Friends to lovers book recs for the Polin shippers

I’m not gonna get in a trope-battle with romance readers, but friends to lovers has to be in my top 3 (only one bed and second chance romance are the other best tropes, for those interested). I particularly love when the dummy in the relationship who didn’t realize they were in love realizes it and basically loses their mind. So this season of Bridgerton was made for me — Colin’s face when he sees Penelope eating cake? Art!

If you’re itching for more friends (idiots) to lovers with the HEAs they deserve, check out these book recs!

Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating by Christina Lauren

Hazel knows she’s a lot to take — and frankly, most men aren’t up to the challenge. Their loss. Josh has known Hazel since college, where her zany playfulness proved completely incompatible with his mellow restraint. Josh has always thought of Hazel more as a spectacle than a peer. But now, ten years later, after a cheating girlfriend has turned his life upside down, going out with Hazel is a breath of fresh air. Not that Josh and Hazel date. At least, not each other. Because setting each other up on progressively terrible double blind dates means there’s nothing between them…right?

People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry

Poppy and Alex have nothing in common. She’s a wild child; he wears khakis. She has an insatiable wanderlust; he prefers to stay home with a book. And somehow they are the very best of friends. For most of the year they live far apart, but every summer, for a decade, they have taken one glorious week of vacation together. Until two years ago, when they ruined everything. They haven’t spoken since. Now Poppy is stuck in a rut. So she convinces her best friend to take one more vacation together. Now she has a week to fix everything. If only she can get around the one big truth that has always stood quietly in the middle of their seemingly perfect relationship. What could possibly go wrong?

Kamila Knows Best by Farah Heron

Kamila is so busy with her friends’ love lives, she’s hardly given any thought to her own. Fortunately, Kamila has Rohan, a longtime friend of the family. Only lately, her “harmless flirting” with Rohan is making her insides do a little bhangra dance. But Kamila isn’t letting herself get distracted — until her secret nemesis returns to town with an eye for Rohan. Suddenly, it seems like the more Kamila tries to plan, the more things are starting to unravel.

Real Men Knit by Kwana Jackson

Jesse Strong is known for his devotion to his adoptive mom, Mama Joy, and his reputation for breaking hearts. When Mama Joy unexpectedly passes away, he and his brothers have different plans for what to do with Strong Knits, their knitting store. Part-time employee Kerry Fuller overhears Jesse’s impassioned plea to his brothers to keep the shop open, and volunteers to help. Together they make plans to reinvent Strong Knits. But the more time they spend together, the stronger the chemistry builds between them. 

Girl Gone Viral by Alisah Rai

After a stranger live-tweets Katrina King’s innocent conversation at a coffee shop, #CafeBae has the world swooning. Going viral isn’t easy for anyone, but Katrina has painstakingly built a private world for herself, far from her traumatic past. With the internet on the hunt for her identity, her bodyguard, Jas, offers his family’s farm as a refuge. Alone with her unrequited crush, Katrina is resigned to being just friends with Jas — until they share a single electrifying kiss. 

The Cheat Sheet by Sarah Adams

Bree Camden is helplessly in love with her longtime best friend and extremely hot NFL legend, Nathan Donelson. But he clearly sees her as a best friend with no romantic potential, and the last thing Bree wants is to ruin their relationship. But after a few tequila shots, Bree spills her deepest, darkest secret to a reporter, and now the world thinks Nathan and Bree are the perfect couple. 

Lovelight Farms by B.K. Borison

In an effort to save the Christmas tree farm she’s loved since she was a kid, Stella enters a contest with a $100,000 cash prize. But to make the farm seem like a romantic destination for the holidays, she lied on her application and said she owns Lovelight Farms with her boyfriend. Only…there is no boyfriend. Enter best friend Luka Peters. He just stopped by for some hot chocolate and somehow got a farm and a serious girlfriend in the process. But fake dating his best friend might be the best Christmas present he’s ever received.

Crazy Stupid Bromance by Lyssa Kay Adams

Alexis Carlisle and her cat café shot to fame after she came forward as a victim of a celebrity chef’s sexual harassment. When a new customer claims they’re sisters, Alexis turns to the only man she trusts — her best friend, Noah Logan. The computer genius has a secret: He’s madly in love with Alexis. Noah’s pals in The Bromance Book Club are more than willing to help him go from bud to boyfriend. But he must decide if telling the truth is worth risking the best friendship he’s ever had.

Book recommendations for kids who are between age groups

Inside Out made me feel a lot of things (BING BONG), and it came out before I had kids, so I imagine that Inside Out 2 is going to destroy me even more. But I’m glad kids this age can see themselves represented in this confusing time in their lives — they’re going through so many things, and it can be tough to know the best way to deal with them. When it comes to books, they might feel a little “too old” for middle grade titles, but some of the topics in YA might feel intimidating. We put together some book recommendations that we think will speak to them, and to you, if you decide to read along!

Something Like Home by Andrea Beatriz Arango 

Laura has a plan: She will live with her parents again. While staying at her aunt’s house is okay, it just isn’t the same as being in her own space.So when Laura finds a puppy, it seems like fate. If she can train the puppy to become a therapy dog, then maybe she’ll be allowed to visit her parents. Maybe the dog will help them get better and things will finally go back to the way they should be. How do you explain that you’re not where you belong, and you just want to go home?

Ghost by Jason Reynolds

Ghost. Lu. Patina. Sunny. Four kids from wildly different backgrounds with personalities that are explosive when they clash. But they are also four kids chosen for an elite middle school track team — a team that could qualify them for the Junior Olympics if they can get their acts together. They all have a lot to lose, but they also have a lot to prove, not only to each other, but to themselves.

The War That Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

Ada’s mother is too humiliated by her twisted foot to let her outside. So when her little brother Jamie is shipped out of London to escape the war, Ada doesn’t waste a minute — she sneaks out to join him. Susan Smith is forced to take the two kids in. As Ada teaches herself to ride a pony, learns to read, and watches for German spies, she begins to trust Susan — and Susan begins to love Ada and Jamie. Will their bond be enough to hold them together through wartime?

Drama by Reina Telegemeier

Callie loves theater, but she can’t really sing. Instead she’s the set designer for the drama department’s stage crew, and she’s determined to create a set worthy of Broadway. But she doesn’t know much about carpentry, ticket sales are down, and the crew members are having trouble working together? Not to mention the drama that occurs once the actors are chosen. And when two cute brothers enter the picture, things get even crazier!

