RaveThe Washington InformerOn every page, in every single story, author Carole Emberton leads readers to learn something they didn’t know or to meet someone new, and it’s done between the facts of history and social mores, presented concurrently with Priscilla Joyner’s story ... This is one of those books that’ll make you lose track of time and your surroundings. lt’ll answer questions, raise your pride, and it’ll make your head spin for days after you’re done reading it. To Walk About in Freedom is the book you need to keep you in your chair.
Robert Samuels, Toluse Olorunnipa
PositiveThe Philadelphia TribuneWhile it may seem that His Name is George Floyd might be too painful to read, even now, two years after his death, that’s not so. Not entirely ... There are huge pockets of sunny joy in this book, at a childhood enjoyed, dreams reached for, and people beloved. Those sides of Floyd, parts that were missed by many news outlets, are shared but authors Robert Samuels and Toluse Olorunnipa don’t let him become larger than life; Floyd had flaws, and we’re allowed to see them...Then again, there are times when George Floyd becomes almost a side-note here ... Readers who want to somehow memorialize Floyd will appreciate this book for its candor, good research, and its storytelling. You’ll also want His Name is George Floyd for its concrete answers.
MixedWashington InformerTake My Hand seems poised for an outrage that only barely arrives, perhaps because the reason for the railing is overshadowed by the main character, fussing at herself and her own decisions. In the beginning, in fact, author Dolen Perkins-Valdez doesn’t make her Civil very likable ... As for the plot, well, it’s slow — except when it’s not, and then reading it feels like skimming it, as though you only caught the highlights of it all. This unevenness can sometimes be hard to get through, but you must: that’s where the good of this novel lies ... Should you read this book anyhow? ... Yes, maybe, if you’re unfamiliar with Relf v. Weinberger, since this tale may act as a gentler, softer way to learn about it. Just beware its bumps, try Take My Hand, and make it your own.
RaveThe Washington ReformerHow do you mark your pages when you read a book? Whatever you use, have a lot of them on hand because nearly every other paragraph of The Trayvon Generation contains a sentence or three that you’ll want to remember, to reread, or turn over in your mind ... Author Elizabeth Alexander uses personal stories, Black literature, history, racial violence, and current events to paint pain inside the pages of this book. There’s outrage here, too, but it’s different than perhaps anything you’ve read: it shows itself, then it sits back and waits to see what a reader will do before getting another punch or gasp, another George Floyd, another Angola, another \'shock of delayed comprehension\' ... That’s what makes this book so must-readable, so thoughtful and compelling. It’s what makes it something you’ll want to share with your older teenager and your friends, for discussion. Find The Trayvon Generation, and you won’t miss a thing.
PositiveIndianapolis RecorderIn his introduction, author Gerrick Kennedy indicates that he wanted his book about Houston to be different from all the others, more meaning, less trouble. He succeeded. To a point. It’s difficult to extricate Houston the icon from Houston the megastar—they are mostly one in the same—and stepping back two generations or profiling other singers and music executives doesn’t help as much as Kennedy asserts. That stuff is all fluff; interesting but covered elsewhere. The best part of Didn’t We Almost Have It All? comes in the latter third of the book. It’s there that Kennedy examines the depth of Houston’s contributions and the \'meaning\' of her decline and death to the Black community. There’s a lot of introspection in it, as well as a shift in how we think about our celebrities. Tackle Didn’t We Almost Have It All? therefore, and you can expect to see things you already know, but you can also expect to be delighted. It’s a fan’s book, for sure, and reading it might be the greatest love of all.
Zora Neale Hurston, Ed. by Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Genevieve West
RavePhiladelphia TribuneYou Don’t Know Us Negroes isn’t a book to take – or read – lightly ... From the beginning of the introduction to the very last words on McCollum, this book demands that readers stop and think about what’s been said. It’s natural that you would anyhow: much of what author Zora Neale Hurston observed in her day is still relevant now ... What’s unexpected – and very delightful – is Hurston’s voice. Some of these stories ring with a wonderful sense of sarcasm that tells you everything you need to know about Hurston’s mind-set. Some tales ache with frustration. Others spark like lightning in a jar ... This is a carry-it-everywhere-with-you kind of book, perfect for times when you need some introspection as diversion. You Don’t Know Us Negroes is like that, and that’s just the way it is.
Katherine Johnson with Joylette Hylick and Katherine Moore
RaveThe Guam Daily PostLively and with great detail, Johnson tells her story in a way that frames her accomplishments in humble neon, never letting readers forget who she was or what she did, but not bragging on it without giving ample credit to others. The warmth and grace of that is impressive; so is the fact that she admits to having endured racism, patriarchy, and Jim Crow laws but she waves them away like a fly on a June afternoon, as if they weren\'t even a part of her equation. My Remarkable Journey puts the movie about Johnson into keener perspective, bringing the full story, as Dr. Yvonne Cagle says in her introduction, to a new generation of young women. Find it, share it with your daughter. Or catch it on an audiobook. That counts, too.
