Review of ‘Sorrowland’ by Rivers Solomon – Seminal Gothic Horror

Sorrowland by Rivers Solomon catalog link

Vern flees into the woods to escape the cult she grew up in, heavily pregnant. As she and her babies scrape out a living in the forest, they are pursued by a hellish fiend and the hauntings, visions that afflict her and everyone else belonging to the cult. Her body begins to change, becoming something more, something stronger and faster. When she and her children are forced from the safety of the trees, Vern must reckon with her upbringing and return to the place where it all began.

This excellent Gothic horror novel set in the present day United States features well-drawn characters and a mostly LGBTQ+ and BIPOC cast. Solomon deftly explores themes of identity, transformation of self, human intimacy, and grappling with generational trauma. A salient and incisive addition to the horror genre, this book is a deep meditation on the lasting effects of white supremacy and systemic racism.

For fans of Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia, The Changeling by Victor Lavalle, Beloved by Toni Morrison, and Kindred by Octavia Butler.

Look for Sorrowland by Rivers Solomon on May 4, 2021. Click the book cover above to be taken to our catalog, where you can place an advance hold with your library card number and PIN.

Thank you to NetGalley for the ARC (advance reader copy)!

Readalikes for The Paris Library by Janet Skeslien Charles

The Paris Library catalog link

This week in our readalikes corner, it’s libraries, libraries, libraries! It’s a little self-indulgent on our part, but to be fair, The Paris Library by Janet Skeslien Charles is one of the most-requested books on our holds lists. Based on a true story, [the book] describes how a lonely, 1980s teenager befriends an elderly neighbor and uncovers her past as a librarian at the American Library in Paris who joined the Resistance when the Nazis arrived.

Sounds really interesting, right? Click the book cover up above to put a hold on it in our catalog.

But you might have to wait a while (it comes out on February 8, 2021), so we’ve curated a list of books that you might like to try in the meantime. Click any of the book covers below to be taken to our catalog, where you can request a copy of the book with your library card number and PIN. We’ve also included links to our e-media services Overdrive and Hoopla where available. 

Lions of Fifth Avenue catalog link

The Lions of Fifth Avenue by Fiona Davis

A New York Public LIbrary superintendent’s wife reevaluates her priorities upon joining a woman’s suffrage group in 1913, decades before her granddaughter’s efforts to save an exhibit expose tragic family secrets.

Lions of Fifth Avenue Overdrive link



The Archivist catalog link

The Archivist by Martha Cooley

A battle of wills between Matt, a careful, orderly archivist for a private university, and Roberta, a determined young poet, over a collection of T. S. Eliot’s letters, sealed by bequest until 2019, sparks an unusual friendship and reawakens painful memories of the past.

The Archivist Overdrive link

People of the Book catalog link

People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks

In 1996, Hanna Heath, a young Australian book conservator is called to analyze the famed Sarajevo Haggadah, a priceless six-hundred-year-old Jewish prayer book that has been salvaged from a destroyed Bosnian library. When Hanna discovers a series of artifacts in the centuries’ old binding, she unwittingly exposes an international cover up.

People of the Book Overdrive link

Book Woman of Troublesome Creek catalog link

The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson

A last-of-her-kind outcast and member of the Pack Horse Library Project braves the hardships of Kentucky’s Great Depression and hostile community discrimination to bring the near-magical perspectives of books to her neighbors.

Book Woman Overdrive link

Book Woman Hoopla link

The Library Book catalog link

The Library Book by Susan Orlean 

The author reopens the unsolved mystery of the most catastrophic library fire in American history, and delivers a dazzling love letter to a beloved institution: our libraries.

The Library Book Overdrive link




All plot summaries courtesy of Novelist.

