Tis the Season! Fall Is Almost Here and So Are Your Next 9 Book Obsessions

And just like that, summer has come and gone in the blink of an eye — as September shuffles in. While the new month ushers in sweater weather, the PSL season and more quintessentially autumnal activities, it also means a whole new season of book releases. So you know what that means: Miranda’s Book Nook is back to share a handful of fall 2022 book titles that I’ve been devouring of late that should be on your radar. Happy reading, y’all!

Husband Material by Alexis Hall

The highly anticipated sequel to Boyfriend Material is *finally* *finally* here, and let me tell you, it completely lives up to the hype of book one and asks “what happens after the HEA in the final chapter?” Luc and Oliver are just as adorable as ever, as this novel proves to be one for the fans of Boyfriend Material 1 million percent.

This follow-up is set two years after the conclusion of Boyfriend Material and Luc finds himself under enormous pressure to propose to Luc after four weddings, a funeral; and a rainbow balloon arch.

True to the author’s style, Husband Material is well-written, dividing up Luc and Oliver’s next chapter in a series of milestone moments ala Four Weddings and a Funeral-esque story. That in itself is an interesting premise and juxtaposition: to see commitment-phobic Luc set in the background of so many happy wedding days. It reads quite quickly with banter that I’ve gotten so into this one and barely wanted to put the book done. And by the end, it’s a perfect reminder that love is love though doesn’t always look or manifest the same.

Rating: Four Stars

Available: Now


A Hundred Other Girls  by Iman Hariri-Kia

With comps including Devil Wears Prada and The Bold Type, I already was primed to like this book because that’s my world but the actual content completely took me by surprise, which I think is what I liked it so much.
Here, Noora is an aspiring who lands her *dream* job as an executive assistant to the legendary editor-in-chief of a fashion and culture magazine that she grew up reading. Which, like, story of my life! What she thinks is the perfect foot-in-the-door turns out to be a complete nightmare because her boss, Loretta, is an unhinged nightmare. As Noora balances a hectic work life amid raging print vs. digital clashes, there’s also a misguided crush on I.T. guy Cal. (Side note: Why do men, nay boys, have to have such audacity??)
It’s told in such a rich, compelling first-person narrative that feels like the main character Noora is talking in real life. For a story I know all too well, Iman Hariri-Kia adds a brand-new lens and perspective that I have seldom seen in the industry that feels so natural and authentic. This novel is legitimately straight-up funny in parts, just like the real world in others of a zillennial New Yorker living her professional dream. I came to this book because it’s a tale I know so well and I’m leaving intrigued to find out what this author will write next.

Rating: Four Stars

Available: Now


The American Roommate Experiment by Elena Armas

A slow-burn, forced proximity, only-one-bed romance set in the same universe as The Spanish Love Deception that’s equally fun, indulgent and enjoyable. Fresh off of Lina and Aaron’s HEA, Elena Armas is back to tell Lina’s best friend Rosie’s story — with Lina’s cousin, Lucas, as the one stealing her heart.

Here, Rosie has since quit her high-paying engineering gig to pursue her secret life as a romance novelist. Except now, she’s got a serious case of writer’s block and a major deadline on the horizon. Plus, her apartment ceiling caves in and she needs a place to go. Lina, who is away on her honeymoon to Aaron (!!!), had given Rosie her spare key, so she heads there. However, unbeknownst to Rosie, Lina had allowed her cousin Lucas to stay at her place while he’s in town. As one can expect, hijinks ensue as these two share a studio apartment in Brooklyn … andddd Lucas somehow agrees to help fake-date Rosie so she’ll have some book inspiration.

This read was told in compelling first points of view that had me so enthralled to keep reading both sides. It was so fun, cute, and frothy with plenty of banter from the very first chapter. While, of course, there are teeny nods to Lina and Aaron, this is really Rosie and Lucas’ independent story. And honestly? I think I dug this one a tad more than Armas’ debut novel; it delivered on everything I love in a romance! Plus that ending, oh, it made my heart just SOAR!

Rating: Four Stars

Available: Now


A Merry Little Meet Cute by Julie Murphy and Sierra Simone

At a first glance, I already knew A Merry Little Meet Cute was my type of book because Julie Murphy is an auto-buy author for me, plus it’s got a holiday rom-com setting and it’s a former boy bander finds love story, so SIGN. ME. UP!

Here, Bee Hobbes is a well-known plus-size adult film star. While her two moms are accepting of her career, she’s hoping to branch out as an actress. When her favorite producer Teddy hires her to headline his squeaky-clean Hallmark-type Christmas movie, they decide to keep her profession and stage name under wraps. Bee arrives in Christmas Notch, Vermont, to film and is shocked to learn that her costar is the one-and-only Nolan Shaw, the former boy band star she used to crush on as a teenager. Nolan, for his part, needs to rehab his image after the band split and he got into a series of tabloid pickles, shall we say.  While he promised to deliver a good clean movie, he’s equally shocked that his favorite adult entertainment creator is his costar. We’ve got a secret romance trope, so much holiday romance goodness and so much more.

Told in dual perspectives, it is full of compelling language that is so intriguing that makes for such a fun Hallmark-esque holiday romantic comedy. The spice content is a lot higher than Murphy’s YA past as it is an adult romance read, so fair warning. It’s fun, indulgent and enjoyable. Plus, a sex-positive and body-positive rom-com? What more could you want in a modern romance?

Rating: Four Stars

Available: September 20, 2022


Drunk on Love by Jasmine Guillory

Jasmine Guillory has become an auto-buy romance author for me, and I was beyond excited to learn that she was writing another novel (whether set in her existing book universe or not), which Drunk on Love ended up fully matching my expectations. It’s told in such a relatable first-person point of view, back and forth between eventual love interests Margot and Luke, that fully drew me into its compelling prose.

In this novel, Margot Noble is the CEO of a family-owned vineyard and winery in Napa Valley, who’s in desperate need of some stress release. After making small talk in a local bar, she meets the sexy and charming Luke Williams, with who she quickly has undeniable chemistry. After an unforgettable night (and morning), they quickly discover that Margot’s brother has hired Luke to work in their winery’s tasting room for the season. Plus, considering Margot’s level of professionalism, she’s hesitant to pursue anything but that doesn’t stop her thoughts from wandering…

While, yes, Drunk on Love does exist in Guillory’s preexisting literary universe (!!!), it does feel like a standalone entity with a teensy cameo from a few beloved, post-HEA favorites. Margot and Luke’s story is very distinctly their own and exists on its own instead of being a sequel or so-and-so’s sibling, which I enjoyed. Though the callout to the Guillory MCs past was super fun and cute as an aside that doesn’t take away from Margot and Luke’s moment in the spotlight.

All in all, it’s just fun, cute and so enjoyable, which made it even easier to get sucked into this one. Plus, that epilogue, GAH! Seriously, Drunk on Love was so cute and sweet and I just wanted, like, 10 more pages of that HEA bliss!