The Lost Kingdom of Bamarre by Gail Carson Levine

Peregrine strives to live up to the ideal of her people, the Latki — and to impress her parents: affectionate Lord Tove, who despises only the Bamarre, and stern Lady Klausine. But just as Perry’s about to join her father on the front lines, she is visited by a fairy who reveals that Perry is Bamarre. The fairy issues a daunting challenge: Perry must free her people from tyranny.

Salt To The Sea by Ruta Septys

Winter 1945. WWII. Four refugees. Four stories. Each one born of a different homeland; each one hunted, and haunted, by tragedy, lies, war. As thousands desperately flock to the coast in the midst of a Soviet advance, four paths converge, vying for passage aboard the Wilhelm Gustloff, a ship that promises safety and freedom. But not all promises can be kept . . .

The Magnificent Monsters of Cedar Street by Lauren Oliver

Cordelia Clay loves the work she and her father do: saving and healing creatures around Boston. Their home is full of dragons, squelches, and diggles. But their work must be kept secret — others aren’t welcoming to outsiders and immigrants, so what would the people of Boston do to the creatures they call “monsters”? One morning, Cordelia awakens to discover that her father has disappeared — along with nearly all the monsters. With only a handful of clues  to guide her, Cordelia must find out what happened to her father, with the help of her new friend Gregory, Iggy the farting filch, a baby dragon, and a small zuppy (zombie puppy, that is).

Tight by Torrey Maldonado

Lately, Bryan’s been feeling it in all kinds of ways. He knows what’s tight for him in a good way — reading comics, drawing superheroes, and hanging out with no drama. But drama’s hard to escape where he’s from, and that gets him wound up tight. And now Bryan’s new friend Mike is challenging him to have fun in ways that are crazy risky. At first, it’s a rush following Mike, but Bryan never feels right acting wrong. Fortunately, his favorite comic heroes shed light on his dilemma, reminding him that he has the power to stand up for what he believes is right.

On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness by Andrew Peterson

Janner Igiby, his brother, Tink, and their disabled sister, Leeli, are gifted children as all children are, loved well by a noble mother and ex-pirate grandfather. But they will need all their gifts and all that they love to survive the evil pursuit of the venomous Fangs of Dang, who have crossed the dark sea to rule the land with malice. The Igibys hold the secret to the lost legend and jewels of good King Wingfeather of the Shining Isle of Anniera.

Last Day On Mars by Kevin Emerson

It is Earth year 2213 — but, of course, there is no Earth anymore. The human race has fled to Mars, but this was only a temporary solution while they prepared for a second trip. Liam is the son of two scientists who have been racing against time to create technology vital to humanity’s survival. Liam and his friend Phoebe will be on the last starliner to depart before Mars, like Earth before it, is destroyed. But Liam and Phoebe will make a series of profound discoveries about the nature of time and space and find out that the human race is just one of many in our universe locked in a dangerous struggle for survival.

When Life Gives You Mangos by Kereen Getten

A small village on a Jamaican island; a girl who doesn’t remember the previous summer; a best friend who is no longer acting like one; a new girl who fills that hole in her heart. A summer of finding fallen mangos, creating made up games and dancing in the rain. Secrets she keeps from others…and herself. The courage to face the truth even in the toughest of storms.

Alan Cole is Not a Coward by Eric Bell

Alan Cole can’t stand up to his cruel brother, Nathan. He can’t escape the wrath of his demanding father. And he can’t let the cute boy across the cafeteria know he has a crush on him. But when Nathan discovers Alan’s secret, his older brother announces a high-stakes round of Cole vs. Cole. Each brother must complete seven nearly impossible tasks. If Alan doesn’t want to be outed, he’s got to become the most well-known kid in school, get his first kiss, and stand up to Dad. May the best Cole win.

The Crossover by Kwame Alexander

“Stop all that quivering. Cuz tonight I’m delivering,” announces dreadlocked, 12-year old Josh Bell. He and his twin brother Jordan are awesome on the court. But Josh has mad beats, too. Josh and Jordan must come to grips with growing up on and off the court to realize breaking the rules comes at a terrible price.

Ice Wolves by Amie Kaufman

Everyone in Vallen knows that ice wolves and scorch dragons are sworn enemies. So when twelve-year-old orphan Anders takes one elemental form and his twin sister, Rayna, takes another, he wonders whether they are even related. But Rayna is Anders’s only true friend. To rescue her from the brutal, cruel dragons who claimed her, Anders must enlist at the foreboding Ulfar Academy, a school for young wolves that values loyalty above all else. But for Anders, loyalty is more complicated than obedience, and friendship is the most powerful force of all.

The Last Cuenista by Donna Barba Higuera

Petra Peña wanted nothing more than to be a storyteller, like her abuelita. But Earth has been destroyed by a comet, and only a few hundred scientists and their children — among them Petra and her family — have been chosen to journey to a new planet. Hundreds of years later, Petra wakes to this new planet — and the discovery that she is the only person who remembers Earth. A sinister Collective has purged the memories of all aboard, or purged them altogether. Petra alone now carries the stories of our past, and with them, any hope for the future. 

Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli

From the day she arrives at quiet Mica High in a burst of color and sound, the hallways hum with the murmur of “Stargirl, Stargirl.” She captures Leo Borlock’ s heart with just one smile. The students of Mica High are enchanted. Then they turn on her. Stargirl is suddenly shunned for everything that makes her different, and Leo, panicked and desperate with love, urges her to become the very thing that can destroy her: normal. 

York: The Shadow Cipher by Laura Ruby

The Morningstarr twins arrived in New York with a vision for a magnificent city running on technology no one had ever seen before. When the enigmatic architects disappeared, they left behind the Old York Cipher — a puzzle laid into the shining city, at the end of which was promised a treasure beyond all imagining. By the present day, the puzzle has never been solved. Tess and Theo Biedermann and their friend Jaime Cruz live in a Morningstarr apartment — until a real estate developer announces that the city has agreed to sell him the remaining Morningstarr buildings. If Tess, Theo, and Jaime want to save their home, they have to solve the Old York Cipher. 

Orphan Island by Laurel Snyder

On the island, the wind, water, and trees shelter the nine children who go to sleep in their cabins with full stomachs and joy in their hearts. Only one thing changes: Each year, a boat appears from the mist upon the ocean carrying one young child to join them — and taking the eldest one away, never to be seen again. Today is no different. The boat arrives, taking away Jinny’s best friend, replacing him with a new little girl named Ess, and leaving Jinny as the new Elder. Jinny knows her responsibility is to teach Ess everything she needs to know. But will she be ready for the inevitable day when the boat will take her away forever from the only home she’s known?


