Iconic Pen Names Across History and Why They Were Chosen

Posted July 12, 2018 by Jana in Discussion / 5 Comments

Pen names are so much fun, and I love learning the reasons behind why authors choose them. Centuries prior, there were countless reasons why authors adopted a nom de plume. Sometimes it was strictly to remain anonymous, and other times it was because authors were more successful if their genders were concealed. You can check out some of the most iconic authors and their pen names in the infographic (created by Invaluable) below.

Today, pen names are still widely used, but it can be difficult to land on one that suits both you and your writing. Invaluable created this fun pen name generator to help you out! It generates a unique pen name based on the genre and gender you choose. If you know you want to include your first or last name, you can type that in and it will populate a nom de plume incorporating one.

How do you feel about pen names?
Which pen name would you choose for yourself and why?
What name did the pen name generator provide you?

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The Best Books I’ve Read In 2018 (So Far!)

Posted July 9, 2018 by Jana in Top Ten Tuesday / 37 Comments

I cannot believe we’re over halfway done with 2018 (obviously, since I totally forgot to put this topic into the calendar and had to swap it out for the freebie that was originally scheduled for today). It feels like just yesterday I was packing up the Christmas decorations on a dreary January morning. Now it’s blisteringly hot outside and I’m  itching for fall weather to blow in and cool us off again. And then it’ll be 2019 before we know it! There’s still lots of reading to be done, but today let’s talk about the best of the best that we’ve read this year!

I Temporarily Do by Ellie Cahill
This marriage of convenience story is seriously so heartwarming and wonderful. It’s also filled with swoons! Emmy is conned out of a place to live on campus (as well as all of her money), and recently dumped Beckett remembers that his apartment is in married student housing. Rather than drop out of school, Emmy and Beckett decide to get married and share the apartment. They have to play the part of a newlywed couple for all their new friends, and I loved watching them convince themselves that they’re great together as well.


Love & Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch
Love & Gelato was everything I had hoped for and more. I love stories set in Italy, and this one was pure perfection. Read my review for more info!

Love & Luck by Jenna Evans Welch
The bulk of Love & Luck takes place on a road trip across Ireland in dilapidated old car, passing castles and historic sites and tons of beautiful scenery. It’s seriously such a fun story, and Jenna’s writing is wonderful.


Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett
I loved Starry Eyes. It’s swoony and deep and angsty and full of so much reality, set against the love-hate relationship between two best-friends-turned-enemies as they traverse the elements and depend on one another to survive the literal wilderness, as well as their own wild, untamed lives. Read my full review!


Roomies by Christina Lauren
I love marriages of convenience and fake/sham romances, books set in New York, stories surrounding the theme of music, and hot Irish men. This one did not disappoint! Read my full review.


The Girl He Used to Know by Tracey Garvis Graves
Anyone who knows me knows I’m a Tracey fangirl and have been following her since the very beginning of her writing career when she self-published On the Island. TGHUtK is her first plunge into women’s fiction, and I loved it! It features a heroine on the Autism spectrum, a romance from the past, lots of feelings, and characters who find themselves in each other. I don’t want to talk too much about i because it comes out in April of 2019, but keep your eyes peeled for more on this one in the coming months!


Roman Crazy by Alice Clayton & Nina Bocci
Here’s another Italy romance! A chance encounter with the sexy Italian man who got away years ago brings lots of romantic moments and feelings.


Save the Date by Morgan Matson
I’m SO glad I finally jumped on the Morgan Matson train! I hope her others are just as wonderful for me as this one was. I loved the family dynamics, the wedding craziness, and all heart and feeling that swirled around it all. Read my full review.


The Dark Unwinding by Sharon Cameron
I REALLY love the audio for this one. It is amazingly well done. And the steampunk historical fiction mixed with a little suspense/intrigue and hints of romance made this a very unique and enjoyable read.

Which books have you read and loved this year so far?

