A book list by Onset & Rime.
February may be over, but we're going beyond Black History Month with this long list of amazing books by Black authors. This list celebrates Black authors and their stories, across a range of genres. There's something in here for everyone, and lots of content to take you through the rest of the year and more!
A Note: Content warnings have been provided where appropriate. Highlight the "invisible" text beside the content warning label to see. Content warnings are not value statements about the books or judgements about the inclusion of any particular content. They are there to give you a heads up on what to be prepared for so you can choose if and/or when a book is right for you.
1) BLACK BUCK by Mateo Askaripour
“A crackling, satirical debut novel about a young man given a shot at stardom as the lone Black salesman at a mysterious, cult-like, and wildly successful startup where nothing is as it seems.”
From the publisher: “An unambitious twenty-two-year-old, Darren lives in a Bed-Stuy brownstone with his mother, who wants nothing more than to see him live up to his potential as the valedictorian of Bronx Science. But Darren is content working at Starbucks in the lobby of a Midtown office building, hanging out with his girlfriend, Soraya, and eating his mother’s home-cooked meals. All that changes when a chance encounter with Rhett Daniels, the silver-tongued CEO of Sumwun, NYC’s hottest tech startup, results in an exclusive invitation for Darren to join an elite sales team on the thirty-sixth floor.
After enduring a “hell week” of training, Darren, the only Black person in the company, reimagines himself as “Buck,” a ruthless salesman unrecognizable to his friends and family. But when things turn tragic at home and Buck feels he’s hit rock bottom, he begins to hatch a plan to help young people of color infiltrate America’s sales force, setting off a chain of events that forever changes the game.”
Content Warnings: racism, white supremacy, harassment, violence
2) LOT: STORIES by Bryan Washington
“Stories of a young man finding his place among family and community in Houston”
From the publisher: “In the city of Houston - a sprawling, diverse microcosm of America - the son of a black mother and a Latino father is coming of age. He's working at his family's restaurant, weathering his brother's blows, resenting his older sister's absence. And discovering he likes boys.
This boy and his family experience the tumult of living in the margins, the heartbreak of ghosts, and the braveries of the human heart. The stories of others living and thriving and dying across Houston's myriad neighborhoods are woven throughout to reveal a young woman's affair detonating across an apartment complex, a rag-tag baseball team, a group of young hustlers, the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, a local drug dealer who takes a Guatemalan teen under his wing, and a reluctant chupacabra.”
Content Warnings: racism, homophobia, abuse
3) SEVEN DAYS IN JUNE by Tia Williams
“Seven days to fall in love, fifteen years to forget, and seven days to get it all back again...”
From the publisher: “Brooklynite Eva Mercy is a single mom and bestselling erotica writer, who is feeling pressed from all sides. Shane Hall is a reclusive, enigmatic, award-winning literary author who, to everyone's surprise, shows up in New York.
When Shane and Eva meet unexpectedly at a literary event, sparks fly, raising not only their past buried traumas, but the eyebrows of New York's Black literati. What no one knows is that twenty years earlier, teenage Eva and Shane spent one crazy, torrid week madly in love. They may be pretending that everything is fine now, but they can't deny their chemistry - or the fact that they've been secretly writing to each other in their books ever since.
Over the next seven days in the middle of a steamy Brooklyn summer, Eva and Shane reconnect, but Eva's not sure how she can trust the man who broke her heart, and she needs to get him out of New York so that her life can return to normal. But before Shane disappears again, there are a few questions she needs answered...”
Content Warnings: child abuse, self harm, racial slurs
4) REAL LIFE by Brandon Taylor
From the publisher: "Almost everything about Wallace is at odds with the Midwestern university town where he is working uneasily toward a biochem degree. An introverted young man from Alabama, black and queer, he has left behind his family without escaping the long shadows of his childhood. For reasons of self-preservation, Wallace has enforced a wary distance even within his own circle of friends—some dating each other, some dating women, some feigning straightness. But over the course of a late-summer weekend, a series of confrontations with colleagues, and an unexpected encounter with an ostensibly straight, white classmate, conspire to fracture his defenses while exposing long-hidden currents of hostility and desire within their community."