RaveThe Philadelphia TribuneReading The Ground Breaking is going to leave you wrung out ... reads like a true-life mystery-thriller, a feeling that’s bolstered by Ellsworth’s totally-exhaustive pursuit of information and documentation (which is still unnervingly unavailable) and his relentlessly-dogged search for the bodies of the dead. On this latter, readers may still feel a sense of the unfinished, and closure is elusive here ... This is the kind of book that, once you start it, makes the hours disappear. It’s an emotional one that’ll make you skip dinner and lock the door so you can just read. For sure, The Ground Breaking will shake you up.
RaveNorth Dallas Gazette... it’s hard to even slightly dislike a story that makes its characters tackle DWB, racism, classism, white supremacy, ill-placed power, and a dozen other societal issues between bodice-ripping erotica and page-ripping thrills ... It’s hard to let go of a book that makes you absolutely, one-hundred-percent need to know what happens next. The surprise is that Dickey does all this as he pushes readers to accept a degree of discomfort: unlike with his past novels, the sex isn’t always sexy here, and the thrills are more threatening than thrilling. Be prepared to be turned every which way with this book. Be set to let The Son of Mr. Suleman eat up your weekend. Just be ready, because missing it would be a sin.
Jamie K. McCallum
PositiveHutchinson LeaderDespite that it’s for anyone who’s employed, the way you approach Worked Over will depend on which side of the paycheck you’re on. It does lean more toward employees—and blue-collar workers, at that ... in fact, worker-readers hailing from all business-types will find outraging tales; stories of workplace politics; and horror-story-like, near-dystopian hints of the future of employment. If it weren’t for the somewhat Norma Rae tone and the solution-ideas, it would be enough to send a worker, screaming, to the break room to hide ... Reach for this book with an open mind and there’s much to learn, whether you’re the owner, supervisor, or an in-the-trenches worker. One job, two jobs, three jobs or more, Worked Over can’t be overlooked.
RaveThe Tennessee TribuneNot just for its political implications, but for the everyday lessons inside it, We’re Better Than This is a book to have now ... It’s hard not to be thrilled as he proceeds to his recollections of what happened while he was chair of the Oversight Committee: riveted as we were by it, Cummings’ account of the drama offers further behind-the-scenes peeks at, and his thoughts on, those proceedings. Wisdom, a charming ownership of his constituents, some well-deserved back-patting, and an awareness of his impending death add further luster.
MixedThe Philadelphia Tribune... a nice surprise. It’s also a source of disappointment ... For sure, readers will find themselves fascinated by a ranch in South Central, and itching to learn more about it, but facts here are frustratingly sparse. Yes, author Walter Thompson-Hernández follows the subtitled promise of focusing his book on the cowboys themselves, but a ranch in the middle of SoCal urbanity? It seems like a gift. Truly, more backstory on it would’ve been nice ... Instead, readers get a lot of throat-clearing and profile-rehashing that spins in place before it zooms off in a satisfying manner. Again, yes, that’s the focus but less here absolutely would have been more ... In the end, The Compton Cowboys is good, but it may leave a lingering feeling of Not Enough. For anyone needing a who-what-why, it requires a lot of fill-in-the-blanks and it saddles a reader with too many questions.
PositiveRushville RepublicanIf you are someone who loves a biography, Palm Beach, Mar-a-Lago, and the Rise of America’s Xanadu is going to delight you. It’s a biography within a biography, times five. Indeed, this book is mostly about a city in Florida, and how it came to be a home for some of America’s most wealthy citizens; in that, readers get a biography of its founders and of the Gilded Age in general. That tale would be as dry as cereal sans milk without a biography of Marjorie Post, who is inextricably linked to Palm Beach through the biography of a mansion. In taking that last part to its modern conclusion, author Les Standiford finishes his book with an invitation. You don’t have to be wealthy to visit the island, but this book is rich. Palm Beach, Mar-a-Lago, and the Rise of America’s Xanadu lets you see how the other half lives.
W. Caleb McDaniel
RaveThe Miami TimesAuthor W. Caleb McDaniel tells a breathless tale with an ominously dark feel through many of its pages, because the monsters here were real. Yes, it’s a complicated tale that races from north to south, but the righteous audacity that ultimately occurred in Ohio in 1870 makes it worthwhile, fist-pumping, and satisfying. Historians, of course, will want Sweet Taste of Liberty. Feminists shouldn’t miss it. Folks with an opinion on reparations should find it. All of you will want to take it home.
