Friday Reads: African American Mysteries and Thrillers

Our Black History celebration continues this week with mystery writers. This list includes everything from hard-boiled thrillers to cozy mysteries. Each of these books is available at Danville Public Library.

35173689Down the River Unto the Sea by Walter Mosley

Ten years after serving time at Rikers Island for assault, Joe King Oliver, an ex-NYPD investigator working as a private detective, receives a note from a woman who admits she was paid to frame him, compelling him to find out who on the police force wanted him out. He also agrees to help a radical black journalist accused of killing two on-duty police officers who had been abusing their badges to traffic in drugs and prostitutes in the city’s poorest neighborhoods. The two cases intertwine, exposing a pattern of corruption and brutality wielded against black men, women, and children whose lives the law destroyed.

(Next month, Pages to Pictures is featuring Devil in a Blue Dress by Walter Mosley on March 16 at 1 p.m.)

91jdy6ph3xlFinding Gideon by Eric Jerome Dickey

As a hit man from the time he was very young, money, women, and danger have always ruled Gideon’s life; but for the first time, the job is taking its toll. Neither Gideon nor the city of Buenos Aires has recovered from the mayhem caused during Gideon’s last job. But before the dust has settled and the bodies have been buried, Gideon calls in backup–including the lovely Hawks, with whom Gideon has heated memories–to launch his biggest act of revenge yet– one he believes will destroy his adversary, Midnight, once and for all. Yet Midnight and his second-in-command, the beautiful and ruthless Señorita Raven, are launching their own revenge, assembling a team of mercenaries the likes of which the world has never seen.

32785013Hollywood Homicide by Kellye Garrett

Dayna Anderson doesn’t set out to solve a murder. All the semi-famous, mega-broke actress wants is to help her parents keep their house. So after witnessing a deadly hit-and-run, she pursues the fifteen grand reward. But Dayna soon finds herself doing a full-on investigation, wanting more that just money; she wants justice for the victim.



9781496711274-pdpxlMurder with Macaroni and Cheese by A.L. Herbert

When the organizing committee for her upcoming high school reunion desperately needs a caterer, Halia agrees to help out. Soon she’s serving up her signature macaroni and cheese and famous chicken wings to a host of appreciative ex-classmates. Some folks have blossomed since graduation. Others, like manipulative Raynell Rollins, currently married to a former football star, haven’t changed nearly enough. When Raynell is found dead the morning after the reunion, the roll call of possible suspects could fill the school gymnasium. Extra-marital affairs, mega-church scandals and sports secrets… Raynell had her perfectly manicured hand in a lot of sticky situations. With her cousin Wavonne’s bungling assistance–and a helping of unwelcome dating advice from her mother, Celia–Halia is on course to track down the killer, before she becomes the alumna most likely to meet an untimely end … — Provided by publisher.

35238085The Parker Inheritance by Varian Johnson

Twelve-year-old Candice Miller is spending the summer in Lambert, South Carolina, in the old house that belonged to her grandmother, who died after being dismissed as city manager for having the city tennis courts dug up looking for buried treasure–but when she finds the letter that sent her grandmother on the treasure hunt, she finds herself caught up in the mystery and, with the help of her new friend and fellow book-worm, Brandon, she sets out to find the inheritance, exonerate her grandmother, and expose an injustice once committed against an African American family in Lambert.


Note: All images are from Google Images and all book descriptions are from the SHARE Catalog.

Book Review: As Lie is to Grin by Simeon Marsalis

2017-11-09-SimeonDavid is a freshman at University of Vermont, where he is one of the very few African American students. He struggles to figure out how he fits in as a student and as a black man. He is also missing his girlfriend from New York. The relationship was more physical than anything else, but started on the lie: he didn’t think that sounded black enough that he was from Long Island, so he lied and said he was from Harlem. Throughout the whole story, while he’s trying to decipher is place in the world, he is also remarkably focused on both American architectural design and Harlem Renaissance writer Jean Toomer.