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Under the Same Sky by Genevieve Graham | Book Review

Posted July 5, 2018 by Jana in Adult Fiction, Book Review / 1 Comment

Under the Same Sky by Genevieve Graham | Book ReviewUnder the Same Sky by Genevieve Graham
Series: The MacDonnells #1
Also in this series: Sound of the Heart
Published by Berkley on January 3, 2012
Genres: Historical Romance, Paranormal, Romance
Pages: 319
Format: Paperback
Source: From the Publisher
Amazon Add to Goodreads
3 Stars
The year is 1746. A young woman from South Carolina and a Scottish Highlander share an intimacy and devotion beyond their understanding. They have had visions of each other their entire lives. And yet they have never met.

Now, with their lives torn asunder, Maggie Johnson and Andrew MacDonnell's quest to find each other is guided only by their dreams— and by the belief in the true love they share.

On the Carolina frontier Maggie Johnson’s family struggles to survive. Maggie’s gift of “the sight” and her visions show her a presence she calls Wolf. She watches him grow from a boy her age to a man even as she goes from child to woman.

Andrew MacDonald has always wondered about the girl he sees in his dreams. He is able to talk to her through their thoughts and vows that even if he must cross an ocean he will find her.

They are thrust into different situations: Andrew fights for the doomed Jacobite cause and Maggie is captured by slavers, then rescued and brought into a kind, loving Native American tribe. They each believe in destiny and the power of the love they have shared forever.

Lots of things about this book excited me. I love historical romance, the back of the book and the cover reminded me of a light, fluffy romance with a paranormal twist (like a Lynn Kurland book), and I loved the idea of telepathic communication across the world, between two characters who have never actually met each other. During tough times these two characters appeared to one other to help, either delivering advice or actual strength. As they got older, their ability to communicate grew stronger and they began to fall in love. The romance was incredibly sweet. They were childhood sweethearts, who were there for each other all the time, even though they were on completely different continents. I love this idea.

While I did like it, this book is far from the light, fluffy romance I was expecting. The cover is quite deceptive, as this book is a rather heavy and sometimes dark read. This time period was a pretty awful time, especially for women, and the author does not sugar coat it, which I respected. At the very beginning of the book, Maggie witnesses the death and/or murders of several family members. She and her sisters are abducted by men hoping to sell them, and are beaten and raped to within an inch of their lives. Andrew goes to war in Scotland, and also experiences a lot of death and heartache. This is all described in great detail, and it actually upset me so much that I thought I would not be able to continue. I was so curious to see how things ended, though, that I decided to continue on with it. To all my fellow tender hearts out there, if you can make it to page 115, you are going to be just fine. The book does lighten up, and it even gets suspenseful and exciting!

A tribe of Cherokee Indians rescues Maggie and her sister from their captors, and takes them in as part of their family. I loved this entire protective and loving group of people. I have not had the opportunity to read much about Native American tribes, except for my history books in school. I learned so much about the culture and belief system of this tribe, and was captivated by their story and strong, almost religious, ties to Mother Nature.

I really, really liked Maggie and Andrew. Maggie is so incredibly strong and resilient. I admire her, and wish I had the kind of strength she has. Andrew is the perfect sexy Scottish highlander. He cares so much for Maggie, his family, and his friends. He’s also very loyal and honorable. We see him interact with two very young orphaned children, and he is amazingly sweet with them. He really is pretty perfect, and I know I would love it if he came to me in my dreams! His accent is also pretty adorable, but sometimes I had to read his lines out loud in order to understand them. :)

Genevieve’s writing style is gorgeous. Her word choice stirred the same emotions in me that her characters felt. She sent me to the woods where Maggie was held captive, to the battle fields of Scotland, to the rolling hills of the Scottish Highlands, and to the deep southern colonies of North America. The dreams Maggie and Andrew had about each other were mystical and magical. Everything seemed so real to me, and I was completely captivated, even though parts of this book really upset and disturbed me.

I would definitely recommend this book to lovers of historical romances with a bit of a paranormal twist. Yes, it’s heavy and dark in places. Yes, I had a hard time convincing myself to finish it at one point, but I am so glad I did. You can’t fault the author for retelling history. This all really happened, and I was amazed reading what people are willing to do to each other. The story is also magical and romantic, and I really loved reading about Maggie and Andrew’s journey to find one another. We are left with no loose ends, and you’ll be very happy with how things turn out in the end.

