Rosewater by Tade Thompson

Rosewater by Tade Thompson

Set in the near future in Nigeria, Rosewater shows us a world where not much has changed. There are still the rough edges, violence, greed, poverty and prejudices. There are also aliens. Well, an alien. In 2012, a giant alien lifeform, known as “Wormwood,” landed in London and began moving through the Earth’s crust. America went "dark”, and in Nigeria a giant alien biodome popped up in 2055. It occasionally radiates healing rays that are also capable of raising the dead. A city, Rosewater, has grown up around the dome. The story unfolds in three separate timelines that can get a bit confusing. It's told throughout in the first person by Kaaro. He's a psychic, a former thief who now works for a secret arm of the government. He can read minds, replay past events, and even manipulate people. Kaaro and few others like him can connect to the xenosphere - a psychic link to what appears to be the...
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Passing by Nella Larsen

Passing by Nella Larsen

More of a novella than a novel, Passing starts with a chance encounter at a tea shop between Irene Redfield and Clare Kendry. Once childhood friends in Harlem, New York, Irene and Clare are separated when Clare decides to leave the Black community behind, to ‘pass’ for white, marry a white man, and live as a white woman. While the two women catch up, Clare asks Irene if she could come to one of her parties, explaining that she misses being around Black people. Irene agrees and then she meets Clare’s racist husband. Irene is shocked and angry. She lives within the African-American community, is married to a black man, and is anxious about passing though she does it when convenient, like at the tea shop. In fact, Irene’s biggest desire in life is for security, while Clare is a risk-taker. A couple of year later, Clare reaches out to Irene again, and begins spending more time with Irene, her family,...
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Broken Places by Tracy Clark

Broken Places by Tracy Clark

Cass is angry. Angry that Father Ray, Pop, is dead. Angry that an incompetent detective has caught the case and is ready to dismiss it as a murder/suicide, which Cass knows is not true. Cass is determined to get to the truth, no matter how many favors she has to call in. She's also got some friends who are ready to back her up no matter what. Broken Places is a riveting story full of action, but Cass isn't the loner she may seem to be. Yes, she's tough and willing to do things on her own, but she's got some loyal friends, both in the police force and on the other side of the law. She's brave and stubborn, but also vulnerable at times. She cares about people, her friends, the homeless man she meets, her former partner. I'm hoping though that she gets a little more time to be a person in the next entry in the series. This...
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Four Hundred Souls edited by Ibram X. Kendi and Keisha N. Blain

Four Hundred Souls edited by Ibram X. Kendi and Keisha N. Blain

In Four Hundred Souls, Kendi and Blain have assembled an outstanding group of 90 writers and poets to tell the history of African Americans. The collection begins with Nikole Hannah-Jones's essay on the 1619 arrival of 20 Africans in Virginia and ends with an essay by Alicia Garza on the Black Lives Matter movement. The essays and stories tell of history we know, but many writers focused on stories and people I didn't know, like Elizabeth Keyes who was the first Black woman in the American colonies to petition for her freedom, Lucy Terry Prince the poet who argued for her family's freedom before the Supreme Court, and David George who established the first Black Baptist church. Others touch on laws and events but they fit together, telling a history that we don't know well enough. Like any collection, Four Hundred Souls is uneven, but I don't think that's a negative here. Each of the writers has their own style, their...
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Hollywood Ending by Kellye Garrett

Hollywood Ending by Kellye Garrett

Hollywood Ending is a fun sequel to Hollywood Homocide, but I think would work as a stand-alone too. Dayna Anderson, used to be an actress and is now working on becoming a private investigator. The story is told from her point of view. “You’d probably cast me in a group of black friends getting together for a fun vacation movie. I’d play the cute, annoyingly sweet girl currently dating the object of the main character’s affections.” It's award season in Hollywood and Dayna's boyfriend, Omari, is up for one of the biggest awards for television, the Silver Sphere Award. When Omari narrowly misses being the victim of a fatal mugging after a pre-party, Dayna is drawn into the case, hoping for the reward money. Turns out the publicist who was killed was also secretly Anani Miss, a celebrity gossip columnist who has spilled plenty of secrets. Dayna seems pretty casual, but she's determined and clever. The book is filled with...
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Hollywood Homicide by Kellye Garrett

Hollywood Homicide by Kellye Garrett

Dayna, an out of work actress, is in desperate need of money- not just so she can eat, but because her parents need her help. When she witnesses a hit and run, and discovers there is a sizeable reward for information leading to an arrest- Dayna turns amateur detective in hopes of claiming the reward money. She soon discovers the case could be connected to a recent spate of crimes in Hollywood- which sends her on a madcap mission to find a murderer. It’s a grand adventure until Dayna becomes a target. I actually really liked that Dayna was just out for the reward money, it gives her a good reason for investigating. This was a good mystery and funny. There were many laugh-out-loud moments. The celebrity-obsessed culture of Hollywood is used to great effect and Dayna’s observations about it are humorous and effective. It’s also a nice touch that Dayna isn’t just pointing and mocking. She is part of that...
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