Story on the Square

Seven Dirty Secrets by Natalie D. Richards

This is a great, tight little YA mystery! information is revealed slowly but not too slowly, so you’re drawn into the plot and want the characters to solve the puzzles. The “ticking clock” mechanic is never exactly explained, but it gives the story a sense of urgency that makes it feel more intense than your average scavenger hunt. It touches on sensitive topics (such as domestic violence and parental abuse) but I think the author does a good job of pulling the question of “what would you do for your brother?” all the way through the story. Totally unexpected twist ending, which wasn’t really set up but was entertaining nonetheless!


Seven Dirty Secrets by Natalie D. Richards, (List Price: $10.99, Sourcebooks Fire, 9781728215785, November 2021)

Kate Wilder, Story on the Square in McDonough, Georgia


Tink and Wendy by Kelly Ann Jacobson

I love retellings of classic stories, and Tink and Wendy fits the bill to a “T”. A modern tale that completely reinvents the characters, “Tink and Wendy” is both beautiful and heartbreaking all in one. Love is never easy, especially when magic and immortality are at play, and the implied brutality throughout the book makes that clear. Nothing is ever terribly graphic, but it might be enough to make you shiver or cringe anyway. The writing style, split between time periods and perspectives, adds context without confusion. The additional of queerness into any story automatically makes it better (in my opinion), and I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I would recommend it!


Tink and Wendy by Kelly Ann Jacobson, (List Price: $14, Three Rooms Press, 9781953103130, October 2021)

Reviewed by Kate Wilder, Story on the Square in McDonough, Georgia


The Shadow Prince by David Anthony Durham

I thoroughly enjoyed reading every chapter of this book! All the Egyptian gods were fun to read about, and their personalities were unique! And the characters were fun and engaging! It was also brilliant to keep all the villains alive, meaning a hopeful sequel? I will be one of the first in line when the author makes the 2nd book!

The Shadow Prince by David Anthony Durham, (List Price: $21.95, Tu Books, 9781643794280, October 2021)

Reviewed by Mandolin Moore, Story on the Square in McDonough, Georgia


Girly Drinks by Mallory O’Meara

What an absolute blast of a book! I love these sort of scientific/sociological looks at oft-overlooked parts of everyday life, and Girly Drinks fits the bill perfectly! The author succinctly and hilariously tells the story of how women were originally in charge of the production and distribution of alcohol. She then details how women lost that power and social cache, and ends the book on a hopeful note about modern women who are making big strides towards equality in the new era. I learned about so many interesting, powerful, influential women that I had never heard of before, but I wish I had! I also really appreciated the author’s use of correct terminology – namely, distinguishing biological sex from gender. She takes the time to specifically say that she is referencing cisgender or AFAB (assigned female at birth) women, and even mentions the contributions of trans women! I would highly recommend Girly Drinks to anyone who’s ever been even a little bit interested in the history of alcohol or the gendered constructs surrounding it. Fantastic!

Girly Drinks by Mallory O’Meara, (List Price: $27.99, Hanover Square Press, 9781335282408, October 2021)

Reviewed by Kate Wilder, Story on the Square in McDonough, Georgia


Jade Fire Gold by June CL Tan

Jade Fire Gold is debut novel from June CL Tan and what a debut it is! Described as a dark romance, I found it to be so much more. I fell in love with Ahn and Alton from the start, and the PINING and ANGST was top tier between the battling and the magic. This is perfect for everyone who miss Avatar the last airbender or other East Asian inspired stories, and will certainly fill in that gap. There’s lots of nice LGBT representation too, no “bury your gays” here, thank goodness! And I’m eagerly awaiting the next installment!

Jade Fire Gold by June CL Tan, (List Price: $17.99, HarperTeen, 9780063056367, October 2021)

Reviewed by Katlin Kerrison, Story on the Square in McDonough, Georgia


The Icepick Surgeon by Sam Kean

This is an absolutely fascinating, if sometimes harrowing, look into the history of science. Fans of Mary Roach will appreciate the unflinching look at the sometimes devastating human cost of scientific progress. The author raises several interesting questions about the use or validity of poorly performed scientific experiments. Particularly, Kean questions whether the knowledge gained from unethical experimentation is valid and what we should do with this information moving forward. I particularly enjoyed his focus on how these actions have affected marginalized communities. I also appreciated his repeated entreaties that we cannot simply wag our fingers at the mistakes of the past and pretend we are blameless and more morally pure than those who came before us. We must constantly remain vigilant and ensure that we are mindful of the ethical and long-term consequences of our actions in the present, lest we repeat our sins in the name of scientific progress.

