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In the near present, a woman whose marriage is crumbling lifts a tiny sky-blue vial from the bank of the Thames River. In 1791, a 12-year-old girl who has helped commit a murder fills that vial with a potion she hopes will change her life. What links them, besides that bit of blue glass, is the subject of "The Lost Apothecary," a debut novel by Sarah Penner, who lives in St. Petersburg. The ...

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Home to South Florida’s most popular gay club, “the Manor” in Florida, Wilton Manors is a city structured by the gays for the gays, which explains why most of its residents are, well, gay! It combines a small-town atmosphere with all the amenities of urban life. Suppose you’re looking for a less commercially touristy area than Miami but still a feasible drive, head on over to Wilton. You’re also a ten-minute drive from Haulover Beach, which is gayer than South Beach’s 12th Street (yes, that’s possible), and the north side is clothing optional. Comfortably compact and walkable, Wilton Drive is the heart of the city and the block where most gay bars are. Eucalyptus Gardens is often frequented for its coffee shops, restaurants, and shopping if you’re looking for a more sober option.

"Four Hundred Souls: A Community History of African America, 1619-2019," edited by Ibram X. Kendi and Keisha N. Blain; One World (528 pages, $32) ——— As distinguished historian Ibram X. Kendi points out in his rousing introduction to "Four Hundred Souls: A Community History of African America, 1619-2019," histories “of Black America have almost always been written by a single individual, ...

"Blood Grove" by Walter Mosley; Mulholland Books (320 pages, $27) ——— Walter Mosley’s books about Easy Rawlins are crime fiction, not history. But taken together, they’re a vivid picture of Black life in Los Angeles in the mid-20th century. Mosley writes in many genres, and he does it so well that the National Book Foundation gave him its 2020 Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American ...

"The Survivors" by Jane Harper; Flatiron (384 pages, $27.99) ——— To most people, The Survivors is an iron monument to the 54 passengers and crew killed in a shipwreck more than a century ago just outside Evelyn Bay, Tasmania, south of Australia’s mainland. The memorial also is a testament to three families who are survivors of more recent losses. Two young men launching their fishing business ...

"Milk Blood Heat" by Dantiel W. Moniz; Grove Press (208 pages, $25) ——— "Milk Blood Heat," the stunning debut short story collection by Dantiel W. Moniz, is populated by characters, most of them women or girls, standing on the cusp of change — or sometimes on its cliff edge. As its title suggests, this book’s 11 stories are about human need, about intimacy physical and otherwise, and about ...

"Twenty" by James Grippando; Harper (384 pages, $27.99) ——— James Grippando’s reputation for calibrating his novels about Miami defense attorney Jack Swyteck to current events continues with “Twenty.” This 17th novel may be his most timely and controversial. While including his trademarks of high suspense and character studies, Grippando also takes a massive chance by opening “Twenty” with a ...

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