Square Books

Refractive Africa by Will Alexander

These odes to African intellectuals by Will Alexander are so rich in imagery and sound that every line has something you’ve never read before. I’m not kidding! Refractive Africa is of the highest caliber of poetry on offer in these times.

Refractive Africa by Will Alexander, (List Price: $16.95, New Directions, 9780811230278, November 2021)

Reviewed by Conor Hultman, Square Books in Oxford, Mississippi

His Name was Death by Rafael Bernal

How do mosquitoes communicate? What does their society look like– and how would they view ours? “Wise Owl,” thus dubbed by the indigenous tribe he lives with in the Mexican jungle, is a misanthrope disgusted with society at large. When he figures out the language of the mosquitoes, Mosquil, Wise Owl hatches a plan to take ultimate revenge on human civilization. Heavy themes of faith, modernity, free will, and meaning are filtered through an ecological sci-fi sieve. Vonnegut’s Galapagos meets the Island of Dr. Moreau, with even more merited cynicism.


His Name was Death by Rafael Bernal, (List Price: $15.95, New Directions, 9780811230834, November 2021)

Conor Hultman, Square Books in Oxford, Mississippi


Everybody in the Red Brick Building by Anne Wynter

A Fall Read This Next! Selection

An enchanting debut by author Anne Wynter with vivid illustrations by the incomparable Oge Mora (Saturday) that fairly leap of the page, Everybody in the Red Brick Building is fabulous! An engaging, story with lyrical language and wonderful sounds to mimic, we will want to live in the red brick building. We won’t get much sleep, but we will have a whole lot of fun! A joy to read for the whole family.

Everybody in the Red Brick Building by Anne Wynter, (List Price: $17.99, Balzer + Bray, 9780062865762, October 2021)

Reviewed by Kathy Neff from Square Books in Oxford, MS

Awake by Harald Voetmann

Awake is a collage of excerpts from Pliny the Elder’s Naturalis Historia, perhaps the oldest surviving encyclopedia, intercut with interior monologues from Pliny, as well as asides from his nephew, Pliny the Younger. Our narrator, of course, is most famous now for having died at the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius, which the younger Pliny also witnessed. Yet this climactic scene is relegated to a post-script; what draws the most attention, justly, are memories and recreations of ancient Roman life, which of course deal with all the bigger themes of knowledge and meaning and life, fitting for a classic work. Who thought that a narrative styled after an encyclopedia would be this deeply involving?

Awake by Harald Voetmann, (List Price: 14.95, New Directions, 9780811230810, September 2021)

Reviewed by Conor Hultman, Square Books in Oxford, Mississippi

Radiant Fugitives by Nawaaz Ahmed

Radiant Fugitives covers some big topics – LGBTQ politics, same-sex marriage, religion, Islamophobia, and the Obama campaign, to name just a few! – but it is at its heart an intimate novel, focusing on the ties that both bind families together and drive them apart. Seema, originally from India, has been estranged from her parents and younger sister for over 20 years, after she came out to her father. But the imminent arrival of her baby and her mother’s unspecified terminal illness brings together the three women of the family together for an opportunity for reconciliation. What follows is both tender and utterly heartbreaking – with an ending that will stay with you long after you’ve finished reading.

Radiant Fugitives by Nawaaz Ahmed, (List Price: 27, Counterpoint, 9781640094048, August 2021)

Reviewed by Jude Burke-Lewis, Square Books in Oxford, Mississippi

A Passage North by Anuk Arudpragasam

Award-winning Sri Lankan author Anuk Arudpragasam’s second novel is a profound meditation on love, desire, war, mortality, and the human condition. Krishan, an NGO worker based in the capital Colombo, receives an email out of the blue from a former girlfriend, on the same day he learns that his grandmother’s former carer has died. The journey that follows – through the heart of a country still recovering from a decades-long civil war – is as much through the mind as it is physical. Highly recommended.