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Ten Red, White, & Blue Books I Want to Read

Posted July 2, 2018 by Jana in Top Ten Tuesday / 31 Comments

Since 4th of July is tomorrow here in the United States of America, I thought it would be fun to showcase book covers that have country colors on them today! I love learning where my fellow book nerds live. If you live in another country, I hope you’ve chosen book covers with the colors from your country’s flag! If you decided to helped me celebrate the 4th of July, though, and chose red, white, and blue covers then that’s also awesome.

My Oxford Year by Julia Whelan
Study abroad at Oxford and romance!

Freshmen by Tom Ellen and Lucy Ivison
A funny look at Freshman year at college.

Red Girl, Blue Boy by Lauren Baratz-Logsted
Her dad is the Republican nominee for President of the USA, which his mom is he Democratic nominee. This could be interesting.

Prince in Disguise by Stephanie Kate Strohm
Scotland, for one thing. And there’s a prince in disguise!!

The Royal We by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan
I’ve been wanting to read this Kate Middleton/Prince William-inspired romance for a LONG time.

Enchantée by Gita Trelease
1789 Paris. A double life. Magic. Blackmail. Marie Antoinette.

Girl on a Plane by Cassandra O’Leary
A flight attendant falls for the sexy Australian in First Class on a flight from Melbourne to London. There’s also an unexpected landing in Singapore.

The Geek’s Guide to Unrequited Love by Sarvenaz Tash
If the title alone isn’t enough to get you, then I don’t know what to tell you.

The Heir and the Spare by Emily Albright
This sounds very Prince and Me/Princess Diaries, and I am here for it.

My Lady’s Choosing: An Interactive Romance Novel by Kitty Curran and Larissa Zageris
A choose your own adventure romance novel! Yes please!

Which country do you call home?
If you’re in the USA, what are your 4th of July plans?

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Debut Author Challenge 2018: July – December Review Link-Up

Posted July 1, 2018 by Jana in Debut Author Challenge / 0 Comments

Welcome to the second half of the 2018 Debut Author Challenge! I can’t believe the year is already half over, but here we are! You all linked up 119 reviews in January-June, and I am so proud! Let’s get even more during this last half of the year!

Helpful Links:

Goodreads list of 2018 Debut Author Challenge books.
• Official Goodreads group for the challenge.
Google spreadsheet of 2018 debuts.
• Request that a book be added to the Google spreadsheet here.
• Debut authors: learn how to be featured in an issue of the Debut Dish!

Some things to remember:

– This is the review link-up for all debut reviews you write in July, August, September, October, November, and December. This does not mean that the books you review have to be published during these six months. You can read and review any debut, any month of the year.

– If you forgot to link up anything from the last 6 months to he last link-up, go ahead and link them now. I know it’s hard to remember. Please be honest about this and don’t re-post links to reviews that you already linked up on the previous link-up post.

– In order to get credit for your review, you must have read the book in 2018. If you read an ARC of a 2018 debut in 2017, it does not count. Also, don’t jump the gun and start reading 2019 ARCs! They won’t count for either the 2018 challenge or the 2019 challenge. I don’t want people with access to ARCs to have an advantage over those who don’t.

– I’m here if you have any questions at all, so don’t hesitate to shoot me a message via Twitter or comment or homing pigeon.

This is the second of two bi-annual review link-ups, which will be accessible by hovering over the Debut Author Challenge tab at the top of the blog and clicking the box that says “Book Review Link-Up”. Each link you submit counts as one entry into the giveaway. I will use the random number generator to draw a winner at the end of December. The winner will win their choice of a 2018 debut book from my list, which I will mail them. This giveaways is open internationally, provided Book Depository ships to you!

Sign-ups for the 2019 Debut Author Challenge will be going up in October of this year, so check back for that. You will be able to find a link to the 2019 challenge sign-ups in the Debut Author Challenge drop-down at the top of the blog.

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All Summer Long by Hope Larson | Graphic Novel Review

Posted June 28, 2018 by Jana in Book Review, Graphic Novel, Middle Grade / 0 Comments

All Summer Long by Hope Larson | Graphic Novel ReviewAll Summer Long and illustrated by Hope Larson
Published by Farrar Straus & Giroux on May 1, 2018
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Realistic Fiction
Pages: 176
Format: Paperback
Source: From the Publisher
Amazon Add to Goodreads
2 Stars
A coming-of-age middle-grade graphic novel about summer and friendships, written and illustrated by the Eisner Award–winning and New York Times–bestselling Hope Larson.