The story is told mostly through journal entries, but also through excerpts from a novel David is working on. As the novel is based on events in his own life, we often get to see the reality as he describes it in his journal as well as the version he’d like to show the world. Sometimes it seems as though David isn’t really sure which is which. Anyone interested in coming of age stories or of reading about someone come to terms with their own reality, will enjoy this book.

Review by Jessica A.

What’s New at the Libary!



See what’s new this week at the Danville Public Library at:

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There are eight new bestsellers, nine new movies, three new children’s books, and 30 other new books.

The new bestsellers this week include “Black Leopard, Red Wolf,” “The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee: Native America from 1890 to the Present,” and “Connections in Death: An Eve Dallas Novel.” The new movies this week include “Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch,” “The Wife,” and “The Girl in the Spider’s Web [Blu-ray].”

Book Review: Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor

akata witchSunny had moved to Nigeria from America and doesn’t fit in very well, despite her Nigerian roots. She’s albino and her classmates take every opportunity to remind her that she doesn’t belong. Then one night, she sees a vision of the end of the world in a candle flame, and things get really strange. Orlu, the one classmate who shows her kindness decides to also show her who she truly is, along with the help of his neighbor Chichi: she’s a witch, a Leopard Person.

The three of them, and later Sasha, an African American boy sent to study in Nigeria, work together and study together. They learn plenty of lessons that are important to Leopard People, yet the adults have a habit of always holding back. There is also a serial killer by the name of Blat Hat Otokoto has being killing young children all throughout this story, and Sunny learns of a connection between him and herself, a connection which means a confrontation is inevitable.

I’ve read a few of Okorafor’s other works (and even reviewed one here before), and this one is my favorite so far. It’s easily accessible to the younger audience but without talking down. I also really enjoyed the type of magic used here. It’s not the typical spell-casting one finds in books with a European model of magic. This is very African and proudly so. This book is great for anyone who enjoys fantasy and magic, particularly children. The next book in the series is Akata Warrior, and I’ll be reading that one soon.

Review by Jessica A.

Friday Reads: African American Romance

Continuing our celebration of Black History Month, and remembering that next week is Valentine’s Day, here are a selection of African American romance novels, all available at Danville Public Library.

35271238A Princess in Theory by Alyssa Cole

Prince Thabiso is the sole heir to the throne of Thesolo, shouldering the hopes of his parents and his people. At the top of their list? His marriage. Ever dutiful, he tracks down his missing betrothed. When Naledi mistakes the prince for a pauper, Thabiso can’t resist the chance to experience life–and love–without the burden of his crown.




GUEST_016b3b09-f5a1-487f-9215-7c21ffe012c8Best Laid Plans by Brenda Jackson

Love wasn’t supposed to be a part of the deal… Even a famed matchmaker like Nolan Madaris’s great-grandmother can’t get it right every time. Nolan, the notorious fun-loving ladies’ man, could never connect with someone as straitlaced as tech whiz Ivy Chapman. Yet the scheme Ivy proposes is tempting–they can pretend to be a couple, just long enough to satisfy their families. But someone forgot to clue in their hearts What happens, though, when Ivy’s plan to get her relatives off her back has an unexpected side effect: getting her into Nolan’s bed? Houston’s number one womanizer may have found the only one who can truly satisfy him, body and soul. But with a man from Ivy’s past determined to be part of her future, both she and Nolan will have to decide what’s fake, what’s real and what’s worth fighting for …

