Words Worth Noting

Favorite Quotes


"Le coeur a ses raisons que la raison ne connait point. French. Pascal. The heart has its reasons, whereof reason knows nothing."— Madeleine L'Engle

Carole V. Bell Bio and Recent Writing


About Me

I'm a cultural critic, writer and researcher exploring media, identity and public opinion and the politics of art and entertainment. 

In recent years I've written about books and authors for print and online media including The AtlanticBookPage, Book RiotThe New York Times, NPRPublishers WeeklyShondaland, and theGrio

Links to recent articles, interviews, and reviews are below. 

What's New

New Books, New Writing: Select Highlights

July 2022

Two book reviews to start the month:

Honey and Spice, New York Times July 1, 2022 

In this witty and incisive first romance novel, Black British author Bolu Babalola plays with familiar literary romance tropes to explore questions about gender, sexuality and modern dating.

Little Nothings, BookPage July 2022 (Print edition)

In Julie Mayhew's Greek island-set thriller, little cuts do lasting damage and friendships are as intense and heartbreaking as romantic relationships.






June 2022




I interviewed the multi-genre, award-winning author Akwaeke Emezi about their latest novel (the first in the romance genre), You Made a Fool of Death with Your Beauty, for a cover feature in the June issue of BookPage.  

New reviews in June:

- I also reviewed You Made a Fool of Death with Your Beauty for BookPage.

- The Mutual Friend by Carter Bays.


May 2022



For NPR.org, I reviewed two stand out contemporary romances aimed at upsetting genre conventions: Book Lovers by Emily Henry and The No-Show by Beth O'Leary.

I reviewed the intergenerational family dramedy Love Marriage by Monica Ali for the May issue of BookPage.


April 2022

Starting the month with reviews of two great new novels:

Lessons in ChemistryBonnie Garmus’ devastating and funny debut novel blows the lid off simplistic myths of post-World War II American life. I had a blast reading and reviewing it for the April issue of Bookpage. Read the starred review.

 

I also reviewed Portrait of a Thief for BookPage. With a heist at its center and rebellion in its heart, Grace D. Li’s debut is a politically savvy diaspora story wrapped up in a thriller.

 

March 2022




The reading list I created for NPR Books was a month or two in the making and a true labor of love: "5 books at the intersection of Black feminist thought, culture, and politics." 3/21/22.


Sometimes the best love story is the one you aren’t expecting. In books like Jai Chakrabarti's A Play for the End of the World and Less by Andrew Sean Greer, romance is an essential but secondary feature. I wrote about five such books in my first piece for The Atlantic: "Five Books in Which Romance Sneaks Up on You"


I also reviewed several thrillers and one international contemporary novel about loss, love and family:


— In Like a Sister by Kellye Garrett, "...elements of character & voice mesh with ...explorations of race, class & family in an arresting combination." NPR Books 3/19/22.


— Alex Segura's Secret Identity is a 1970s comic book thriller by one of crime fiction's new innovators. NPR Books 3/17/22.

One Italian Summer by bestselling author Rebecca Serle blends contemplations of love and loss with adventure. BookPage 3/1/22.


February 2022
I contributed an essay to the excellent new collection, Black Love Matters, edited by Jessica Pryde. "I'm Rooting for Everybody Black" explores how group values and political solidarity are conveyed in stories about Black romance. 


January 2022

Reviews



In Nigerian culture, "Wahala" means trouble. In Nikki May's sharply observed debut novel Wahala, trouble's name is Isobel, the new girl who shakes up the equilibrium in a tight group of Anglo-Nigerian friends. The premise is brilliant: it's as if The Other Black Girl strolled into an Anglo-Nigerian "Sex and the City," a story of love and female friendship with a killer edge. I had a great time reviewing it for NPR Books.

 

Book cover, Olga Dies Dreaming
 

Olga Dies Dreaming is a brilliant choice to kickstart your year in reading: a sprawling and insightful saga exploring love, family, culture and the American Dream. BookPage January 4, 2022.

 

Interview 

Olga Dies Dreaming author Xochitl Gonzalez generously unpacks her striking debut for me in the January print issue of BookPage. 


2021

November 2021


Essay: I wrote ​a​bout the artistry and legacy of Nella Larsen's Passing for NPR Books. 