The Icepick Surgeon by Sam Kean, (List Price: $40, Little, Brown & Company, 9780316496506, August 2021)

Reviewed by Kate Wilder, Story on the Square in McDonough, Georgia

Phantom Heart by Kelly Creagh

Oh my gosh, this was so much fun! If you’re a fan of Phantom of the Opera, you HAVE to read this modern spin on the classic tale. With references to everything from Ghost Adventures to Silence of the Lambs, this is an awesome read for fans of Phantom. Stephanie (this version’s Christine) is no wilting wallflower – she takes control of her own destiny, and Erik’s tragic tale is spun into an even more heartbreaking story. I could barely put this down to go to bed! Themes of romance that transcends time and space, the shattering of a soul, and love of family spread their fingers throughout this book, and it is beautiful. I loved it!

Phantom Heart by Kelly Creagh, (List Price: 19.99, Viking Books for Young Readers, 9780593116043, August 2021)

Reviewed by Kate Wilder, Story on the Square in McDonough, Georgia

This Poison Heart by Kalynn Bayron

The problem with Kalynn Bayron’s books is that they are so good I never want the book to end. Is it possible to have ten of her books ready so I can read back to back? Briseis has a magical gift of growing plants with just a touch. Her aunt passes away and Briseis inherits an estate which she initially hesitates moving to; however, she discovers she can practice her gift with freedom. Not long after she and her parents move in strange things begin happening and she discovers the reason why she has these powers and how to protect her family. This was such an amazing escape that I could not get enough of!

This Poison Heart by Kalynn Bayron, (List Price: 18.99, Bloomsbury YA, 9781547603909, June 2021)

Reviewed by Deanna Bailey, Story On the Square in McDonough, Georgia

Small Favors by Erin A. Craig

Ellerie with her twin brothers and sisters live in the peaceful Amity Falls that sit on the edge of a dangerous wood. Bells and great pyres keep the darkness at bay, but when strangers appear and Ellerie’s brother Sam starts acting bizarre and hostile, Ellerie finds herself wondering what she would trade to have her parents home and everything back to normal. But in small towns, darkness often isn’t outside, but within the hearts of its residents. Wow. just wow. This is a stunning sophomore novel from Craig, author of House of Salt and Sorrows. I was blown away by the build-up and the dark atmosphere. I stayed up late, laundry sat unwashed, and I was utterly entranced by all the characters in this story. I loved Ellerie and her courage as well as the mysterious Whitaker who stole my heart along with hers. This is going to be one of the most popular books of 2021, so don’t miss out!

Small Favors by Erin A. Craig, (List Price: 18.99, Delacorte Press, 9780593306741, July 2021)

Reviewed by Katlin Kerrison, Story on the Square in McDonough, Georgia

Stiff by Mary Roach

I absolutely love Mary Roach – the way she breaks down complex topics is second to none. I borrowed a copy from a friend and was done with it in two days. I love the way she can take a really complex and delicate topic, and break it down from a variety of perspectives to come to a wonderfully fascinating conclusion.

Stiff by Mary Roach, (List Price: 16.95, W. W. Norton & Company, 9780393324822, May 2004)

Reviewed by Kate Wilder, Story On the Square in McDonough, Georgia

The Therapist by B. A. Paris

This book stressed me out in the worst yet best possible way; I don’t know how to explain that I hated yet loved the anxiety it gave me! Alice and Leo have moved into a new home and host a housewarming party. An unknown man appears at the party, and a few days later he reappears with a revelation about the new home and neighborhood she just moved into. Alice becomes determined to discover the truth about her home and what her neighbors are hiding. This was a wild ride that I truly enjoyed.

The Therapist by B. A. Paris, (List Price: 27.99, St. Martin’s Press, 9781250274120, July 2021)

Reviewed by Deanna Bailey, Story on the Square in McDonough, Georgia

How to Break an Evil Curse by Laura Morrison

The idea of a twisted fairy tale is nothing new, but this book’s “dear reader” style and the changes it chooses to make to the traditional format are absolutely fantastic. I absolutely devoured this book. I was laughing one minute, and holding my breath in terror the next! If you like modern interpretations of classic stories, with curses, ghosts, princesses, with a healthy dose of laughter in between – read this book now!

