Check It Out Category: Lists

Celebrating Native American Authors

Native American Authors

Native American voices have won glory for several recent titles covering a variety of topics for every reader. Plus, reading a book by a Native American author is part of the optional mini-challenge for Winter Reading this year! Below are stories pulled from a larger list of Native American authors, featuring modern life in its wit and struggles, historical trauma, the twin pulls of embracing tradition and breaking away, epic fantasy, and more!

Crooked Hallelujah book cover

Crooked Hallelujah by Kelli Jo Ford

A first collection by an award-winning Cherokee writer traces four generations of Native American women as they navigate cultural dynamics, religious beliefs, the 1980s oil bust, devastating storms and unreliable men to connect with their ideas about home.

Family Saga; Gritty

Winter Counts book cover

Winter Counts by David Heska Wanbli Weiden

A vigilante enforcer on South Dakota’s Rosebud Indian Reservation enlists the help of an ex to investigate the activities of an expanding drug cartel, while a new tribal council initiative raises controversial questions.

Crime Fiction; Suspenseful

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This Town Sleeps by Dennis E. Staples

Engaging in a secret affair with a closeted white man, an Ojibwe from a northern Minnesota reservation navigates small-town discrimination before a ghost leads him to the grave of a basketball star whose murder becomes linked to a local legend.

Intricately Plotted; Moving

Cherokee America book cover

Cherokee America by Margaret Verble 

In the Spring of 1875 in the Cherokee Nation, Check, a wealthy farmer and mother of five boys, must protect her mixed-race family and tight-knit community at all costs when violence erupts.

Historical Fiction; Compelling

Savage Conversations book cover

Savage Conversations by LeAnne Howe

Mary Todd Lincoln is addicted to opiates and tried in a Chicago court on charges of insanity. Entered into evidence is Ms. Lincoln’s claim that every night a Savage Indian enters her bedroom and slashes her face and scalp. She is swiftly committed. Her hauntings may be a reminder that in 1862, President Lincoln ordered the hanging of 38 Dakotas in the largest mass execution in United States history. No one has ever linked the two events–until now.

Novel in Verse; Historical Fiction

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Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse

A trilogy debut is inspired by the civilizations of the Pre-Columbian Americas and follows the unbalancing of the holy city of Tova amid a fateful solstice eclipse.

Epic Fantasy; World-building

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Night of the Mannequins by Stephen Graham Jones

A contemporary horror story where a teen prank goes very wrong and all hell breaks loose: is there a supernatural cause, a psychopath on the loose, or both?

Horror; Menacing

Apple: Skin to the Core book cover

Apple: Skin to the Core by Eric Gansworth

The term “Apple” is a slur in Native communities across the country. It’s for someone supposedly “red on the outside, white on the inside.” Eric Gansworth tells the story of his family, of Onondaga among Tuscaroras, of Native folks everywhere. From the horrible legacy of the government boarding schools, to a boy watching his siblings leave and return and leave again, to a young man fighting to be an artist who balances multiple worlds.

Memoir; Lyrical

 

 

Read what warms you up for Winter Reading! 

Native American Voices

Best Books of 2020

Best Books of 2020

We sifted through a great many of the Best Books of 2020 opinions that have been making the rounds and put some of the more frequent fliers on this curated Best Books of 2020 list. Featured below are some of the books that our staff have heard rave reviews about as well as those consistently on those Best Of indexes!

Deacon King Kong book cover

Deacon King Kong by James McBride

In the aftermath of a 1969 Brooklyn church deacon’s public shooting of a local drug dealer, the community’s African-American and Latinx witnesses find unexpected support from each other when they are targeted by violent mobsters.

Hidden Valley Road: Inside the Mind of an American Family book cover

Hidden Valley Road: Inside the Mind of an American Family by Robert Kolker

Tells the heartrending story of a midcentury American family with 12 children, 6 of them diagnosed with schizophrenia, that became science’s great hope in the quest to understand the disease.

Transcendent Kingdom book cover

Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi

A novel about faith, science, religion, and family that tells the deeply moving portrait of a family of Ghanaian immigrants ravaged by depression and addiction and grief, narrated by a fifth year candidate in neuroscience at Stanford school of medicine studying the neural circuits of reward seeking behavior in mice.

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Blacktop Wasteland by S.A. Cosby

Compelled by poverty to agree to a lucrative final heist that will allow him to go straight, a skilled getaway driver finds his efforts complicated by racial dynamics and the ghosts of his past.

The Cold Millions book cover

The Cold Millions by Jess Walter

Enduring a harsh existence as day laborers, orphaned brothers Gig and Rye Dolan are drawn to a feminist activist and a vaudeville singer whose experiences reflect an unjust world on the brink of upheaval.