Rating: Four Stars

Available: September 20, 2022


Just Like Magic by Sarah Hogle

As a reader who fell in love with Sarah Hogle’s You Deserve Each Other novel the first second I began reading the initial pages of my ARC, she fast become an auto-read author for me, and Just Like Magic does not disappoint! It’s a holiday romantic comedy but fully imbibed with quirky magic throughout.

Here, Bettie is an heiress and influencer who’s lost all her money and status and is searching for a way to hide her financial struggles from her family over Christmas. After she ends up housesitting at a stranger’s Colorado cabin, she plays a Christmas song backward on vinyl and accidentally conjures Hall the Holiday Spirit. Hall arrives in the form of a charming, optimistic, merry, and quirky man whose goal is to teach her how to lift her holiday cheer. She invites him to join her family for Christmas, where he can pose as her [fake] fiancé.

Hogle, much like in her previous books, is not one to dawdle on backstory and jumps right into the action which I like. This magical romance is, like, seriously the ultimate grumpy-sunshine story and I loved it with my whole heart. It’s different from her previous novels but still so intriguing as a reader. It’s a quick read that I barely wanted to put down and will definitely make the perfect addition to your holiday reading list. All in all, it’s an interesting, oddball, bonkers story that weirdly works and ends up being so much fun for such a lovable holiday vibe.

Rating: Four Stars

Available: October 4, 2022


All I Want for Christmas by Maggie Knox

After devouring Maggie Knox’s The Holiday Swap, I was automatically intrigued by what their latest novel would be about. I was very pleasantly surprised to learn it’d be about two enemy musician/reality TV contestants forced to fake date and set around the holly jolly holidays.

Here, Sadie and Max are rival budding country musicians both competing on a hit reality TV competition, which culminates in a big holiday-themed finale. After the pair, who are both desperate to win and get their big Nashville break, team up during the show’s duet week, fans clock their instantaneous and inimitable chemistry on the stage. Hoping to capitalize on the “Saxie” buzz, the show execs enlist Sadie and Max to team up for the remainder of the competition *and* pretend to be in a romantic relationship too. The only problem? These two do not get along.

Told from dual points of view across multiple timelines during the holiday season, this book features cute and compelling language that just drew me in and read quite quickly. All in all, it’s light and fun and indulgent to create a truly sweet holiday romantic comedy.

Trigger Warning: Assault

Rating: Four Stars

Available: October 4, 2022


Built to Last by Erin Hahn

While this book had a lot of exposition and background to sift it into, it eventually became a completely adorable and sweet romance novel. Much like the author’s previous YA novels I’ve read, this book was full of compelling language that drew me in and I couldn’t stop myself from smiling so wide.
Built to Last is a second-chance romance between two former child stars who’ve moved on from their lives in the spotlight. Shelby, once a party girl, has turned over a new leaf as a home restorer back in Michigan following her tumultuous relationship/split/meltdown with fellow tween star Lyle. (My HGTV-obsessed heart is soaring!) Lyle returns into her life as the EP of a home renovation pilot that she’d star in. The catch? Her costar would be Cameron, the third member of the childhood crew and her self-proclaimed “the one who got away.”
It’s a positively, adorably, heartstoppingly, sickenly sweet romance, like, I mean. By the end, it was a completely fun read that further solidified Erin Hahn as an auto-buy author for me. It was literally so flipping adorable. And, can confirm, that Cameron is one great book BF, like seriously, I’m swooning. (Literally, he’s the quintessential good guy who’s so mad for Shelby that he’d do anything.) Also, OMG that ~little~ connection to her Must Be Mine YA novel, IYKYK.

Rating: Four Stars

Available: October 18, 2022


A Very Merry Bromance by Lyssa Kay Adams

The next Bromance Book Club book is finally here, and it’s Colton’s story and a holiday romantic comedy, like, did Lyssa Kay Adams read my diary? This book had such witty and funny banter and starred the same lovable dorks of the Bromance Book Club, IYKYK. (And yes, if you peeped my bookstagram account, this was the book I read pre-Harry Styles concert.)

Here, it’s country superstar Colton Wheeler’s time to step into the spotlight (pun intended) as he falls for notorious holiday Scrooge/grump Gretchen Winthrop, an heiress turned immigration lawyer. Despite a magical night together, one year later Gretchen’s moved on — until her family needs her to get Colton to be their spokesman for the brood’s famed whiskey brand. If she can broker the deal, a seat on their foundation board is all hers. The catch? Colton wants a date (or three) before Christmas before he’ll seriously consider the offer. With the BBC in his corner (all reading a holiday romance, naturally), Colton is determined to prove their one-time spark is still there and burning brighter than ever.

Adams writes with such compelling language that has me *dying* to keep reading. Told in dual perspectives, this has shaped up to be a super-cute holiday rom-com with a grump/sunshine twist. It’s so much fun with so much banter, and I dug it SO FREAKING MUCH. Like, I seriously did not want to stop reading or the book to end.

This book has second-chance, grumpy/sunshine, holiday, famous person and average person tropes, which is everything, so yes please!

Rating: Four Stars

Available: November 1, 2022


Advance reader copies of the books listed were provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Summer Is Here With These 10 New 2022 Book Releases

Better late than never, but, hey summer’s not over yet! I’ve had this sitting in my drafts for a little bit (back when most of these ARCs had not been released), but summer procrastination is real, y’all. So, without further ado, welcome back to Miranda’s Book Nook as I share some new summer 2022 book titles that I can’t get enough of and that should be on your radar this year. Happy reading!

Fireworks by Alice Lin

This book is described as a K-Pop teen rom-com, which already has my heart. It gives me girl-next-door meets Shine by Jessica Jung vibes to create an all-around adorable, sweet and wholesome YA romance read.

Here, Lulu is 17 and getting ready to head off to college after one final summer at home. However, she doesn’t expect her neighbor slash childhood best friend Kai (Kite) to return home after several years away, where he’s been working in South Korea as a K-Pop superstar. Lulu’s equally starstruck about seeing her former friend, post-stardom, and rekindling their all-encompassing friendship. What she doesn’t expect is that there may be some unexpected types of feelings brewing underneath the surface.

It’s super, super cute and sweet, innocent too. The main character is so authentic, real and raw, and together Lulu and Kite make a super-cute and sugary-sweet pair.

Rating: Four Stars

Available: Now


Meant to Be Mine by Hannah Orenstein

I’ve savored Hannah Orenstein’s previous novels and even by the plot summary alone, I knew this one was primed to fit right in.

Here, Edie is a native New Yorker, millennial and fashion stylist who grew up believing in the concept of true love and soulmates. In fact, it’s an old wives’ tale that her beloved grandmother Gloria had predicted the date she would meet her future husband — and then the dates for every single family member. Edie has long known her date fell on June 24, 2022, at the age of 29. On that day, she was flying to attend her twin sister’s surprise engagement. So, when she sees that a handsome indie musician, Theo, is sitting beside her, she’s ecstatic thinking this is fate. However, fate comes at a price when deep down her gut thinks something is off.