Exploring AI Part 2: limitations and legalities

Content alert: the following was written by a human.

In this three part series exploring AI, Books Forward is chatting with Dr. Andrew Burt, author of lots of published science fiction, including his newest novel, “Termination of Species”, for those who like AI, biotech, chess and a bit of romance.

Dr. Burt was VP of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Association (SFWA) for several years. He heads Critters, the first writers workshop on the web and home to other writerly resources. He runs ReAnimus Press and Hugo-winning Advent Publishers, helping award-winning and bestselling authors breathe life into great books. Outside of writing, he’s been a computer science professor (AI, networking, security, privacy and free-speech/social issues); founder of, the world’s first Internet Service Provider; and a technology consultant/author/speaker. For a hobby, he constructs solutions to the world’s problems. (He jokes: Fortunately, nobody listens.)

PART 1: Changes in publishing

What can AI NOT do?

There are plenty of non-writing related aspects that AI won’t help with; at least for now.

The current breed of AI is focused on creating content, not so much on finding answers to questions or planning. So ChatGPT isn’t going to be great at finding a list of places to advertise, but it can help write ads. It could regurgitate ideas for marketing plans that it’s found that others have written, but AI’s can’t yet really plan such things. Remember, it’s all based on the probability of what word could come next in an answer.

That’s just today’s AIs. Nobody foresaw ChatGPT’s capabilities just a couple years ago; it just popped up based on AI people trying things with huge amounts of data. (And, frankly, getting surprised at the result.) Tomorrow’s AIs… who knows. That’s one reason I wrote a novel about where AIs and humans might be going.

What should authors be wary about when it comes to using AI?

If a newbie wants to use AI to write their whole book/story/article, then it won’t really be “theirs”; it won’t be their own artistic creation. If the goal of a certain author is to breathe life into their own artistic creation, then the more they use AI the less they’re doing that.

If an author’s goal is to make money, by quickly creating some particular text, then AI is getting pretty close to that in a number of areas. Again, the shorter the text, the better AI will be at it. A lot of AI generated text won’t be salable, though; so don’t bother trying to get rich quick by sending in a bunch of AI stories or books to get published. (As many people are doing, clogging the slush piles of publishers. This ultimately hurts new authors, as publishers shut their doors to slush and only accept work from authors they know, or via agents or other forms of vetting.)

If an author does want to create “art,” they should minimize the use of AI. That applies to any use of it, for idea generation, editing for length, smoothing out word choices, or critiquing—any of that reduces their artistic input.

A big problem with AI content is that it often contains factually incorrect information. So, never rely on AI content to be correct. The technical term for it is “hallucination,” but the lay term for it is “lying.” I wrote a couple blog posts about this showing how insidious their lying is. Generative AI’s are structurally incapable of telling true from false information (they are literally making randomized guesses at what the next word in a sentence might sound good), so I’ll repeat this: Never rely on them for factual accuracy.

Another pitfall to be aware of with AI created text is that it tends to have a certain style about it. It can often come off as bland, corporate, uninspired or generic. AI’s are, after all, mimicking the sort of “average of everything ever written” in their approach. Even if you ask it for a certain style, the way these AIs work is by looking for the most generic output. They look for the “most likely” next word that follows the words they have so far. Then they look for the “most likely” next word after that, and the next. This inevitably produces a sort of non-unique style, or if you ask it for a specific style, like “write like a pirate”, you get a generic version of a requested style.

To further keep you up at night, there may be obvious or unknown biases in AI output. (Gender, race, ethnicity, etc.)

And some readers may react negatively if they know or think you’ve used AI. For example, people have won awards based on what turns out to be AI generated content. People ask, how deserving are they? How much of the award-winning aspect is their own, vs. software created?

What are the legalities surrounding AI?

From a legal standpoint, it’s unclear if there are copyright infringement issues at play. The current batch of AIs were “trained” by “reading” massive amounts of (copyrighted) material. If they then spit out some text, there’s a question whether it’s either a direct copy of some of the input text (unlikely, but not impossible), or a close enough derivative of it, that some author of the original text could find out and bring legal action about it. Such lawsuits are already happening. (Whether they win or lose, defending yourself against a lawsuit is costly and time consuming.) Some authors contend that merely using their work as input without permission is illegal (thus anything it creates as output they contend is likewise illegal). It will be for the courts to decide this since it’s such unexplored legal territory. There’s no law against copying an artist’s style (freedom you have to like Yoda write); you just can’t copy others’ specific artistic creations.

It’s also unclear if AI-generated or AI-assisted text itself can be copyrighted. So far the answer has been “No” on AI generated text. So if you use AI to write a book, article, etc., it may not be something you can copyright—that is, anyone else may be able to copy it for free. Using AI for assistance? Totally unknown copyright issue.

As a final thought, Amazon has been asking authors if their KDP content was produced with assistance from AI. It’s unknown what they’ll do with this information, but it’s possible they’ll refuse to publish such works (as they now do with books that contain whatever they deem too much public domain content).


Amazing narrators to celebrate audiobook appreciation month

As queen Emily Henry says in her latest banger, Funny Story, audiobooks are reading.

“What about audiobooks?” I say. 

“Does that count?” he asks.

“Of course it counts,” I say.

His eyes narrow. “Are you sure?”

“I’m a librarian,” I say. ‘If anyone gets to decide whether it counts or not, it’s me.”

End of argument. We asked some of our bookstagram friends who their favorite audiobook narrators are, and a book they recommend listening to in celebration of audiobook appreciation month this June!