A Passage North by Anuk Arudpragasam, (List Price: 27, Hogarth, 9780593230701, July 2021)

Reviewed by Jude Burke-Lewis, Square Books in Oxford, Mississippi

Legendborn by Tracy Deonn

An original take on a classic legend that explores magic, race, grief and the ideas surrounding who gets to be a hero in a very nuanced and thoughtful way. A modern fantasy story for all the young black girls who need one.

Legendborn by Tracy Deonn (List Price: $12.99, Margaret K. McElderry Books, 9781534441613, 9/28/2020)

Reviewed by Asia Harden, Square Books in Oxford, Mississippi

Lobizona by Romina Garber

Inspired by Argentinian myth, this coming-of-age tale is packed with magic, friendship, and adventure as Manu tries to find her place in a world where she has always felt unwanted only to stumble into a new one altogether. Intriguing from the very start, Garber writes a story comprised of lovable characters, relevant social commentary, and just enough mystery to always keep you guessing.

Lobizona by Romina Garber (List Price: $18.99, Wednesday Books, 9781250239129, 8/4/2020)

Reviewed by Asia Harden, Square Books in Oxford, Mississippi

One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston

This book isn’t insightful, it is affirmative. This book isn’t an echo, it is a cave. It is an experience. Damn near the true story of every queer romance. Casey McQuinston somehow finds a way to once again tell a dauntingly fierce, honest story! With so much detail, presence, and inertia, McQuinston gives us such a fun and crucial experience of love in the queer communities of NYC. A spot on, pleasurable book!

One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston (List Price: $16.99, St. Martin’s Griffin, 9781250244499, 6/1/2021)

Reviewed by Amya Franklin, Square Books in Oxford, Mississippi

When the World Was Ours by Liz Kessler

A vividly poignant story sure to leave an impact. The harrowing journeys of Leo, Elsa, and Max left me near tears and ripping through every page. Beautifully, beautifully written.

When the World Was Ours by Liz Kessler (List Price: $18.99, Aladdin, 9781534499652, 5/18/2021)

Reviewed by Asia Harden, Square Books in Oxford, Mississippi

The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett

Brit Bennett is a master storyteller who has created an intergenerational tale full of place, relevant commentary, the complexities of human nature, and life’s unexpected turns. I was sucked into the story from the beginning and absolutely loved how the idea of a “vanishing half” kept presenting itself in the storyline. Wow, this was just so smart and effortlessly crafted. I didn’t want my reading experience to end!

The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett (List Price: $27, Riverhead Books, 9780525536291, 6/2/2020)

Reviewed by Asia Harden, Square Books in Oxford, Mississippi

The Office of Historical Corrections by Danielle Evans

I find that I’m very hit or miss with short story collections but The Office of Historical Collections is a total gem. It’s full of captivating stories and characters; there wasn’t a single story that didn’t suck me in! Evans tackles topics like race, womanhood, and the human condition with nuance and grace. So good!

The Office of Historical Corrections by Danielle Evans (List Price: $27, Riverhead Books, 9781594487330, 11/10/2020)

Reviewed by Asia Harden, Square Books in Oxford, Mississippi

Parachutes by Kelly Yand

Parachutes is a story I won’t soon forget. This coming-of-age tale is told from the perspectives of teenagers Dani and Claire as they find their worlds turned upside down. Claire is ripped from her wealthy life in Shanghai to attend a high school in California where Dani is her new host sister. Claire finds herself quickly immersed in a new group of friends as she tries to adjust to her new life. But debate star Dani De La Cruz has problems of her own, and the two don’t exactly hit it off. However, they eventually find themselves leaning on one another as they tackle situations too big to handle alone.

Parachutes by Kelly Yand (List Price: $18.99, Katherine Tegen Books, 9780062941084, 5/26/2020)

Reviewed by Asia Harden, Square Books in Oxford, Mississippi

A Tip for the Hangman by Allison Epstein

The 16th century meets the 21st in Allison Epstein’s thrilling debut novel, A Tip for the Hangman. It’s 1585, and aspiring playwright Christopher Marlowe is recruited as a spy while still an impoverished Cambridge scholar. His task: to help foil an alleged Catholic plot to overthrow Queen Elizabeth I. Blending fact and fiction, and period detail with modern sensibilities, Epstein deftly creates a heady mix of intrigue, drama and romance in this captivating page-turner.