While it’s a romantic love story on the surface, it ended up primarily being a women’s fiction story that highlights other types of love too, and for that, this read had my heart. It was about more than just finding romantic love but also about family and traditions. As someone who lost a beloved grandparent, parts involving Edie and her grandmother hit very close to home, so potential trigger warning there.

I was truly intrigued by the premise, captivated by the writing and just instantly — and I do mean instantly — hooked. It’s fun, cute and so darn enjoyable that I just needed to keep reading and could barely put it down. Loved this one!

Rating: Four Stars

Available: Now


The Heart of the Deal by Lindsay MacMillan

This was a cute, fun and emotional women’s fiction read that I could barely put down. Any twentysomething or millennial who’s navigating a work-life balance in New York City can relate to Rae’s story because it’s so timely and authentic.

Here, Raelynn “Rae” is a Wall Street banker, who’s feeling adrift in both her career and potential dating prospects by the age of 25. Realizing her biological clock is ticking faster, she vows to get married by the age of 30 so she has time to have multiple children. However, life is what happens when you’re not making plans? I think I read that somewhere. Anyway, so with her encouraging group of friends, she starts swiping on dating app after dating app not really meeting any real contenders until Dustin comes along. While she thinks he’s another poetic soul trapped in a finance suit, she can hear wedding bells chiming in the distance, though his story is a complicated one — and his future is uncertain.

It’s more a women’s fiction novel than a straight-up, true-blue romance just since it’s not all hunky-dory about love, but hey, life’s not always like that either. It’s the tale of a hopeless romantic who learns to stop chasing expectations and live in the moment. Even more so, I really liked its honest and vulnerable account about a woman chasing her dreams even if there are no set plans to get you there.

Content Warning: Mentions of depression, mental illness, and self-harm

Rating: Four Stars

Available: Now


The Sizzle Paradox by Lily Menon

After devouring the author’s previous YA and adult romances, I was instantly intrigued by her next novel’s premise, especially with a woman in STEM protagonist, fresh off of the success of The Love Hypothesis. Told in dual perspectives, there are so many good friends-to-lovers slash forced proximity tropes at play.

Here, Lyric is a Ph.D. candidate studying sexual chemistry in romantic partners though hasn’t had any worthy options in her own love life. To complete her thesis, she needs a personal connection to connect to her “sizzle paradox” and so, she enlists her BFF and roommate Kian’s help. Kian, for his part, is an engineering doctoral student with a lengthy dating record as he offers to tutor Lyric in all things love to better apply it to real suitors. However, as one can expect, their fake-dating scenario opens up their eyes to something that they didn’t see before after years of platonic friendship.

True to Menon’s style, it is full of well-written and compelling language, yet something was just off for me. Maybe that it was very, very, very sweet, like, saccharine almost. That being said, it is a cute and fun romance that’s you’ll particularly enjoy if you liked The Love Hypothesis or The Roommate.

Rating: Four Stars

Available: Now


How to Fake It in Hollywood by Ava Wilder

Told from dual first points of view, this romance novel weaves compelling accounts with a fake dating story at its finest.

Here, former teen starlet Grey Brooks is desperate to keep her career afloat after her long-running series ends. In order to secure a life-changing audition for a big-time role, she agrees with her publicist to enter into a fake relationship with another star: Oscar winner Ethan Adkins. Ethan, for his part, has been disgraced and reclusive after his public divorce and sobriety struggles. If he wants to get his next film financed, he needs a PR makeover, STAT. Enter: the perfect fake relationship agreement, signed contract and all. Though, it’s apparent that these two have some sizzling chemistry that becomes too hard to just fake their way through.

It’s a cute, fun romance with some spicy content, however, it is not one I’d read again and again. One and done is perfectly satisfactory for me. It’s fine. The epilogue feels cute, HEA-worthy that makes me smile, and more importantly, earned after all these two flawed characters went through to get it.

Rating: Four Stars

Available: Now


Love & Other Great Expectations by Becky Dean

I didn’t have any preconceived notions of this book before I started reading other than it looked like a sweet YA novel, it was set in the UK (my Kryptonite) and it potentially had a bookish theme per the “Great Expectations” part of the title.

Here, Britt is a California-based high school senior who is solely focused on her budding soccer career and future collegiate scholarship. However, an unexpected ankle changes everything and forces her suddenly change course. Luckily, she gets the chance to head to England for 10 days this summer and compete for a life-changing prize that could cover the tuition she needs for school. The catch? It’s a literary-inspired scavenger hunt and she’s not the best in English class. Ever-competitive and in need of the cash, Britt signs up and is on her way. Then, she bumps into bookish and British Luke who takes a liking to her, even offering to join her time along the way.

Well, I was immediately drawn into this story, so richly told with such an authentic, vulnerable and relatable MC in Britt. It is completely, totally, wholeheartedly cute, fun and bookish, which just stole my heart. It’s a travel book with a bookish quest, like yes please, I want one too! (Seriously, I want to be in her shoes so bad, I’m literally living vicariously through this book.) I’m so into this read from its unique and fun premise to its compelling language that makes it unputdownable. It’s just so so so cute, fun, enjoyable and sweet. I just feel so warm and happy right now.

Rating: Five Stars

Available: Now


Lucie Yi Is Not a Romantic by Lauren Ho

By the summary and the cover alone, I was curious about this women’s fiction novel. I was intrigued by this pragmatic yet authentic main character, so much so that I didn’t want to put the book down and just wanted to find out what would happen next!

Here, Lucie is a business consultant based in New York City, who is tired for waiting for the perfect partner, but she wants a baby. So, she looks into a coparenting website to find a stranger partner. (Think Tinder but for finding a platonic coparent.) Collin ticks all of her boxes and then some, but she’s unsure if her conservative family back in Singapore will approve. Once the pair learn they are expecting, they decided to move back to Singapore to be closer to family. And as expected, the family’s not on board. And then, there’s Mark: Lucie’s ex-fiancé who reappears in her life as unresolved feelings bubble up.

This read has a compelling hook, full of rich language that pulled me in and intrigued me. I dug it, I think that’s fair to say. It does read quite quickly that I hardly noticed the novel’s sheer length. It was definitely difficult to put down, I was completely sucked in. It’s compelling yet authentic and fun — with a dash of romance.

Rating: Four Stars

Available: Now


How Maya Got Fierce by Sona Charaipotra

After devouring Sona Charaipotra’s novels with Dhonielle Clayton (Tiny Pretty Things, Shiny Broken Pieces, and The Rumor Game), I was instantly excited about her next YA novel — especially considering it was described as Younger meets The Bold Type. As a fan of both those shows and a magazine alum myself, that storyline already won me over.