Readalikes for The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah

The Four Winds catalog link

The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah doesn’t come out until February 1, but it’s already topping the library’s holds lists. That’s the power of Kristin Hannah, author of bestselling novels The Nightingale and The Great Alone, so it’s understandable that you’ll be chomping at the bit to read Hannah’s newest novel! Rather than World War II or the 1970s, the Four Winds is set during the Great Depression:

Texas, 1934. Millions are out of work and a drought has broken the Great Plains. Farmers are fighting to keep their land and their livelihoods as the crops are failing, the water is drying up, and dust threatens to bury them all. One of the darkest periods of the Great Depression, the Dust Bowl era, has arrived with a vengeance.

In this uncertain and dangerous time, Elsa Martinelli—like so many of her neighbors—must make an agonizing choice: fight for the land she loves or go west, to California, in search of a better life. The Four Winds is an indelible portrait of America and the American Dream, as seen through the eyes of one indomitable woman whose courage and sacrifice will come to define a generation.

Your friendly librarians have selected the following books as readalikes for The Four Winds, whether that is because of setting, tone, character, or other factors. You can find the Four Winds on Overdrive here. Click any of the book covers below to be taken to our catalog, where you can request a copy of the book with your library card number and PIN. We’ve also included links to our e-media services Overdrive and Hoopla where available. 

I Will Send Rain catalog link

I Will Send Rain by Rae Meadows

In 1934, as the earliest storms of the Dust Bowl descend on the Bell farm in Mulehead, Oklahoma, Annie Bell and her husband and children struggle against hardship as the wheat harvest dries out and people around them pack up to leave.




Promise catalog link

Promise by Gwin Minrose

Barely surviving an F5 tornado that rips through her 1936 Mississippi hometown, an African-American laundress and great-grandmother searches for her family among the catastrophe’s survivors while bonding with the traumatized teen daughter of a despised white judge.

Promise Overdrive link



Some Luck catalog link

Some Luck Jane Smiley

Follows the triumphs and tragedies of a farm family from post-World War I America through the early 1950s.

Some Luck Overdrive link




A Piece of the World catalog link

A Piece of the World by Christina Baker Kline

To Christina Olson, the entire world was her family’s remote farm in the small coastal town of Cushing, Maine. Born in the home her family had lived in for generations, and increasingly incapacitated by illness, Christina seemed destined for a small life. Instead, for more than twenty years, she was host and inspiration for the artist Andrew Wyeth, and became the subject of one of the best known American paintings of the twentieth century.

A Piece of the World Overdrive link

A Piece of the World Hoopla link

By Starlight catalog link

By Starlight by Dorothy Garlock

In early 1930s Montana, in the small town of Colton, Maddy Aldridge struggles to make ends meet during the Great Depression. With her mother long dead, her stubborn younger sister fighting her at every turn, and her father’s arthritis deteriorating so badly that she has to run the family store alone, her desperation grows by the day. Enter Jeffers Grimm with a proposition too great for her to turn down: open an illegal speakeasy in the mercantile’s basement, defy Prohibition, and make enough money to make her worries disappear. 

By Starlight Overdrive link

All readalike plot summaries courtesy of Novelist, The Four Winds summary courtesy of author’s website.

Readalikes for The Midnight Library by Matt Haig

The Midnight Library catalog link

The Midnight Library by Matt Haig is the newest book topping the holds list at many libraries, including RRPL. If you’re someone still patiently waiting for your copy to come in, check out the titles below for other novels that will tide you over while you wait. Or if you’ve already read and loved it, the books below will help scratch that itch for something in the same vein. If you’ve never heard of The Midnight Library, you’re in luck – I’ve got a summary below just for you:

Somewhere out beyond the edge of the universe there is a library that contains an infinite number of books, each one the story of another reality. One tells the story of your life as it is, along with another book for the other life you could have lived if you had made a different choice at any point in your life. Nora Seed finds herself faced with this decision. Faced with the possibility of changing her life for a new one, following a different career, undoing old breakups, realizing her dreams of becoming a glaciologist; she must search within herself as she travels through the Midnight Library to decide what is truly fulfilling in life, and what makes it worth living in the first place.

Find The Midnight Library on Overdrive here.