The narrator: Caroline Lee

The book recommendation: Apples Never Fall by Liane Moriarty

The narrator: Bahni Turpin

The book recommendation: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

The narrator: Julia Whelan

The book recommendation: Evie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes

The narrator: Robin Miles

The book recommendation: Yellow Wife by Sadeqa Johnson

The narrator: Marin Ireland

The book recommendation: Remarkably Bright Creatures by Shelby Van Pelt

The narrator: Savannah Peachwood

The book recommendation: Not Another Love Song by Julie Soto

The narrator: Moira Quirk

The book recommendation: The Locked Tomb series by Tamsyn Muir

The narrator: Jim Dale 

The book recommendation: The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

The narrator: Tim Curry 

The book recommendation: A Series of Unfortunate Events series by Lemony Snicket

The narrator: Katherine Kellgen

The book recommendation: The Book of Speculation by Erika Swyler

The narrator: Trini Alvarado

The book recommendation: The Song of the Lioness series by Tamora Pierce

The narrator: Adam Lazzare White

The book recommendation: Razor Blade Tears by S.A. Cosby

The narrator: Natalie Naudus

The book recommendation: She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan

The narrator: Kevin R. Free 

The book recommendation: The Murderbot series by Martha Wells

The narrator: January LaVoy

The book recommendation: The Diviners series by Libba Bray

The narrator: Edoardo Ballerini

The book recommendation: The Patient by Jasper Dewitt

Bonus recommendation:

The narrator: Leslie Jones

The book: Leslie F*cking Jones, obviously

And as always, we recommend that you pick up an audiobook from to support your local indie bookstore!

Thanks to @thebooksinmylapp, @readmollyread, @gidgetreads, @allisonreadsdc, @thepaperbackplanner, @whatsjennareading, @jlm.bookstagram, @lozziereads, @bookpals, @runoutofpages, @brigid_emily, @_lia_reads_, @ohtheplacesyouread, @angiesreading, and @bookdigits for their recommendations!

Explore a new dystopian world after seeing Furiosa

No movie has gotten my blood pumping quite like Mad Max, so I’m really excited to see Furiosa! I always come out of good movies wanting more of what I just saw, and if you’re the same way, you can jump into one of these gritty dystopian universes!

A Big Ship At the Edge of the Universe by Alex White

A washed-up treasure hunter, a hotshot racer, and a deadly secret society. They’re all on a race against time to hunt down the greatest warship ever built. Some think the ship is lost forever, some think it’s been destroyed, and some think it’s only a legend, but one thing’s for certain: whoever finds it will hold the fate of the universe in their hands.

The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin

It starts with the great red rift across the heart of the world’s sole continent, spewing ash that blots out the sun. It starts with death, with a murdered son and a missing daughter. It starts with betrayal, and long dormant wounds rising up to fester. This is the Stillness, a land long familiar with catastrophe, where the power of the earth is wielded as a weapon. And where there is no mercy.

The Last Refuge by Christina Bacilieri

Kiera Vandyer, driven by desperation, reluctantly joins a dangerous scheme for money. Despite hiding her fascination with magic for years, she inadvertently crosses into Etabon, Atterah’s last magic sanctuary. Hunted by the warden and facing certain death if caught by the Ruling Board, Kiera must harness her newfound powers to survive.

God’s War by Kameron Hurley

On a ravaged, contaminated world, a centuries-old holy war rages. Though the origins of the war are shady and complex, there’s one thing everybody agrees on: There’s not a chance in hell of ending it. When a dubious deal between the government and an alien gene pirate goes bad, Nyx’s ugly past as a former government assassin makes her the top pick for a covert recovery. The head they want her to bring home could end the war — but at what price?

Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse

When a small town needs help finding a missing girl, Maggie, a Dinétah monster hunter, is their last best hope. She reluctantly enlists the aid of an unconventional medicine man, and together they unravel clues from ancient legends, trading favors with tricksters, and battling dark witchcraft in a patchwork world of deteriorating technology. As Maggie discovers the truth behind the killings, she will have to confront her past if she wants to survive.

Those Beyond the Wall by Micaiah Johnson

As a skilled mechanic and an even more skilled fighter, Scales is a respected member of the Emperor’s crew. But the fragile peace she helps to maintain is fractured when a woman is mangled and killed. When more bodies start to turn up, both in the desert community of Ashtown and in the wealthier, walled-off Wiley City, Scales is tasked with finding the cause and putting an end to it. To protect the people she loves, she teams up with a frustratingly by-the-books partner from Ashtown and a brusque-but-brilliant scientist from the City, delving into both worlds to track down an invisible killer.

Artificial Wisdom by Thomas R. Weaver

In 2050, journalist Marcus Tully, haunted by his wife’s death in a devastating heatwave, investigates whether the catastrophe was natural or a sinister act of genocide. Pulled into a murder inquiry amid a global election, where a dictator aims to avert a climate apocalypse, Tully faces political intrigue and manipulation. With a former U.S. president opposing an AI candidate, Tully races to uncover the truth, facing obstacles that threaten to derail his quest. As he navigates a world teetering on the brink, Tully grapples with humanity’s choice between salvation and freedom, at any cost.

Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler

When global climate change and economic crises lead to social chaos, California becomes full of dangers, from pervasive water shortage to masses of vagabonds. Fifteen-year-old Lauren Olamina lives inside a gated community, sheltered from the surrounding anarchy. She suffers from hyperempathy, a debilitating sensitivity to others’ emotions. Lauren must make her voice heard in order to protect her loved ones from the imminent disasters her small community stubbornly ignores. But what begins as a fight for survival soon leads to something much more: the birth of a new faith, and a startling vision of human destiny.

Mortal Engines by Philip Reeve

London is hunting again. Emerging from its hiding place in the hills, the great Traction City is chasing a terrified little town across the wastelands. Soon London will feed. In the attack, Tom Natsworthy is flung from the speeding city with a murderous scar-faced girl. They must run for their lives through the wreckage — and face a terrifying new weapon that threatens the future of the world.

Moral Code by Lois and Ross Melbourne

Dr. Keira Stetson, passionate about ethical AI and improving children’s lives, finds herself trapped with panicked children after an earthquake. Billionaire Roy Brandt rescues them using his nanite technology, sparking Keira’s interest. She merges her company with Brandt’s, embedding her Moral Operating System into his nanites to prevent misuse. But as they face threats from corporate raiders and the military intent on weaponizing the technology, Keira and her AI assistant, Elly, must fight to ensure it’s used for good, not destruction.

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

After a flu pandemic destroys civilization, Kirsten Raymonde travels with The Traveling Symphony, a group of artists preserving humanity’s remnants. In St. Deborah by the Water, they face a violent prophet endangering their survival. The narrative shifts between pre- and post-pandemic life, unveiling the twist of fate connecting them all.


Hit the water this summer with these books

As soon as the temperatures start to rise and anyone mentions the word “summer,” I start itching to get out my swimsuit and the sunscreen and take to the water, in whatever form I can get it. Whether you’re a pool person, a beach person, a lake person, or you prefer to take to the river, there’s a book that can take you there, even if only in spirit.