Thirteen-year-old Bina has a long summer ahead of her. She and her best friend, Austin, usually do everything together, but he's off to soccer camp for a month, and he's been acting kind of weird lately anyway. So it's up to Bina to see how much fun she can have on her own. At first it's a lot of guitar playing, boredom, and bad TV, but things look up when she finds an unlikely companion in Austin's older sister, who enjoys music just as much as Bina. But then Austin comes home from camp, and he's acting even weirder than when he left. How Bina and Austin rise above their growing pains and reestablish their friendship and respect for their differences makes for a touching and funny coming-of-age story.

I’ve started developing interest in graphic novels over the last few years, which was a major surprise to me because I’ve always overlooked them. More and more have been trickling in from various publishers, and I’m really seeing the graphic novel format take off, especially for younger readers. I thought All Summer Long sounded like a fun, light read and was excited to dig in. Sadly, there just wasn’t enough substance for me and it felt much younger than I would have liked.

I enjoy coming-of-age stories, but I don’t feel like All Summer Long was a good example of one. I suppose the characters go through some changes, but they felt more like normal kid changes than coming-of-age. When a story is described as a “coming-of-age story”, you expect some major growth. Bina is 13, and she’s spending her summer alone while her best friend, Austin, is at summer camp. She spends the summer playing/listening to music, and hanging out with Austin’s older sister. She gets to babysit and go to a concert and deal with all the normal kid drama: fights, heightened emotions, and overreactions. At the end, she seemed to be pretty much the same person she was in the beginning. The story was very, very simple and the characters seemed like cardboard cutouts. There just wasn’t anything grabbing me and sucking me in.

I know I’m the wrong demographic, but I work with kids who are about this age. Actually, my kids are about a year younger and they don’t talk like these characters. They don’t use the word “bae” or say “like” every other word. I feel like the author tried to write for tweens and young teens, but without a real understanding of what those kids are like today. These kids seemed younger than mine until they said “bae”, which people my age (late 20’s, early 30’s) were already saying when these kids were toddlers. It just felt really unrealistic to me.

The illustrations were fun, but too stylized for me. The proportions were off and there were inconsistencies in the looks of the characters from page to page. Sometimes I had a hard time telling some of the secondary characters apart. It was easy to read and the boxes flowed in a nice way. I rarely read sections out of order because I didn’t know which box came first, which has happened to me in other graphic novels I’ve read.

All in all, this one just didn’t work for me. I shut the book and immediately wrote my review because I’m not even sure I’ll be able to remember it. I would choose to recommend other graphic novels over this one.

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Ten Book Series I Really Want to Catch Up On

Posted June 25, 2018 by Jana in Top Ten Tuesday / 28 Comments

I don’t know about you, but it’s really hard to keep series books straight. I have to really love a book and the characters and/or the world that the author has created to be willing to invest the time and memory space required to stick with a trilogy or series for its entire run. Today’s topic is technically about the series or trilogies I don’t plan to finish, but as I was writing up my list I came across so many series I’ve kind of abandoned but really want to finish someday (also, I did a similar TTT topic years ago and don’t have many new series to add to it)! So I decided to tweak the topic a bit to suit my needs. These are all series I appear to have quit, even though I loved what I read, but would actually really love to continue on with.

1. A Court of Thorns and Roses series by Sarah J. Maas (I’ve read books 1 & 2)
2. Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas (I’ve read books 1 & 2)
3. Rebel of the Sands trilogy by Alwyn Hamilton (I’ve read book 1)
4. Gideon’s Cove trilogy by Kristan Higgins (I’ve read book 1 & 3)
5. Boomerang trilogy by Noelle August (I’ve read books 1 & 2)
6. Frost Chronicles by Kate Avery Ellison (I’ve read books 1 & 2)
7. The Conspiracy of Us trilogy by Maggie Hall (I’ve read book 1)
8. Firebird trilogy by Claudia Gray (I’ve read book 1)
9. Heist Society series by Ally Carter (I’ve read books 1 & 2)
10. The Winner’s Trilogy by Marie Rutkoski (I’ve read book 1)

Which series should I prioritize?
Which do you recommend I not worry about?

