Lock Every Door by Riley Sager

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ARC obtained from BookExpo


I always love a good thriller or horror novel that stars one of my favorite characters: The house itself. The house is its own ominous being, exuding so much negative energy with its sordid past that it consumes the main characters. It’s why I’m always keen for stories in the likes of American Horror Story (Murder House), The Haunting of Hill House, and, albeit non-fiction, the murder castle of H.H. Holmes.

While Lock Every Door is not paranormal, and I wouldn’t call it horror either, the same concept is there: The house these people live in has a bloody past, and now history may be repeating itself.

But instead of a house, we are introduced to The Bartholomew: a 44-room luxury apartment building in New York City. Getting to live in The Bartholomew is nearly impossible. It’s highly exclusive; only reserved for the rich and famous who value their privacy.

Jules Larsen is out of a job and recently broke up with her cheating boyfriend. She answers an ad in the newspaper to apartment-sit for three months. The job is pretty simple: be a temporary tenant at The Bartholomew. The previous owner passed away, and while the next of kin are fighting over who inherits the apartment, they want someone to take care of it for them. Jules knows this is too good to be true, but she can’t pass up the opportunity to live in a luxury NYC apartment AND get paid to do it.

We are introduced to The Bartholomew’s tenants; who range from actresses, authors, politicians, and physicians. Jules has to follow some strict rules such as not bothering the other tenants, no visitors, and she must sleep in the apartment every single night. But Jules knows something is amiss when one of the other apartment sitters disappears.

I truly had so much fun reading this book. I devoured it in 24 hours. I found Jules to be somewhat annoying and, of course, made some questionable decisions throughout the book. But it was such a damn page-turner, and I love how history and legends were a driving force in this book. I find Riley Sager’s style of writing so easy to follow, and everything flows beautifully on the page. The thriller element was superb in this one. While I thought I had things figured out, I was led in an entirely different direction.

I also want to mention that I particularly enjoyed learning about Jules’s past, too. Without giving anything away, there’s a bit of a mystery involving her family. It’s sad and gut-wrenching. So be prepared for that!

I’m sure you seasoned thriller-readers may be able to guess some of the twists. I did, but it was such a fun ride and I loved thinking back to all the bread crumbs I totally missed. Now things make even more sense! I know I’m being vague but I want to stop here so I don’t spoil anything. Please pick up this book if you want a thriller that stars a mysterious apartment with a spooky past!

fourstars


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Fix Her Up by Tessa Bailey

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Book provided by HarperCollins in exchange for an honest review.


Whoa, buddy. This book. THIS BOOK.

So if you don’t know, I recently started a booktube channel, and a few months ago I posted a video about my thoughts on cute, illustrated covers. These covers have been very popular in the adult romcom, romance, and “chick lit” (ugh, I don’t like that term) genres. But I also feel like they’re a bit… misleading? I mean, they’re definitely appropriate for the chick lit and romcom books, but sometimes these cute covers are masking more “serious” books, or in this case… a rather steamy, smutty romance. Haha! (Please know I mean no shade in this regard! I love these covers, and I much prefer them over the half-naked people lmao.)

Fix Her Up may look cute on the outside, but be prepared for all the steaminess in this book. And I’m not just talking about explicit sex scenes; there’s also a ton of explicit ‘talk’. Like wow, I need an ice bath after reading all that banter between Georgie and Travis!

Alright, let’s back up a bit. This story stars Georgie. She’s the youngest of three siblings, and even though she’s 23 years old, her family still treats her like a kid. She’s also a professional clown, which adds to how she gets treated by close friends and fam. Georgie has always had a crush on Travis. Travis is her brother’s best friend but also a former professional baseball player. After an injury, Travis no longer plays, and he lands a temporary job working for Georgie’s family’s home renovation business.

In order to “look good” for a potential new job interview, which will put Travis back in the baseball industry, he and Georgie agree to fake date. He wants to appear like a reliable man who isn’t a playboy anymore (his nickname was Two Bats. Like, wow.)

Okay, so the fake dating trope is already a favorite of mine. And I’d even say their romance is a bit ‘taboo’ in terms of how Georgie’s brother does not want Travis dating his little sister. But there’s also so much good in this, and character growth, too! Georgie, her sisters, and friends band together to support each other. I loved how these characters found ways to grow in realistic ways, and I appreciated the girl power message!