Content Warnings: racial slurs/racism, homophobic slurs/homophobia, sexual abuse, sexual abuse of a child
5) QUEENIE by Candice Carty-Williams
From the publisher: "Queenie Jenkins is a 25-year-old Jamaican British woman living in London, straddling two cultures and slotting neatly into neither. She works at a national newspaper, where she's constantly forced to compare herself to her white middle class peers. After a messy break up from her long-term white boyfriend, Queenie seeks comfort in all the wrong places...including several hazardous men who do a good job of occupying brain space and a bad job of affirming self-worth. As Queenie careens from one questionable decision to another, she finds herself wondering, 'What are you doing? Why are you doing it? Who do you want to be?'—all of the questions today's woman must face in a world trying to answer them for her."
Content Warnings: sexual violence, racism, child abuse
6) TRANSCENDENT KINGDOM by Yaa Gyasi
From the publisher: "Gifty is a fifth-year candidate in neuroscience at Stanford School of Medicine studying reward-seeking behavior in mice and the neural circuits of depression and addiction. Her brother, Nana, was a gifted high school athlete who died of a heroin overdose after a knee injury left him hooked on OxyContin. Her suicidal mother is living in her bed. Gifty is determined to discover the scientific basis for the suffering she sees all around her. But even as she turns to the hard sciences to unlock the mystery of her family's loss, she finds herself hungering for her childhood faith and grappling with the evangelical church in which she was raised, whose promise of salvation remains as tantalizing as it is elusive."
Content Warnings: racism, drug addiction, suicidal ideation
7) SONG OF SOLOMON by Toni Morrison
From the publisher: "Milkman Dead was born shortly after a neighborhood eccentric hurled himself off a rooftop in a vain attempt at flight. For the rest of his life he, too, will be trying to fly...As [we follow] Milkman from his rustbelt city to the place of his family's origins, Morrison introduces an entire cast of strivers and seeresses, liars and assassins, the inhabitants of a fully realized black world."
Content Warnings: racism/racial slurs, violent hate crime, slavery, mentions of incest, suicide
8) IF BEALE STREET COULD TALK by James Baldwin
From the publisher: "Told through the eyes of Tish, a nineteen-year-old girl, in love with Fonny, a young sculptor who is the father of her child, Baldwin's story mixes the sweet and the sad. Tish and Fonny have pledged to get married, but Fonny is falsely accused of a terrible crime and imprisoned. Their families set out to clear his name, and as they face an uncertain future, the young lovers experience a kaleidoscope of emotions-affection, despair, and hope."
Content Warnings: rape, racism, suicide
Narrative Nonfiction and Biography
9) A LITTLE DEVIL IN AMERICA: NOTES IN PRAISE OF BLACK PERFORMANCE by Hanif Abdurraqib
“A stirring meditation on Black performance in America”
From the publisher: “At the March on Washington in 1963, Josephine Baker was fifty-seven years old, well beyond her most prolific days. But in her speech she was in a mood to consider her life, her legacy, her departure from the country she was now triumphantly returning to. “I was a devil in other countries, and I was a little devil in America, too,” she told the crowd. Inspired by these few words, Hanif Abdurraqib has written a profound and lasting reflection on how Black performance is inextricably woven into the fabric of American culture. Each moment in every performance he examines—whether it’s the twenty-seven seconds in “Gimme Shelter” in which Merry Clayton wails the words “rape, murder,” a schoolyard fistfight, a dance marathon, or the instant in a game of spades right after the cards are dealt—has layers of resonance in Black and white cultures, the politics of American empire, and Abdurraqib’s own personal history of love, grief, and performance.
Abdurraqib writes prose brimming with jubilation and pain, infused with the lyricism and rhythm of the musicians he loves. With care and generosity, he explains the poignancy of performances big and small, each one feeling intensely familiar and vital, both timeless and desperately urgent. Filled with sharp insight, humor, and heart, A Little Devil in America exalts the Black performance that unfolds in specific moments in time and space—from midcentury Paris to the moon, and back down again to a cramped living room in Columbus, Ohio.”
Content Warnings: violence, police brutality, racism, Islamophobia, suicide, misogynoir
10) FOUR HUNDRED SOULS edited by Ibram X. Kendi and Keisha N. Blain
“… a chronological account of four hundred years of Black America as told by ninety of America's leading Black writers.”