MixedThe Sentinel Echo... if you’re not very techy, parts of it may boggle your mind ... Really, though, there’s no other way that author Charles Fishman could have told this tale. Without a thorough accounting of the technology involved in winning the space race, the story is quite incomplete and it’s difficult to see the full picture of the work it took and the knowledge gained in the years between averral and Apollo. It helps that Fishman also puts this event into perspective by explaining what the world didn’t have and how strides in understanding and invention changed everything, as a whole ... But again, the tech: if it’s not your thing, work through it anyhow, for a story you need to know, as an American citizen. If you’re a STEM kind of person, though, you’ll find One Giant Leap to be five stars.
PositiveThe Washington BladeRainbow Warrior was compiled from several manuscripts that the late author Gilbert Baker left after his death in 2017, a fact that would have been helpful to have, early on. You’ll be more forgiving of the overly florid prose knowing that ... Aside from that annoyance — one appearing throughout the book — readers may also notice a bit of pretentiousness, lot of snarky fighting, endless drugs and getting naked in Baker’s narrative, which is likewise forgivable because much of it takes place post-Stonewall, post-Summer-of-Love, pre-AIDS...And thus is the appeal here ... Baker was one of the more ferociously involved protesters, by his own account, and his anecdotes are priceless. He gives readers a good first-person look at early efforts for gay rights, and eye-opening, sometimes jaw-dropping, behind-the-scenes peeks at life as a young gay man during an uprising. It’s a lively, outrageous look at outrage, in an account that seems not to have held one thing back. That makes Rainbow Warrior readable and entertaining and, despite its overly ornate verbosity, a good look at revolution cut from a different cloth.
RaveThe Montgomery HeraldReading How Not to Die Alone is like unpacking that very last box after a move: You’ll wonder why you didn’t open it first because the things inside are so delightful. By taking a sobering premise and sprinkling it heavily with the wryest, darkest humor, author Richard Roper offers a story you’ll really hate to put down ... this book becomes origami-like: It folds inward to make us gasp in surprise and unfolds into a real charmer ... a novel you won’t be able to keep quiet about.
Heath Hardage Lee
PositiveThe Montgomery HeraldSomewhere on a shelf in your home, you might have a stack of thrillers you’ve read and loved and will read again. Add The League of Wives to that pile; it’s is as thrilling as any novel, but it’s all true. Yes, you know how this story ends, but the getting-there’s the appeal. Author Heath Hardage Lee brings readers a real-life account of politics, espionage, and secrets, inside a tale of a changing world and an unpopular war, inside a story of one small corner of the history of women’s rights. While that might seem like a lot to take (and Lee may appear to lean a bit), it’s a comfortable read with urgent surprises ... That adds up to a tale that’s just-right-told, especially if you’re a politico, history buff, veteran, military wife, or feminist. For you, and you love a good thriller, The League of Wives could become a cherished story.
RaveWashington BladeThe new memoir An Indefinite Sentence by Siddharth Dube is likely to especially resonate with U.S. readers where it’s easy to forget that being out in other parts of the world can be a radically different experience ... you’ll be lulled into a veil of serenity. That is due completely to the prose with which Dube tells his story: it’s soft and formal but with elegant slang and a very surprising willingness to use profanity in a matter-of-fact way that still feels like a slap. Dube shares his life and his travels by mixing shades of his faith along with tales of men he loved platonically and otherwise, female sex workers who bore the most blame on the spread of disease and the politics of and attitudes toward AIDS around the world. This, too, is told with outraged mindfulness that feels like a burning torch wrapped in tranquility. It’s stirring and calming, funny and sad and easily sustains interest throughout.
MixedHouston Style MagazineLooking much like a historical narrative, the front cover of A Bound Woman is a Dangerous Thing is very misleading. Readers will want to know that this is not strictly a history book. Yes, there’s history inside it – brief, fascinating history; biographical clips; and wonderful period photos – but that’s not the focus ... Hill offers too-short introductions to various Black women throughout history before presenting poems she wrote, based on each individual woman’s situation ... For lovers of poetry, that mix here will be welcome and powerful but for readers expecting something else, the presentation could be a head-scratcher.
PositiveRushville RepublicanThe very first thing you’ll need to know when you find The Mystery of the Exploding Teeth is that it’s not a mystery in the sense that you’re used to. No, author Thomas Morris tells, up-front, about every crushed limb, every dynamite burp and pigeon butt in wince-worthy, laughable detail. But even though these things are humorous from today’s vantage point, Morris pokes fun in a respectful manner that isn’t mean-spirited. It’s more on the playful side, pulling old medical reports from the dust, explaining where needed, and cringing along with readers. Even better, these accounts go beyond the usual leeches-and-mercury tales; instead, most of what Morris presents hasn’t had a good exam in decades. Despite their age—and many are 200-plus years old—these articles seem fresh ... if boredom is what ails you, The Mystery of the Exploding Teeth is an excellent remedy.
