RaveBookPageLady Elysande de Valance finds love in the arms of a Highlander in Lynsay Sands’ suspenseful 14th-century romance, Highland Treasure ... Highland Treasure is a page-turning, propulsive and, at times, bloody historical romance.
RaveBookPageThe ebb and flow of Shay’s marriage is just part of the story, as Red Island House contains vignettes about a fascinating array of characters and entanglements in the Naratrany society that surrounds though never quite embraces the couple. From the feuding female entrepreneurs whom Shay calls \'Sirens\' to the local éminence grise who may or may not have spiritual powers, it’s a complex and seductive tapestry ... Lee’s striking writing is layered and thick with evocative descriptions of people, landscapes, feelings and foreboding. Sociological and psychological, it’s prose with the abstract feel of poetry. The stories of Red Island House are vibrant and enchanting despite the current of dread that runs through the novel from the start.
RaveThe New York Times Book ReviewFor those who hesitate to delve into African-American historical romances for want of that visceral fantasy element, Beverly Jenkins’s novels — richly grounded in history and yet bristling with joy — are a revelation ... The signature elements of Jenkins’s work come together in spectacular form in Wild Rain, a boldly feminist narrative ... Garrett is the rarest of Black romantic heroes: the cinnamon roll. In historical romances, Black men are rarely afforded the space to be soft, sweet and supportive heroes who dote on their women and don’t mind when they take the reins (literally, in this case). But Garrett is all of those things and it never diminishes him. The way he cares for, loves and stands up for Spring while also knowing when to stand down only makes him more appealing ... Watching her lean into loving him and vice versa is pure pleasure, a powerful, indulgent treat ... showcases Jenkins’s talent for writing intriguing individual stories that illuminate bigger historical themes ... With so much going on, and a pace that propels the reader relentlessly forward, some things get short shrift. Love arrives rather quickly and abruptly for one of the characters. And, outside of a few long-running grudges, some of the conflicts resolve too easily. Still, if Wild Rain doesn’t quite rise to the heights of Beverly Jenkins masterworks like Indigo and Forbidden, it is incredibly satisfying in its own right.
RaveBookpageIn her engrossing and darkly lyrical debut novel, How the One-Armed Sister Sweeps Her House , Bajan author Cherie Jones unspools a discomfiting allegory of race, class and intergenerational trauma in a far from idyllic fictional Caribbean community ... Even as tragedies and indignities pile up, the murkiness surrounding the novel’s events will compel readers to continue reading. Questions arise about how a simple robbery went so wrong and how Baby died—but most importantly, why? What are the roots of these characters’ discontent and recklessness? A bleak and complex picture emerges through this ensemble story, with chapters that alternate between generations and time periods as well as individual points of view. Like the fearsome Wilma, author Cherie Jones is a powerful storyteller. Like the policeman, many readers will feel compelled to follow her into the dark even though there’s precious little joy or light to be found there.
Charles M Blow
PositiveThe GrioThe Devil You Know: A Black Power Manifesto renders an unflinching diagnosis of the ravages of white supremacy and a rousing prescription for Black Americans to eliminate its harms ... Building on the vivid, clear prose and bold arguments that are his stock in trade, The Devil You Know is a fast and persuasive piece of political rhetoric and rough American history ... [Blow\'s] narrative is compelling. His prescriptions are big and worthy of consideration. Some of the connective tissue — Blow’s presentation of history and some analysis of the political moment — don’t always have the necessary nuance. That is in part by design.This is daring work, accessible and easily digested by a wide audience. It is therefore relatively brief at 240 pages including footnotes. It’s argumentation.
Robert Jones Jr
RaveBookPage... remarkable ... accomplishes the exceptional literary feat of being at once an intimate, poetic love story and a sweeping, detailed and excruciating portrait of life on a Mississippi plantation ... One of the most outstanding things about this novel is its artistry, both in its language and its use of multiple perspectives. Jones excels at ensemble storytelling, treating each character with compassion while also being brutally unsparing ... Jones grounds his story in history while making it remarkably relevant to life today ... observations about the intersection of race and gender within this brutal system will sound familiar to contemporary readers ... These disparate elements of history, myth making, social observation, criticism and storytelling don’t always fit together as well as the author may have intended. However, what is most notable about The Prophets is that, like James Baldwin or Toni Morrison, Jones gets to the root of some of our culture’s thorniest problems through specific, accurate storytelling, drawn with insight and great skill. Though this is his first book, Jones is already a master stylist, writing gorgeous, lyrical and readable prose about some of the ugliest things that human beings feel and do to one another. Sometimes the prose reads like scripture. At other times, it’s poetry ... This is a beautifully wrought, exceptionally accomplished queer love story about two men finding extraordinary connection in the most hostile and difficult of circumstances. This debut will be savored and remembered.
