SKIN OF THE SEA – Natasha Bowen

“Here is a story.  Story it is…” Billing Natasha Bowen’s Skin of the Sea (Random House 2021) as Children of Blood and Bone meets The Little Mermaid does it a bit of disservice; just because a book centers around Yoruba spirits (Orisa/Orisha) doesn’t mean it has to be compared to every other book that alsoContinue reading “SKIN OF THE SEA – Natasha Bowen”

THE SENTENCE – Louise Erdrich

Louise Erdrich’s The Sentence (Harper 2021) was my last read of the year, and it was my favorite read of the year.  (I didn’t think anything would edge out Black Sun, but Erdrich’s effortless, timely and amazing storytelling did.  I shouldn’t have been surprised; Erdrich has been weaving some of my favorite stories for decades.)Continue reading “THE SENTENCE – Louise Erdrich”

ONCE THERE WERE WOLVES – Charlotte McConaghy

Charlotte McConaghy’s Once There Were Wolves (Flatiron Books, 2021) is a slow burn of an environmental novel that begins tumbling fast into a whodunnit. McConaghy skillfully masters three classic literary conflicts in this novel that initially appears to be man versus nature before turning to man versus man before showing its true colors as manContinue reading “ONCE THERE WERE WOLVES – Charlotte McConaghy”

WHEN TWO FEATHERS FELL FROM THE SKY – Margaret Verble

Margaret Verble’s When Two Feathers Fell from the Sky (Mariner Books 2021) is one of those disappointing novels that simply does not live up to its potential. It’s a perfectly okay read, but I wanted it to be as great as a historical novel written by Verble about a Cherokee horse diver should have been.Continue reading “WHEN TWO FEATHERS FELL FROM THE SKY – Margaret Verble”

WE ARE NOT LIKE THEM – Christine Pride & Jo Piazza

I’ve read mixed reviews of Christine Pride and Jo Piazza’s joint novel We Are Not Like Them (Atria Books, 2021), but this was to be expected with such a heavy topic.  Some of the criticism was very fair, but much of it revolved around unrealistic expectations and a failure to recognize the delicate balance PrideContinue reading “WE ARE NOT LIKE THEM – Christine Pride & Jo Piazza”

SANKOFA – Chibundu Onuzo

Chibundu Onuzo’s Sankofa (Catapult, 2021) is one of the best books I’ve read in 2021.  It would have been in my top three but for the last quarter of the novel, which I don’t think carries the same power and charm as the rest of the work.  Regardless, it’s a fantastic read about family, belonging,Continue reading “SANKOFA – Chibundu Onuzo”

VELVET WAS THE NIGHT – Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Last year’s Mexican Gothic was my introduction to Silvia Moreno-Garcia, and while her 2021 release wasn’t a horror, I was equally drawn to the plot and, truth be told, the cover; it’s not as stunning as the cover of Mexican Gothic, but just like that cover made clear the novel was a gothic, Velvet wasContinue reading “VELVET WAS THE NIGHT – Silvia Moreno-Garcia”

BLACK GIRLS MUST DIE EXHAUSTED – Jayne Allen

Jayne Allen’s Black Girls Must Die Exhausted (Harper, 2021 – first published in 2018) is unapologetically “black,” but it didn’t choose to be so – it just is, and it’s taken far too long for a book like this just to exist on the same shelves as books by white authors about white women withContinue reading “BLACK GIRLS MUST DIE EXHAUSTED – Jayne Allen”

CHINA ROOM – Sunjeev Sahota

Sunjeev Sahota’s China Room (Viking, 2021) was another slim selection from the Booker 2021 longlist, but unlike A Passage North, which is a little bit longer, I gobbled it up in one sitting; it’s the kind of storytelling I prefer, and Sahota weaves an intimate and heartbreaking tale of love, independence, hate, and the chainsContinue reading “CHINA ROOM – Sunjeev Sahota”

A PASSAGE NORTH – Anuk Arudpragasam

In continuing with my attempt to read the Booker Prize 2021 longlist, I finally finished Anuk Arudpragasam’s A Passage North (Random House, 2021).  While I didn’t hate it, it is certainly at the bottom of my rankings.  (It still comes in head and shoulders ahead of Second Place, though.)  My issue with the novel isContinue reading “A PASSAGE NORTH – Anuk Arudpragasam”