So, in a nutshell, this is such a great romcom, but be prepared for all the steamy talk and… actions. If explicit sexytimes isn’t your cup of tea, then you might want to skip this. But I had such a great time reading about Georgie and Travis, and watching their relationship evolve. And getting to chat and gush about this book with my friends was a huge bonus! ❤

fivestarsBuddy read with Jen!


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DEV1AT3 (LIFEL1K3, #2) by Jay Kristoff

 

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ARC provided by Knopf Books in exchange for an honest review.


This review might contain spoilers for the first book, LIFEL1K3.

I had so much fun reading this one, y’all. I really loved LIFEL1KE, and this sequel did not disappoint. I will admit, however, that I didn’t love it as much as the first book. But that’s just because I had a few issues with the pacing and some of the predictable twists (which, honestly, is not a bad thing.)

DEV1AT3 picks up right after the events in LIFEL1K3. The group is separated into four POVs: Lemon Fresh, Cricket, Eve, and Ezekiel. Lemon Fresh finds a group of deviates hiding in a bunker, Cricket, no longer a small bot, gets taken in by a cult, Eve is off doing her own weird shit (I know, I’m being vague), and Ezekiel teams up with an old favorite of mine.

I’m going to start out by saying that one of my favorite themes in this series is the friendships and found families. DEV1AT3 still holds true to those themes. Even when Lemon Fresh lives among fellow deviates, she’s always fiercely determined to go out to find the friends she was separated from. And Cricket will forever have my heart. He has so much character growth for a bot, and I want nothing more than for him to be happy!

And while we all know how things ended with Eve in the last book, I can assure you the religious references and vigilantism is still strong in this one. I will say Eve’s POV was probably my least favorite, though, because it wasn’t quite the main focus in this installment.

But the huge new plot line in this book is the Brotherhood, and how it mirrors some wild cult behavior we are seeing today. The Brotherhood is basically out there trying to erase all deviates (people who have “different” abilities) And wow… if that isn’t a giant metaphor for xenophobia and racism we still see today in America…

Overall I immensely enjoyed this sequel, and in true Kristoff fashion, we are left with some more questions than answers! But I adored the journey, and the banter, and the action. I’m already looking forward to the final book!

fourstars


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Blog Tour: Wicked Fox (Gumiho, #1) by Kat Cho

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Thank you to Penguin Teen for hosting this blog tour!


BOOK DESCRIPTION

An addictive fantasy-romance set in modern-day Seoul.

Eighteen-year-old Gu Miyoung has a secret–she’s a gumiho, a nine-tailed fox who must devour the energy of men in order to survive. Because so few believe in the old tales anymore, and with so many evil men no one will miss, the modern city of Seoul is the perfect place to hide and hunt.

But after feeding one full moon, Miyoung crosses paths with Jihoon, a human boy, being attacked by a goblin deep in the forest. Against her better judgment, she violates the rules of survival to rescue the boy, losing her fox bead–her gumiho soul–in the process.

Jihoon knows Miyoung is more than just a beautiful girl–he saw her nine tails the night she saved his life. His grandmother used to tell him stories of the gumiho, of their power and the danger they pose to men. He’s drawn to her anyway. When he finds her fox bead, he does not realize he holds her life in his hands.

With murderous forces lurking in the background, Miyoung and Jihoon develop a tenuous friendship that blossoms into something more. But when a young shaman tries to reunite Miyoung with her bead, the consequences are disastrous and reignite a generations-old feud . . . forcing Miyoung to choose between her immortal life and Jihoon’s.


MY REVIEW

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ARC provided by Penguin Teen in exchange for an honest review.

When I learned I was going to be on this blog tour, I may or may not have screamed. Wicked Fox was such an anticipated YA release of 2019 for me, and it did not disappoint!

This Korean-lore inspired tale of the gumiho (fox with nine tails) was so much fun to read, and I immediately fell in love with our two main stars: Miyoung and Jihoon.

Miyoung: A high school student who is half-gumiho and half-human. She must feed on the gi (or energy) of men in order to survive. Miyoung has a very strained relationship with her mother, who is a beautiful and ancient gumiho. She does not know her father and struggles with wanting a normal life. However, she isn’t good at making friends and tends to be a loner.