 

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Ten Books I Loved Before I Became a Book Blogger

Posted June 22, 2018 by Jana in About Me, Book Spotlight / 10 Comments

 

A long time ago… in this galaxy… way back in the dino days, before Moby Dick was a minnow (can you tell I’m feeling old today? It’s my birthday!)… I wasn’t a book blogger. I know. It’s kind of hard for me to believe it, too, because I have been eating, breathing, and sleeping books since June of 2010 (I started The Broke and the Bookish with Jamie). About a year and a half later, That Artsy Reader Girl was born, and I’ve made a pretty cozy place for myself here in my corner of the Internet. Blogging has been a huge blessing for me, and has given me the opportunity to read so many amazing books, but some long-time favorites rekindled my love of reading way before I started writing. Since I never wrote full reviews for any of these books, I thought it’d be fun to share some of them with you today!

1. Twilight by Stephenie Meyer
Twilight is the book that made me discover there was a young adult section in the bookstore. I had NO idea! I’m not even kidding. I grew up reading romance novels, and never knew there was a genre devoted to me. But oh, I loved Edward. :) Oh, and random fact… this is actually the first book I added to Goodreads when I joined. Crazy!

2. Pretend You Don’t See Her by Mary Higgins-Clark
This was first mystery novel! My mom has always really loved Mary Higgins-Clark, and started me on her books when I was a teenager. I became an instant fan, and will read anything she writes. I still can’t believe she’s still pumping books out at her age. It’s super impressive.

3. Catherine and the Pirate by Karen Hawkins
Did anyone else read the Avon True Romance series? There were, I think, 12 books aimed towards young adults in this series, all written by well-known authors like Meg Cabot, Beverly Jenkins, etc. This one was my first and favorite, though. I found it in my high school’s library when we had to write a book report (I can’t believe I chose this book for a book report. lol)  and thus began my love of pirate romances. I swear, I live for a really good historical romance featuring pirates and pirate ships.

4. The Guardian by Nicholas Sparks
I really loved this story, even though it made me cry because Nicholas Sparks likes to kill people. I’ll never read another book of his again for that reason, but I did really connect with this story. Even though I can cry about it right now if I think about it enough.

5. With Every Breath by Lynn Kurland
This was my very first time travel book! I LOVE Lynn’s romances. They are soooooo sweet, and so amazing. I just love Scotland, too, and most of her books take place there.

6. The Hourglass Door by Lisa Mangum 
This is a very fun trilogy that I found after reading Twilight and wanting something similar. The Hourglass Door features time travel and Da Vinci and a cute Italian boy. I loved it more than Twilight.

7. Kiss and Tell by Suzanne Brockman 
This book starts when a woman gets kissed by a mysterious man in a Zorro mask on New Year’s Eve. Who is he!?!?! Oh, I loved this book. The other two books in this trilogy and wonderful, too.

8. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
I was pretty scared of this book. It took me forever to be ok with it, and my mom thought I was insane for wanting it. I loved it. Seriously, this solidified my love of YA novels. And I kind of love that I read it before it was cool and before the movies and the hype. The second book, Catching Fire, wasn’t even out yet!

9. Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater
I found Shiver in the hopes of finding something like Twilight. I was skeptical, though, because I was team Edward and not Jacob, so why on Earth would I like a book about werewolves? I loved Maggie’s writing, though, and the story was so perfect.

10. Austenland by Shannon Hale
Yes, I reviewed this here (my first review ever, actually!), but I actually had to re-read the book in order to remember it enough to write a review. So it counts. It’s still one of my favorite books, even though the movie leaves much to be desired.

Which books did you read and love before you became a book blogger? 

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Over Raging Tides by Jennifer Ellision | Audiobook Review

Posted June 21, 2018 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult / 2 Comments

Over Raging Tides by Jennifer Ellision | Audiobook ReviewOver Raging Tides by Jennifer Ellision
Series: Lady Pirates #1
Published by Self on March 20, 2018
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 239
Format: Audiobook
Source: Audible, From the author
Amazon Add to Goodreads
3.5 Stars
The pirate crew of the Lady Luck lives by many rules, but chief among them is this: they do not allow men on board.

