Oxford Exchange

Etta Invincible by Reese Eschmann

Kids turned superheroes. A lost dog. A magical train. A friendship that can save the city. Etta Invincible, told in scenes of written chapters and comic book pages, tells the story of Etta and Eleazar as they search for a lost dog and face the overwhelming sights and sounds, quirky characters, and magical foes all in their city of Chicago.

Etta Invincible by Reese Eschmann, (List Price: $17.99, Aladdin, 9781534468375, July 2022)

Reviewed by Cat Chapman, Oxford Exchange in Tampa, Florida

The Scent of Burnt Flowers by Blitz Bazawule

Bazawule swiftly drops you into an immediate and tumultuous love story between Bernadette and Melvin as they escape the States seeking a fantastical refuge in 1960s Ghana. This piece is deeply heartbreaking, yet manages to hold it together through its magical storytelling. “Queen and Slim” fans will love this novel as its deep cinematic influence encourages evocative visuals and sentient understandings of the character’s interiors.

The Scent of Burnt Flowers by Blitz Bazawule, (List Price: $27, Ballantine Books, 9780593496237, June 2022)

Reviewed by Eden Hakimzadeh, Oxford Exchange in Tampa, Florida

In Every Mirror She’s Black by Lolá Ákínmádé Åkerström

Åkerström invites the reader into the complex and dynamic interior worlds of three Black women, with varying levels of privilege and proximity to whiteness, as they navigate the novel’s locations of America and Sweden. By following each of their unique and dynamic journeys, we learn about how our their intimate relationships reflect back the love and care they have learned to believe they deserve through social cues and cultural reminders. A story that paints landscapes of love and loss invites all readers to consider: if home is a feeling, how will you know you’ve found it? An extraordinary and fast-paced novel that I can not wait to recommend both solo and book club readers!

In Every Mirror She’s Black by Lolá Ákínmádé Åkerström, (List Price: $16.99, Sourcebooks Landmark, 9781728253169, June 2022)

Reviewed by Eden Hakimzadeh, Oxford Exchange in Tampa, Florida

Acts of Service by Lillian Fishman

I feel so strongly about this book, I truly think this is the best book I have read this year. A piece of art. The author managed to capture so perfectly the thoughts of sexuality, gender norms, and expressionism in a woman in her 20s. I admired her pushing the boundaries to talk about topics that are considered taboo, such as polyamory, infidelity, and manipulation. The writing was so beautiful, the characters were all so addictive, yet so horrible, and I just couldn’t put it down. Majority of the text is thoughts that the main character has, rather than action, so if you don’t like that, this is not the book for you. I feel like I could recommend this to any girl my age that is vocal about sex, feminism, and love. Truly a book I think everyone should read. I never like to re-read books, but this is a book I can definitely see myself re-reading. I am dying for a sequel, or at the very least, another novel by Lillian Fishman.

Acts of Service by Lillian Fishman, (List Price: $27, Hogarth, 9780593243763, May 2022)

Reviewed by Yarah Elshaer, Oxford Exchange in Tampa, Florida

Razorblade Tears by S. A. Cosby

Fantastic thriller with a tender narrative running throughout as two ex-convict fathers come to terms with each of their sons’ homosexuality too late. Highly recommended!

Razorblade Tears by S. A. Cosby, (List Price: $17.99, Flatiron Bookss, 9781250252715,  April 2022)

Reviewed by Laura Taylor, Oxford Exchange in Tampa, Florida

Who Is Wellness For? by Fariha Roisin

Who is Wellness For? is part-memoir, part well-researched collection of works that earnest endeavor in answering the title’s query. Roisin maps constellations of historical context, spiritual meaning, and community care. A map that is truly a gift for anyone who considers that self-healing work is never really meant to be done alone. Each dot on this map reminds us of the many people and communities before this moment that teach us the dire necessity of prioritizing communal care. This book is a total offering to its readers, both as a starting place or a gentle reminder, meeting them wherever they may be on their healing journey. I look forward to re-reading this book and have added all of her intentional citations to be TBR lists.

Who Is Wellness For? by Fariha Roisin, (List Price: $26.99, Harper Wave, 9780063077089, June 2022)

Reviewed by Eden Hakimzadeh, Oxford Exchange in Tampa, Florida

The Sex Lives of African Women by Nana Darkoa Sekyiamah

One of the most substantial and honest collections of essays about sex and pleasure I’ve ever read. Each author bares it all in order to give the reader permission to tell the truth about their relationship with sex. By centering voices and experiences that typically get left out of anthologies like this, we get to witness a multidimensional sexuality meditation through the lens of discovery, exploration, and joy. What a gift!