Jihoon: A high school boy who has a few close friends to whom he’s very loyal. He doesn’t have a relationship with his mother so he lives with his grandmother and works in her restaurant. Also, we must protect Jihoon at all costs.

Yena: Miyoung’s gumiho mother. She is incredibly strict and protective of Miyoung, and pretty much won’t show mercy to anyone.

I loved how this book is an urban fantasy that’s set in modern day Seoul. The story opens with Miyoung on her hunt for gi, but she ends up saving Jihoon when she sees a goblin attacking him. But then something strange happens in the process: Miyoung’s fox bead, which contains her gumiho soul, gets extracted from her body. And if the bead falls into the wrong hands, that person can control Miyoung.

What made me love this book so much was that we got to follow the budding friendship (and later romance) of Miyoung and Jihoon. Both teens deal with absent parents and it affects them both in different ways. And I don’t want to make things too personal, but I would die for Jihoon. He is so soft and caring, and his relationship with his grandmother was so similar to my relationship with my (late) Thai grandmother.

One thing that this book addresses well is sexism and misogyny.  I appreciated how Cho included some chapters dedicated to the history of the legend of the gumiho. I won’t give away spoilers, but the legend of the “evil” woman who devours men’s souls has some underlying misogyny and it’s interesting how this type of story was told at bed time to scare children. But I really loved how Cho reversed the role of the gumiho; instead of being a seductive liver-eating monster, Miyoung fought temptation to feed, even if it meant potentially losing her immortality. Seriously, I loved seeing Miyoung’s character develop from the first page.

I highly recommend this book if you’re into urban fantasies with a twist on a popular legend. Not only is the romance cute and organic, but the mysteries and mayhem involved had me turning the page late into the night. I cannot wait to read the next installment!

Preorder the book!

fivestars


BLOG TOUR SCHEDULE

WEEK ONE

June 3 – Reverie and Ink – Creative Instagram Picture

June 4 – Read by Tiffany – Review + Creative

June 5 – NovelKnight Book – Author Guest Post: How did your personal experiences influence writing Wicked Fox?

June 6 – Read Forevermore – Creative Instagram Picture

June 7 – Moonlight Rendezvous – Review + Playlist

WEEK TWO

June 10 – The Book’s Buzz – Creative Instagram Picture + Blog Content

June 11 – Xenatine – Creative Instagram Picture

June 12 – Mike the Fanboy – Listicle: Favorite Fox Characters in Movies and TV + potential background on the fox myth

June 13 – Vicky Who Reads – Wicked Fox Phone Wallpapers

June 14 – _Forevermint – Creative Instagram Picture

WEEK THREE

June 17 – Beverage and Book – Creative Instagram Picture + Playlist

June 18 – A Court of Crowns and Quills – Review + Creative Instagram Picture

June 19 – The Fandom – Author Q&A

June 20 – A Novel Escape – Creative Instagram Picture

June 21 – Hollywood News Source – Listicle: Kdramas to Binge After Finishing Wicked Fox

WEEK FOUR

June 24 – Amber after glow reads – Creative Instagram Picture

June 25 – High Lit – Review + Author Guest Post: If you were born as a Gumiho, would you see it as a blessing or a curse?

June 26 – That is Mari – Creative Instagram Picture

June 27 –  Folded Pages Distillery – Review

June 28 –  Bookwormgram – Creative Instagram Picture


Author Bio

Kat Cho used to hide books under the bathroom sink and then sneak in there to read after bedtime. Her parents pretended not to know. This helped when she decided to write a dinosaur time-travel novel at the tender age of nine. Sadly, that book was not published. She currently lives and works in NYC and spends her free time trying to figure out what kind of puppy to adopt.


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Dragons & Tea Book Club: July Book Announcement!

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Hello, bookworms! Now that things have calmed down a bit after coming back from NYC (I attended BEA) I am getting back into my reading routine. I’m so excited to announce the next Dragons & Tea Book Club pick for July.