From the publisher: “Curated by Ibram X. Kendi, author of the number one bestseller How To Be an Antiracist, and fellow historian Keisha N. Blain, Four Hundred Souls begins with the arrival of twenty enslaved Ndongo people on the shores of the British colony in mainland America in 1619, the year before the arrival of the Mayflower.
In eighty chronological chapters, the book charts the tragic and triumphant four-hundred-year history of Black American experience in a choral work of exceptional power and beauty.
Contributors include some of the best-known scholars, writers, historians, journalists, lawyers, poets and activists of contemporary America who together bring to vivid life countless new facets to the drama of slavery and resistance, segregation and survival, migration and self-discovery, cultural oppression and world-changing artistic, literary and musical creativity. In these pages are dozens of extraordinary lives and personalities, rescued from the archives and restored to their rightful place in America's narrative, as well as the ghosts of millions more.”
Content Warnings: slavery, racism, lynching, sexual assault, violence
11) MAJOR LABELS: A HISTORY OF POPULAR MUSIC IN SEVEN GENRES by Kelefa Sanneh
“The entire history of popular music over the past fifty years refracted through the big genres that have defined and dominated it: rock, R&B, country, punk, hip-hop, dance music, and pop.”
From the publisher: “In Major Labels, [Kelefa] Sanneh distills a career's worth of knowledge about music and musicians into a brilliant and omnivorous reckoning with popular music--as an art form (actually, a bunch of art forms), as a cultural and economic force, and as a tool that we use to build our identities. He explains the history of slow jams, the genius of Shania Twain, and why rappers are always getting in trouble.
Sanneh shows how these genres have been defined by the tension between mainstream and outsider, between authenticity and phoniness, between good and bad, right and wrong. Throughout, race is a powerful touchstone: just as there have always been Black audiences and white audiences, with more or less overlap depending on the moment, there has been Black music and white music, constantly mixing and separating. Sanneh debunks cherished myths, reappraises beloved heroes, and upends familiar ideas of musical greatness, arguing that sometimes, the best popular music isn't transcendent. Songs express our grudges as well as our hopes, and they are motivated by greed as well as idealism; music is a powerful tool for human connection, but also for human antagonism. This is a book about the music everyone loves, the music everyone hates, and the decades-long argument over which is which.”
Genre(s): nonfiction, music, history
12) CASTE: THE ORIGINS OF OUR DISCONTENTS by Isabel Wilkerson
Wilkerson weaves together stories from a broad spectrum of people to show the insidious undertow of the unspoken caste system in America is experienced every day. She links the caste systems of America, India, and Nazi Germany to compare the impact caste systems have on the lives of those who are ruled by them.
From the publisher: "She documents how the Nazis studied the racial systems in America to plan their out-cast of the Jews; she discusses why the cruel logic of caste requires that there be a bottom rung for those in the middle to measure themselves against; she writes about the surprising health costs of caste, in depression and life expectancy, and the effects of this hierarchy on our culture and politics. Finally, she points forward to ways America can move beyond the artificial and destructive separations of human divisions, toward hope in our common humanity."
Content Warnings: racism, historical violence against minorities
13) STAMPED FROM THE BEGINNING by Ibram X. Kendi
From the publisher: "Kendi chronicles the entire story of anti–Black racist ideas and their staggering power over the course of American history. Stamped from the Beginning uses the lives of five major American intellectuals to offer a window into the contentious debates between assimilationists and segregationists and between racists and anti-racists. From Puritan minister Cotton Mather to Thomas Jefferson, from fiery abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison to brilliant scholar W. E. B. Du Bois to legendary anti–prison activist Angela Davis, Kendi shows how and why some of our leading pro-slavery and pro–civil rights thinkers have challenged or helped cement racist ideas in America...Kendi illustrates [how] racist thinking did not arise from ignorance or hatred. Racist ideas were created and popularized in an effort to defend deeply entrenched discriminatory policies and to rationalize the nation's racial inequities in everything from wealth to health. While racist ideas are easily produced and easily consumed, they can also be discredited. In shedding much–needed light on the murky history of racist ideas, Stamped from the Beginning offers tools to expose them—and in the process, reason to hope."
This book is also available in an adapted format more accessible to younger readers (but is still great for adults!). This version is called Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi.
Content Warnings: racism, historical violence against minorities
14) ALL BOYS AREN'T BLUE by George M. Johnson
Through a series of personal essays, LGBTQIA+ activist George M. Johnson explores his childhood, adolescence, and college years in New Jersey and Virginia.