How to Break an Evil Curse by Laura Morrison, (List Price: 18.95, Black Spot Books, 9781733599481, July 2021)

Reviewed by Kate Wilder, Story on the Square in McDonough, Georgia

These Hollow Vows by Lexi Ryan

For fans of love triangles and fierce heroines that kick butt, These Hollow Vows is a dark fantasy full of twists and betrayals. I found it a delightful story that I couldn’t help but tear through. The author’s writing is engaging as much as it is enchanting and I have a feeling that Brie is going to charm many readers. I can’t wait for the next installment!

These Hollow Vows by Lexi Ryan, (List Price: 17.99, HMH Books for Young Readers, 9780358386575, July 2021)

Reviewed by Katlin Kerrison, Story On the Square in McDonough, Georgia

Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie Flagg

This has been one of my favorite movies for years, so I decided to finally read the book. So glad I did. Much more character development and more storylines. The relationship between Ruth and Idgie is a true love story in the book and it is beautiful how the town accepts it as completely natural. What a bold writing for Ms. Flagg in 1986. I loved how the book included Sipsey’s recipes in the back and the Afterward was lovely.

Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie Flagg, (List Price: 18, Ballantine, 9780449911358, March,1993)

Reviewed by Helen Adkins, Story On the Square in McDonough, Georgia

The Road Trip by Beth O’Leary

The Road Trip vividly tells the story of Addie and Dylan; they fell hard for each other and their relationship ended in horrible terms. Now somehow after not speaking to each other for awhile, they are stuck in a car together for a long trip to a mutual friend’s wedding. Told from both of their perspectives and present and past tense, Beth O’Leary can somehow take a simple idea and make it deep, funny, endearing and entertaining.

The Road Trip by Beth O’Leary (List Price: $17, Berkley, 9780593335024, 6/1/2021)

Reviewed by Deanna Bailey, Story on the Square in McDonough, Georgia

Caul Baby by Morgan Jerkins

This was a beautiful book of magic, secrets, betrayal and race in America. I can’t put into words what I just read (in a good way) because the characters are so intertwined with one another and they don’t even know it, which was riveting to read. Sometimes I read so many books that I forget characters names and little innate details, but this is a gripping story that I will never forget. I was so happy about the climax and ending, this is going to be a lot of readers Best Reads of 2021!

Caul Baby by Morgan Jerkins (List Price: $27.99, Harper, 9780062873088, 4/6/2021)

Reviewed by Deanna Bailey, Story on the Square in McDonough, Georgia

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

I finally had the privilege to read this legendary trilogy while forced into quarantine, and I’m sorry I waited this long. The world of the Grisha, the characters, and the villain was amazing and immersive. It only made me want to dive into the rest of the novels set in this world.

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo (List Price: $10.99, Square Fish, 9781250027436, 5/7/2013)

Reviewed by Katlin Kerrison, Story on the Square in McDonough, Georgia

Excuse Me While I Ugly Cry by Joya Goffney

I adored this fun and impressive debut! Quinn is one of the few black students at a prestigious private school; she finds refuge in writing and making lists in her journal. Her journal goes missing and someone begins to blackmail her with her deepest and darkest secrets. Quinn freaks out, and has to begin working with Carter, a fellow black student who she has never gotten along with. Soon, the hate the hate they had for one another dissolves as they connect to retrieve her journal while being forced by Quinn’s blackmailer to complete Quinn’s lists. This book is about facing your fears, being honest, and falling in love.

Excuse Me While I Ugly Cry by Joya Goffney (List Price: $17.99, HarperTeen, 9780063024793, 5/4/2021)

Reviewed by Deanna Bailey, Story on the Square in McDonough, Georgia

People We Meet On Vacation by Emily Henry

It’s hard to follow up a book that was as good as Beach Read, yet Emily Henry has done it again! She really knows how to suck you in with her characters and get emotionally involved. If you enjoy the opposites attract, friends-to-lovers and slow burn romance, you will definitely enjoy this!

People We Meet On Vacation by Emily Henry (List Price: $16, Berkley, 9781984806758, 5/11/2021)

Reviewed by Deanna Bailey, Story on the Square in McDonough, Georgia

Crown of Bones by A.K. Wilder

A. K. Wilder creates a delightful world of savants and phantoms: creatures made to serve those who call them. Ash is a non-savant who somehow gets the attention of phantoms that aren’t even supposed to acknowledge her when she doesn’t have a phantom of her own. Marcus is the heir to the throne Ash serves and she follows him to the mysterious island of Aku where he must tame his own powerful phantom. Their guide to Aku, Kaylin, has his own secrets. I thoroughly enjoyed this book.