'Passing' — the original 1929 novel — is disturbingly brilliant. ​11/10/21. 


October 2021

 Reviews


​I reviewed Tamron Hall's debut thriller for NPR Books: A journalist takes inspiration from cases that haunted her in 'As the Wicked Watch'​.  10/30/21.​

I reviewed Tiphanie Yanique's Monster in the Middle for NPR: 'Monster in the Middle' muses on the complex nature of romantic love. 10/23/21.

NPR Books: Tiphanie Yanique's " 'Monster in the Middle' muses on the complex nature of romantic love." October 23, 2021.

BookPage: As emotionally taxing as it is terrifying, "This Thing Between Us" by Gus Moreno is a scary, spooky read with intellectual depth. Leave the Lights on when you read it. October 2021 Print edition and online.


September 2021

Article

"African American authors lead the pack for Kirkus Prize nominees." Finalists include: Honorée Fanonne Jeffers, Colson Whitehead, Jocelyn Nicole Johnson, Dr. Tiya Miles and more. My news story for theGrio. September 13, 2021.

 

Reviews

NPR Books: "The Trees": Percival Everett’s new novel is a mix of whodunnit, history, horror and dark humor that calls back across to the murder of Emmett Till. NPR September 22, 2021.


"These Toxic Things": Rachel Howzell Hall's terrifying and creepy new novel. NPR September 2, 2021. 


"A Play for the End of the World" by Jai Chakrabarti. BookPage September 2021.

 

August 2021

Two new lists: dozens of book recommendations across a multitude of categories. 

theGrio Top 50: Pandemic or no, Black authors continue to produce outstanding work in a wide variety of genres. So I produced a big, thematic listing of books for us to consider in the waning, hazy days of summer. TheGrio August 6, 2021.

On BookRiot.com: An oasis of certainty in an uncertain world, mood-boosting and increasingly diverse cozy mysteries are the perfect pandemic comfort read. August 11, 2021.

Reviews

I wrote an article for NPR Books on the heat and hype surrounding recent Booker Prize nominee The Sweetness of Water. August 4, 2021.

I reviewed Rémy Ngamije's sparkling, insightful and sexy debut The Eternal Audience of One. BookPage August 2021. Print and Online.

An Interview

Acclaimed crime fiction author Malla Nunn discusses her new YA suspense novel Sugar Town Queens, set outside Durban, South Africa.


July 2021

Reviews

My review of Sugar Town Queens for BookPage. July 23, 2021. 

I reviewed Vanessa Riley's Island Queen for The New York Times:
"A New Novel Gives Wings — and a Megaphone — to a Complex Woman." July 8, 2021.

My first piece for NPR: a review of Razorblade Tears by S. A. Cosby. July 6, 2021 

That piece is also quoted in this roundup by NPR Books editor Petra Mayer: "July Book-Ahead: What We're Excited To Read Next Month".

Review of The Startup Wife by Tahmima Anam. BookPage July 2021. Print and Online.

Review of The View Was Exhausting by Mikaella Clements and Onjuli Datta.  

Interview

"Best friends in a fake relationship: What could go wrong?"  Q and A with the authors of The View Was Exhausting: BookPage July 6, 2021.


Other Recent Highlights

Review of The Other Black Girlan innovative novel of suspense and social satire, by Zakiya Dalila Harris. BookPage June 2021. Print and online.

Review of A Sitting in St. James by Rita Williams-Garcia. BookPage online May 16, 2021. And my interview with the acclaimed authorBookPage June 2021.

Review of the new legal thriller by a beloved public figure: "Stacey Abrams evokes ‘Trust Black Women’ with new book ‘While Justice Sleeps’ " The Grio May 20, 2021. 

Review of People We Meet On Vacation by Emily Henry. BookPage online May 11, 2021.

Review of Red Island House by Andrea Lee. BookPage April 2021. Print and online. 

Review of "Wild Rain": In Beverly Jenkins's Romance Novels, Black History is Front and CenterThe New York Times February 9, 2021. 

Review of The Devil You Know by Charles Blow. The Grio, February 4, 2021.


