What We’re Reading Now

The Children’s Blizzard by Melanie Benjamin

I am currently reading The Children’s Blizzard by Melanie Benjamin. It’s January 1888
on the Nebraska-Dakota border when an unseasonably warm day turns into a deadly blizzard just when school lets out for the day. Despite heroic efforts 235+ people died that day. Also, I am just starting Leonard and Hungry Paul by Ronan Hession. Leonard writes articles for children’s encyclopedias. Paul is a substitute postman. These good friends both in their 30’s live in the parents’ homes. They meet regularly to play board games. I know there’s more to come since this book was highly recommended by a co-worker. Emma

The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Cristo by Tom Reiss

I’m listening to The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Cristo by Tom Reiss. Not only is the French Revolutionary history itself fascinating, but the author reveals the travel and effort he put into the research. This book is about the novelist Alexandre Dumas’s father who was also named Alexandre Dumas. The senior Dumas was the son of a French aristocrat and a Caribbean African slave. He achieved the rank of General in the French military, for a time equal to the up and coming Napoleon. How did this happen? I was clueless about the Civil Rights Movement in Paris in the mid 1700s that allowed former slaves and children of slaves freedom, education, and position in society. This was specific to Paris, did not apply to the American colonies, and the progress would later be undone by a new wave of racist policies. Still, General Dumas was an adventurous swordsman and leader of the cavalry who would repeatedly inspire characters in his son’s novels including the betrayal faced by Edmond Dante in The Count of Monte Cristo. Byron

The Queen’s Gambit by Walter Tevis

I started reading The Queen’s Gambit shortly after seeing that Netflix has released a new series based on the book. I had seen some very positive reviews of the book and learned that the author, Walter Tevis, also wrote the novels, and excellent Paul Newman films, The Color of Money and The Hustler. However, I was skeptical that competitive chess would be edge-of-your-seat thrilling material, but The Queen’s Gambit is as much a story of loneliness, addiction, and genius as it is of chess. Had The Queen’s Gambit been just a book about chess, then I would have still been wrong because the chess bits are thrilling. Trent

The Secret Chapter by Genevieve Cogman

Agent of the Library Irene is sent to obtain a certain book by any means necessary and is drawn into an art heist, complete with a rag tag team of misfits, carefully laid plans, and secret island lairs. This new chapter in the Invisible Library series is a fun romp through heist movie tropes, with a twist.
Shannon

The Complete Stories of Leonora Carrington by Leonora Carrington

I have just finished The Complete Stories of Leonora Carrington and loved every second of it. Written by the artist and author Leonora Carrington (1917-2011) this collection of stories spans throughout her career. The surreal stories within were best enjoyed when I allowed the narrative to unfold with their own internal dreamlike logic. A great introduction to Carrington’s work. Greg

The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune

Linus Baker is a by-the-book case worker in the Department in Charge of Magical Youth. He’s tasked with determining whether six dangerous magical children are likely to bring about the end of the world. Arthur Parnassus is the master of the orphanage. He would do anything to keep the children safe, even if it means the world will burn. This book is about a group of magic-filled children, seen as utter misfits by the world, but you will immediately fall in love with each and every one of them. It is about two kind, smart, and brave men who stumble forward into a friendship and gentle love. As TJ Klune has said himself, “it’s important, now more than ever, to have accurate, positive queer representation in stories”. Finally, it is about the false promise of blind faith and the courage to challenge that promise. I simply love this book. I implore you to read it now, you will not regret it. Mary

The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami

I just started reading this book on the enthusiastic recommendation of a friend and am very much enjoying this weird and riveting story thus far. Written by one of Japan’s most highly regarded novelists, this book follows Toru Okada as he searches for his wife’s missing cat in a Tokyo suburb. He soon finds himself looking for his wife as well in a strange underworld that lies beneath the surface of Tokyo, full of odd and sometimes menacing people. I have no idea how this will end but look forward to getting there! Nicole

The Once and Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow

Once upon a time, all women had a little magic- a few words to make dishes sparkle, a rhyme to mend a seam. And some knew stronger things, such as a spell to break a fever, dry up a cough, or help a woman through a difficult labor. But that all changed with the Salem witch trials. Witches were burned at the stake with their children watching; witchcraft was deemed illegal, and women were treated worse than ever with no power to protect themselves. But witching was never completely gone. It was passed on by grandmothers and mothers in fairy tales and innocent sounding nursery rhymes that were actually spells. Spells that could work magic if a woman had the words, the way, and the will. Led by the three Eastwood sisters (magical things always come in threes), the downtrodden women of New Salem have enough will to make up for any lack of words or ways, and they are determined to bring real magic back into the world to set right some of the many, many wrongs they have suffered at the hands of men. Sara

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.