From the publisher: "From the memories of getting his teeth kicked out by bullies at age five, to flea marketing with his loving grandmother, to his first sexual relationships, this young-adult memoir weaves together the trials and triumphs faced by Black queer boys...All Boys Aren't Blue covers topics such as gender identity, toxic masculinity, brotherhood, family, structural marginalization, consent, and Black joy."
Content Warnings: racism, homophobia, racial and homophobic slurs, incest, physical and sexual assault
15) HALF-BLOOD BLUES by Esi Edugyan
In Paris in 1940 Hieronymus Falk, a Black German jazz musician is arrested by the Nazis and never heard from again. Fifty years later his bandmates Sid and Chip are returning to Berlin. When secrets buried since Hiero's disappearance are brought to light, they must reckon with their past. This is a story about friendship, jealousy, guilt, and forgiveness.
Content Warnings: racism, racially motivated violence, references to the Holocaust
16) DEACON KING KONG by James McBride
From the publisher: "In September 1969, a fumbling, cranky old church deacon known as Sportcoat shuffles into the courtyard of the Cause Houses housing project in south Brooklyn, pulls a .38 from his pocket, and in front of everybody shoots the project's drug dealer at point-blank range...As the story deepens, it becomes clear that the lives of the characters—caught in the tumultuous swirl of 1960s New York—overlap in unexpected ways. When the truth does emerge, McBride shows us that not all secrets are meant to be hidden, that the best way to grow is to face change without fear, and that the seeds of love lie in hope and compassion."
Content Warnings: racism/racial slurs, homophobia/homophobic slurs, abuse, mention of rape, mention of pedophilia
17) HALF OF A YELLOW SUN by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
From the publisher: “Thirteen-year-old Ugwu is employed as a houseboy for a university professor full of revolutionary zeal. Olanna is the professor's beautiful mistress, who has abandoned her life of privilege in Lagos for a dusty university town and the charisma of her new lover. And Richard is a shy young Englishman in thrall to Olanna's twin sister, an enigmatic figure who refuses to belong to anyone. As Nigerian troops advance and the three must run for their lives, their ideals are severely tested, as are their loyalties to one another.
Epic, ambitious, and triumphantly realized, Half of a Yellow Sun is a remarkable novel about moral responsibility, about the end of colonialism, about ethnic allegiances, about class and race—and the ways in which love can complicate them all."
Content Warnings: rape and sexual assault, graphic violence
Mystery & Thriller
18) CHERISH FARRAH by Bethany C. Morrow
“[A] young, calculating Black girl … manipulates her way into the lives of her Black best friend's white, wealthy, adoptive family but soon suspects she may not be the only one with ulterior motives.”
From the publisher: “Seventeen-year-old Farrah Turner is one of two Black girls in her country club community, and the only one with Black parents. Her best friend, Cherish Whitman, adopted by a white, wealthy family, is something Farrah likes to call WGS--White Girl Spoiled. With Brianne and Jerry Whitman as parents, Cherish is given the kind of adoration and coddling that even upper-class Black parents can't seem to afford--and it creates a dissonance in her best friend that Farrah can exploit. When her own family is unexpectedly confronted with foreclosure, the calculating Farrah is determined to reassert the control she's convinced she's always had over her life by staying with Cherish, the only person she loves--even when she hates her.
As troubled Farrah manipulates her way further into the Whitman family, the longer she stays, the more her own parents suggest that something is wrong in the Whitman house. She might trust them--if they didn't think something was wrong with Farrah, too. When strange things start happening at the Whitman household--debilitating illnesses, upsetting fever dreams, an inexplicable tension with Cherish's hotheaded boyfriend, and a mysterious journal that seems to keep track of what is happening to Farrah--it's nothing she can't handle. But soon everything begins to unravel when the Whitmans invite Farrah closer, and it's anyone's guess who is really in control.”
Content Warnings: gaslighting, gore, racism
19) THE VIOLIN CONSPIRACY by Brendan Slocumb
“A riveting tale about a Black classical musician whose family heirloom violin is stolen on the eve of the most prestigious classical music competition in the world.”