Click any of the book covers below to be taken to our catalog, where you can request a copy of the book with your library card number and PIN. We’ve also included links to our e-media services Overdrive and Hoopla where available.

Oona Out of Order catalog link

Oona Out of Order by Margarita Montimore

As the countdown to the New Year begins, soon-to-be-19 Oona Lockhart faints and awakens 32 years in the future in her 51-year-old body; and, greeted by a friendly stranger in a beautiful house she’s told is her own, Oona learns that with each passing year she will leap to another age at random.

Oona Out of Order Overdrive link


The Five People You Meet in Heaven catalog link

The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom

Killed in a tragic accident at a seaside amusement park while trying to save a little girl, Eddie, an elderly man who believes that he had lived an uninspired life, awakens in the afterlife, where he discovers that heaven consists of having five people, acquaintances and strangers, explain the meaning of one’s life.

The Five People You Meet in Heaven Overdrive link



The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells catalog link

The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells by Andrew Sean Greer

After the death of her beloved twin brother, Felix, and the breakup with her longtime lover, Nathan, Greta Wells embarks on a radical psychiatric treatment to alleviate her suffocating depression. But the treatment has unexpected effects, and Greta finds herself transported to the lives she might have had if she’d been born in different eras.

The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells Overdrive link


The Dinner List catalog link

The Dinner List by Rebecca Serle

In a novel imbued with magical realism, when Sabrina Nielsen arrives at her 30th birthday dinner in New York City, she finds at the table not just her best friend, but also her favorite professor from college; her father; her ex-fiance Tobias; and Audrey Hepburn.

The Dinner List Overdrive link


Life After Life catalog link

Life After Life by Kate Atkinson

Follows the experiences of a woman, who after being born on a snowy night in 1910, repeatedly dies and reincarnates into the same life to correct missteps and ultimately save the world.

Life After Life Overdrive link



All plot summaries courtesy of Novelist.

Books on Democracy and Government

It sure seems like 2020 is back from the dead to plague us in the new year, doesn’t it? If you, like me, would like a refresher on democracy and how our government works, I’ve chosen some books that will educate and inform.

Click any of the book covers below to be taken to our catalog, where you can request a copy of the book with your library card number and PIN. We’ve also included links to our e-media services Overdrive and Hoopla where available. 

The Federalist Papers by Alexander Hamilton

Plato’s Republic

Democracy in One Book Or Less:
How It Works, Why It Doesn’t, and Why Fixing It Is Easier Than You Think 
by David Litt

You Call This Democracy? How to Fix Our Government
and Deliver Power to the People
by Elizabeth Rusch

Twilight of Democracy: the Seductive Lure of Authoritarianism
by Anne Applebaum

A User’s Guide to Democracy: How America Works
by Hannah McCarthy and Nick Capodice

A User's Guide to Democracy catalog link

Surviving Autocracy by Masha Gessen

Shannon’s Top Ten of 2020

It’s been a hell of a year, and I don’t blame any of you for not reading as much as you wanted to – we’re all just trying to survive 2020 at this point! One of my pandemic activities has been to read lots of books, so it was a little difficult to pick my Top Ten, but I think I got a pretty good list. It has a lot of science fiction and fantasy (which I’m sure no one is surprised by) but also a thriller, a graphic novel, historical fiction, and horror.

Click any of the book covers below to be taken to our catalog, where you can request a copy of the book with your library card number and PIN.

Ninth House catalog link

10. Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo

Survivor Song catalog link

9. Survivor Song by Paul Tremblay

The City We Became catalog link

8. The City We Became by N. K. Jemisin


The Bone Ships catalog link

7. The Bone Ships by R. J. Barker

Mexican Gothic catalog link

6. Mexican Gothic by Silva Moreno-Garcia

Fangs catalog link

5. Fangs by Sarah Andersen


When No One is Watching catalog link

4. When No One is Watching by Alyssa Cole

3. The Devil and the Dark Water by Stuart Turton

The Starless Sea catalog link

2. The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern


And last but certainly not least, my number one book of 2020 is… drumroll please….