Crown of Bones by A.K. Wilder (List Price: $18.99, Entangled: Teen, 9781640634145, 1/5/2021)

Reviewed by Katlin Kerrison, Story on the Square in McDonough, Georgia

Happy Singles Day by Ann Marie Walker

Hate-to-love romance fans are going to enjoy this one! Paige is a successful business owner who doesn’t need a man in her life to complete her, but she does need a vacation and a break from work. After finding a secluded beach location to celebrate her being single the day after Valentine’s Day, she meets Lucas the bed and breakfast owner. He’s a real jerk to her–since all he needs in his life is his daughter and sister, he doesn’t need a girlfriend in his life to complicate things. But as they get to know each other during her stay, tensions rise physically and emotionally and they begin to question everything they stand for!

Happy Singles Day by Ann Marie Walker (List Price: $14.99, Sourcebooks Casablanca, 9781728216492, 1/19/2021)

Reviewed by Deanna Bailey, Story on the Square in McDonough, Georgia

Lore by Alexandra Bracken

This had me at the edge of my seat from beginning to end. If you love Greek mythology you will love this! Every seven years, nine Greek gods must walk the earth as mortals and the descendants of Ancient Bloodlines hunt them to steal their powers and immortality. Lore ran away from this world when her family was brutally murdered by a rival line. But she comes across her childhood friend Castor and the goddess Athena before a hunt, and after binding her fate with Athena, she enters the hunt to fight a new god and to avenge her family and save her home: New York City.

Lore by Alexandra Bracken (List Price: $18.99, Disney-Hyperion, 9781484778203, 1/5/2021)

Reviewed by Deanna Bailey, Story on the Square in McDonough, Georgia

The Divines by Ellie Eaton

This was a gripping and riveting read for people who loved Normal People, Girls, and a little bit of Gossip Girl, with witty banter, promiscuous teenagers, and an adult coming to terms with her wild youth. Josephine, now in her thirties, is reflecting back to her time at an elite British boarding school, St. John the Divine. She and her group of friends, “The Divines,” were known for chasing boys, chain-smoking cigarettes, and raising a ruckus with their teachers. Tragedy las led Josephine to try to forget her time there, but she finds herself coming to terms what happened that day and how it affects her relationships in the present.

The Divines by Ellie Eaton (List Price: $27.99, William Morrow, 9780063012196, 1/19/2021)

Reviewed by Deanna Bailey, Story on the Square in McDonough, Georgia

Roman and Jewel by Dana L. Davis

Fans of Romeo and Juliet retellings will love this especially with the diverse characters! Jerzie Jhames is competing for a lead role for a hip hop Broadway production of Romeo and Juliet–Roman and Jewel. She falls short of her dreams and becomes the understudy for Jewel, while the lead title goes to celebrity actress singer Cinny. As Jerzie wallows in her disappointment, she meets Zeppelin Reid, the handsome lead actor for Roman. It’s love at first sight, and as they get to know one another, they begin their own Romeo and Juliet story. I love reading teenage black girls stories, especially about their first love!

Roman and Jewel by Dana L. Davis (List Price: $18.99, Inkyard Press, 9781335070623, 1/5/2021)

Reviewed by Deanna Bailey, Story on the Square in McDonough, Georgia

Don’t Tell a Soul by Kirsten Miller

I’ll straight up say I’m not much of a thriller girl. I much prefer fantasy and magic over “the true monster is man”. But Don’t Tell a Soul is definitely an exception. It’s called a modern Rebecca, but I cannot attest to the veracity of that as it is one of the rare classics I didn’t read!

Bram is just trying to escape her own secrets when she stumbles into the deep ones of Louth. I personally adored every character in this tale, they’re all extremely well developed and I loved trying to hatch their secrets as I read. Nothing is as it seems, and the twists and turns will have the reader up at night. Highly recommend for any thriller/mystery lover, especially those who like a nice dose of smart and clever teenagers more mature beyond their years.