From the publisher: “Growing up Black in rural North Carolina, Ray McMillian’s life is already mapped out. If he’s lucky, he’ll get a job at the hospital cafeteria. If he’s extra lucky, he’ll earn more than minimum wage. But Ray has a gift and a dream—he’s determined to become a world-class professional violinist, and nothing will stand in his way. Not his mother, who wants him to stop making such a racket; not the fact that he can’t afford a violin suitable to his talents; not even the racism inherent in the world of classical music.
When he discovers that his great-great-grandfather’s beat-up old fiddle is actually a priceless Stradivarius, all his dreams suddenly seem within reach. Together, Ray and his violin take the world by storm. But on the eve of the renowned and cutthroat Tchaikovsky Competition—the Olympics of classical music—the violin is stolen, a ransom note for five million dollars left in its place. Ray will have to piece together the clues to recover his treasured Strad … before it’s too late.
With the descendants of the man who once enslaved Ray’s great-great-grandfather asserting that the instrument is rightfully theirs, and with his family staking their own claim, Ray doesn’t know who he can trust—or whether he will ever see his beloved violin again.”
Content Warnings: racism, mentions of slavery
20) WHEN NO ONE IS WATCHING by Alyssa Cole
From the publisher: "Sydney Green is Brooklyn born and raised, but her beloved neighborhood seems to change every time she blinks. Condos are sprouting like weeds, FOR SALE signs are popping up overnight, and the neighbors she's known all her life are disappearing. To hold onto her community's past and present, Sydney channels her frustration into a walking tour and finds an unlikely and unwanted assistant in one of the new arrivals to the block—her neighbor Theo. But Sydney and Theo's deep dive into history quickly becomes a dizzying descent into paranoia and fear. Their neighbors may not have moved to the suburbs after all, and the push to revitalize the community may be more deadly than advertised."
Content Warnings: racism, police violence, physical abuse, suicide
21) BLACKTOP WASTELAND by S.A. Cosby
From the publisher: "Beauregard 'Bug' Montage: husband, father, honest car mechanic. But he was once known—from North Carolina to the beaches of Florida—as the best getaway driver on the East Coast. Just like his father, who disappeared many years ago. After a series of financial calamities (worsened by the racial prejudices of the small town he lives in) Bug reluctantly takes part in a daring diamond heist to solve his money troubles—and to go straight once and for all. However, when it goes horrifically wrong, he's sucked into a grimy underworld which threatens everything, and everyone, he holds dear."
Content Warnings: racism, graphic violence
Sci-Fi & Fantasy
22) REMOTE CONTROL by Nnedi Okorafor
"An alien artifact turns a young girl into Death's adopted daughter in … a thrilling sci-fi tale of community and female empowerment”
From the publisher: “The day Fatima forgot her name, Death paid a visit. From hereon in she would be known as Sankofa--a name that meant nothing to anyone but her, the only tie to her family and her past.
Her touch is death, and with a glance a town can fall. And she walks--alone, except for her fox companion--searching for the object that came from the sky and gave itself to her when the meteors fell and when she was yet unchanged; searching for answers.
But is there a greater purpose for Sankofa, now that Death is her constant companion?”
Content Warnings: child abuse
23) SONG OF BLOOD AND STONE by L. Penelope
“[An] epic fantasy about an outcast drawn into a war between two powerful rulers.”
From the publisher: “The kingdoms of Elsira and Lagrimar have been separated for centuries by the Mantle, a magical veil that has enforced a tremulous peace between the two lands. But now, the Mantle is cracking and the True Father, ruler of Lagrimar and the most powerful Earthsinger in the world, finally sees a way into Elsira to seize power.
All Jasminda ever wanted was to live quietly on her farm, away from the prying eyes of those in the nearby town. Branded an outcast by the color of her skin and her gift of Earthsong, she’s been shunned all her life and has learned to steer clear from the townsfolk…until a group of Lagrimari soldiers wander into her valley with an Elsiran spy, believing they are still in Lagrimar.
Through Jack, the spy, Jasminda learns that the Mantle is weakening, allowing people to slip through without notice. And even more troubling: Lagrimar is mobilizing, and if no one finds a way to restore the Mantle, it might be too late for Elsira. Their only hope lies in uncovering the secrets of the Queen Who Sleeps and Jasminda’s Earthsong is the key to unravel them.
Thrust into a hostile society and a world she doesn’t know, Jasminda and Jack race to unveil an ancient mystery that might offer salvation.”