The Sex Lives of African Women by Nana Darkoa Sekyiamah, (List Price: $28, Astra House, 9781662650819,  March 2022)

Reviewed by Eden Hakimzadeh, Oxford Exchange in Tampa, Florida

Hansel and Greta by Jeanette Winterson

This book felt like a fever dream in all the wildest ways. From comedic to angering, this book covered an abundance of feelings and topics that made it whole. A fun and much needed adaptation to a classic fairytale. Will stay with you a long time after reading.

Hansel and Greta by Jeanette Winterson, (List Price: $17.95, Haymarket Books, 9781642595765, January 2022)

Reviewed by Stephanie Carrion, Oxford Exchange in Tampa, Florida

Bibliolepsy by Gina Apostol

Apostol softly launches you into a landscape of memories and gently reminds book lovers of what it first felt like to envision possibility thanks to literature. Apostol’s reflections on their time during the EDSA rebellion of 1986 teach us just how nuanced and expansive human connections can form if we let them.

Bibliolepsy by Gina Apostol, (List Price: $26.00, Soho Press, 9781641292511, January 2022)

Reviewed by Eden Hakimzadeh, Oxford Exchange in Tampa, Florida

Fuzzy, Inside and Out by Zachariah Ohora

SUPER cute book about kindness! Zachariah Ohora does a fantastic job of showing young readers how important acts of kindness are – from how they make people feel to how acts of kindness can impact you as well. Fuzzy is a lovable character that strives to make the world a better place. This is a great book to teach young readers the importance of kindness, discussing feelings, and so much more.

Fuzzy, Inside and Out by Zachariah Ohora, (List Price: $18.99, Abrams Books for Young Readers, 9781419751905, November 2021)

Reviewed by Stephanie Carrion, Oxford Exchange in Tampa, Florida

New Year by Mei Zihan

When growing up, it is easy to focus on how far you come and how proud you are of yourself, but it is easy to forget how much your parents may miss you and long for your presence. While growing and building your own families, you inevitably separate a little from your own. This book shows readers what a parent may think while their child is off being a grown up – proud but longing for more time with them. Mei Zihan beautifully tells of Lunar New Year and the toll that the holiday season has on him without his daughter at home. Zihan demonstrates how much he misses his daughter while also respecting her growth and being proud of the woman she has become. Beautifully told and illustrated.

New Year by Mei Zihan, (List Price: Greystone Kids, 9781771647311, November 2021)

Reviewed by Stephanie Carrion, Oxford Exchange in Greenville, South Carolina


My Body by Emily Ratajkowski

As a society, we have become wired to see women – especially those in the spotlight – as objects to use to our satisfaction to the point that it is difficult for women to see how we are being used. Emily Ratajkowski has experienced this time and time again as a model and actress – used for her body and being made to feel as though she does not own herself. Throughout these stories, readers are shown how Emily Ratajkowski was and still is treated. This book feels like catching up with an old friend and letting it all out. Ratajkowski discusses important topics that will force you to restructure the way you think of the women who “entertain” you.

My Body by Emily Ratajkowski, (List Price: $26.00, Metropolitan Books, 9781250817860, November 2021)

Reviewed by Stephanie Carrion, Oxford Exchange in Tampa, Florida


The Perishing by Natashia Deón

From the first page, Natasha Deón is successful in hooking her audience to the strange and unique journey of Lou. Upon waking up naked in an alley, Lou is confused but feels as if this is not the first time this has happened. With no memory, Lou is placed into a foster home where she flourishes and eventually goes on to grow on her own as an adult. From start to finish, this book has readers on the edge of their seat trying to piece together the information they are receiving from both narrators – Lou and Sarah. Extremely compelling, thought-provoking , and deep, Deón has created a masterpiece of a story.

The Perishing by Natashia Deón, (List Price: $26, Counterpoint, 9781640093027, November 2021)

Reviewed by Stephanie Carrion, Oxford Exchange in Tampa, Florida


Idol Gossip by Alexandra Leigh Young

What would you do if you were recruited to be a kpop idol? When Alice Choy moves from San Francisco to Seoul, she gives up her private studies in music and singing lessons in hopes that she’ll be able to finish school like any other seventeen-year-old. But when she’s scouted at a karaoke bar, her life changes in an instant. Alice is swiftly introduced to a world she’s always wanted to explore in the k-pop industry. But, being an idol doesn’t only entail fame or musical prowess–it also comes with jealousy, scandal, and gossip, all on top of the challenges of training in order to be the best performer possible. This was such a fun read and the perfect book for any k-pop fan.

Idol Gossip by Alexandra Leigh Young, (List Price: 18.99, Walker Books US, 9781536213645, 2021-09-14)

Reviewed by Cat Chapman, Oxford Exchange in Tampa, Florida

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