INTERVIEWS

Rita Williams-Garcia
BookPage June 2021

Talia Hibbert: Let the Sunshine In 
BookPage interview March 2021

Olivia Dade and Rebekah Weatherspoon: On fat positivity, fandom and fame-adjacency. BookPage, Online 10/27/20

"Cowboy Charming: Publishers Weekly Talks with Rebekah Weatherspoon" Publishers Weekly, Print and Online 9/28/20

Alyssa Cole on her striking new thriller about race and gentrification, When No One Is WatchingBookPage, Print and Online September 2020.


ARTICLES

Feature: "Sweet and Substantial
BookPage, June 2021. A feature on LGBTQ romance with reviews ofThe Queer Principles of Kit Webb by Cat Sebastian and Rosaline Palmer Takes the Cake by Alexis Hall.

Feature: "New arrivals, new love, bad timing"
BookPage, April 6, 2021. With reviews of Life's Too Short by Abby Jimenez and Knit, Purl, A Baby and A Girl by Hettie Bell.

Senate GOP Still Hasn’t Renewed the Violence Against Women Act. It’s Been 20 Months.
Courier Newsroom December 17, 2020

Love and Liberation
BookPage December 16, 2020

Beyond 2020: The Deeper Story of American Politics in the Trump Era
Book Riot Nov 3, 2020

Casting Spells Upon Your Shelves: A feature on feminist literary witch tales. 
BookPage, Print and Online October 2020

12 Must-Read Romances With Great Fat Representation.
Book Riot Sep 24, 2020

The Troubling Gap Between Fat Representation and Fat Acceptance In Romance
Book Riot Sep 10, 2020

Small-town struggles in three realistic yet comforting romances
BookPage 8/5/20

Love In the Public Eye
BookPage 7/7/20

Finding Black Joy in Romance Novels
The Grio 7/24/20

Black Romance Novels Matter Too
Shondaland.com 2/23/20

15 Must Read Black-Authored Historical Romance Novels of The Last 25 Year
Book Riot 2/29/20

I Read My Way Out: My Year of Reading Copiously and Therapeutically
Book Riot 3/3/20


INDIVIDUAL BOOK REVIEWS 

THE GRIO

"Tamika Mallory’s ‘State of Emergency,’ a front-row seat to a masterful political performance"
Nonfiction Book Review. The Grio May 14, 2021.


BOOKPAGE

"...Jones is already a master stylist, writing gorgeous, lyrical and readable prose about some of the ugliest things that human beings feel and do to one another. Sometimes the prose reads like scripture. At other times, it’s poetry." —BookPage review of The Prophets

An Extraordinary Lord by Anna Harrington. June 29, 2021

The Road Trip by Beth O'Leary. June 1, 2021 

Act Your Age, Eve Brown by Talia Hibbert. March 1, 2021

How the One-Armed Sister Sweeps Her House by Cherie Jones. February 5, 2021

The Prophets by Robert Jones, Jr. Print and Online January 2021 

Crosshairs by Catherine Hernandez. Online 12/8/20

White Ivy by Susie Yang. Print and Online November 2020 

If the Boot Fits by Rebekah Weatherspoon 10/27/20

Spoiler Alert by Olivia Dade 10/6/20

When No One Is Watching by Alyssa Cole 9/1/20

You Lucky Dog by Julia London 8/25/20

Kept Animals by Kate Milliken. Print June 2020

Until the End by Juno Rushdan 5/26/20

BOOK BLOGS

Hearts on Hold by Charish Reid on Smart Bitches, Trashy Books

The Worst Best Man by Mia Sosa on The Book Queen's Book Palace

House Rules by Ruby Lang on Smart Bitches, Trashy Books


SPECIAL EVENTS 

Alyssa Cole, in conversation with Glory Edim and Carole Bell, discusses When No One is Watching. October 25, 2020.

Bunk and the History of Hoaxes with Kevin Young: My in-depth interview with the acclaimed poet, Poetry Editor of the New Yorker, and Director of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Kevin Young, about his second nonfiction book, Bunk. April 2018 At MIT.  Available as a videopodcast, or summary transcript.

A Tribute to the Dream with Renee Goldsberry:  I enjoyed a wide-ranging and emotional conversation with the Tony award-winning actress from Hamilton about art, politics, and life as part of the keynote event at Northeastern University’s MLK day celebration in 2017.


MY BLOG

CaribBelle at www.cvbell.com


ACADEMIC WORK

Dr. Carole V. Bell My Google Scholar profile




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