Here, Maya is a 17-year-old farm girl, set to attend “Cow Camp” outside NYC for the summer. The camp, an agricultural training program for aspiring farm managers, is not what Maya would prefer to be doing. She would much prefer traipsing around the city and working as a magazine staffer for her beloved Fierce magazine. While staying with her older cousin Roop, Maya discovers her cousin’s girlfriend actually works at the mag! It seems like fate when Maya is offered a chance to visit the fashion closet and apply for a coveted internship — which she miraculously got. The twist? It turns out she wasn’t hired as an intern but a full-fledged assistant editor because no one knows she’s still in high school. Considering this is her dream, Maya starts to live a double life to balance an adult job and her teenage reality.

The book, much like a diverse adaptation of the short-lived Jane By Design, was so enjoyable and fun. It had so much compelling language that drew me in, desperate to learn how this average teenager could make it as a legit magazine editor. Alongside a precious summer camp-esque romance, it’s an authentic coming-of-age tale of empowering young women. So captivating.

Rating: Four Stars

Available: July 12, 2022


Accomplished by Amanda Quain

First things first, I love a good Pride & Prejudice retelling or contemporary adaptation, and this one hit that sweet spot. Imagine Pride & Prejudice but in a contemporary, YA setting and told from Georgiana Darcy’s perspective, and she was a marching band-playing, fanfiction-writing misfit and I’m into all of it!

Here, Georgiana “Georgie” returns to her boarding school junior year after an incident with Wickham nearly threatened expulsion and all she wants to prove is that she can live up to the Darcy name and her big brother Fitzwilliam’s legacy. To get Fitz off her back while she tried to do just that, she comes up with the ingenious idea to distract him with love and decides to secretly play matchmaker between Fitz and Lizzie Bennet. This book has such funny, witty language that just pulled me in from the start. Very, very cute.

Rating: Four Stars

Available: July 26, 2022


Thank You for Listening by Julia Whelan

The moment I picked up Julia Whelan’s My Oxford Year, there was just something that just spoke to me (maybe it was my Anglophile side or just the book’s captivating nature, not quite sure). So, when I learned that Whelan had penned another novel *and* it had a bookish setting, I was instantly excited.
Here, Sewanee “Swan” Chester is an audiobook narrator who’s strayed a long way from her acting aspirations. However, her successful narration means it’s more possible for her to care for her ailing grandmother. When the book starts, Sewanee arrives for a last-minute appearance at a book convention where she spends the night with a mysterious stranger who’s gone by the next morning. After returning to her L.A. home days later, she gets the offer of a lifetime to return to romance narration and perform the final work of a late romance novelist — alongside Brock McNight, the hottest and most elusive male narrator. While Sewanee is nearly ready to let go of romance and audiobooks for good, forging a connection with Brock — whoever he really is — brings an unexpected connection she cannot shake.
As I started reading, I found it so easy to get drawn into this pen pal-like romance that was very fun, very cute and very adorable. While the chapters were pretty long and drawn out, it still read quite quickly.

Rating: Four Stars

Available: August 2, 2022


Advance reader copies of the books listed were provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Spring Has Sprung With These 10 Spring 2022 Book Releases

Only four- and five-star reviews here! While I’ve been gone from here and my book Insta for a few weeks and months, I’ve been trying to power through my TBR goals to get back on track this year. And if I may speak honestly (which I’ll do anyway lol), these ten springtime releases totally saved my reading slump. So, without further ago, I’d like to welcome you all, my faithful readers back to Miranda’s Book Nook for some early 2022 book recommendations that I can’t get enough of. Happy reading!

Hook, Line, and Sinker by Tessa Bailey

I was beyond excited to read Hook, Line, and Sinker after devouring its predecessor, It Happened One Summer. Here, it’s Piper’s younger sister Hannah’s turn in the spotlight. We’ve got a tale of a reformed playboy who’s secretly harboring romantic thoughts about his platonic best friend while giving her tips to land a different guy ala Cyrano. Taking place six months after IHOS concludes, local fisherman Fox and Hannah text daily since she left Westport three months ago. Every day, every night, all the time. When she’s in town for work, she crashes in his guest room but the more time she spends with Fox, the more apparent her actual feelings lie and the thin line between friendship and flirtation gets very blurry. Though they are both hopelessly against it because of his reputation around town and she doesn’t want to be just another notch in the bedpost. So, we’ve got forced proximity and friends-to-lovers tropes at play for a delicious romance read that I legitimately couldn’t put down. Plus, we get even more insight into the beloved characters that we first met in IHOS.

In the prologue, we see how their friendship has developed since IHOS through their daily texts, which is a nice introduction to their mindsets and inner thoughts because they are 1000 percent the same lovable characters we met in the first book. And yes, there is an adorable post-HEA check-in with Piper, Brendan, Opal, Sanders, and the rest of the Westport townies. Told in dual point-of-views, Tessa Bailey brings her signature style to this novel with her penchant for compelling language and relatable characters that enthrall me to keep reading.

As a rom-com pair, Fox and Hannah have tension and banter, which I love and is so adorable, but they also have so much heart, vulnerability, and emotional depths. I seriously couldn’t put this book down, which ended up being cuter and less spicy than IHOS. Don’t get me wrong, I still really really enjoyed it, it’s just comparatively, yes, there were fewer spicy moments. Still spice, just not as much as the first book in case your were wondering. Then, that epilogue, I don’t want to spoil, but eep, I love future HEA scenes. So much. Gotta move on for now, my cheeks hurt from smiling.

Rating: Four Stars

Available: Now


The Rumor Game by Dhonielle Clayton and Sona Charaipotra

Fans of Tiny Pretty Things and its Shiny Broken Pieces sequel are sure to enjoy Dhonielle Clayton and Sona Charaipotra’s next YA thriller, this time set in an elite DC prep school amid a plethora of scandals and rumors that have the power to destroy lives. Told in multiple perspectives (much like TPT and SBP), readers see the inner POVs of Georgie, Bryn and Cora through text, iPhone messages, emails and a Post-It note timeline of the events. This storytelling format helps make the plot feel modern and realistic as you see firsthand how these rumors started to spread in the first place.

Set at the uber-posh Foxham Prep high school for DC’s elite, we follow Bryn, Cora, and Georgie as they contend with potentially life-ruining rumors and gossip in their quest for popularity and future goals. Bryn, for her part, is the girl that used to have it all: devoted boyfriend, high school class presidency, close circle of friends and ultimate popularity until one mistake turned into a massive DC scandal that left her a pariah. As a result, she starts hanging out with neighbor Georgie more. Jashan “Georgie” is the new cool girl in school after a summer makeover turned her into a svelte, confident student instead of her formerly nerdy self. Her newfound popularity pits her against Bryn’s former bestie Cora, who’s the new Queen Bee after Bryn was dethroned from her post.

I was hooked on this book from the start, like, it’s so good and compelling, just chock full of twists I didn’t see coming at all. I legitimately couldn’t put this read down by the final chapters, there was just so much action that I needed to know what was going to happen next!

In this cautionary tale about bullying, there are definitely some content warnings surrounding topics of fatphobia, sexual assault, drug misuse, bullying, and cyberbullying.

Rating: Four Stars

Available: Now


Dating Dr. Dil by Nisha Sharma

After reading an ARC (thank you, NetGalley!) of Nisha Sharma’s adorable YA Radha & Jai’s Recipe for Romance, I was intrigued by this adult romance premise from the moment I (being honest here) saw a teaser on TikTok (haha long live #BookTok!).

Here, Kareena’s been dreaming of a true love story like her parents or her beloved romance novels though she is often found fixturing up her classic car instead of swiping on dating apps. After her dad reveals his intentions to sell their family home amid his retirement, she makes him a deal that she’ll buy the house from him if she gets in engaged … within four months. Soon after, she gets into a viral TV argument with Prem on his medical chat show when they seemingly dislike one another over their differing views on love and arranged marriages. Prem, for his part, is dedicated to building a local community medical center but needs funds to get it up and running, though his investor isn’t convinced. After Kareena’s meddling aunties convince them they are made for each other, they agree to fake a relationship until they both get exactly what they want — love out of the question.

Told in dual perspectives, this book has so much banter and I literally love it! In all its tropey, indulgent goodness, there’s also plenty of wit, humor, authenticity, and yes, even spicy content. Full of a fake dating trope and an enemies to lovers one, it was honestly equal parts adorable and authentic that I really did not want to put it down, especially as I neared the ending! Gosh, it was so sweet, indulgent and fun!

Rating: Four Stars

Available: Now


Being Mary Bennet by J.C. Peterson

Let’s be real: Any Austenian fangirl (which, hey, guilty!) dreams of being a protagonist of her own life ala Pride and Prejudice‘s Lizzie Bennet. Yet, Mary is the more authentic representation of us. Main character Marnie Barnes understands that all to well but decides that her new semester at her boarding school is the perfect time to design an all-new her, complete with a shiny new self-confidence.  As Marnie aims to reinvent herself with the help of her new friends, a cute new love interest and one adorable rescue puppy, she’s on a brand-new path to become a whole new person. This book had me by its “perfect for fans of Jenny Han, Becky Albertalli, and Jane Austen” description. Plus, I’m a sucker for a good P&P-inspired read.

This YA/New Adult read is fun and cute, like, totally smile-worthy. This Jane Austen-inspired novel features a compelling first-person point-of-view that pulls me in from the start. In this coming-of-age tale, nothing was really how I imagined it nor how I pictured it per the book summary yet that’s precisely why I liked it so much. It’s different yet still so compelling and less about love, instead focusing on self-growth and confidence to embrace your inner “Mary Bennet.”

Rating: Four Stars

Available: Now


Cover Story by Susan Rigetti

Okay, holy crap, this book! I literally was totally wrong in terms of what I expected, which made this book so good! Told through FBI transcripts, diary entries, emails and more, via four parts, it was so compelling, captivating and so freaking mysterious that I was desperate to learn more!

Here, Lora has landed a dream internship at ELLE Magazine, where she meets the elusive yet enthralling contributing editor Cat Wolff, who’s a total enigma. After Cat takes newbie Lora under her wing, our protagonist soon is offered a dream job to join Cat’s inner circle as her ghostwriter. Of course, there’s more to the story than you even know…

This book, much like a fictional portrayal of the Anna Delvey scandal, read super quick, and gah, I literally cannot stop thinking about it now that I finished it. Plus, that twist? Seriously, oh man, I think my jaw is still on the floor! Totally unexpected and mesmerizing. Seriously, this book is a special one. End of story. Period.

Rating: Four Stars

Available: April 5, 2022


Fool Me Once by Ashley Winstead

Described as a fierce and funny battle of the exes, this book follows independent Lee Stone “Stoner”, who runs the communications for a woman-owned electric car company by day and can drink guys under the table at night. However, she won’t let any potential relationships get further than one night in her bed.  After previous heartbreaks, she knows you can’t count on love, especially after she cheated on ex-boyfriend Ben. So, naturally, she’s totally shocked when he reappears in her workplace world five years later (still hyper-competitive) and they need to team up in order to pass a clean energy bill, that she’s uber-passionate about, on behalf of the Texas governor.

I was drawn into this novel’s storytelling from the first pages. Lee and Ben are the epitome of the enemies to lovers slash second chance trope, and as a result, they have such banter back-and-forth, which is so engaging and fun to follow. It reads quickly, and it’s so fun, cute, authentic and vulnerable that I really didn’t want to pause this read for even one minute. All in all, it’s equally fun, witty, romantic and relatable — balancing the sweet romance with an authentic finding yourself tale all wrapped up in one.

Rating: Four Stars

Available: April 5, 2022


I Kissed Shara Wheeler by Casey McQuiston

Casey McQuiston. Young Adult Debut. Is Here. Eeep! McQuiston is fast becoming an auto-buy author for me after I devoured Red, White & Royal Blue, One Last Stop, and now, I Kissed Shara Wheeler.

Here, Chloe Green moves from southern California to small-town Alabama for high school with her eye on the prize of valedictorian upon graduation. However, her biggest academic rival is Shara Wheeler, the principal’s daughter and all-around teachers’ pet. One month before graduation and finding out which student will top the class ranking, Shara vanishes on prom night — just hours after kissing Chloe for the first time. On the hunt for answers about her kiss-and-dash, Chloe follows a trail of pink letters that her rival left for boyfriend Smith, neighbor Rory and herself. Which, hello, Paper Towns by John Green vibes, so I’m into it! For most of the book, the unlikely trio follow Shara’s series of pink-colored envelopes full of intricate clues to decode to find her location in time for their high school graduation.

True to style, McQuiston weaves her signature compelling, witty language to tell an engaging story full of diverse and authentic characters. By early chapters, I’m already so intrigued to learn more and find out what actually happened! This book is that unputdownable, truly, and adds a unique twist on the rom-com genre thanks to the added ‘Where is Shara’ mystery we have going on here. Main character Chloe Green, just like the side characters, is so authentic, honest and relatable as they all come of age in a small Southern town. All in all, this book is so, so, so good and intriguing, like I just loved it. Then, it does feature a cute rom-com and HEA, not just for our heroine but also the whole senior class too, which is equally sweet and cute.

Rating: Five Stars

Available: May 3, 2022


By the Book by Jasmine Guillory

When I tell you I legitimately screamed when I got approved for this ARC *and* found out this novel was a thing. True story. One of my top reads of 2021 was the first book in the Meant to Be series (If the Shoe Fits by Julie Murphy) and considering Jasmine Guillory is also a master of romance novels and wrote a literal Beauty and the Beast-inspired novel, like, SOLD. Instantly.