Our July book will be:

LOVE FROM A TO Z by S.K. Ali

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The Dates & Breakdown:

July 8th: Pages 1–68 “Zayneb Saturday March 9. Oddity: Unpredictable Creatures”

July 9th: Pages 69–134 “Adam Tuesday March 12. Marvel: Strangers”

July 10th: Pages 135–207 “Adam Sunday March 17. Marvel: Zayneb at the Perfect Place”

July 11th: Pages 208–276 “Zayneb Tuesday March 19. Oddity… And Marvel: Plotters”

July 12th: Pages 277–End

(Chapter titles & subtitles are included since the chapters aren’t numbered. I hope this is helpful if you are reading on an eReader or audio. Read the chapter that includes the mentioned section above for that day.)

Why we chose this book:

This book is a love story in the time of islamaphobia. It stars a Muslim girl and a boy who has multiple sclerosis. We think this is going to be such an important and powerful read, and we can’t wait to boost this ownvoices YA book!

Synopsis:

A marvel: something you find amazing. Even ordinary-amazing. Like potatoes—because they make French fries happen. Like the perfect fries Adam and his mom used to make together.

An oddity: whatever gives you pause. Like the fact that there are hateful people in the world. Like Zayneb’s teacher, who won’t stop reminding the class how “bad” Muslims are.

But Zayneb, the only Muslim in class, isn’t bad. She’s angry.

When she gets suspended for confronting her teacher, and he begins investigating her activist friends, Zayneb heads to her aunt’s house in Doha, Qatar, for an early start to spring break.

Fueled by the guilt of getting her friends in trouble, she resolves to try out a newer, “nicer” version of herself in a place where no one knows her.

Then her path crosses with Adam’s.

Since he got diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in November, Adam’s stopped going to classes, intent, instead, on perfecting the making of things. Intent on keeping the memory of his mom alive for his little sister.

Adam’s also intent on keeping his diagnosis a secret from his grieving father.

Alone, Adam and Zayneb are playing roles for others, keeping their real thoughts locked away in their journals.

Until a marvel and an oddity occurs…

Marvel: Adam and Zayneb meeting.

Oddity: Adam and Zayneb meeting.


Don’t forget to join our Goodreads Group!

And we will also follow discussions/your reading journey on Twitter and Instagram using the (hashtag) #DragonsAndTeaBookClub!


See you then! ❤

🐉☕ Melanie: Instagram | Twitter | Goodreads
🐉☕ Amy: Instagram | Twitter | Goodreads

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Love the Fur You’re In: Monster Wit & Wisdom from Sesame Street

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Thank you to Random House Kids for providing me a copy of this book!


This post is a little bit out of the norm for this blog, but I still wanted to write a little quick blurb because THE FEELS.

Oh, my heart. This illustrated book is so perfect as a gift for graduates or if you just need a dose of daily inspiration. I wasn’t expecting it to be so geared toward adults. It gave me such a major throwback to when I was just a little Thai kid, reading Sesame Street books to brush up on my English reading skills. Since this book is celebrating Sesame Street’s 50th anniversary, there were TONS of illustrations from decades ago. It gave me so much nostalgia, and I found myself giggling so many times. This book is filled with so much good and reminds us to not just be kind to others, but also to ourselves.

fivestars


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Waiting for Tom Hanks by Kerry Winfrey

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ARC provided by Berkley Romance in exchange for an honest review.


I really, really wanted to give this book a higher rating. It started as a 5-star read for me, then went down to four… but now I’m sitting at three. I was truly loving it up until the main character did some things that made me so uncomfortable and annoyed.

This book takes place in Columbus, Ohio. More specifically, it takes place in a little part of the city called German Village. I’m a local, so seeing my city represented meant so much to me. Winfrey makes a ton of references to real, local businesses such as The Book Loft (my most favorite indie book store PERIOD), Pistacia Vera, Schiller Park, and so much more. I was LIVING for these and I was so ready to make an aesthetic. Like, give me all the cozy German Village settings PLEASE.

We follow Annie, a grown-ass adult who has really high expectations about how she wants to meet a man. She grew up watching 90’s rom com movies with her mother (who has passed away) so they hold a special place in her heart. But she also has some pretty unrealistic expectations from people she dates, and she wants nothing more than to meet a man in a meet-cute fashion. And I know that all sounds a bit weird, but because this is a rom com about rom coms, I was loving it.