25489915Forbidden by Beverly Jenkins

Rhine Fontaine is building the successful life he’s always dreamed of–one that depends upon him passing for White. But for the first time in years, he wishes he could step out from behind the facade. The reason: Eddy Carmichael, the young woman he rescued in the desert. Outspoken, defiant, and beautiful, Eddy tempts Rhine in ways that could cost him everything … and the price seems worth paying. Eddy owes her life to Rhine, but she won’t risk her heart for him. As soon as she’s saved enough money from her cooking, she’ll leave this Nevada town and move to California. No matter how handsome he is, no matter how fiery the heat between them, Rhine will never be hers. Giving in for just one night might quench this longing. Or it might ignite an affair as reckless and irresistible as it is forbidden …

i_almost_forgot_about_you__49426.1463739082.600.600I Almost Forgot About You by Terry McMillan

Dr. Georgia Young’s wonderful life–great friends, family, and successful career–aren’t enough to keep her from feeling stuck and restless. When she decides to make some major changes in her life, including quitting her job as an optometrist and moving house, she finds herself on a wild journey that may or may not include a second chance at love. Georgia’s bravery reminds us that it’s never too late to become the person you want to be, and that taking chances, with your life and your heart, are always worthwhile.


13166670Ada’s Rules: A Sexy Skinny Novel by Alice Randall

Ada Howard, the wife of the preacher at Nashville’s Full Love Baptist Tabernacle, has a whole lot of people to take care of. There’s her husband, of course, and the flock that comes with him, plus the kids at the day care where she works, two grown daughters, and two ailing parents. It’s no wonder she can’t find time to take care of herself. And her husband’s been so busy lately, she’s suspicious some other woman may be taking care of him. Then it comes: the announcement of her twenty-five-year college reunion in twelve month’s time, signed with a wink by her old flame. Ada gets to thinking about the thrills of young love lost, and the hundred or so pounds gained since her college days, and she decides it’s high time for a health and beauty revival. So she starts laying down some rules. The first rule is: Don’t Keep Doing What You’ve Always Been Doing. And so begins a long journey toward a new look and a new perspective on what Ada wants, and on what she’s always had.

51pcthjzsnl._sx330_bo1204203200_Hold Me In Contempt: A Romance by Wendy Williams

“Kimberly Kind is trying to get beyond her roots. A successful, beautiful, smart lawyer, she’s finally finding direction in her life and getting out of the streets. But a terrible accident threatens to throw her carefully laid plans off course. Now Kim’s hiding a huge secret–one that could threaten everything. Enter King: a perfect mix of Justin Timberlake and David Beckham, the man oozes sex and has more swagger than anyone Kim’s ever met”–Page 4 of cover.




Note: All book covers are from Google Images and all book descriptions are from the SHARE Catalog.

Book Review: Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison


This book follows the unnamed narrator through his memoirs which explain how and why he became invisible.  He attends college, moves to New York City in the hopes of finding work to fund the rest of his college career but quickly loses his first job at a factory. Then he falls in with The Brotherhood, a group of both black and white people working together in brotherhood to promote peace. They hire the narrator on as a speaker to make speeches to crowds in Harlem.

This book gives the reader an opportunity to view 1930s New York from the perspective of a black man, something that we (still) don’t see a lot of in fiction set in this time period. The narrator’s life is full of experiences that are way out of his control, and he is often a passive character with things just happening to him, rather than him choosing to do things. This is not accidental. One could take the universal view that everyone lacks a certain amount of agency in their own lives and ends up just going with the flow, but I doubt the author’s intent was to point out that universal truth. Rather, I think he meant to highlight how African Americans, especially before the Civil Rights Movement, were at the mercy of what white people wanted: because if they didn’t comply or go along with it, they could be killed or thrown in prison. The narrator ‘goes along with it’ until he simply can’t anymore; until he realizes just how much he has been used by others; until he ultimately decides to become invisible (or to accept his invisibility, depending on how you interpret things) and live underground.

This book is a classic for a reason. It has also been included in The Great American Read list. It provides an import view on the African American experience in America. I would recommend it to anyone who wants to read a piece of classic 20th century fiction. Also, considering one of the author’s influences was Dostoevsky’s Notes from the Underground, I would recommend it to anyone who enjoyed that book.

Review by Jessica A.