LaRue Cook
December 07, 2007 AT 05:00 AM EST

Nikki Turner, self-proclaimed ”queen of hip-hop fiction,” delivers a gift bag of gritty, holiday-themed tales for her third Street Chronicles collection, Christmas in the Hood. These five stories follow hard-luck hustlers from the Bronx to the Dirty South as they struggle to have merry Christmases. In Mo Shines’ ”Me and Grandma,” an elderly woman and her grandchildren sling crack to pay for her kidney transplant, while a stripper tricks for her kids’ stocking stuffers in K. Elliott’s ”Secret Santa.” While the book unwraps a couple of guilty pleasures, including ”Grandma,” many are just lumps of coal with bright bows. B-

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