Annie wants to be a screen writer, and she spends her days in German Village at a coffee shop called Nick’s (which I think it based off of Stauf’s, maybe?) But you’re not going to have many film making opportunities in Ohio. However, she currently lives in her old Victorian home with her uncle, Don, and she doesn’t want to leave the house or Don behind.

One day a movie production company moves into German Village and soon Annie lands herself a position as the assistant to the director of the film. The film is a rom com and it stars a famous, hot actor named Drew. Of course, this book being a quintessential rom com, Annie bumps into Drew while on set and spills coffee on him.

Boom. Instant meet cute.

The rest of the book is a lot of back and forth banter between Annie and Drew. Their encounters are funny and cute, and I was constantly rooting for them. I also adored Annie’s friend, Chloe, who was your typical honest/silly/always-there-for-you-BFF.

The thing is: I really did love all the rom com references. While I know that would be annoying to some readers, I knew all the cheesy rom com moments were necessary. And I knew where the story was going. But, because I knew where the story was going, I kept feeling a sense of dread that Annie was going to do a very stupid thing.

Y’all. She does something so stupid, so cringey, so goddamn awful I just want to hide under a rock due to all the secondhand embarrassment. And when that stupid thing is done, and a certain other character feels hurt, she has the audacity to play the victim.

Another thing that I was discussing with my buddy read group was how the author felt the need to bring up, several times, how rom coms lack diversity. And yet… she didn’t include any diversity at all. I really don’t understand the point of her bringing up that topic at all? Why even mention it if you aren’t going to do something about it? Why not have a marginalized main character*? She included one minor character who was POC but their soul purpose was to teach Annie a lesson so that was kinda weird. (*I should note the reason I’m even bringing up why there should’ve been a main POC character was because the film in the book is about an interracial couple and Chloe even mentions how whitewashed rom coms are.)

So while I did love the other cute, cheesy rom com moments and I absolutely adored the setting, I was just disappointed with how the last 1/4 played out. I mean, I enjoyed the very, very end, and I am looking forward to reading Chloe’s story next. But I hope the next installment won’t try so hard to make such bold statements about diversity and then not do anything about it on the page.

But I do still recommend this book if you’re a rom com lover, and I do think you’ll be rooting for Annie and Drew!

threestarsBuddy read with Melanie, Alexa, & Madalyn!

 


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Dragons & Tea Book Club: June Book Announcement!

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The Dragons & Tea Book Club is officially six months old! Thank you so much, from the bottom of my heart, to everyone who has been with us since day one. I have loved reading with all of you and I am looking forward to what the next six months will bring! So without further ado…


Our June book will be:

FINAL DRAFT by Riley Redgate

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The Dates & Breakdown:

June 10th — Chapters 1 – 5

June 11th — Chapters 6 – 9

June 12th — Chapters 10 – 13

June 13th — Chapters 14 – 17

June 14th — Chapters 18 – End

Why we chose this book:

June is Pride Month so we are excited to read a book by Riley Redgate! The main character, Laila, is a pansexual, biracial, Ecuadorian, plus-size girl with anxiety. It is a coming-of-age story as Laila “must choose between perfection and sanity.” We hope you’ll join us again to read Final Draft with us starting June 10th!


Don’t forget to join our Goodreads Group!

And we will also follow discussions/your reading journey on Twitter and Instagram using the (hashtag) #DragonsAndTeaBookClub!


See you then! ❤

🐉☕ Melanie: Instagram | Twitter | Goodreads
🐉☕ Amy: Instagram | Twitter | Goodreads

Finale (Caraval, #3) by Stephanie Garber

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ARC provided by Flatiron Books in exchange for an honest review.

Caraval Review | Legendary Review


This review pains me to write because I was truly expecting a 5 star read.

I have always thought highly of this series. I loved how Caraval focused on a game and the actors within the game. I loved how Legendary expanded that world and introduced us to the Fates. I truly believe this series could’ve just been a duology; extend Legendary to be a slightly longer book, tie up some loose ends, and call it a wrap. I really don’t understand the point of Finale at all.