MixedBookPage... Hernandez’s sharp-eyed, queer dystopian fantasy is no gentle wake-up call. It is a blaring fire alarm and a call to arms against authoritarianism, white supremacy and transphobia ... At times, Hernandez’s prose style is gorgeously poetic. At other points, as when critiquing the authoritarian regime or the privilege of allies, the writing is openly didactic toward secondary characters who are little more than symbols and vehicles for argument. In these scenes, dialogue unfurls like political discourse rather than as urgent conversation about events happening around them. The subject absolutely merits impassioned appeal, but this aspect of the execution undermines its aim somewhat. Rhetorical appeals in fiction rely on two key things for effect: the reader’s absorption into the narrative and their identification with the protagonist. These phenomena encourage readers to let go of their defenses, effectively shutting down counterarguments, even when the story’s message conflicts with the reader’s prior beliefs. Kay is a brilliantly nuanced, fully formed character, both tender and brave, so identifying with him is easy. Where Crosshairs sometimes falls short, however, is in letting the reader fully engage and feel absorbed into the story. It’s hard not to see the forceful political appeal at work.
PositiveBookPageRather than a traditional thriller, White Ivy is a slow-burning, intricate psychological character study and coming-of-age story full of family secrets and foreboding ... Despite the book’s inevitable ending, Yang allows her main character ambiguity. Ivy is strangely, uncomfortably relatable and ultimately unknowable. Her transgressions are mostly minor, yet her sometimes vicious inner monologue shows that she has the capacity for far harsher misdeeds. Perhaps that is the point—that the dividing line between ordinary wrongs and acts of true evil is razor thin. So when signs start to suggest that something very bad is about to happen, the violent act is all the more jarring ... Ivy brings to mind other desperate, liminal characters, such as Patricia Highsmith’s Tom Ripley. Readers will find a lot to appreciate in this sharply observed psychological thriller.
RaveBookPage[A] thoroughly modern Cinderella story about an aspiring screenwriter hesitantly falling for a sexy, celebrity, cinnamon-roll-sweet hero with swagger ... Weatherspoon deftly translates the classic rags to riches fairy tale’s core elements into a 21st-century context ... Weatherspoon creates vivid, specific characters and gives them wonderful interior lives and excellent banter ... their love story never feels didactic and the romance never gets weighed down. There’s warmth and lightness throughout this very contemporary, yet ultimately classically romantic retelling.
RaveBookPage... a funny and poignant triumph that defies expectation ... That Spoiler Alert so effectively forces the reader to see the significance of the common ground between the scientist and the star is a testament to Dade’s skill as a storyteller. This romance also masterfully conveys both the fun and misery of fandom and social media, as only a text authored by someone who knows these worlds intimately can. It’s clear that Dade isn’t faking those geeky credentials ... On top of all that, Dade also gives weight to the challenges that many people must deal with closer to home ... The family scenes are powerful and unflinching; they might even make some readers cry, but they never overwhelm Marcus and April’s love story ... Despite the high level of difficulty involved in taking on these topics in combination, Spoiler Alert surpasses every mark. Even when the waters April and Marcus are navigating become choppy, it never feels like you’re drowning ... Dade has gifted readers with a thoughtful, swoonworthy and emotionally satisfying contemporary romance that has the added benefit of a realistic, multilayered and relatable portrayal of the digital world. If you’re into fan culture and practices, it will be an even greater pleasure. Loyal Olivia Dade fans and new readers alike will love it.
emily m. danforth
RaveBookPageThere’s a fascinating interplay of past and present, and fiction and reality, in Plain Bad Heroines, Emily M. Danforth’s debut novel for adults ... smart, feminist and funny ... Danforth propels her story not with scary moments but with beautiful writing, indelible characters and complex relationships.
RaveBookPageBy now, many will have seen When No One Is Watching described as Rear Window meets Get Out. Those comparisons are shockingly apt. Alyssa Cole’s latest triumph incorporates elements of both psychological thriller and social horror. Its finale is a bit macabre, much like Get Out, and there is a romantic subplot as well, just as there was in Hitchcock’s masterpiece ... highly original ... Perhaps the best evidence of Cole’s skill in this regard is the remarkable correspondence between a fictional event in the book and a real-life incident that occurred just miles away from where the book is set ... Another element that distinguishes When No One Is Watching is its grounding in not just present-day politics but history.