PositiveThe PantagraphNeedless to say ... it’s harrowing—especially when you note that nearly the entirety of Cavanagh’s tale—from discovery to a leave-us-hanging resolution—takes place in a short three-year period. That can result in a story-pace that may leave a reader wrung out although, because it’s a lot of in-and-out-of-rehab rehashing, it can also seem repetitive. Kindred spirits, however, will fully appreciate Cavanagh’s stellar job in reassuring parents via her narrative that there is no shame in reaching out for help or support ... This book deserves its spot on a growing list of books on addiction, just as it deserves to be on your bookshelf if you have a loved one with substance abuse problems. In that case, and if you need the comfort, you may want to reach for If You Love Me first.
RaveThe Rushville RepublicanOpen the cover and the action starts almost immediately when author Craig Johnson puts Longmire in the presence of a blind man who sees everything—a conundrum that works surprisingly well. From there, we’re incongruously taken in a pink Cadillac to violently dangerous situations that are faintly reminiscent of old-time westerns, and gun smoke that happens to come from some very modern automatic rifles. Indeed, that’s what makes this book so compelling: it’s a super-fast-paced updated throw-back kind of novel that will appeal to lovers of old-school oaters and thrillers alike ... find Depth of Winter if you want action, horses, deserts, and cutthroat cowpokes with AK47s. Really, would you want to miss a book like that?
Jean-Christophe Brisard and Lana Parshina
PositiveThe Southern IllinoisanThe Death of Hitler: The Final Word rivals any fictional mystery, with plenty of back-story on Hitler and those who surrounded him in his last days. Those scenarios feel ominous, even though we know the outcome; they also sometimes feel too pat, as if they’re there to move the story along. What helps is that the authors pull readers into modern-day sleuthing often enough to keep their ground. This book is very well-sourced, and it’s perfect for historians, World War II buffs, and mystery-lovers. Parts of it do feel recreated here, but it possesses a reassurance of truth and a positive air of authority. The Death of Hitler: The Final Word is a very good book, though the final word may still be hanging.
RaveThe Idaho Press-TribuneSo you think, with all those names and dates, that history can be stuffy? Not so much when murder is afoot and The Royal Art of Poison is in your hands. But this book isn’t all about murder—or history, for that matter. Author Eleanor Herman spends a good amount of time telling about Royal as well as everyday lives and how people lived in the 14th through 18th centuries. She then explains how we know what we know now, and why the heyday of poison, if you will, ended. Or did it? ... Be aware that this book is filled with blood and guts and other unsavory things, so it’s not for the squeamish. Curious folks will love it, though, and European history lovers won’t want to pass on The Royal Art of Poison.
Robert W. Fieseler
PositiveOutSmart...page after page of stomach-twisting details of death by fire and the horror of publicly burning alive. Author Robert W. Fieseler shares the details, and they are indeed wretched. That’s only part of the shock of this book. It continues with the controversy within religious organizations, gay-friendly and otherwise, and details the birthing pains of activism that seem as painful to read as they must’ve been in life. As he’s telling the story, Fieseler continues to remind readers that officials seemed not to care about solving this crime ... Through all this, Fieseler asks—and answers—why we know so little about this tale. His answers are multitudinous, compassionate, important in a historical context, and emotional ... Tinderbox makes this tragedy one that you won’t likely forget.
MixedThe Southern IllinoisanWe need to remember, as Carter points out, that the answer to prayer isn’t always \'Yes.\' We must strive to recognize other religions, and to reconcile scientific facts with Biblical teachings as we understand them. And, surprisingly, Carter says pacifism is not a \'necessary element\' of Christianity ... Fans of author Jimmy Carter’s work, rejoice. What you’ll find inside Faith is what you’d expect, because this is one of Carter’s areas of expertise. On the other hand, though, this book can be a hard read. Much of what’s inside Faith has been said before, sometimes in Carter’s own previous works; in many cases, even the repetition is repeated, or ideas are phrased differently in the same paragraph. Readers may also notice circle-talk that just goes round and round and round, and a good amount of fluff that’s seemingly without point. And yet ... This skinny books’ appeal will rightfully be wide but be aware that this challenge for readers may be a challenge to read. If you don’t think that’ll bother you, then Faith is a book to secure.
RaveLong Island PulseIn a way that makes readers eager to find out more and learn why, Hoffman tells a mouth-drying tale of beauty, risk and opportunity .. Seeing great details in these parallel narratives and a perfectly-worked ending, Hoffman carefully preserves two mysteries: one with a contented life and one in death. Who could resist?