That’s a rule that quartermaster Grace Porter is willing to break when a shipwrecked young nobleman offers her information of an omniscient map, stolen from his warship by an enemy vessel. Until now, the map was only the stuff of legend… but with its help, Grace may finally be able to hunt down the Mordgris, the sea monsters who stole her mother away from her.

Unfortunately, some members of her crew have other plans...

To find the map and face the Mordgris, Grace will have to confront her past, put the Luck between warring nations, and uncover treachery aboard the ship. And ultimately, her revenge and the destruction of the Mordgris will come at a hefty price: the betrayal of her crew.

Grace promised them they wouldn’t regret this.

She just isn’t sure that she won’t.

I love stories set on the high seas, particularly when pirates are involved, but I usually gravitate towards romantic stories with male pirates because I have a major crush on bad-boy pirate types, apparently. lol. I’ve never read a book with female pirates before, but I really enjoyed this one!

First off, the narration was amazing. Victoria Boulton’s performance really drew me in and had me hooked from early on. She did not read too quickly or too slowly, and her British accent brought each character to life.

I loved the setting of the Lady Luck, and reading about all the ins and outs of life aboard the ship. The crew is made up entirely of women, who live by a very strict code of honor. No men are allowed on board, no children can be kidnapped and forced into service, no crew member is allowed to steal from the rest of the crew, etc. And unlike Captain Barbosa, these rules are not merely guidelines. They take these rules very seriously, and I quite liked reading about a bunch of pirates who at least have some morals.

The story itself was not particularly unique, but I still enjoyed this adventure on the high seas. The crew is on the hunt for the holy grail of all treasure: a map that will lead them to any treasure they wish. There are obstacles along the way, and two of those obstacles come in the form of two brothers who Grace saves from the Mordgris–the sea monsters who took her mother from her. Grace breaks a cardinal rule and brings them aboard the ship. As it turns out, the older brother, Leo, can help them find his map. The little brother, John, endears himself to the crew, so they decide both boys can stay. For now. I liked Grace, John, and Leo, but didn’t feel much for the rest of the characters. They all felt like typical pirates to me, with no real unique traits that made them stand out to me.

This was my first book by Jennifer Ellision, and I really enjoy her writing style and creativity. While the story kind of follows the normal pirate adventure formula, she’s added some elements that set it apart. I’m super intrigued by the Mordgris. I want to know more about them and their origins and purpose. What are they really about? Who are they? They play a big part in Grace’s life quest and are the real reason she wants this magical map. She hopes, against all odds, to find her mother. I loved reading about her determination, and the fact that she believes that family is more important than all the riches in the world. I’m really eager to see how things work out for her and to learn more about this world and the map. There’s so much to look forward to with the next book! And beware, this book ends on a major cliffhanger and you’re going to want more story ASAP!

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Ten Beach Reads to Grab This Summer

Posted June 18, 2018 by Jana in Top Ten Tuesday / 53 Comments

Today’s topic is beach reads! Or you could have chosen to feature your summer TBR list. I tend to not do a summer TBR because I like to give myself the opportunity to make my reading choices in the moment rather than sticking to a schedule this time of year. So I chose beach reads!

When I hear “beach read” my mind immediately jumps to light and fun contemporary romances that I can read a little at a time or in one big binge session. I absolutely love these kinds of books because they give me warm fuzzies and goofy smiles. I’ve selected some older and newer releases, along with new adult/adult titles and YA titles. All of them are wonderful, and books I wholeheartedly recommend.

New Adult/Adult

On the Island by Tracey Garvis-Graves
Roman Crazy by Alice Clayton & Nina Bocci
I Temporarily Do by Ellie Cahill
The Hating Game by Sally Thorne
Roomies by Christina Lauren

 

Young Adult

From What I Remember… by Stacy Kramer & Valerie Thomas
Golden by Jessi Kirby
The Summer I Became a Nerd by Leah Rae Miller
Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett
The Summer My Life Began by Shannon Greenland

Which beach reads would you recommend I try?
And if you chose to do your summer TBR for today’s topic,
which books are you hoping to read this summer?

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