Recent Reviews

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You Should See Me in a Crown Cover Image
You Should See Me in a Crown

You Should See Me in a Crown is a quintessential prom story with some twists—namely that the protagonist is a queer Black girl.  Liz Lighty dreams of following in her late mother’s footsteps and attending Pennington.  But she can’t go to college without financial aid, and the music scholarship she was counting on fell through.  She has no other choice but to run for prom queen in the tiny Midwestern town where she’s never fit in, fighting for the cash prize like her future depends on it.  Campaign sabotage eventually forces her to stand up for herself and her values, because fairytales aren’t just for white heteros.  Read on for Black joy and queer romance! Recommended by Mary. Listen to the audio here:

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A Wild Winter Swan: A Novel Cover Image
A Wild Winter Swan

DUE IN OCTOBER: Just in time for the weird 2020 holiday season, Gregory Maquire's latest, A Wild Winter Swan, will take readers back to an extraordinarily weird Christmas week for Laura Ciardi, a teenage misfit in 1960s Upper East Side. Bullied by mean girls at school who make fun of her eccentric Italian family, all Laura needs is a one-winged swan boy to fly right from the pages of a Hans Christian Anderson's fairy tale into her window on a particularly harsh winter night. This quirky coming-of-age story will remind young and old alike that an ability to embrace difference will be the salvation of us all. Recommended by Kelly

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Bones: Inside and Out Cover Image
Bones: Inside and Out

DUE IN OCTOBER: For the soft science reader, Bones: Inside and Out will take you on a fascinating journey through the micro and macro level of vertebrate architecture. You will learn everything from the historically gruesome history of "sawbones" to the latest archaeological discoveries of bones around the world. If there is a funny orthopedic surgeon, Roy Meals is the one!  Recommended by Kelly

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Leave the World Behind: A Novel Cover Image
Leave the World Behind

DUE IN OCTOBER: Rumaan Alam's Leave the World Behind will be the root cause of many sleepless nights this October. Here's the premise: A standard-issue white couple with two children is enjoying a week away from the City in a rental in upstate New York when, low and behold, a sixty-something black couple arrives on the doorstep claiming to own the home. They have fled a black-out in the City and could they possibly stay the night or maybe longer. What ensues is far from standard. Barging in on both families are issues of race and class and--when things out of everyone's control go horribly wrong--the tenability of human connection.  Everyone must read this book, especially now! Recommended by Kelly

Rumaan Alaam’s Leave the World Behind is a tense and clever bottle-episode apocalypse. When Amanda and Clay rent a nice vacation home for a family getaway, the last thing they expect is the house’s owners to arrive in the middle of the night, fleeing a New York City blackout, looking for a place to stay. The resulting clash of families, races, and fears amounts to a thrilling postapocalyptic novel in microscopic scale. Though the action never really leaves that one vacation home, Leave the World Behind is nonetheless an unsettling portrait of a whole world in crisis. Recommended by Danny

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Outsider: A Novel of Suspense (Kate Burkholder #12) Cover Image

The latest in the Kate Burkholder series, Outsider, is a terrific release. When police chief Burkholder's long-lost friend and fellow cop, Gina Colorosa, exposes corruption in her home precinct, both women find themselves on the wrong side of police weapons. A member of the Amish community in Burkholder's town finds Colorosa bleeding and nearly frozen in her vehicle in a snowdrift, news that quickly reaches Burkholder and puts her and the Amish family at grave risk. This narrative is especially poignant in today's times when reports of the Amish protesting in support of the Black Lives Matter movement have reminded the nation that there is more to these intensely private communities than meets the eye. Recommended by Kelly. Support the Raven, and listen at the following link:

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Take a Hint, Dani Brown: A Novel (The Brown Sisters #2) Cover Image
Take a Hint, Dani Brown

I loved the second of Talia Hibbert’s Brown Sisters series, Take a Hint, Dani Brown.  Like the first, this book features realistic situations and diverse characters, and is also super sexy!  Dani is a witchy PhD candidate teaching at a university, her classroom housed in the same building where Zafir Ansari works as a security guard.  A former professional rugby player and a hopeless romantic, Zaf is a giant teddy bear.  But workaholic Dani is the queen of no-strings-attached.  After a security drill gone wrong ends with Zaf heroically carrying Dani out of the building, the incident goes viral on Instagram.  Are Zaf and Dani just playing up #DrRugbae, or could they be something more?  Hibbert yet again handles sensitive topics with grace and grants them visibility.  I can’t wait for the next book! Recommended by Mary. Support the Raven, and listen to the audio at the following link:

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A Burning: A novel Cover Image
A Burning

A Burning tells the all-too-believable story of Javin, a teen-age girl in India who has left school, despite being an excellent student, to get a job and help her struggling family. After a comment against the government on facebook, she is accused of a crime she didn’t commit, largely because she is a Muslim. Her story is the central of three comprising the novel. PT Sir is Javin’s physical education teacher who, largely through chance, becomes involved with the leading nationalist political party. And Lovely is a trans woman aspiring to be a film star whom Jivan is tutoring in English. As Jivan’s arrest and trial unfold, the stories of all three characters develop in alternating chapters told from each of their points of view. This novel is not only a compelling tale of each of the characters’ lives and the impact of PT Sir’s and Lovely’s actions on Jivan’s fate, but it is a critical examination of nationalism in India today – and thus a cautionary tale about nationalist extremism anywhere in the world. Recommended by Nancy. Support the Raven and listen now at the following link::

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Serena Says Cover Image
Serena Says

Serena can’t wait to visit her best friend JC in the hospital as she recovers from surgery, but when Serena comes down with a cold, a new classmate gets to visit JC instead.  All of the sudden, JC seems to have a new best friend, and Serena’s feeling left out.  Meanwhile, Serena practices vlogging at home, speaking her mind and hoping to post on her sister’s YouTube channel when she’s ready.  Between growing pains and group projects, Serena could use some confidence now more than ever.  A sweet story with realistic conflicts and a super diverse cast, Serena Says is a fast favorite! Recommended by Mary


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Get a Life, Chloe Brown: A Novel (The Brown Sisters #1) Cover Image
Get a Life Chloe Brown

Get a Life, Chloe Brown is the ultimate book candy!  Chloe, a Black British thirty-something web designer, has been living in her family home ever since a diagnosis of fibromyalgia upended her life several years prior.  After years of semi-hermithood, a near-death experience prompts her to make a list of things she’d like to do in order to “get a life.”  As fate would have it, the apartment building she soon moves into contains a devilishly handsome superintendent.  With a beautiful and long overdue representation of fibro and plenty of glorious, woman-focused sex, this audiobook is absolute bliss. Recommended by Mary. Listen to the audio and support the Raven:

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A Girl is A Body of Water Cover Image
A Girl Is a Body of Water

DUE IN SEPTEMBER: “Promise me you will pass on the story of the first woman...Stories are critical...The minute we fall silent, someone will fill the silence for us.” Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi seems to follow this counsel of her character Nsuuta in telling us the stories of Kirabo and the women around her. Stories of strength, myth, tradition, suffering, and sacrifice. As Kirabo grows into womanhood in late 20th-century Uganda, she learns directly and indirectly from numerous women, navigating the intersection of tradition and change, and myriad emotions, to arrive at a place of peace. A Girl is a Body of Water is richly satisfying and ultimately joyful. Only rarely do I read passages that strike me enough that I mark pages so as not to lose them. This is one book where I did. Recommended by Nancy