Breathe and Count Back From Ten by Natalia Sylvester

The best form of rehabilitation for Verónica’s disability is swimming, so she spends hours in the pool. She also wants to audition for Mermaid Cove, a kitschy underwater attraction where professional mermaids perform in giant tanks. But her conservative Peruvian parents would never go for it. And they definitely would never let her be with her cute new neighbor. She decides to seize control of her life, but her plans come crashing down when she learns her parents have been hiding the truth about her own body.

The Swimmers by Julie Otsuka

The swimmers are unknown to one another except through their private routines. But when a crack appears at the bottom of the pool, they are cast out into an unforgiving world. For Alice, one of the swimmers, the pool was a final stand against the darkness of her encroaching dementia. Without the fellowship of other swimmers and the routine of her daily laps she is plunged into dislocation and chaos, swept into memories of her childhood and the Japanese American incarceration camp in which she spent the war. 

The Lido by Libby Page

Kate is assigned to write about the closing of the local lido (an outdoor pool and recreation center), where she meets Rosemary, an 86-year-old widow who has swum at the lido daily since she was a child. It was here Rosemary fell in love with her husband, George; here that she’s found communion during her marriage and since George’s death. But when a local developer attempts to buy the lido, Rosemary’s memories and sense of community are under threat. As Kate dives deeper into the lido’s history — with the help of a charming photographer — she pieces together a portrait of the pool, and a portrait of a singular woman, Rosemary. 

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

The story of the mysteriously wealthy Jay Gatsby and his love for the beautiful Daisy Buchanan, of lavish parties on Long Island in 1920s America.

Chlorine by Jade Song

Ren Yu’s daily life starts and ends with the pool. Her teammates are her only friends. Her coach is her guiding light. If she swims well enough, she will be scouted, get a scholarship, and go to a good school. Her parents will love her. She will have a good life. But Ren grew up on stories of creatures that called sailors to their doom. The creature that she’s always longed to become: the mermaid. Ren will do anything she can to make a life for herself where she can be free. No matter how much blood she has to spill.


I Cheerfully Refuse by Leif Enger

A bereaved and pursued musician embarks under sail on a sentient Lake Superior in search of his departed, deeply beloved, bookselling wife. Encountering lunatic storms and rising corpses from the warming depths, Rainy finds on land an increasingly desperate and illiterate people, a malignant billionaire ruling class, crumbled infrastructure and a lawless society. Rainy is lifted by physical beauty, surprising humor, generous strangers, and an unexpected companion in a young girl who comes aboard. 

Funny Story by Emily Henry

Daphne is stranded in Michigan after her fiancé Peter leaves her for his childhood friend, Petra. She doesn’t have friends or family around, but she does have a dream job as a children’s librarian and her roommate who understands her predicament: Petra’s ex, Miles. Scruffy and chaotic, Miles is exactly the opposite of practical, buttoned-up Daphne. While drowning their sorrows, the roommates form a tenuous friendship and a plan that involves posting deliberately misleading photos of their summer adventures together. But it’s all just for show…right?

Just For the Summer by Abby Jiminez

Every woman Justin dates finds their soulmate the second they break up. Emma has the same problem, so they come up with a plan: They’ll date each other and break up. Their curses will cancel each other out, and they’ll both go on to find love. Emma and her best friend agree that dating Justin is too good of an opportunity to pass up, especially when they get to rent an adorable cottage on a private island on Lake Minnetonka. It’s supposed to be a quick fling, but when Emma’s toxic mother shows up and Justin has to assume guardianship of his three siblings, they’re suddenly navigating a lot more than they expected — including real feelings. 

Lakelore by Anna-Marie McLemore

Everyone who lives near the lake knows the stories about the world underneath it, an ethereal landscape rumored to be half-air, half-water. But Bastián Silvano and Lore Garcia are the only ones who’ve been there. Bastián grew up both above the lake and in the otherworldly space beneath it. Lore’s only seen the world under the lake once, but that one encounter changed their life and their fate. As the world under the lake drifts above the surface, Bastián and Lore have to stop it. But to do that, they have to work together. There’s just one problem: Bastián and Lore haven’t spoken in seven years.

The House Across the Lake by Riley Sager

Casey Fletcher, a recently widowed actress trying to escape bad press, has retreated to her family’s lake house in Vermont. She passes the time watching Tom and Katherine Royce, the glamorous couple living in the house across the lake. One day, Casey saves Katherine from drowning, and the two strike up a friendship. It becomes clear that Katherine and Tom’s marriage isn’t as perfect as it appears. When Katherine vanishes, Casey suspects Tom of foul play. But here’s more to the story than meets the eye.

Tom Lake by Ann Patchette

Lara’s daughters return to their family orchard in Northern Michigan, prompting Lara to recount her past romance with actor Peter Duke. As the story unfolds, the daughters reflect on their own lives and relationship with their mother, leading to a reevaluation of their worldviews. The novell delves into themes of love, family dynamics, and finding happiness amidst chaos, showcasing Patchett’s renowned narrative skill and insightful exploration of human relationships.


Lucy by the Sea by Elizabeth Strout

As a panicked world goes into lockdown, Lucy Barton is uprooted from her life in Manhattan and bundled away to a small town in Maine by her ex-husband and on-again, off-again friend, William. For the next several months, it’s just Lucy, William, and their complex past together in a little house nestled against the moody, swirling sea. 

The Ones We’re Meant to Find by Joan He

Cee awoke on an abandoned island three years ago. With no idea of how she was marooned, she only has a rickety house, an old android, and a single memory: She has a sister, and Cee needs to find her. STEM prodigy Kasey wants to escape from the science and home she once trusted. The Metropolis — Earth’s last unpolluted place — is meant to be a sanctuary for those committed to planetary protection, but it’s populated by people willing to do anything for refuge, even lie. Now, she’ll have to decide if she’s ready to use science to help humanity, even though it failed the people who mattered most.

The Girl Who Fell Beneath the Sea by Axie Oh

Deadly storms have ravaged Mina’s homeland for generations. In an attempt to appease the Sea God, each year a beautiful maiden is thrown into the sea, in the hopes that one day the “true bride” will be chosen and end the suffering. On the night Shim Cheong is to be sacrificed, her beloved Joon follows her out to sea, and to save him, his sister throws herself into the water. Swept away to the Spirit Realm, Mina finds the Sea God caught in an enchanted sleep. With the help of a mysterious young man named Shin — as well as a motley crew of demons, gods and spirits — Mina sets out to wake the Sea God and bring an end to the killer storms once and for all.

