Book bites: Four titles for Black History Month

Courtesy Gina Dinocolo

February is Black History Month, time to remember the struggles, accomplishments and contributions of African Americans. In recognition of that, here’s a reading sampler:

▪ “The Black Panthers at War” by military historian Gina M. Dinicolo reminds us of the heroic exploits of the 761st Tank Battalion, the first African American tank unit to see combat in World War II (St. John’s Press, $13, 321 pages). The tank crew was assigned to serve under Gen. George Patton and moved to the front in November 1944 to fight alongside Patton’s Third Army. Their battles became especially deadly over the coming weeks during the Battle of the Bulge, when Germany staged a desperate offensive in the Ardennes region of Belgium, France and Luxembourg.

▪ “Devotion” by Adam Makos tells the heroic story of two Navy aviator friends: Ensign Jesse Brown, the Navy’s first African American fighter pilot, and Lt. Tom Hudner, his Anglo wingman and a Medal of Honor recipient (Ballantine, $28, 464 pages). When Brown was shot down in the Korean War, Hudner risked everything to save him. The tale becomes even more moving after that.

▪ In the illustrated “Little Gray Hoodie Coat,” Elk Grove writer-artist Cynthia Hobson offers the inspirational tale of the homeless McDaniel family – a mom and her two young daughters (WestBow, $14, 174 pages). “It emphasizes the importance and similarities of families, no matter who you are or where you come from,” Hobson said.

▪ Al Roker of the “Today” show joins his journalist wife, Deborah Roberts of ABC News, in “Been There, Done That: Family Wisdom for Modern Times” (New American Library, $27, 288 pages). “It’s about experiences – funny, sad, smart, real – and what we learned from each of them,” they write. They have 16 Emmy awards between them.

Romance on the river

Rocklin-based author Susan B. Alexander’s third entry in her “Maxwell” romance series, “Dare To Love,” continues the story of how four brothers seek romance in all the right places (S.B. Alexander, 416, 287 pages). The author also has released a coloring book for adults, “Dare To Kiss,” a companion inspired by the first “Maxwell” title of the same name ($5). Visit the author at

Catch Susan Alexander (and 49 other romance authors) at the “Love and Fifty” book signing, mystery dinner and after-party aboard the Delta King, 1000 Front St., Sacramento, 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 20. For details and tickets: