The Bug Diary

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Pub Date 24 Oct 2021 | Archive Date 24 Oct 2021

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Description

While experimenting with substances in the university library, Kymer is confronted by a ghost from KU’s past: Carrie Watson, the librarian who is the library’s namesake. Carrie gives Kymer the insect field journal of Flora Ellen Richardson, the first woman to graduate from KU. When Kymer reviews the bug diary, she realizes there’s a bee in Flora’s journal that’s never before been identified by science. A wild ride ensues changing the world of entomology, and her personal world, forever.

The freshman year away at college can be a challenge—studying, partying, making friends, finding a hookup—but when Freshman Kymer Charvat indulges in recreational drugs with her new friends, an on-campus ghost hands her a mystery to solve.

An entomology major entering her first year of college at a far-away mid-western school, Kymer is ready to disengage from her superficial, social-climbing mother. However, this also means leaving her boyfriend behind in Maryland.

Soon, she becomes fast friends with her new dorm roommate, Siren, a bold and bosomed young woman with a complicated background, and her classmate, Mattie, an exuberant, gay Black man whose family owns a local restaurant and embraces Kymer and Siren like their own. Together, the trio experience college life at its fullest, which includes some harmless drinking and drug experimentation.

Kymer finds herself in need of spending money and manages to land her first real job in the university’s natural history museum gift shop. One afternoon, the three friends get high and take a bus to the museum for fun. That’s when a second campus ghost, naturalist and professor Lewis Lynsey Dyche, approaches Kymer to give her another hint to help her identify the mystery bee in Flora’s bug diary. Soon, classifying the mystery bee is Kymer’s main drive.

The Bug Diary takes the reader on a wild review of history and bugs, and a laugh-out-loud exploration of campus life! New Adult & College Fantasy.


While experimenting with substances in the university library, Kymer is confronted by a ghost from KU’s past: Carrie Watson, the librarian who is the library’s namesake. Carrie gives Kymer the insect...


Advance Praise

Amber Fraley’s The Bug Diary (Anamcara, 2021) is a loving and authentic tribute to undergraduate life, to the risks, vulnerabilities—and ultimately profound misunderstandings and awareness—that can arise when young people expose themselves to personal transformation. -Nathan Pettengill, editor, Sunflower Publishing

A great read from beginning to end. Fraley had me at the first paragraph. It also doesn’t hurt that it is set in Lawrence, Kansas. Rock Chalk Jayhawk. Go KU! -Mark Davoren

The tale of Kymer Charvat and her first-year-of-college adventures is a wonderful coming of age story that is altogether relatable, at times hilarious, at others painful, yet decidedly entertaining at all turns. The intertwining of her fictional story with guest appearances from characters taken straight from the historical archives of the University of Kansas is weaved together through paranormal elements that are sure to keep you captivated. Locals from Lawrence, Kansas, as well as KU alumni, will delight in the placement of familiar locales that help illuminate the backdrop for Kymer’s story. Though at times readers may worry about some of the protagonist’s choices, the fact that they are so engrossed in how Fraley’s narrative unfolds leaves this reader longing for a sequel to The Bug Diary.

-Tracey Kastens

The Bug Diary follows as Kymer, a freshman at the University of Kansas, begins her entomology studies while navigating the changes young adulthood brings—the blossoming of new relationships and reevaluation of established ones, the loosening of family ties, the allure of experimentation. While her academic and life lessons themselves are not atypical, they often come to her in strange ways.

The author, Amber Fraley, expertly intertwines this coming-of-age tale with historical facts about the University of Kansas, a few entomology lessons, and a dose of paranormal intrigue! Fraley’s creativity, insight into the human condition and love of research shine bright in this novel.

Penned as a new adult novel, The Bug Diary will doubtless appeal to high school and college age readers in the thick of their metamorphosis into adulthood. A pleasant surprise is that it is equally entertaining to older generations as it masterfully reunites the reader with their own youthful struggles and triumphs. Relatable and informative, The Bug Diary, is a fun and engaging read.

-Erin Hatton 

Amber Fraley’s The Bug Diary (Anamcara, 2021) is a loving and authentic tribute to undergraduate life, to the risks, vulnerabilities—and ultimately profound misunderstandings and awareness—that can...


Marketing Plan

Amber Fraley has a full schedule of events planned for fall 2021, and would be happy to add additional book club appearances to her busy schedule.

Amber Fraley has a full schedule of events planned for fall 2021, and would be happy to add additional book club appearances to her busy schedule.