Castle of Water by Dane Huckelbridge

Sophie Ducel’s honeymoon in French Polynesia was intended as a celebration of her thriving Parisian architecture firm, co-founded with her brilliant new husband. Barry Bleecker had turned away from Manhattan finance and set his sights on fine art, seeking creative inspiration on the other side of the world. But when their small plane is downed in the middle of the South Pacific, the sole survivors of the wreck are left with one common goal: to survive. 

The Survivors by Jane Harper

Kieran Elliott’s life changed forever on the day a reckless mistake led to devastating consequences. The guilt that still haunts him resurfaces during a visit with his young family to the small coastal community he once called home. Kieran’s parents are struggling in a town where fortunes are forged by the sea. Between them all is his absent brother, Finn. When a body is discovered on the beach, long-held secrets threaten to emerge. 


The River We Remember by William Kent Kreuger

When the body of wealthy landowner Jimmy Quinn is found floating in the Alabaster River, the investigation falls to Sheriff Brody Dern. Vicious rumors begin to circulate that the killer must be Noah Bluestone, a Native American WWII veteran. Caught up in the torrent of anger are a war widow and her adolescent son, the intrepid publisher of the local newspaper, an aging deputy, and a crusading female lawyer, all of whom struggle with their own tragic histories and harbor secrets that Quinn’s death threatens to expose.

The River by Peter Heller

Wynn and Jack have been best friends since college orientation, bonded by their shared love of mountains, books, and fishing. When they decide to canoe the Maskwa River in northern Canada, they anticipate long days of leisurely paddling. But a wildfire making its way across the forest adds unexpected urgency. One night, they hear a man and woman arguing on the fog-shrouded riverbank; the next day, a man appears on the river, paddling alone. Is this the same man they heard? And if he is, where is the woman?

A River Enchanted by Rebecca Ross

Ten years after being sent away to the mainland to become a bard, Jack Tamerlaine is summoned home to Cadence. Girls are going missing from the island, and Adaira, his childhood nemesis and the future leader of the clan, believes Jack is the only one who can find them. The elemental spirits find mirth in the lives of the humans, and a bard’s music is the only way to summon them and ask that the girls be returned. Yet as Jack and Adaira get closer to solving the mystery, it becomes apparent that an older, darker secret about Cadence lurks beneath the surface, and no harp song may be strong enough to stop it.

Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch

Peter Grant was just another probationary constable in the Metropolitan Police until he tried to take a witness statement from a man who was dead. That brought him to the attention of Chief Inspector Nightingale, the last wizard in Britain. Now he is the first apprentice wizard in 50 years, and there’s something festering at the heart of the city, a malicious, vengeful spirit that takes ordinary Londoners and twists them into grotesque mannequins to act out its drama of violence and despair.

Once Upon A River by Diane Setterfield

On a dark night in an ancient inn on the river Thames, the door bursts open on a grievously wounded stranger. In his arms is the lifeless body of a small child. Hours later, the girl stirs, takes a breath and returns to life. Those who dwell on the river bank apply all their ingenuity to solving the puzzle of the girl who died and lived again, yet as the days pass the mystery only deepens. The child herself is mute and unable to answer questions. Three families are keen to claim her. Each family has mysteries of its own, and many secrets must be revealed before the girl’s identity can be known.


Books to read if you’re a fan of Doctor Who

Doctor Who is back with a brand new face and we can’t wait to see Ncuti Gatwa’s take on the Doctor! While we were waiting for the return, here are some of the books we’ve been reading with the same kind of quirky, moving time-travel adventures.

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

Seconds before the Earth is demolished, Arthur is plucked off the planet by his friend Ford, a researcher for The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy who has been posing as an actor. They journey through space aided by fellow travelers: Zaphod Beeblebrox — the two-headed, three-armed ex-hippie and president of the galaxy; Trillian, Zaphod’s girlfriend, whom Arthur once tried to pick up at a cocktail party; Marvin, a paranoid, brilliant, and chronically depressed robot; Veet Voojagig, a former graduate student who is obsessed with the disappearance of all the pens he bought over the years. 

The Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North

Harry August is on his deathbed. Again. No matter what he does or the decisions he makes, when death comes, Harry always returns to where he began, a child with all the knowledge of a life he has already lived a dozen times before. Nothing ever changes. Until now. As Harry nears the end of his 11th life, a little girl appears at his bedside. “I nearly missed you, Doctor August,” she says. “I need to send a message.” 

The Book of Doors by Gareth Brown

Cassie Andrews lives an ordinary life. Until the day one of her favorite customers leaves her a book after his death. This is no ordinary book. It promises Cassie that any door is every door. You just need to know how to open them. A gaunt stranger who calls himself Drummond Fox explains that the tome now in Cassie’s possession is coveted by those who collect these rare volumes. With only her roommate Izzy to confide in, she has to decide if she will help the mysterious and haunted Drummond protect the Book of Doors — and the other books in his secret library’s care— from those who will do evil. 

Vaulting Through Time by Nancy McCabe

As 16-year-old gymnast Elizabeth faces the challenges of adolescence, she uncovers a shocking truth about her identity. With her friend Zach’s help, she discovers a hidden time machine, propelling her on a journey through time to find answers. Along the way, Elizabeth encounters intriguing characters and races against a thief to safeguard her future and the world as she knows it. Can she use her gymnastic skills and determination to secure her place in history and protect her loved ones?

The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

Henry DeTamble is a dashing, adventurous librarian who is at the mercy of his random time-traveling abilities. Clare Abshire is an artist whose life moves through a natural sequential course. This is the celebrated and timeless tale of their love. Henry and Clare’s passionate affair is built and endures across a sea of time and captures them in an impossibly romantic trap that tests the strength of fate and basks in the bonds of love.

Kindred by Octavia Butler

Dana’s torment begins when she suddenly vanishes from California in 1976, and is dragged through time to antebellum Maryland to rescue a boy named Rufus, heir to a slave owner’s plantation. She soon realizes the purpose of her summons to the past: protect Rufus to ensure his assault of her Black ancestor so that she may one day be born. As she endures the traumas of slavery and the soul-crushing normalization of savagery, Dana fights to keep her autonomy and return to the present.

Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch

One night, constable Peter Grant tried to take a witness statement from a man who was dead, which brought him to the attention of Chief Inspector Nightingale, the last wizard in Britain. Now he is the first apprentice wizard in 50 years, and dealing with nests of vampires in Purley, negotiating a truce between the warring god and goddess of the River Thames and digging up graves in Covent Garden. But there’s something festering at the heart of the city, a malicious, vengeful spirit that takes ordinary Londoners and twists them into grotesque mannequins to act out its drama of violence and despair. 

The Long Way To A Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers

The patched-up, aging Wayfarer offers Rosemary a bed, a chance to explore the far-off corners of the galaxy, and some distance from her past. She’s never met anyone remotely like the ship’s diverse crew, including Sissix, the exotic reptilian pilot, chatty engineers Kizzy and Jenks who keep the ship running, and Ashby, their noble captain. Life aboard the Wayfarer gets dangerous when the crew is offered the job of tunneling wormholes through space to a distant planet. The tiny Wayfarer crew will confront a host of unexpected mishaps and thrilling adventures that force them to depend on each other.

Doors of Sleep by Tim Pratt

Every time Zax Delatree falls asleep, he travels to a new reality. He never knows what he will see when he opens his eyes. All he has to live by are his wits and the small aides he has picked up along the way — technological advantages from techno-utopias, sedatives to escape dangerous worlds, and stimulants to extend his stay in pleasant ones. Thankfully, he can take people with him, if they’re unconscious in his arms when he falls asleep. But someone unwelcome is on his tail, and they are after something that Zax cannot spare — the blood running through his veins, the power to travel through worlds.

This Is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone

Among the ashes of a dying world, an agent of the Commandment finds a letter. It reads: Burn before reading. Thus begins an unlikely correspondence between two rival agents hellbent on securing the best possible future for their warring factions. Now, what began as a taunt, a battlefield boast, becomes something more. Something epic. Something romantic. Something that could change the past and the future. Except the discovery of their bond would mean the death of each of them. There’s still a war going on, after all. And someone has to win. 

The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde

Great Britain, circa 1985. Time travel is routine, cloning is a reality (dodos are the resurrected pet of choice), and literature is taken very, very seriously: It’s a bibliophile’s dream. Thursday Next, renowned Special Operative in literary detections, is faced with the challenge of her career when someone begins kidnapping characters from works of literature and plucks Jane Eyre from the pages of Brontë’s novel.

How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe by Charles Yu

Every day in Minor Universe, 31 people get into time machines and try to change the past. That’s where Charles Yu, time travel technician, steps in. He helps save people from themselves. Literally. When he’s not taking client calls, Yu visits his mother and searches for his father, who invented time travel and then vanished. The key to locating his father may be found in a book. It’s called How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe, and somewhere inside it is information that will help him. It may even save his life.


May-December romances to read for fans of The Idea of You

The Idea of You was a bookstagram darling when it came out a few years ago — ostensibly fan fiction about an older woman meeting a Harry Styles-type pop star when bringing her daughter to one of his concerts and falling for him? Tantalizing. And now that it’s being turned into a movie with two appropriately attractive leads, the book is sure to see even more traction. If you’re into the idea of a similar May-December romance, check out the following books!

Still Life With Bread Crumbs by Anna Quindlen

Rebecca Winter was a photographer whose work made her an unlikely heroine for many women. Her career is now descendent, her bank balance shaky, and she has fled the city for the middle of nowhere. There she discovers, in a tree stand with a roofer named Jim Bates, that what she sees through a camera lens is not all there is to life.

Kulti by Mariana Zapata

When the man you worshiped as a kid becomes your coach, it’s supposed to be the greatest thing in the world. But Sal starts to wonder what she’d seen in the international soccer icon. She isn’t prepared for this version of Reiner Kulti who shows up: a quiet, reclusive shadow of the explosive, passionate man he’d once been.

40-Love by Olivia Dade

When a wave strips Tess of her bikini top, desperate times call for desperate measures. Enter that flirty Swede in the water nearby. Lucas, a former tennis pro now giving lessons at the resort, fled there after the painful end to his career. But he’s finally ready to move on with his life — and after a few late-night sessions with Tess, he’s eager to prove he’s the ace she wants. But she’s 40, and he’s 26. And they only have two weeks together before Tess returns to her life in Virginia. 

Happiness for Beginners by Katherine Center

After getting divorced, Helen lets her annoying, much younger brother talk her into a survival course. When she discovers that her brother’s even-more-annoying best friend is also coming, she can’t imagine how three weeks in the remote wilderness of a mountain range will be anything other than a disaster. But somehow the people who annoy her the most start teaching her the very things she needs to learn. Like how sometimes you just have to get really, really lost before you can even have a hope of being found.

Part of Your World by Abby Jiminez

After a wild bet, Alexis Montgomery has had her world turned upside down. The cause: Daniel Grant, a ridiculously hot carpenter who’s 10 years younger than her and as casual as they come — the complete opposite of sophisticated city-girl Alexis. And yet their chemistry is undeniable. Bringing Daniel into her world is impossible, and yet she can’t just give up the joy she’s found with him either. 

Laws of Physics by Penny Reid

Mona is a smart girl who figured everything out a long time ago. She had to. When your parents are uber-celebrities and you start your Ph.D. program at 19, you don’t have time for distractions. Which is why Abram, her brother’s best friend, is such an irritant. Abram is a supremely gifted musician, and has absolutely nothing figured out. He does what he feels, when he feels, and — in Mona’s opinion — he makes her feel entirely too much.


Wish Shakespeare a happy birthday with one of these retellings

Happy birthday, Shakespeare! Maybe. If a bunch of old records are correct. Who’s to say? We’ll never know. Well, we’re celebrating either way by picking up one of these retellings of some of his greatest hits!

Romeo and Juliet

These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong

The year is 1926, and a blood feud between two gangs leaves the city helpless. Juliette Cai, a former flapper, has returned to assume her role as the proud heir of the Scarlet Gang — a network of criminals far above the law. Their only rivals in power are the White Flowers. And behind every move is their heir, Roma Montagov, Juliette’s first love…and first betrayal. But when gangsters on both sides show signs of instability culminating in clawing their own throats out, the people start to whisper. Of a contagion, a madness. Juliette and Roma must set their guns — and grudges — aside and work together.

Teach the Torches To Burn by Caleb Roehrig

Aspiring artist Romeo is expected to give up his “womanly” pursuits and uphold the family honor. He is also expected to marry a well-bred girl, but he only feels attracted to other boys. When he meets the kindest, most beautiful boy, a tender romance begins. As the conflict between their families escalates, Romeo and Valentine find themselves in danger of losing each other forever — if not by society’s scorn, then by the edge of a blade.