Gideon the Ninth catalog link

1. Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir

Hands down, Gideon the Ninth is the best book I read this year (even though technically it’s from 2019) – if you love science fiction, you’ve got to read this book!

Stay on the lookout this week for Top Ten posts from other staff members!

Readalikes for Ready Player Two by Ernest Cline

Ready Player Two by Ernest Cline catalog link

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline was a bestselling phenomenon in 2011 – it was even turned into a feature film directed by Steven Spielberg himself! – and fans have waited nine years for a sequel. The aptly-titled Ready Player Two is the long-awaited follow up to Wade Watts’ adventures in the virtual reality world of OASIS. Wade has won the contest for control of the biggest tech company in the world (think Google or Amazon), but he has to go on a series of 80’s trivia-focused quests to save the world – again! You can find Ready Player Two on Overdrive here.

If you’re still waiting for your copy of Ready Player Two, check out the books below that also scratch that ‘regular person enters a video game’ itch! Click any of the book covers below to be taken to our catalog, where you can request a copy of the book with your library card number and PIN. We’ve also included links to our e-media services Overdrive and Hoopla where available. 

Reamde catalog link

Reamde by Neal Stephenson

When his own high-tech start up turns into a Fortune 500 computer gaming group, Richard Forthrast, the black sheep of an Iowa family who has amassed an illegal fortune, finds the line between fantasy and reality becoming blurred when a virtual war for dominance is triggered.

Reamde Overdrive link

Reamde Hoopla link

Sword Art Online Volume 1 catalog link

Sword Art Online (manga series) by Reki Kawahara

In the year 2022, some six thousand gamers excitedly explore the new Sword Art Online, which manipulates users’ brain waves to create a wholly realistic gaming experience, but soon learn it lacks a log-out button and to escape they must conquer all one hundred floors–or die trying.




The Glare catalog link

The Glare by Margot Harrison

Moving to her father’s home in California after a decade at her mother’s isolated ranch, a teen who has been taught to fear technology reunites with friends and family members before experiencing nightmares about a dark-web video game that poses life-threatening dangers.




88 Names catalog link

88 Names by Matt Ruff

A romantic cyberthriller set in a world of fluid identities follows the experiences of a paid guide to online role-playing games who comes to believe that an anonymous wealthy new client is actually a violent dictator.

88 Names Overdrive link



Tuesday Mooney Talks to Ghosts catalog link

Tuesday Mooney Talks to Ghosts by Kate Racculia

A dying billionaire sends one woman and a cast of dreamers and rivals on a citywide treasure hunt.

Tuesday Mooney Overdrive link

Tuesday Mooney Hoopla link


All plot summaries courtesy of Novelist.

Are you super excited for Ready Player Two? Have you read any of these readalikes? Let us know in the comments!

RRPL Gift Guide – Gifts for the Science Fiction Nerd in Your Life

Being something of a gigantic nerd myself, I know that it can be difficult to buy holiday presents for that science fiction aficionado in your life. They have all the action figures – excuse me, figurines – they could ever need, and there’s no more space for posters on their walls. Let me, a self-professed nerd, guide you on a journey to the perfect present for your loved one. 

All of these items are available through the library if you’d like to try before you buy, but please make sure to support your local independent bookstore; you can buy online and support indie bookstores with Bookshop.org.

If they love to read:

Gideon the Ninth & Harrow the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir

I cannot stop raving about this series – in my opinion, these books are the best sci fi I’ve read in years. If the phrase “lesbian necromancers in space” sounds like something your nerd would like, pick up these books! Not a reader? Try gifting them the audiobook versions, which are also excellent.

The City We Became by N.K. Jemisin

A sci-fi love letter to NYC mixed with Lovecraftian horror, the newest book by the author of mega-popular The Fifth Season

Hench by Natalie Zina Walschots

Has your nerd ever thought about the collateral damage that their favorite superhero creates by smashing two skyscrapers together? Choose Hench for a different take on superheroes.