Here, Isabelle “Izzy” is a publishing house editorial assistant, yearning for her next step. Looking for her next career move, she volunteers to travel to a reclusive former child star to find out why is memoir manuscript is late. Upon arriving at his Santa Barbara, California mansion, she meets Beau Towers. He’s equally lost and withdrawn, unable to pen even a chapter of his book. Izzy is determined to hand-hold him to actually write his story and, along the way, they discover all they have in common.

I adore Beauty and the Beast and bookish romances, so naturally, I found this book completely charming and was fully drawn into the story immediately. There are tons of little Beauty and the Beast Easter eggs and nods to the original which were super fun and I loved that touch. The book is well-written, chock full of compelling language. I was so intrigued by the story and very much wanted to keep reading. While the main character Izzy is very a sugar-sweet, cookie-cutter good girl, I found myself more drawn to her love interest Beau, who was just so authentic, vulnerable and so interesting to see him shed his hard layers. Overall, it is a slow-burn romance that once it gets going, is very cute that had me swooning. The ending? Gah, it was just so precious and bookish and I loved it with my whole heart.

Content Warning: Stockholm Syndrome (which I guess can be said about Beauty and the Beast in general.)

Rating: Four Stars

Available: May 3, 2022


See You Yesterday by Rachel Lynn Solomon

I wasn’t sure what to expect from this book but I was pleasantly surprised by the outcome and how much I really liked it. The story, much like a college/New Adult version of Groundhog Day, follows Barrett and Miles who have somehow gotten stuck in a time loop and are forced to relive their disastrous first day of college.

Here, Barrett is forced to relive her embarrassing, fateful first day of college over and over, including an encounter with her physics classmate, Miles. In an unforeseen twist, she learns that Miles has also been stuck in the same loop for nearly one month longer. The pair decide to team up to figure out a way out of the time loop, with everything from science to magic, as they go on various wild adventures around their college campus.

It’s full of compelling language that intrigued me and sucked me in. I was just so curious to learn more about what happened and how they could possibly fix it. The protagonists are equally authentic and vulnerable as leading players.

Rating: Four Stars

Available: May 17, 2022


American Royals III: Rivals by Katharine McGee

The Queen is here — literally. I nearly *screamed* when I learned one of my all-time favorite contemporary YA/NA series would have a third sequel. After devouring both of author Katharine McGee’s prior novels (and wishing I could be a combination of all of her leading ladies, let’s be honest), I was completely stoked and thrilled to revisit the Washingtons once more. And let me tell you: It completely lives up the hype of the Washington sibling’s regal world that I first fell in love with from the first books in the series. I am so grateful for this ARC, because, let’s be honest, I just couldn’t way another minute to find out what was next for Queen Beatrice, Princess Samantha, Daphne and Nina. While Majesty let me down slightly after watching my beloved Connor+Bea ship crash and burn, I am pleased to return that my fandom has returned in full force with this one.

Here, it’s a meeting of the monarchs as Beatrice (fresh off her canceled nuptials to Teddy from the last book) is set to preside over the prestigious Legions of Kings meetings for global regents. There, she’s representing America at the convention and desperately trying to get her first initiative past, all while balancing her fragile relationship with Teddy (whom she did postpone their wedding!) and meeting a glamorous international French princess who invites her into her elite inner circle. Meanwhile, Princess Samantha and beau Lord Marshall are still going strong (eeep!) but navigate difficult future plans considering the title differences. Then, there’s Daphne and Nina who are forced to (gasp!) team up to take down a new rival in town, equally vying for Prince Jefferson’s affections.

True to McGee’s style, this book brings her signature witty and engaging language that had me both yearning to find out what happened next but also wanting to savor every last morsel of text and storytelling. Told in 4 points of view, I’m quickly drawn into each leading lady’s head and become so desperate to learn what would happen next. And seriously, I just didn’t want this book to end!

It makes the perfect addition to the American Royals series, and selfishly, I hope it’s not the end of this series because I have so many questions left after that ending. Basically, I just need more content, like, right now. Or I’ll just re-read it, one, two or ten more times in the meantime.

Rating: Five Stars

Available: May 31, 2022


Advance reader copies of the books listed were provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

7 Early 2022 Books I’ve Been Loving

Another year has come and gone, and I’ve already been hyper-focused on 2022’s book releases because there are just, like, SO many good ones coming (and SOON)! While these reads drop throughout this winter and early spring, consider this book blog a must-need teaser when it comes to building out your January/February TBR lists and starting off your annual reading goals on just the right foot.

So, without further ado, I’d like to welcome y’all back to the first Miranda’s Book Nook of the new year and take a peek at some of the early 2022 book titles that I truly can’t get enough of and should totally be on your radar this upcoming year. Happy reading!

When You Get The Chance by Emma Lord

After devouring Emma Lord’s first two novels, I was instantly excited about her next one, and to learn it was centered around a theater kid? Needless to say, I was pumped to start reading.

Here, Millie Price is an NYC teen who dreams of being a Broadway star, and no one can get in her way — not her lovable but dorky single dad, drama club rival Oliver or the overbearing flood of emotions she refers to as “Millie Moods.” She’s on her way and headstrong to make it. After finding her dad’s old LiveJournal (I know, I know, feel old yet??), she decides to track down her birth mother from three possible choices.

From the first chapter, I was immersed into MC Millie’s head in this fun, upbeat read. It’s like an IRL Mamma Mia, which I’m into, and the concept itself is totally original to me. It’s so compelling, and I’m hooked by the storytelling premise and just needed to keep reading. In the end, it’s just so cute, well-written, indulgent, and fun! Like, it made me want to smile the whole darn time; it’s that cute and precious.

While I don’t think this was as good as You Have a Match, in my own opinion, I did enjoy it all the same and think it was compelling, fresh, contemporary, and so absolutely precious. I loved the cute romance storylines too, but even more that they were just side stories to the main journey of coming of age and finding yourself.

Rating: Four Stars

Available: January 4, 2022


One True Loves by Elise Bryant

After devouring Elise Bryant’s Happily Ever Afters, I was instantly so stoked to learn that she was writing a follow-up to Tessa’s story about her bestie Lenore. Oh, and it takes place while traveling the world. Um, yes, please!

Lenore’s family is set for a high-seas adventure on a Mediterranean cruise to celebrate her high school graduation which gave me all the wanderlust feels, and as they do, they met their dining companions: Fellow high school graduate Alex and his parents. While Tessa (eep, she’s back!), ever the romantic optimist, is sure her bestie’s trip will include love in her future, Lenore’s not so sure. And then, she meets Alex. He’s a golden boy with the ten-year plan and she’s, well, the exact opposite. But, as their parents start to bond, they are stuck together for the duration of the cruise. So, what else? They get to know one another.

Alex and Lenore couldn’t be more different and yet, they find themselves drawn to one another in this absolutely adorable YA rom-com. The language is so witty and relatable that I was drawn into the story from the get-go and couldn’t put this quick read down. Absolutely precious and that HEA/conclusion left me grinning from ear to ear.

Rating: Four Stars

Available: January 4, 2022


How to Win the Bachelor by Chad Kultgen, Lizzy Pace

This nonfiction read is a funny, witty look at The Bachelor that ends up like a parody account of how to win this reality TV juggernaut. I call it a parody because the writers lay out instructions and numerical odds of winning the show as if this search for love is nothing more than a game, which, I guess, isn’t technically wrong.

It’s described as a nonfiction deep dive into this popular franchise and what it takes to find love, or more accurately fame, as written by a pair of fans and journalists.

The writing is casual, fun and witty and there’s a couple fun graphics throughout, too. Plus, the final chapter does rightfully address the show’s racial injustice problem and its lack of action. If only the ABC show could actually as well…

Rating: Four Stars

Available: January 18, 2022


Good Girl Complex by Elle Kennedy

After reading Elle Kennedy’s full Off-Campus series (well, thank you #booktok), I was intrigued to see NetGalley that had an ARC of her newest read available for review. And you know what? Color me interested…

Here, we follow Mac, who’s a chronic people pleaser and reluctantly starts college at a prestigious school in the South. Alongside Mac, we meet Cooper, the bad boy townie that she finds herself drawn to. While Mac seemingly has it all — the prep school friends, the well-off life, parents who give her everything, and a devoted longtime boyfriend — something seems off. All she wants to do is grow her internet business but her folks have insisted she get a degree first. So, she enrolls at Garnet College in the beachfront town of Avalon Bay. While she’s used to repressing her wild impulses, something about local Cooper inspires her to let go and be free. Cooper, then, for his part makes a She’s All That-inspired bet with his friends to make Mac, the girlfriend of the boy who humiliated him, fall for him and subsequently break up with that jerk as revenge. What he didn’t expect was to actually fall for her, realizing she’s not like the rest of the snobby Garnet students.

Told in dual perspectives, it’s chock full of juicy, compelling, and fun language that completely drew me in because, let me tell you, I was hooked. And sure, while there is some *spice* here (much like the Off-Campus books), this New Adult read seems more grounded and story-driven with vulnerable characters who have heart, dreams, and goals. Then, gah, that ending! While I appreciate a good HEA in my romance reads, I just wanted more to the story because it seemed to abruptly wrap up and I desperately wanted to see where Mac and Cooper were headed next!

Rating: Four Stars

Available: February 1, 2022


Lockdown on London Lane by Beth Reekles

Beth Reekles, who’s known for her Kissing Booth books, has seamlessly stepped into the adult/women’s fiction game with this novel. Here, various residents in the London Lane apartment building get a note from building management that they are expected to quarantine for a week amidst the beginning of the pandemic. With nowhere else to go, these various characters end up confronting their current lives and situations. We get a variety of leading players, from longtime couples confronting the future of their relationship, newly dating couples diving into that next stage very quickly, a bridal party who cannot stop fighting while prepping for upcoming nuptials, and a one-night stand that unexpectedly lasts a whole week.

So, there’s longtime couple Ethan/Charlotte who are quarantining apart but FaceTiming daily, Zach/Serena who embark on a no-holds-barred fight about their future after a seemingly mundane debate, Liv who’s hosting her fellow bridesmaids after an off-the-rails bachelorette party, Isla/Danny who’ve been dating for one month and put their relationship to the test, and Imogen/Nate who only met the night before after matching on a dating app. Told in multiple perspectives, we see how their different friendships and romances are tested in a series of quick novellas.

While reading, I absolutely couldn’t put this book down thanks to its catchy language that’s just so much fun and draws me in. Not only that, but this quick read features an array of equally lovable yet authentic characters that I’m invested in each of their journeys. It did read like mini-vignettes or something since each story was quite separate until one cute scene towards the end that really brings everyone together as a community. Plus, that ending (minus one heartsick twist) had me grinning so wide at this adorable and fun read.

Rating: Four Stars

Available: February 2, 2022


Lease on Love by Falon Ballard

I was enthralled and captivated by this romance novel from the very first page until the very last. It wasn’t just a sweeping romance that totally had my heart from the get-go but it also shared insight into a pair of flawed, vulnerable individuals who find their own identity and dreams along the way.

This book picks up when Sadie gets passed over for a long-overdue promotion in the finance sector of Manhattan, so she does what any millennial in the midst of a quarter-life crisis does: She gets drunk and tries to seek a date. However, when she accidentally mixes up a dating app and a roommate-finding app, she stumbles upon Jack, the owner of the most beautiful Brooklyn brownstone she’s ever seen. Knowing she’s not interested in Jack romantically in any way but rather lusting over his gorgeous apartment, she rents a room in his place for a tiny sum. After losing her job, she decides to start a new career as a BK-based florist.

Then, there’s the mysterious Jack, who’s been grieving the death of his parents and unexpectedly finds himself drawn to the vivacious gardening enthusiast who brings him out of his shell. These two are complete polar opposites stuck in the same orbit, which gives me The Roommate by Rose Danan vibes, with opposites attract and forced proximity tropes at work. And side note, dang, Jack is one great Book Boyfriend, like, um, good work there because I’m melting. Oh, hot damn, oh boy, oh boy.

It’s such a quick read that I could not put down, nor did I want to. I was that desperate to know what would happen next in this story of a relatable millennial trying to find her way. These characters are so vulnerable, authentic and just have so much heart that I truly feel for them and want them to grow as individuals and in love. Also, yes, there’s some *spice* content in here, but the passion is almost described with an air of love to it rather than being a completely smutty/raunchy type of scene.

Rating: Four Stars

Available: February 2, 2022


One Night on the Island by Josie Silver

After One Day in December came out, I loved it. End of story. So, the moment I learned the author had written a new book that was set in Ireland, a tale of forced proximity and finding oneself, I was all-in.

Here, we follow Cleo, who’s a London-based dating columnist who heads to the remote island “Salvation” for her 30th birthday at the insistence of her magazine editor. When she arrives at the luxury cabin for her solo retreat, a mixup sends Boston-bred Mack into her orbit, who came to the town to explore his roots while staying in the exact same cabin. Thanks to the booking mishap and the lack of a boat to the mainland, the pair are stuck sharing the one-room space together for a while. Instantly at odds, the pair try to ignore one another, however that plan soon goes out the window. As expected.

Told in dual perspectives, this women’s fiction novel combines forced proximity and enemies to lovers/opposites attract tropes with a tale of finding oneself. This book reads quite quickly, full of compelling language that just draws me in. For nearly the first half of this read, it was more of a women’s fiction slash slow burn type of story and then we get into the frothy, indulgent holiday romance cuteness that had me smiling wide. It’s a cute, compelling novel, end of story.