The Taming of the Shrew

Vinegar Girl by Anne Tyler

Kate Battista feels stuck. How did she end up running house and home for her eccentric scientist father and uppity, pretty younger sister Bunny? Plus, she’s always in trouble at work. Dr. Battista has other problems. After years, he is on the verge of a breakthrough. His research could help millions. But his brilliant young lab assistant, Pyotr, is about to be deported. And without Pyotr, all would be lost. Dr. Battista is relying on Kate to help him. Kate is furious: This time he’s really asking too much. But will she be able to resist the two men’s touchingly ludicrous campaign?

King Lear

A Thousand Acres by Jane Smiley

A wealthy Iowa farmer who decides to divide his farm between his three daughters. When the youngest daughter objects, she is cut out of his will, setting off a chain of events that brings dark truths to light and explodes long-suppressed emotions. 

Much Ado About Nothing

Two Wrongs Make A Right by Chloe Liese

Jamie Westenberg and Bea Wilmot have nothing in common except a meet-disaster and the mutual understanding that they couldn’t be more wrong for each other. But when the people closest to them trick them into going on a date, Jamie and Bea realize they have something else in common after all — a need for revenge. Soon their plan is in place: Fake date then break up spectacularly and dash everyone’s hopes. But as their final act nears and playing lovers becomes easier than not, they begin to wonder: what if two wrongs do make a right?

Antony and Cleopatra

The Stars Undying by Emery Robin

Princess Altagracia has lost everything. After a bloody civil war, her twin sister has claimed both the crown of their planet, Szayet, and a computer that contains the immortal soul of Szayet’s god. To regain her planet, Gracia places herself in the hands of the empire and its dangerous commander, Matheus Ceirran. But winning over Matheus, to say nothing of his mercurial and compelling captain Anita, is no easy feat. Gracia will find herself torn between Matheus’s ambitions, Anita’s unpredictable desires, and the demands of the Pearl that whispers in her ear.


The King of Infinite Space by Lyndsay Faye

Ben Dane’s Broadway theater baron father is dead — but on purpose or by accident? Unable to face alone his mother’s ghastly remarriage to his uncle, Ben turns to his dearest friend, Horatio Patel, whom he hasn’t seen since their relationship changed forever from platonic to something…other. Meanwhile, Ben’s ex-fiancé, Lia, sundered her from her loved ones thanks to her addiction recovery and torn from her art, has been drawn into the fold of three florists from New Orleans. On one explosive night these kinetic forces will collide, and the only possible outcome is death. 

The Death I Gave Him by Em X. Lu

Hayden Lichfield’s life is ripped apart when he finds his father murdered in their lab — the killer can only have been after one thing: the Sisyphus Formula, which might one day reverse death itself. With the lab on lockdown, Hayden is trapped with his uncle Charles, lab technician Gabriel Rasmussen, research intern Felicia Xia and their head of security, Felicia’s father Paul — one of whom must be the killer. His only sure ally is the lab’s resident artificial intelligence, Horatio, who has been his dear friend and companion since its creation. 

The Tempest

Hag-Seed by Margaret Atwood

Felix is at the top of his game as artistic director of the Makeshiweg Theatre Festival. Now he’s staging a Tempest like no other: not only will it boost his reputation, but it will also heal emotional wounds. That was the plan, but after an act of unforeseen treachery, Felix is living in exile, haunted by memories of his beloved lost daughter, Miranda. And brewing revenge, which, after twelve years, arrives in the shape of a theater course at a nearby prison.

The Winter’s Tale

The Gap of Time by Jeanette Winterson

Moving from London, a city reeling after the 2008 financial crisis, to a storm-ravaged American city called New Bohemia, this story is one of childhood friendship, money, status, technology and the elliptical nature of time. It is a story of the consuming power of jealousy on the one hand, and redemption and the enduring love of a lost child on the other.

Looking for more reading lists? Check out our recommendations on our Lit Happens blog!

Dealing with Negative Reviews: A Guide for Authors

The dreaded negative review is an unfortunate if realistic part of putting a book out into the world. Every book gets them, so try not to feel too disheartened! One author I worked with said she didn’t feel like a “real writer” until she got her first negative review — “at least someone read my book!” she said.

The internet says

As you may have seen on the internet, every viewpoint that’s presented has someone who disagrees with it. The same goes for books. There will always be someone out there who doesn’t agree with what you’re saying and isn’t afraid to make their opinion heard. 

Even taking all of that into consideration, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t feel bad! You’ve devoted countless hours to this book, and it hurts when people don’t get or they judge it unfairly. Maybe you’re the kind of person who can use the motivation from negative reviews to write more books just to prove a point! Or maybe you’re the kind of person who can’t read reviews online because you know nothing good can come of it for you.

Pick your plan and stick to it

Either way is OK. If you don’t want to see negative reviews, stick to it. Protect your peace however it feels best for you. Don’t visit your book on Goodreads and don’t check the Amazon reviews. Set your social media profiles so they can’t be tagged. You might consider having a trusted person (another author, your partner, your editor, etc.) sift through the reviews and send you the high points.

If you are the kind of person who feels like they want to know what’s out there, try to think them through objectively. Does this person have a point about my writing style? Or are they just complaining because they picked up a YA book and they don’t even like YA (yes, that’s a very common example). If it’s the former, then try to disregard it — you can’t do anything to help that person, bless their heart.

And if you are reading the negative reviews, don’t forget to look at the positive ones as well! Chances are they outnumber the negative reviews, and will help validate you.

Don’t respond to negative reviews

I typically don’t recommend authors respond to negative reviews for multiple reasons. Arguing with strangers on the internet rarely goes well, and usually escalates into a back-and-forth battle with no winners. 

It can also be a turn off to many readers — whether your response is valid or not. Many readers think of reviews as being from readers to other readers, and get defensive when authors jump into what they see as a private space.

You don’t want to be the subject of the latest TikTok drama because you argued with a reader. Authors’ books have been review-bombed — where a mass of people gave a book negative and/or one-star reviews — because they made a fuss online about negative reviews. Social media is not a vacuum. Your actions there can have real repercussions for you and your brand.

You can debate the merits of that line of thinking, but from a PR standpoint, it’s just easier not to engage.

Embrace your accomplishment

You’ve accomplished the huge task of putting a book out in the world and getting it read and reviewed! Don’t let negative reviews damper that feat. As my mother likes to say, this too shall pass.