Redshirts by John Skalzi 

If your nerd loves Star Trek, they’ll love Redshirts, which follows the little guys rather than the starship captains in a ‘legally distinct’ universe from Star Trek.

Star Trek: Picard: The Last Best Hope by Una McCormack

Another entry for Star Trek fans, this book is the prequel to the new series Star Trek: Picard.

Star Wars: The Mandalorian: The Art & Imagery

If your nerd can’t get enough of Baby Yoda, they’ll love this collection of art from the ultra-popular Mandalorian.

If they’re more of a movie person:

Tenet

The biggest film release of the year by one of the most acclaimed directors out there, Christopher Nolan. Your nerd is almost guaranteed to want this movie.

Star Trek: Picard Season One

Another exciting release in 2020, this new Star Trek series brings back the most beloved of starship captains, Jean Luc Picard, played by Patrick Stewart.

Underwater

This one is more of a horror entry, but still has science fiction elements. A crew of deep-sea researchers must get to safety after their underwater drilling station is hit by an earthquake.

Ex Machina

What happens when a tech genius creates a robotic AI? A sleeper science fiction hit from 2014 starring Oscar Isaac and Domhnall Gleeson.

Color Out of Space

Treat your nerd to this flick starring scenery-chewer Nicholas Cage as a farmer whose property is hit by a meteorite, based on an H. P. Lovecraft story.

Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker

If your nerd is a Star Wars fan, they’ll want to complete their collection with the final installment in the new trilogy that started with The Force Awakens.

Good luck in your hunt for the perfect present, and keep an eye on this blog for many more gift guides from other staff members in the coming week!

Readalikes for Tana French’s The Searcher

The Searcher by Tana French catalog link

Another bestseller from the queen of psychological suspense, Tana French, which means another long wait on the holds list for her newest book The Searcher. And this one sounds like another knockout! Looking to start a new life in a small Irish village, former Chicago police officer Cal Hooper comes out of retirement to help find a missing kid and uncovers layers of darkness beneath his picturesque retreat. Find The Searcher on Overdrive here.

Look below to find some similar books that will scratch that suspense itch for you while you wait. Click any of the book covers below to be taken to our catalog, where you can request a copy of the book with your library card number and PIN. We’ve also included links to our e-media services Overdrive and Hoopla where available. 

Behind Closed Doors by B. A. Paris catalog link

Behind Closed Doors by B. A. Paris

The friends of a seemingly perfect socialite couple begin to see cracks in the facade when they realize that the husband and wife are never apart and that there are bars on one of their upstairs windows.

Behind Closed Doors Overdrive link


The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena catalog link

The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena

When a terrible crime committed on the night of a dinner party casts suspicion on a young couple who seemed to have it all, Detective Rasbach discovers that the panicked duo had been hiding dangerous secrets from each other for years.

The Couple Next Door Overdrive link


 You Are Not Alone by Greer Hendricks catalog link

You Are Not Alone by Greer Hendricks

A lonely misfit with a dead-end job quietly envies a circle of popular sisters who hide dangerous vengeful truths beneath a veneer of friendship, glamour and accomplishments.

You Are Not Alone Overdrive link



Case Histories by Kate Atkinson catalog link

Case Histories by Kate Atkinson

Private detective Jackson Brodie finds his own need for resolution sparked by three investigations including those of two sisters who discover a shocking clue to the disappearance of their third sister thirty years earlier, a lawyer whose life is turned upside-down when his daughter joins the firm, and a woman whose past mistakes and demanding family life culminate in a violent escape.

Case Histories Overdrive link

The Suspect by Fiona Barton catalog link

The Suspect by Fiona Barton

Pursuing the story of two British teens who disappeared during a Bangkok hostel fire, journalist Kate Waters struggles to remain objective when her estranged son is declared a main suspect.

The Suspect Overdrive link



All plot summaries courtesy of Novelist.

Have you tried any of these authors? Do you have someone else you’d suggest as a readalike for Tana French? Let us know!