, teasing out her characters’ fraught backstories. Her leads are complex, appealing, and multilayered, and the perfectly paced plot offers real insight into celebrity culture and media slut-shaming. Sussman’s first-rate latest will please her existing fans and win her many new ones. Starred Publishers Weekly Review

The River Is Indigo by Suleiman Manan

(Available Formats: Print Book)


The River Is Indigo which begins in Java in the 1930s, is a story of mystical dreams, dire predictions, a family curse and destiny gone wrong. The young, prodigious Hamzah is raised by his grandmother, the enormously matriarchal Ibu Tutik who loves him dearly, in an extraordinary mansion known as the Mataram House. Hamzah’s life is intertwined with Mataram House and he is sworn by an oath never to leave it. On his thirteenth birthday his father, Norreddin, steals him away and together they clandestinely escape in the dead of night from Mataram House, thus betraying the sworn oath. Immediately his life is bedeviled with tortuous elements. At every crossroad Mataram House shadows him, tormenting him, deciding for him the path he takes, as though the forces of fate are taking complete control of his own free will. From then on his life is no longer his own to live.

A Summer In The Catskills: A Novel by Richard Mangan

(Available Formats: Print Book)

A Summer In The Catskills

Byron Rutledge, a twenty-year-old university student from Queens, can’t believe his good fortune when he stumbles upon summer work at a resort in the Catskill Mountains of upstate New York. Hired as a dishwasher, Byron is excited to spend his summer in the beautiful outdoors. But his expectations are quickly dashed when he encounters hellish working conditions, and is forced to live in a vermin-ridden bunkhouse with unbridled youths bent on doing drugs and alcohol. The picturesque mountains that surround the resort soon turn to concrete walls, and the tall pines seem to keep watch over him as sentry guards. Inevitably, Byron’s unruly coworkers stir up trouble within the resort and with the townsfolk, with Byron finding himself caught in the middle. The story takes a Gothic turn as pressure mounts, triggering nightmares that nearly drive him to madness. Can he endure the summer’s hardships by conquering his chimeras, or will he quit and return home? Rich in imagery and balanced with humorous dialogue, A Summer in the Catskills depicts individual stories of desperation, tragedy, absurdity, and unhealed emotional wounds.

Swamp Story: A Novel by Dave Barry

(Available Formats: Print Book)

Swamp Story

Crime fiction doesn’t come much funnier than this Florida-set caper from Barry (Insane City), in which a lucky find precipitates a cascade of unexpected consequences. Jesse Braddock lives in the Everglades with Willa, her baby daughter, and Slater, Willa’s deadbeat father. She has little hope for a better life until she stumbles on a cache of gold bars, supposedly a buried Confederate Army payroll shipment. But the treasure has already captured the interest of some ex-cons who plotted to find it during their time in prison. Meanwhile, the enterprising owner of a local beer and bait shop concocts a harebrained get-rich-quick scheme: he employs a down-on-his-luck journalist to don a Dora the Explorer costume and pretend to be the mythical Everglades Melon Monster so he can lure tourists to the area in search of it. That scheme results in an influx of visitors at the very moment Braddock hopes to evade the treasure-seekers and make off with her life-changing fortune. Barry conducts the hijinks like a maestro of comic suspense. Carl Hiaasen fans will be in heaven. – Starred 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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