Discover a New Book Club @RRPL

Some amazing news for 2021 – Roxane Gay is starting The Audacious Book Club and inviting all interested parties to join! Roxane is an award winning fiction and non-fiction author, Twitter goddess and New York Times op-ed contributor. Her books include Bad Feminist, Hunger, Difficult Women, An Untamed State and Black Panther graphic novels. Roxane is brainy, funny, and pointedly insightful.

She’s already announced the list of books but there’s not a lot of details. I’ll keep you posted when I find out more so we can read and explore the titles together with Roxane on future Mondays. First, though, get a copy of January’s title, Black Futures.

JanuaryBlack Futures, edited by Jenna Wortham and Kimberly Drew (Week of 1/25)
FebruaryDetransition, Baby by Torrey Peters (Week of 2/22)
MarchThe Removed by Brandon Hobson (Week of 3/22)
AprilMilk Blood Heat by Dantiel W. Moniz (Week of 4/26)
MayLibertie by Kaitlyn Greenridge (Week of 5/24)
JuneOf Women and Salt by Gabriela Garcia (Week of 6/21)
JulyThe Five Wounds by Kirstin Valdez Quade (Week of 7/26)
AugustSomebody’s Daughterby Ashley C. Ford (Week of 8/23)
SeptemberThe Renunciations by Donika Kelly (Week of 9/20)
OctoberThe Heart Principle by Helen Hoang (Week of 10/25)
NovemberSometimes I Trip on How Happy We Could Be by Nichole Perkins (Week of 11/22)
DecemberAfterparties by Anthony Veasna So (Week of 12/13)

~ Dori

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

Books to give for Christmas (of course, we also recommend checking them out from the library ;-)

This year, Christmas feels a little strange and isolated. But it also feel a little cozy. The first snowfall was absolutely beautiful and really got me into the Christmas spirit. As I try to avoid malls and busy stores, I have of course turned to online shopping like many of us. But somehow that just seems impersonal this year. After weeks of quarantining, ordering carry out, groceries from Instacart, and pretty much everything else in the world from Amazon, I’m ready to get back to basics for this year’s holiday. My daughter and I tried our hand at making candles (we definitely need to read up on this a little bit, as I watch one of ours smoke itself out), we have plans for many more cookie varieties than ever, and are drawn towards handmade gifts from Etsy and local stores.

In keeping with this, I am buying books as gifts for the first time in years! My teen/young adult kids don’t read as vociferously as they used to, and most of my family reads on a Kindle. But this year, it just feels right to go back to basics, hold a real book in my hands while I sip coffee by my Christmas tree and lights. My kids have watched pretty much everything Netflix, Hulu and Amazon have to offer, so I think I’m going to try and entice them to take an electronic break, relax on the couch with me to read a good book by the tree.

Here are a few titles coming out in December. Some of them haven’t been published yet, but what is more fun then preordering a book and knowing you will be one of the first to read it? Remember that our local retailers need you this year more than ever. So head to bookshop.org to get some of these new titles that promise to be keepers! They also offer gift cards if you just can’t choose ;-).

Simply thrilling

There’s no such thing as a perfect family. And it’s usually not wise to point that out.

Thriller, romance and fantasy, all rolled into one.

A debut thriller that asks one simple question, shouldn’t a dead husband stay dead?

On the lighter side

Quinn and Minnie share their day of birth, but their lives couldn’t be more different.

A dare and a crash course in flirting turn a frumpy college professor’s life upside down.

An anxiety-ridden introvert finds herself in the spotlight and decides to fake it til she makes it.

Different times and places

Stunning debut explores Afghanistan on the eve of a violent revolution.

A story of survival, loss and love, and the sisters who changed fashion forever.

A poor girl with dreams grows up in the shadow of Biltmore House, the palatial Vanderbilt mansion.

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!

Virtual Book Club – All About Thanksgiving

While we may not be able to have the Thanksgiving we planned on this year, we can still celebrate the holiday by reading. We’ve curated a list of books about or set during Thanksgiving, and even a cookbook to give you that turkey and stuffing feeling.

However, we do want to mention that while Thanksgiving for most people is a holiday of family and togetherness, we are also including books on the troubled history of the holiday and what it means for the indigenous peoples of the United States. The holiday cannot be separated from its less-than-stellar history, and we want to acknowledge that.

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. 

We Gather Together by Denise Kiernan catalog link

We Gather Together: A Nation Divided, a President in Turmoil, and a Historic Campaign to Embrace Gratitude and Grace by Denise Kiernan

Well-reviewed and timely, this new book tells the true story of one woman’s campaign to have an annual holiday of thanks added to the national calendar. Kiernan also chronicles the struggles of indigenous peoples, women’s rights activists, and abolitionists intertwined with the holiday.

