Carolina Built by Kianna AlexanderWhat it is: a well-researched imagined biography of real-life entrepreneur and real estate magnate Josephine N. Leary.
Set in: Edenton, North Carolina, the coastal town where Josephine was born into slavery and eventually built her financial empire after the Civil War.
Reviewers say: Josephine's "inspiring story transcends one life in the years after emancipation to encompass all women who take the chance to secure their own happiness" (Booklist).
Don't Cry for Me by Daniel BlackWhat it's about: Jacob Swinton is on his deathbed, where he begins writing a letter to his estranged gay son Isaac in which he explores the ups and downs of their relationship, family history, and the complexities of Black masculinity.
Read it for: the evocative portraits of Jim Crow Arkansas and Civil Rights era Kansas City; the "quiet intimacy" (Library Journal) and reflective tone in which the story is told.
About the author: Daniel Black is a professor at Clark Atlanta University whose previous novels include They Tell Me of a Home and Perfect Peace.
The Good Wife of Bath by Karen BrooksWhat it is: a dramatic and thought-provoking adaptation of the classic Chaucer story "Tale of the Wyf of Bathe", except this time the lady in question gets to speak for herself.
Why you might like it: Although classic adaptations are common, they're especially resonant when a maligned or misunderstood character gets the chance to provide readers with their unique perspective on familiar events.
For fans of: Lavinia by Ursula K. Le Guin; Havisham by Ronald Frame.
Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea by André Lewis CarterThe premise: Desperate to get out of Orlando after accidentally snitching on his volatile drug-runner boss "Mr. Mike", Afro-Cuban petty criminal César Alvarez joins the Navy, despite the racial tensions plaguing the recently desegregated armed forces and the certainty that he will be sent to fight in the still-raging Vietnam War.
The problem: Thanks to his protégé's "betrayal" Mr. Mike is now facing his own legal troubles, but he's offered a chance to avoid jail time if he joins the military. Unfortunately, Mr. Mike and César are both headed to Manila and eventually, the close quarters of the USS Kitty Hawk.
Luckenbooth by Jenni FaganStarring: the unfortunate residents of the titular Edinburgh tenement No. 10 Luckenbooth, who are unknowingly haunted by a series of dark events that began in their building in 1910.
For fans of: historical horror, large casts of characters, and stories with a strong sense of place.
About the author: Jenni Fagan is a Scottish writer who has published several collections of poetry but is best known for her offbeat, socially conscious novels including The Panopticon and The Sunlight Pilgrims.
Black Cloud Rising by David Wright FaladéWhat it is: the richly detailed, thought-provoking story of a Union Army brigade made up of recently emancipated Black men and their journey through Confederate-occupied Virginia in 1863.
Starring: the brigade's leader Sergeant Richard Etheridge, a mixed-race man struggling to balance his zeal to destroy slavery, his complex feelings about his slave-owning white father, and his disappointment in the deeply entrenched racism of the Union Army.
Reviewers say: Black Cloud Rising is a "triumphant examination of U.S. history and race relations at a crucial juncture, as seen through the eyes of the well-wrought, ever-questing Etheridge" (Library Journal).
All of You Every Single One by Beatrice HitchmanWhat it's about: the sweeping story of an unlikely chosen family that develops in a relatively permissive Vienna enclave between the first and second World Wars.
Featuring: French tailor Eve, who presents herself to society as a man; Swedish divorcée Julia, who left her famous playwright husband for Eve; their Jewish landlady and confidante Frau Berndt; wannabe theater impresario Rolf; and teenage abuse survivor Ada, who has recently started psychoanalysis with Dr. Sigmund Freud.
Chorus by Rebecca KauffmanWhat it is: the lyrical and character-driven story of the seven Shaw siblings, each of whom shares their perspectives on two defining moments in their lives -- one of the siblings' teenage pregnancy and their mother's mysterious early death.
Where it's set: the Shaw family farm in rural Virginia between 1903 and 1959.
Reviewers say: Chorus is "a superbly executed saga" (Publishers Weekly).
Circus of Wonders by Elizabeth MacnealWhat it's about: Nell has always been stared at in her small English village thanks to the mottled birthmarks that cover her body, but fate gives her the chance for attention on her own terms after her father sells her to a traveling circus and its proprietor lets her perform acrobatic stunts instead of being a sideshow attraction.
Read it for: Nell's indefatigable spirit; the sense of foreboding that builds as Nell becomes the most popular act in the circus; the thought-provoking juxtaposition between the story's Victorian setting and the modern questions raised about autonomy and media manipulation.
The Matchmaker by Paul VidichWhat it is: an atmospheric and intricately plotted story about the personal fallout of international politics during the Cold War.
Starring: Anne Simpson, a translator working in West Berlin; Anne's husband Stephen, a piano tuner who goes on an unusually high number of work-related trips on both sides of the Iron Curtain.
Reviewers say: "Intrigue, murder, and vengeance make for a darkly enjoyable read" (Kirkus Reviews).
Contact your librarian for more great books!
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