This is the first book in The Earthsinger Chronicles.
Content Warnings: attempted rape, violence, racism
24) KINDRED by Octavia E. Butler
Kindred is generally recognized as the first science fiction novel written by a Black woman and is a cornerstone of Black American literature.
Dana, a modern Black woman living in California in 1976, is wrenched back in time to a plantation in antebellum Maryland. After saving a drowning boy, she is pulled back to her California home just in time to avoid a shotgun being pointed at her face. As she continues to be bounced between 1970s California and pre-Civil War Maryland, she becomes more and more entangled in the life of Rufus, the white boy she saved, and his connection to her own familial history.
This novel has also been adapted into an award-winning graphic novel: Kindred, adapted by Damian Duffy, illustrated by John Jennings.
Content Warnings: sexual assault, racism/racial slurs, lynching, slavery, suicide, graphic violence
25) THE RAGE OF DRAGONS by Evan Winter
From the publisher: "The Omehi people have been fighting an unwinnable fight for almost two hundred years. Their society has been built around war and only war. The lucky ones are born gifted. One in every two thousand women has the power to call down dragons. One in every hundred men is able to magically transform himself into a bigger, stronger, faster killing machine. Everyone else is fodder, destined to fight and die in the endless war. Young, gift-less Tau knows all this, but he has a plan of escape. He's going to get himself injured, get out early, and settle down to marriage, children, and land. Only, he doesn't get the chance. Those closest to him are brutally murdered, and his grief swiftly turns to anger. Fixated on revenge, Tau dedicates himself to an unthinkable path. He'll become the greatest swordsman to ever live, a man willing to die a hundred thousand times for the chance to kill the three who betrayed him."
This is the first book in The Burning series by Evan Winter.
Content Warnings: sexual assault, racism
26) AN UNKINDNESS OF GHOSTS by Rivers Solomon
Aster is a healer living in the lower-deck slums of the HSS Matilda, a space vessel organized like the antebellum South. It is a generational ship, ferrying the last of humanity to a 'Promised Land'; but the ship's leaders have chosen to enforce harsh restrictions on those passengers they view as lesser than. When the sovereign of the ship dies under mysterious circumstances, the autopsy has revealed a link between his death and the death of her mother twenty-five years earlier. Aster finds herself in the center of a mystery that may be the spark to ignite a revolution.
Content Warnings: racism/racial slurs, homophobia, intersexism, child abuse, sexual assault, suicide, ableism, lynching
27) ACE OF SPADES by Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé
“A YA contemporary thriller … about two students, Devon & Chiamaka, and their struggles against an anonymous bully.”
From the publisher: “Welcome to Niveus Private Academy, where money paves the hallways, and the students are never less than perfect. Until now. Because anonymous texter, Aces, is bringing two students' dark secrets to light.
Talented musician Devon buries himself in rehearsals, but he can't escape the spotlight when his private photos go public. Head girl Chiamaka isn't afraid to get what she wants, but soon everyone will know the price she has paid for power.
Someone is out to get them both. Someone who holds all the aces. And they're planning much more than a high-school game.”
Content Warnings: racism, homophobia, suicidal ideation, sexism
28) BLOOD LIKE MAGIC by Liselle Sambury
“An urban fantasy ... following a teen witch who is given a horrifying task: sacrificing her first love to save her family’s magic.”
From the publisher: “After years of waiting for her Calling—a trial every witch must pass in order to come into their powers—the one thing Voya Thomas didn’t expect was to fail. When Voya’s ancestor gives her an unprecedented second chance to complete her Calling, she agrees—and then is horrified when her task is to kill her first love. And this time, failure means every Thomas witch will be stripped of their magic.
Voya is determined to save her family’s magic no matter the cost. The problem is, Voya has never been in love, so for her to succeed, she’ll first have to find the perfect guy—and fast. Fortunately, a genetic matchmaking program has just hit the market. Her plan is to join the program, fall in love, and complete her task before the deadline. What she doesn’t count on is being paired with the infuriating Luc—how can she fall in love with a guy who seemingly wants nothing to do with her?
With mounting pressure from her family, Voya is caught between her morality and her duty to her bloodline. If she wants to save their heritage and Luc, she’ll have to find something her ancestor wants more than blood. And in witchcraft, blood is everything.”
