Reviews of the Week with Lilliam Rivera, Walter Mosley, and More!

The Review of the Day has always been a brief, early way to spotlight exceptional upcoming titles on Booklist Online. These reviews are notable for different reasons—they may be starred, in high demand, or especially relevant to the current issue’s spotlight.

Gather aroundeither virtually or in a small group, keeping your social distanceto discuss the thought-provoking titles in this week’s #ReviewsoftheDay. Booklist wishes you all well.

Monday, July 20

Never Look Back, by Lilliam Rivera

Pheus can have any girl he wants, thanks to the soulful music he creates. Yet none has captivated him more than the mysterious Eury. Eury’s coyness is not a game, however. She harbors a dangerous secret—Ato, the embodiment of Death, follows her, visiting misfortune on anyone receiving her affection. Even worse is that no one believes that Ato exists. When, by chance, Pheus catches a glimpse of Ato, Eury finally feels like there is a chance for freedom. They must work together, braving the underworld itself, if Eury has any chance of escaping her fate. Rivera (Dealing in Dreams2019) retells the Greek tragedy of Orpheus and Eurydice, setting it in a magic-filled version of the Bronx, infused with the borough’s Puerto Rican and Dominican cultures. 

Tuesday, July 21

The Awkward Black Man, by Walter Mosley

In this collection of simple and complex portraits of a wide range of Black men, Mosley, whose many honors include a PEN America Lifetime Achievement Award, defies the stereotypical images that abound in American culture. The characters in these 17 short stories run the gamut, from hapless nerd to the deliberately blind victim of loneliness, with insecurities on full display. These first-person narratives present an array of men in varying circumstances facing racism, obstructed opportunities, and other terrors of modern life, including climate change, natural and manmade disasters, homelessness, urban violence, and failed relationships.

Wednesday, July 22

Grown, by Tiffany D. Jackson

Enchanted wants to sing more than anything else in the world, but it’s hard to make her dreams a reality when she’s the oldest of five and helping her parents to take care of the kids. So when an opportunity to work, record, and have a romance with the legendary and kind Korey Fields pops up, of course she wants to take it. Touring with Korey would not only boost her career; financially, it could be life-changing for her family. That is, if things were actually what they seemed. After spiraling into a toxic cycle of abuse and narrowly escaping the wrath of her abuser, Enchanted is left to pick up the pieces of her life—including charges for the murder of Korey Fields.

Thursday, July 23

Ordinary Hazards, by Anna Bruno

Frequenting a small-town bar, one quickly learns the regular patrons—their names, occupations, and drinks of choice, but also their histories, motivations, and fears. Emma would like to think she’s an outlier among the regulars at The Final Final, but that’s exactly what a regular would say. Emma’s fresh off a divorce and a tragic accident, but she doesn’t have to put on a brave face while perched on a barstool; it seems like everyone in upstate New York knows everything, anyway. Taking place over the course of a long and dramatic Wednesday night, Bruno’s debut jumps between flashbacks to Emma’s happier times of domestic bliss and the hard, heartwrenching times of today. As drinks are poured, jokes are told, and fights are started and finished, Emma’s vision for her future becomes increasingly clear.

Friday, July 24

The Montague Twins: The Witch’s Hand, by Nathan Page and illustrated by Drew Shannon

Readers might be excused from thinking they accidentally picked up the middle installment in a series, thanks to Page and Shannon’s immersive storytelling in this series starter. We meet the titular twins, orphaned teen detectives Al and Pete, as they’re wrapping up the mystery of a missing dog and enjoying the fruits of their labor (i.e., the reward money). As they traipse around Port Howl on a sunny day in the summer of 1969 with their friend Charlie, daughter of David, the professor who took the twins in, they encounter a mysterious box that imparts ghostly visions and investigate the disappearance of Rachel Bradford, daughter of the most powerful man in town. Meanwhile, the twins and Charlie undertake magic lessons from Rowan, David’s grad student, and Pete wrestles with how to share a secret.'

About the Author:

Michael Ruzicka, Office Manager, was raised in suburban Los Angeles, received a BA in Creative Writing/Poetry at UC Santa Cruz, then moved to Birmingham, AL, where he spent five years owning an independent bookstore and earned an MLIS. He has brought his librarian skills to Vanderbilt’s Television News Archive, Battle Ground Academy, The Museum of Contemporary Art-Chicago, and the Chicago School of Professional Psychology. Michael is very excited to be a part of Booklist and call Chicago his home.

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