We Gather Together Overdrive link

This Land is Their Land catalog link

This Land is Their Land : the Wampanoag Indians, Plymouth Colony, and the Troubled History of Thanksgiving by David J. Silverman

Another book of history, this book tells the true story of Thanksgiving – not the sanitized tale that we were taught in elementary school. This is a book that forces the reader to reflect on the history of colonialism that was used to found this country, and to understand that impact today.


The Accidental Tourist by Anne Tyler catalog link

The Accidental Tourist by Anne Tyler

Nominated for the Pulitzer Prize, this bestselling book was adapted into an Oscar-winning movie. Meet Macon, a grief-stricken travel writer who hates travelling, and Muriel, a dog trainer who tries to teach him to be human again in this beautiful and heartbreaking love story.

The Accidental Tourist Overdrive link

Turkey Trot Murder by Leslie Meier catalog link

Turkey Trot Murder by Leslie Meier

For the cozy mystery lover in all of us, try this Thanksgiving-themed murder mystery. Lucy Stone is the intrepid amateur investigator of all the murders that happen in the small town of Tinker’s Cove, and when she finds a woman dead in a local pond, she must find the killer before the turkey gets cold.

Turkey Trot Murder Overdrive link

Turkey Trot Murder Hoopla link

Thanksgiving : How to Cook It Well by Sam Sifton catalog link

Thanksgiving : How to Cook It Well by Sam Sifton 

Lastly, we’ve got a cookbook on how to cook the traditional Thanksgiving meal – turkey and all the trimmings. Don’t look for innovation here, but if you want to perfect your turkey technique, check out this quintessential Thanksgiving tome.

Thanksgiving: How to Cook It Well Overdrive link



We’ll see you on the other side of Thanksgiving – until next time!

Virtual Book Club – Beachy Reads for Winter

Despite what the weather outside may be telling us, it is in fact the winter season. The dropping temperatures plus the looming threat of another lockdown may have you dreaming of warmer climes, and you’re not the only one! Thank goodness books can take us away. Try any of the authors below to be whisked away to places where the temperature is hotter – whether that’s because of a beach setting or a hot romance.

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.

An Extraordinary Union by Alyssa Cole catalog link

Alyssa Cole

Alyssa Cole writes smart, steamy historical and contemporary romances featuring an array of diverse characters. Her heroines are intelligent, independent women who have rich, full lives although are a bit reluctant to open their hearts to romance. The men who ultimately win them over are strong, thoughtful partners who respect the heroines and their choices. Her rich detail and intricate plots add depth and dimension as the characters find their way to happily ever after.

Start with An Extraordinary Union. Overdrive link. Hoopla link.

Sweet Salt Air by Barbara Delinsky catalog link

Barbara Delinsky

Barbara Delinsky began by writing contemporary Romances, but now writes fiction focused on contemporary women and their lives and relationships. Delinsky’s skillfully developed characters are central to her stories, as they struggle to resolve difficulties in their lives. Plots reflect universal themes, such as compromise and reconciliation, and there is a romantic tone throughout. Delinsky’s novels unfold at a leisurely pace, in part because they are set in small towns, as readers are pulled into these sensitive stories.

Start with: Sweet Salt Air. Overdrive link.

The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory catalog link

Jasmine Guillory

Jasmine Guillory writes modern romantic comedies featuring smart, capable heroines who excel in their careers and lead full lives surrounded by supportive friends and families. When a romantic partner enters the picture, the protagonists view the relationship as a life enhancement rather than a requirement, and the resulting relationship stars a pair who are on equal footing intellectually and emotionally. Guillory doesn’t shy away from examining the relatable issues her multicultural couples face but never sacrifices sexiness or humor.

Start with: The Wedding Date. Overdrive link.

The Rumor by Elin Hilderbrand catalog link

Elin Hilderbrand

While Elin Hilderbrand’s characters change from novel to novel, her setting remains consistent – the historic island of Nantucket. Using the island as a jumping off point, Hilderbrand’s works offer the hallmarks of an ideal summer vacation read: romance, friendship, a beautiful setting, conflict and characters facing personal challenges. While rife with tales of people living privileged lifestyle, Hilderbrand grounds her stories in topics that will feel familiar to all women – love, illness, friendship, and family relationships.

Start with: The Rumor. Overdrive link.

Moon Shell Beach by Nancy Thayer catalog link

Nancy Thayer

Nancy Thayer’s women’s fiction revolves around women’s families and friendships, and varies in tone from her more serious first novels to her sassy and humorous Hot Flash Club series. Her characters are realistic, everyday women, and she employs a sense of humor (from snappy to gentle) in her novels. There is often an element of romance as well.

Start with: Moon Shell Beach. Overdrive link.

Author information courtesy of Novelist.

Join us next week for another installment of the virtual book club!