Available Editions

ISBN 9781941237816
PRICE $9.99 (USD)

Available on NetGalley

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Average rating from 13 members


Featured Reviews

I want to thank the publishers and NetGalley for allowing me the opportunity to read this book. I selected book because I fondly remember my own college days and collecting insects for an Invertebrate Zoology course. The book is about a girl named Kymer as she attends university in Kansas. It is a typical college story of parties, sex, drugs, and exams. The ghostly encounter in the library is very appealing and whimsical. I enjoyed the book and am anxious to find out what happens next.

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This book is a fantastic read. At its heart, it is the story of a young woman finding herself through the first year of college at KU, far from her childhood home. Several supernatural episodes provide one catalyst for self-discovery, as she is given the means to pursue her personal and academic passion: entomology. Another comes by way of the everyday college experiences she has, navigating rigorous classes, friends (new and old), family, and sex. The characters feel real and lived-in, and some of the dialogue is downright hilarious. There are some wonderful sequences involving Kansas landscapes and history (an extra-special treat for those who have seen these places in person). Fraley also explores the social landscape, pinpointing the ways in which things have changed—or not—since the beginnings of the university’s history. Fraley is a natural storyteller, and I am happy to follow wherever she leads. More books, please!

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Amber Fraley’s engaging first novel, The Bug Diary, joins Kymer Charvat for her freshman year at the University of Kansas. Readers will empathize with the ups and downs of friendships, family relationships, school, and romance. Fraley’s writing is humorous, insightful, and, all in all, kind as Kymer steps into adulthood, meeting new people, recognizing her privileges, making mistakes, and finding that home is wherever you want it to be. That there is a little paranormal activity in a coming of age story set at a university may be a surprise, but Fraley’s writing makes it easy to suspend any disbelief. All these elements come together so that it’s hard to put the book down. In addition to being heartfelt, The Bug Diary is impressively researched, from entomology to local history. As an alumna who worked at both a KU library and KU museum, the descriptions of the historic characters, campus, Lawrence, and Kansas were absolute treats to me.

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Reading this arc was interesting because I think I went into the book expecting one thing, and it turned out to be something else. However, having said that, I really enjoyed this book. It was completely different to anything else I've read and it felt like a breath of fresh air within the genre of YA/ New Adult books. The description given of the book on NetGalley led me to believe going in that it would primarily be a mystery, with supernatural elements, set on campus. However, having now finished the book, I would say that instead it is actually almost entirely a coming of age story about being young, being at College, growing up and deciding what you want in life... with a very light sprinkle of ghosts, and a really healthy amount of love for insects. I wouldn't class this book as especially sci fi, supernatural or fantasy, as the ghosts are a small part of the story and the rest of the story feels so completely based in reality - but I did enjoy the additional element of fun / whimsy that the ghost scenes added. A highlight of the book for me was that the writing did a great job at capturing that specific feeling of being College-age (although I'm British, so for me, Uni-age). I actually graduated almost a decade ago (ah!), but this book really transported me back to that time and those feelings. It really captured what it's like to move away from home for the first time, live with people from different backgrounds and to question who you are as a person and what you want from life. It all felt very genuine and honest - particularly the part about visiting home after having lived away for the first time. I enjoyed all three of the main characters and their friendships were fun and light-hearted and full of humor and love for each other. The other characters that (MC) Kyler meets throughout the book are diverse and the author has taken these opportunities to briefly highlight some of the types of conversations about privilege and inequality that occur when you're young and naïve and finally meeting people with truly different life experiences. At times, the naivety of the main character, Kyler, was a little uncomfortable, but it also felt very true and honest to the experience of being that particular age, and having a lot yet to learn (and thankfully - it felt that Kyler also had lots of willingness to do so!) Kyler is a great main character and she tells this story with lots of humor and authenticity - and her interest in bugs and entomology was such a fresh theme to explore - it really set the book apart from other coming of age stories! I also liked the queerness of this book, and not just the explicitly queer side characters (who are great). Although the main character Kyler does not define her sexuality, I felt that there was queerness in her inner voice and her friendships, and it was refreshing to feel this queerness built into the story so naturally without being picked apart and labelled. (Although her romantic relationships at the fore-front of this story are cis-straight.) Overall, I really enjoyed this book and would definitely return for a sequel to see what happens next in the lives of these characters! (- And of course for more bugs!) Thank you for the opportunity to read and review this ARC.

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Reading The Bug Diary, I found myself invested in Kymer, her friends and family, and their relationships. The main characters were all multilayered, complex, and real. The storyline and setting were a great adventure through KU campus and Lawrence life, with some really satisfying nerdy bug facts. I'm looking forward to reading more!

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