Don’t Tell a Soul by Kirsten Miller (List Price: $17.99, Delacorte Press, 9780525581208, 1/26/2021)

Reviewed by Katlin Kerrison, Story on the Square in McDonough, Georgia

Into the Real by Z Brewer

Into the Real deserves its own genre of gender queer science fiction. Main character Quinn’s life gets split into thirds after a run-in with the always present Coe in their post apocalyptic town. From leader of the resistance to a patient at a conversion therapy camp, Quinn finds themself in different situations but still with the same town, people, and questions. With each different life, they must decide what’s more important–living true to themself or blending in. With a revealing truth at the end, Quinn realizes what really happened to her hometown.

Into the Real by Z Brewer (List Price: $17.99, Quill Tree Books, 9780062691385, October, 2020)

Reviewed by Nannette Matthews, Story on the Square in McDonough, Georgia

A Vow So Bold and Deadly by Brigid Kemmerer

The final volume in Brigid Kemmerer’s Cursebreakers series is here and it did not disappoint! The world of Emberfall and Syhl Shallow are set to go to war as Rhen grapples with the sorceress who won’t stay dead and Grey realizes he might have to fight his own brother. The story is split between four points of view and we get to see Harper and Lia Mara’s struggles as well. I received an early reader’s copy of A Vow so Bold and Deadly and I enjoyed every breathless second! The writing was just as captivating as the first two and there were so many adorable swoon-worthy moments squeezed in between the political intrigue and struggles of these new young rulers. I devoured the first two books just as quickly as I did this one, but I already find myself eager to reread the entire series as a whole. This story started out as a retelling of Beauty and the Beast but became its own unique story with fantastic twists and turns to keep any reader satiated and satisfied by the end. I would recommend this story for anyone who enjoyed the first two as well as those who enjoy some political intrigue with their romance.

A Vow So Bold and Deadly by Brigid Kemmerer (List Price: $18.99, Bloomsbury YM, 9781547602582, 1/12/2021)

Reviewed by Katlin Kerrison, Story on the Square in McDonough, Georgia

The Push by Ashley Audrain

A Winter 2021 Read This Next! Title

The Push by Ashley Audrain
Pamela Dorman Books, January

Blythe cannot connect with her daughter Violet since birth. Her husband tells her she’s imagining the dislike from her daughter but when she has her son Sam, motherhood is everything she imagined. Tragedy strikes in their family and leaves Blyther wondering everything: Are the women in her family cursed? Is she imagining and being dramatic about Violet? Or is her husband not being a listening partner? This book will suck you in about the beauty and ugly of being a mother. It shook me to my core!

–Deanna Bailey, Story on the Square, McDonough, GA.

The Push by Ashley Audrain

A Winter 2021 Read This Next! Title

Blythe cannot connect with her daughter Violet since birth. Her husband tells her she’s imagining the dislike from her daughter but when she has her son Sam, motherhood is everything she imagined. Tragedy strikes in their family and leaves Blyther wondering everything: Are the women in her family cursed? Is she imagining and being dramatic about Violet? Or is her husband not being a listening partner? This book will suck you in about the beauty and ugly of being a mother. It shook me to my core!

The Push by Ashley Audrain (List Price: $26.oo, Pamela Dorman Books, 9781984881663, January 5, 2021)

Reviewed by Deanna Bailey, Story on the Square in McDonough, Georgia

Goodnight Beautiful by Aimee Molloy

A good looking couple from New York City move upstate for a slower lifestyle but things quickly takes a turn when the husband goes missing. Sam Statler is a therapist with a range of diverse clients and when he doesn’t come home, his wife Annie is desperate to find him and suspects one of his clients. As secrets and twists unravel, Molloy keeps the reader excited and engaged in this intriguing thriller.

Goodnight Beautiful by Aimee Molloy (List Price: $27.99, Harper, 9780062881922, 10/13/2020)

Reviewed by Deanna Bailey, Story on the Square in McDonough, Georgia

Ava’s Man by Rick Bragg

This book was written as a lasting legacy of the grandfather that author Rick Bragg never knew. Charlie Bundrum was a hard-working, bootlegging carpenter and roofer who loved one woman, raised a passel of children and grandchildren, and even took in a battered misfit for decades. He lived a remarkable life, evading the law and surviving misfortune. What a beautiful work – a grandson discovering his grandfather through tales from his mother, grandmother, aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends. The writing is vivid and the character descriptions witty. As Southerners, we embrace the uniqueness of our people. To that end, this book is a winner.

Ava’s Man by Rick Bragg, (List Price: 16.95, Vintage, 9780375724442, 2002)

Reviewed by Helen Adkins, Story On the Square in McDonough, Georgia

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