This is the first book in the Blood Like Magic series.
Content Warnings: violence, racism and slavery discussed, discussion of misgendering, police brutality
29) THIS POISON HEART by Kalynn Bayron
Briseis has a gift: she can grow plants with a single touch; but when she is faced with a centuries-old curse and a deadly plant, she must harness her gift to protect herself and her family.
From the publisher: “When Briseis's aunt dies and wills her a dilapidated estate in rural New York, Bri and her parents decide to leave Brooklyn behind for the summer. Hopefully there, surrounded by plants and flowers, Bri will finally learn to control her gift. But their new home is sinister in ways they could never have imagined--it comes with a specific set of instructions, an old-school apothecary, and a walled garden filled with the deadliest botanicals in the world that can only be entered by those who share Bri's unique family lineage.
When strangers begin to arrive on their doorstep, asking for tinctures and elixirs, Bri learns she has a surprising talent for creating them. One of the visitors is Marie, a mysterious young woman who Bri befriends, only to find that Marie is keeping dark secrets about the history of the estate and its surrounding community. There is more to Bri's sudden inheritance than she could have imagined, and she is determined to uncover it . . . until a nefarious group comes after her in search of a rare and dangerous immortality elixir. Up against a centuries-old curse and the deadliest plant on earth, Bri must harness her gift to protect herself and her family.”
This is the first book in a duology. The sequel, This Wicked Fate, will be published in June 2022.
Content Warnings: violence, gore, death of a parent
30) DREAD NATION by Justina Ireland
Jane McKeene was born two days before the dead rose from the battlefields of Gettysburg—derailing the Civil War and changing America forever. As a result of the changes wrought by the emergence of the living dead, Jane is forcibly enrolled at a combat school so she can learn to protect wealthy white women in this new reality. But that's not a life she wants.
Jane is set on returning to her Kentucky home, and doesn't spend much energy thinking about the politics of the eastern cities, with their talk of returning America to its pre-War glory days. But when families around Baltimore County begin to go missing, Jane becomes caught up in a sinister plot in which the living can be just as lethal as the dead.
This is the first book in a fully published duology. The second book is called The Deathless Divide.
Content Warnings: racism, racial slurs, slavery, some gore
31) CHARMING AS A VERB by Ben Philippe
From the publisher: "Henri 'Halti' Haltiwanger can charm just about anyone. He is a star debater and popular student at the prestigious FATE academy, the dutiful first-generation Haitian son, and the trusted dog walker for his wealthy New York City neighbors. But his easy smiles mask a burning ambition to attend his dream college, Columbia University. There is only one person who seems immune to Henri's charms: his 'intense' classmate and neighbor Corinne Troy. When she uncovers Henri's less-than-honest dog-walking scheme, she blackmails him into helping her change her image at school. Henri agrees, seeing a potential upside for himself. Soon what started as a mutual hustle turns into something more surprising than either of them ever bargained for."
32) THE SOUND OF STARS by Alechia Dow
From the publisher: "Two years ago, a misunderstanding between the leaders of Earth and the invading Ilori resulted in the deaths of one-third of the world's population."
In the new Ilori-run world, humans are seen as dangerously volatile and displays of human emotion can be grounds for execution. All art, books, and creative expression are illegal as a result.
Seventeen-year-old Ellie Baker lives in an Ilori-controlled center in NYC, but she has a secret. She keeps a hidden library. When a book disappears, she fears that her secret will soon be discovered, and she'll be executed. But the alien who discovered her secret has a secret of his own. He's drawn to the human culture that he's found in Ellie's library, and he is drawn to Ellie herself.
Content Warnings: racism, violence
33) BLACK GIRL, CALL HOME by Jasmine Mans
“…[A] love letter to the wandering Black girl and a vital companion to any woman on a journey to find truth, belonging, and healing.”
From the publisher: “From spoken word poet Jasmine Mans comes an unforgettable poetry collection about race, feminism, and queer identity.
With echoes of Gwendolyn Brooks and Sonia Sanchez, Mans writes to call herself—and us—home. Each poem explores what it means to be a daughter of Newark, and America--and the painful, joyous path to adulthood as a young, queer Black woman.”
Content Warnings: homophobia, racism, sexual assault, emotional abuse, human trafficking, forced family separation, violence against transwomen, trauma, forced sterilization