The City We Became book cover

The City We Became by N.K. Jemisin

Takes readers into the dark underbelly of New York City where a roiling, ancient evil stirs in the halls of power, threatening to destroy the city and her six newborn avatars.

The Only Good Indians book cover

The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones

Seamlessly blending classic horror and a dramatic narrative with sharp social commentary, The Only Good Indians follows four American Indian men after a disturbing event from their youth puts them in a desperate struggle for their lives. Tracked by an entity bent on revenge, these childhood friends are helpless as the culture and traditions they left behind catch up to them in a violent, vengeful way.

Party of Two book cover

Party of Two by Jasmine Guillory

Going against her better judgement, LA lawyer Olivia Monroe secretly starts dating a hotshot junior senator until their romance is made public and her life falls under intense media scrutiny, jeopardizing everything.

Best Films of 2020

best films of 2020

2020 was a very different year for films, but we scoured through the Best Films of 2020 rankings that have been circulating and spotlighted the more frequent fliers on this Best Films of 2020 list. Featured below are some of the movies that our staff have heard rave reviews about as well as those consistently on multiple Best Of indexes!

For Best Of streaming-only options (not featured here), you can look into checking out one of our Rokus.

First Cow DVD cover

First Cow

A loner and cook has traveled west and joined a group of fur trappers in Oregon Territory, though he only finds a connection with Chinese immigrants. The men collaborate on business, although its longevity is reliant upon the participation of a wealthy landowners prized milking cow.

The Assistant DVD cover

The Assistant

One day in the life of Jane, a recent college graduate and aspiring film producer, who has recently landed her dream job as a junior assistant to a powerful entertainment mogul. As Jane follows her daily routine, she, and viewers, grow increasingly aware of the abuse that insidiously colors every aspect of her workday, an accumulation of degradations against which Jane decides to take a stand, only to discover the true depth of the system into which she has entered.

Never Rarely Sometimes Always DVD cover

Never Rarely Sometimes Always

Written and directed by Eliza Hittman, the film is an intimate portrayal of two teenage girls in rural Pennsylvania. Faced with an unintended pregnancy and a lack of local support, Autumn and her cousin Skylar embark across state lines to New York City on a fraught journey of friendship, bravery, and compassion.

Beanpole DVD cover

Beanpole

1945, Leningrad. WWII has devastated the city, demolishing its buildings and leaving its citizens in tatters, physically and mentally. Two young women search for meaning and hope in the struggle to rebuild their lives amongst the ruins.

The Whistlers DVD cover

The Whistlers

Not everything is as it seems for Cristi, a police inspector in Bucharest who plays both sides of the law. Embarking with the beautiful Gilda on a high-stakes heist, both will have to navigate the twists and turns of corruption, treachery and deception. A trip to the Canary Islands to learn a secret whistling language might just be what they need to pull it off.

Bad Education DVD cover

Bad Education

The beloved superintendent of New York’s Roslyn school district and his staff, friends and relatives become the prime suspects in the unfolding of the single largest public school embezzlement scandal in American history.

Sorry We Missed You DVD cover

Sorry We Missed You

Ricky and his wife Abby, who lost their home in the 2008 financial crash, are desperate to get out of their economic distress. When Ricky gets the opportunity to be his own boss as a delivery driver, they trade in their only asset, Abby’s car, for a new white van and the dream that Ricky can work his way up to owning his own franchise. But the couple find their lives are quickly pushed further to the edge by an unrelenting work schedule, a ruthless supervisor, and the needs of their children.

Favorite Reads of 2020 from Let’s Talk Books!

Favorite Reads in 2020 from Let's Talk Books

Let’s Talk Books participants share their favorite discoveries of 2020! Let’s Talk Books happens every 2nd and 4th Tuesday of the month at 7pm on Zoom (registration required). It’s a bookish hour full of listening to what your neighbors are raving about and sharing your own discoveries! You are welcome to come to every session or just drop in for one. And now, drumroll please, for the favorite reads of 2020 from Let’s Talk Books participants!

Cover of Empty Mansions

Julia highly recommends Empty Mansions: the Mysterious Life of Huguette Clark and the Spending of a Great American Fortune by Bill Dedman and Paul Clark Newell, Jr.

A cousin of Huguette Clark and a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist trace the life of the reclusive American heiress against a backdrop of the now-infamous W. A. Clark family and include coverage of the internet sensation and elder-abuse investigation that occurred at the end of her life.

Would Like to Meet book cover

Another favorite of Julias as well as Cathleens this year was Would Like To Meet by Rachel Winters

Ordered by her film agency to acquire a romantic-comedy screenplay by a jaded writer, Evie relies on the assistance of her friends during a haphazard summer spent trying to prove that true love is real.