A Tip for the Hangman by Allison Epstein (List Price: $26.95, Doubleday, 9780385546713, 2/9/2021)

Reviewed by Jude Burke-Lewis, Square Books in Oxford, Mississippi

American Royals II: Majesty by Katharine McGee

Dramatic and soapy in the best way! This face-paced sequel to American Royals took turns I wasn’t expecting, and I enjoyed every second. After finishing Majesty, I’m even more obsessed with the initial premise of this series–American Royals, yes please!

American Royals II: Majesty by Katharine McGee (List Price: $18.99, Random House Books for Young Readers, 9781984830210, 9/1/2020)

Reviewed by Asia Harden, Square Books in Oxford, Mississippi

Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo

A beautiful story about love and loss, and how sometimes those things can be really complicated. Acevedo is obviously a master storyteller in both prose and verse. Clap When You Land is no exception to her brilliance. More than anything, I appreciate the reverence with which Acevedo writes. You can tell how important it is to her to tell stories about and for girls who are underrepresented in YA. Honestly, she is one of my author crushes (and I will read anything she writes).

Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo (List Price: $18.99, Quill Tree Books, 9780062882769, 5/5/2020)

Reviewed by Asia Harden, Square Books in Oxford, Mississippi

The Project by Courtney Summers

A Winter 2021 Read This Next! Title

Orphaned and betrayed, Lo Denham seeks to uncover the truth about the organization that her sister thinks saved her. However, the closer Lo gets to the Unity Project, the more she struggles to make sense of her own traumatic past. Perfect for fans of dark YA thrillers, The Project is a chilling story sure to leave readers speechless.

The Project by Courtney Summers (List Price: $18.99, Wednesday Books, 9781250105738, 2/2/2021)

Reviewed by Asia Harden, Square Books in Oxford, Mississippi

The Princess and the Rogue by Kate Bateman

I love a secretly royal romance, and The Princess and the Rogue nails it. There’s dangerous intrigue, a rake turned servant of the Crown, boiling sexual tension, and an ice cold heroine who proves herself more than capable of taking on anything.

The Princess and the Rogue by Kate Bateman (List Price: $7.99, St. Martin’s Paperbacks, 9781250306098, 12/29/2020)

Reviewed by Sami Thomason, Square Books in Oxford, Mississippi

Zorrie by Laird Hunt

I was completely enamored with this incredibly moving novel. Zorrie, like its main character, is full of heart. It is a stunning achievement and a testament to a singular life–that of Zorrie Underwood, a midwestern girl who is orphaned at a young age and forced to reinvent herself over and over again as she overcomes hardship and tragedy to find joy, heartbreak, wonder, family, love, and loss during the course of a good long life. In under 200 pages, Hunt masterfully portrays her and her world with a deep and resounding richness which reflects the power and beauty of our own humanity.  

Zorrie by Laird Hunt (List Price: $26.00, Bloomsbury Publishing, 9781635575361, 2/9/2021)

Reviewed by Cody Morrison, Square Books in Oxford, Mississippi

Tales from the Hinterland by Melissa Albert

Albert’s fairytales are filled with the dark beauty and decay of withering roses and fog-filled forests. Many of them are nightmare-inducing but all of them are too enthralling to put down and I wondered if Albert may have bespelled me herself; her prose is that good. Tales from the Hinterland is for girls too covered in thorns for a traditional tale and for all who dream of a dark starless sky.