Finale introduces us to a new villain which… seems like an odd time to bring in a new villain. We already met Jacks in Legendary, and in my opinion, he was the perfect “bad guy.” But we get introduced to the ACTUAL villain who is a Fate. And this Fate wants to destroy basically everyone and take Legend’s place. I just really didn’t understand the point of him at all and he was so “mustache twirly” that I had to roll my eyes at all his scenes.

So let’s talk about Tella and Scarlett. In this book the POV’s alternate between the two sisters, which I actually did like because we got to follow their own little journeys within the story. However, Scarlett was so childish in this book I JUST CANNOT. From the very beginning of the book she decides she wants to string Julian along, and then have Julian and Nicolas compete for her? What kind of childish game is this? I truly do not understand her motivations behind this AT ALL.

Tella is my favorite of the two sisters but she also did some things that were questionable. She kept seeking solace from Jacks, who is, you know… a villain… and would then be surprised that he *gasp* did a villainous thing. Girl, why? Also, Jacks literally tries to give her a heart attack in order to get what he wants from Legend, but then later tells Tella he “didn’t mean to” and would never hurt her? Excuse me? But you literally just gave her a heart attack, dude. I was always Team Jacks but that scene was so unnecessary to me.

And speaking of Jacks (who was my favorite character from Legendary.) His character really got reduced down to be a minor side character who only showed up at convenient times to sweep Tella off her feet. I truly didn’t understand his purpose and felt zero closure with him.

I was also really excited to be introduced to the other Fates, but they all also felt like very minor side characters who didn’t seem to play a pivotal role in the entire story.

Here’s the thing: I’ve always loved the world of Caraval, but in Finale I felt like most of the time we were being TOLD. It’s full of characters speaking in long paragraphs telling us about the history of something or about another character. It really dragged and made me lose focus. I don’t want to be told everything; I want to see it. Also I refuse to even acknowledge the time-travel loophole because that’s my least favorite trope used to tie up a loose end.

This was my most anticipated release of 2019 and I am just kind of feeling neutral about how it all ended? I didn’t hate it, but I just didn’t love it either. I know my review sounds super ranty, but I loved being back in the world and with these characters again. I will also forever love Dante because he’s such a sweet guy. Also I think Stephanie Garber is the loveliest human and I will still read everything she writes. I guess I can hope there will be a spin-off for this series?

threestars


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SUMMERATHON ANNOUNCEMENT!

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Hi, friends! I’m so excited to announce that I will be co-hosting a summer-themed readathon called Summerathon! We wanted to do a readathon that’s going to be fun and laid back, while giving us an excuse to read all things summery. It’s going to start on the summer solstice, and we would be so honored if you joined us!


The Dates:

June 21 – 27, 2019


The Hosts:

Melanie @ Meltotheany

Jen @ Pinot and Pages

Heather @ Bookables

Aimee @ Aimee Reads

Amy @ A Court of Crowns and Quills


The Challenges:

Summer vacation composition. Flip flops, hat and other stuff

1) Read a “beachy” book: This can be any book you’d want to take with you to the beach/poolside! Or it can take place on a beach (however you want to interpret it!)

2) Read a book with sunrise colors on the cover: The book can have ANY of the colors in a sunrise, such as orange, yellow, blue, pink, purple, etc.

3) Read a book that has a road trip, traveling, or vacation: The book doesn’t have to take place only on a vacation or roadtrip; it can include any scenes that involve traveling, going on a trip, etc.

4) Read a book set in the summer: The book doesn’t have to only be in the summer, but at least have a portion of it take place in summer.

5) Read a book with food on the cover: We love summer time grilling! Any kind of food/beverage on the cover will do!

6) Read a book while drinking your favorite summery beverage: This is more of a freebie but thought it would be fun! Choose any drink of your choice to sip while enjoying your book!

The challenges are vague and open to interpretation; read however many you want to fit the challenges or feel free to double up! You can also read any genre you want! There’s no pressure to finish all the challenges. We also want to encourage you to pick up a book by an LGBTQIAP+ author in honor of Pride month!


Follow Us:

We want to see all your Summerathon photos, so please tag us @summerathon on instagram and twitter and use (hashtag) #summerathon. We’ll also repost your photos on our instagram!


We hope you’ll join us this June to celebrate the summer solstice!

Summer vacation composition. Flip flops, hat and other stuff


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