Vanishing Half book cover

Nicole enjoyed The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett

Twin sisters, inseparable as children, ultimately choose to live in two very different worlds, one black and one white.


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Nicole also recommends Caste: The Origin of Our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson

The Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Warmth of Other Suns identifies the qualifying characteristics of historical caste systems to reveal how a rigid hierarchy of human rankings, enforced by religious views, heritage and stigma, impact everyday American lives.

Alexander Hamilton book cover

Howard relished Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow

The personal life of Alexander Hamilton, an illegitimate, largely self-taught orphan from the Caribbean who rose to become George Washington’s aide-de-camp and the first Treasury Secretary of the United States, is captured in a definitive biography.

the turn of the key book cover

Gail thoroughly enjoyed The Turn Of The Key by Ruth Ware.

When a high-paying nanny job at a luxurious Scottish Highlands home ends with her imprisonment for a child’s murder, a young woman struggles to explain to her lawyer the unravelling events that led to her incarceration.

Memorial book cover

Janine and Jenny recommend Memorial by Bryan Washington

A Japanese-American chef and a Black daycare teacher begin reevaluating their stale relationship in the wake of a father’s death and the arrival of an acerbic mother-in-law who becomes an unconventional roommate.

The Flatshare book cover

Another favorite of Janine‘s was The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary

Entering a flatshare arrangement with a man on an opposite work shift, a heartbroken woman begins exchanging notes with the roommate she has never met and becomes his best friend, and possibly soulmate, through their correspondence.

House in the Cerulean Sea book cover

Denise highly recommends The House in the Cerulean Sea by T.J Klune

A magical island. A dangerous task. A burning secret. An enchanting story, masterfully told, The House in the Cerulean Sea is about the profound experience of discovering an unlikely family in an unexpected place-and realizing that family is yours.

The Sellout Book Cover

Chelsea enjoyed The Sellout by Paul Beatty

A biting satire about a young man’s isolated upbringing and the race trial that sends him to the Supreme Court.

Boy the Mole the Fox and the Horse book cover

Chelsea and Janine recommend The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and The Horse by Charlie Mackesy

Charlie Mackesy offers inspiration and hope in uncertain times in this book based on his famous quartet of characters, as they explore their unlikely friendship and learn poignant, universal lessons together.

New Waves book cover

Jenny thoroughly enjoyed New Waves by Kevin Nguyen

Fed up with discriminating bosses, an Asian-American customer service representative and a talented African-American programmer conspire to steal their employer’s user database before an unexpected setback exposes a secret double life.

Cathleen delighted in listening to The Curious Heart of Ailsa Rae by Stephanie Butland

Recovering from a heart transplant while mourning a best friend who did not make it, Ailsa begins a search for her long-absent father that is marked by personal estrangements and questions about starting over.

Cheers to us all finding more reading gems in 2021!

Witches in Fiction

Witches in Fiction

Double, double, toil, and trouble, witches abound in fiction! Below we have gathered some recommended witchy reads to hold you spellbound. There are witches from different centuries, locales, and practices, and whether they are the cause of troubles or plagued by them, the boil and bubble promise pure story enchantment.

The Year of the Witching book cover

The Year Of The Witching by Alexis Henderson 

Observing a life of strict submission to minimize discrimination for her mixed heritage, Immanuelle discovers dark truths about her community’s church and her late mother’s secret relationship with the spirits of four witches.

The Once and Future Witches book cover

The Once and Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow

In the late 1800s, three sisters use witchcraft to change the course of history in a Hugo award-winning author’s novel of magic amid the suffragette movement.


The Witches of New York book cover

The Witches of New York by Ami McKay

A tale inspired by Manhattan’s 19th-century witchcraft revival finds a celebrated teahouse proprietress and a gifted medium teaming up with a dream interpreter in the aftermath of a psychic colleague’s disappearance.

Who Fears Death book cover

Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor

Born into post-apocalyptic Africa by a mother who was raped after the slaughter of her entire tribe, Onyesonwu is tutored by a shaman and discovers that her magical destiny is to end the genocide of her people.

The Age of Witches book cover

The Age of Witches by Louisa Morgan

In Gilded Age New York, a centuries-long clash between two magical families ignites when a young witch must choose between love and loyalty, power and ambition, in this magical novel by Louisa Morgan.

The Mercies book cover

The Mercies by Kiran Millwood Hargrave

In Finnmark, Norway, 1617, after 40 fishermen are drowned in the sea, the women of the tiny Arctic town of Vardo must fend for themselves especially when a sinister figure arrives, bringing with him a mighty evil that threatens their very existence.