Tales from the Hinterland by Melissa Albert (List Price: $19.99, Flatiron Books, 9781250302724, 1/12/2021)

Reviewed by Sami Thomason, Square Books in Oxford, Mississippi

Second First Impressions by Sally Thorne

Fans of The Hating Game, rejoice! Thorne’s third novel lives up to the promise of her first with dizzying dialogue, undeniable chemistry, and some legitimate tear-jerking moments. Second First Impressions has characters you will love, from sheltered protagonist Ruthie to cackling biddies Renata and Aggie. Goofy hero Teddy is different from your average dreamboat, and his burgeoning relationship with Ruthie has all the bliss and heartache of true love. This is a cozy, cuddle-up-on-the-couch comfort read that’s sure to become as popular as its predecessors.

Second First Impressions by Sally Thorne (List Price: $15.99, William Morrow Paperbacks, 9780062912855, 4/13/2021)

Reviewed by Sami Thomason, Square Books in Oxford, Mississippi

Act Your Age, Eve Brown by Talia Hibbert

A Winter 2021 Read This Next! Title

Act Your Age, Eve Brown by Talia Hibbert
Avon, March

Talia Hibbert is the queen of cozy, sexy, hate-to-love romance and I want to soak in the Brown sisters’ stories forever. Eve, the youngest sister, finally gets the spotlight as her journey for self-actualization leads her to an adorable B&B, whereupon she immediately hits her love interest with her car. Eve is the definition of chaotic good and her entanglement with the very LAWFUL good Jacob is squee-worthy and hot as hell.

— Sami Thomason-Fyke, Square Books in Oxford, MS

Winterkeep by Kristin Cashore

There isn’t another writer out there like Kristin Cashore. Her gift for capturing the inner pain and struggle of a character is unfathomable in its depth. Everyone who loved Bitterblue will be thrilled to see how her character has grown into a brilliant queen, and it’s a thrill to be back with Giddon and Hava, too. Most important, readers are going to fall in love with Lovisa, a conflicted daughter of Winterkeep torn between the truth she desperately wishes to hide from and her moral compass. This isn’t even mentioning the telepathic foxes, mysterious sea creatures, and expansive world-building that Cashore weaves into the story. I’m delighted with this new book in my favorite fantasy realm and have no doubt readers new and old will be too.

Winterkeep by Kristin Cashore (List Price: $19.99, Dial Books, 9780803741508, 1/19/2021)

Reviewed by Sami Thomason, Square Books in Oxford, Mississippi

Super Fake Love Song by David Yoon

A brilliantly nerdy rom-com about being yourself with effervescent joy. David Yoon is the master of teen-talk and I loved these characters like I loved my friends in high school. Sunny Dae, fake rock star and geek extraordinaire, is the kind of teen male protagonist who reads realistically, through every ill-conceived plan and rock star salute. I love him and I love Super Fake Love Song.

Super Fake Love Song by David Yoon (List price: $18.99, G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers,9781984812230, November 2020), recommended by Sami Thomason-Fyke, Square Books, Oxford, MS.

Once Upon a Unicorn by Lou Anders

If you live near the Glistening Isles and/or Whisperwood then you know that just about any challenge you encounter might involve creatures whose names reflect their true dispositions, or at least what they let you see. This includes a Night Mare named Midnight and a Unicorn named Curious. You will also recognize that unicorns are becoming scarce, as they are hunted for the medicinal properties in their horns. The biggest threat to the unicorns, as well to other magical creatures and all living creatures, really, was that humans either no longer believed or just did not care. Eventually, something was bound to happen…

Once Upon a Unicorn by Lou Anders (List Price $16.99, Crown Books for Young Readers), recommended by Square Books, Oxford MS.

Short & Sweet by Josh Funk

Dig into another adventure with your favorite breakfast foods in Short & Sweet. Another rhyme-tastic adventure, this time with our heroes shrunk down to size and the newly reformed Baron Von Waffle working to save the day. This series is pure fun and every illustration provides plenty of goofs to keep everyone entertained. Pass the syrup and settle in!

Short & Sweet by Josh Funk, (List Price: 16.95, Sterling Children’s Books, 9781454934271, September 2020)

Reviewed by Sami Thomason, Square Books in Oxford, Mississippi

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