Rating: Four Stars

Available: February 15, 2022


Advance reader copies of the books listed were provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

The 21 Best Books I’ve Read in 2021: Year in Review

And another year has come to an end! So, you know what that means, my loyal blog readers: Another TBR log and reading goal has been met (and then some, let’s be real) and so, I’m back to recount the 21 best books I’ve polished off this year. Ones that earned an impressive (and coveted) five whole stars upon a first read, a sweet re-read that I couldn’t get out of my head all year long, and so much more. So, keep reading for my favorite books that I’ve completed this year, and hopefully, at least one of them gives you TBR inspiration when you need it.

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab

You may remember how I gushed over this read back in January, and truly, I don’t think out of the 150+ books I managed this year that any topped this one. Sorry not sorry.

This book is like a  mix of genres between historical fiction, contemporary, fantasy, romance, and literary fiction. There’s so much vulnerability about life, love, and being remembered. Here, we start in a small town in France in 1714, and we meet a young girl named Adeline. She dreams of a life and real love. She soon meets a mysterious stranger who offers her a Faustian deal for immortality. In doing so, she’s cursed where no one can remember her after they first meet. We travel with her from century to century and continent to continent, through various historical and artistic moments. Then, some three hundred years later, everything changed. When, in New York City, Addie meets Henry in a hidden bookstore and he remembers her name. We follow her relationship with Henry and with Luc, the devil she made a deal with, all as she struggles to make her mark on the world when she’s destined to be invisible. This book is just so so so so special, a five f**king star read in all its glory, no doubt about that.

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You Have a Match by Emma Lord

Well, I technically read this last year (and included it in that’s wrap-up post), I had to order a finished copy after its pub date and have since re-read it a few times.

Here, we follow 16-year-old Abby, who in a bet with best friend Connie, takes a DNA test to find out her ancestries along with their other best pal, Leo. This book brings an engaging point of view that feels both authentic and current for a teen girl with really fun and relatable language. So, the DNA test revealed that Abby has a secret full sister, Savannah, an 18-year-old Instagram star. The two are polar opposites to their cores but want to get to know each other. To figure things out and get to know each other, Savvy invites her new sister to attend the camp where she’ll be a junior counselor. It’s seriously like a modern-day version of The Parent Trap, and I’m here for it. Then, there’s also a precious slow-burn romance between Abby and her best friend and neighbor, Leo.

This book is so much more than a teen romance, more than a summer camp adventure, more than a familial drama, more than a story of friendship and sisterhood, more than a comedy, and more than a deep, emotional novel. It’s a book in a class all its own and had me captivated until I read that very last word on the final page. Seriously, it’s totally worth those five stars because now I have to buy and I just can’t imagine a world where I haven’t read this, and it also made me feel closer to my grandfather who’s passed away, my own Poppy, which I needed now more than ever.

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The End of Men by Christina Sweeney-Baird

After literally devouring this ARC, I knew I wouldn’t be forgetting about this fan-freaking-tastic novel any time soon.

In this work of fiction, a virus circulating around the UK sweeps the world and takes out most of the male population, leaving women to pick up the pieces of society as Sweeney-Baird posits what would happen to the world without men. The book starts in 2025 when a mysterious virus shows up at a hospital in Scotland. Only men are carriers and are affected, and as the virus grows into a global pandemic, it’s up to women to save the future of humanity while also dealing with their own loss and grief. This book is the immersive first-person account of the women rebuilding the world, including Amanda the doctor who treated Patient Zero, Catherine a social historian documenting everything, scientist Elizabeth working on a vaccine, and others around the world. It aims to chart how the absence of men changed society both personally and politically in this prolific and prescient novel.

I just poured over the text, the language, the story, the vulnerability, and the heart. This gripping modern thriller slash literary fiction read is so poignant and timely about the world’s new normal. It’s so relevant, raw, and vulnerable, and just like, wow. The language just enthralled me, captivated me, and drew me in. I loved the ending about how these women found the strength and power in this new world, while also dealing with what they lost. In the end, this had to be a five-star read for me, it’s just so poignant, well-written, and prolific.

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Instructions for Dancing by Nicola Yoon

Nicola Yoon’s a master at creating contemporary YA novels and this latest read fits in perfectly with what she does best.

It starts with the main character Evie, who doesn’t believe in love anymore after her parents’ divorce. The girl who once devoured romance novels now can only see how couples’ love stories end instead of the actual loved-up parts. After some fated encounters, she ends up at La Brea Dance Studio and finds herself learning to dance with the spontaneous, adventurous X. Xavier (who goes by the nickname X) is the total opposite of Evie, but the two of them are thrown together as a pair for a local ballroom dance competition. As they practice together and get to know each other, Evie has to confront if love is worth the risk.

It’s a beautifully written book and so authentic because, hey, not everything lasts forever except that feeling and association of love sometimes can. This book is romantic, fantastical, authentic, vulnerable, bittersweet, and heartfelt. I loved it so darn much. Yoon effortlessly blends the contemporary with the fantasy in this sweet YA read about the power of first love. This book is just so flipping good, she’s done it again.

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This Close to Okay by Leesa Cross-Smith

This book took me completely by surprise but in the absolute best way as its told in alternating perspectives over the course of one weekend.

Here, we follow Tallie and Bridge/Emmett who meet when she finds him about to jump off of a bridge when she drives past. As a therapist, she can’t just let him do this and so, she gets out of her car and starts talking to him. This book has such compelling language that pulls you in from the very first page. It reads quite quickly and features impactful writing, touching on important subjects like grief, suicide, race, and mental health. It’s so captivating and the plot twists were truly unexpected, which I loved that I didn’t see it coming. This book, wow, just so mesmerizing.

 

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If The Shoe Fits by Julie Murphy

Julie Murphy, who’s killed the YA game with her Dumplin, Puddin, and Pumpkin novels, kicked off a new “Meant to Be” series, which reimagines a bunch of Disney fairytales with modern romances featuring body-positive leads.

This book was so juicy, engaging, unputdownable just by the first couple of chapters! Here, Cindy’s just graduated with a degree in shoe design and trying to get her career off the ground. So, she takes a job working for her stepmother, the executive producer on the popular reality show “Before Midnight.” When a spot on the show opens at the last minute, Cindy volunteers hoping it could help jumpstart her fashion career or give her something to do while her classmates land high-fashion jobs. But being the only plus-size competitor on a dating competition show makes a big splash and her a body positivity icon. The only thing she didn’t expect was to find inspiration and love in this crazy process. 

Next up, romance legend Jasmine Guillory is set to tackle a freaking Beauty and the Beast adaptation and you know it’s already on my 2022 TBR list.

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The Hill We Climb by Amanda Gorman

For a dash of something different, I wanted to include some other genres on here, like poetry. I read a copy of this young poet’s Inauguration Day poem and it was just so, like, poignant and electric to talk about her dreams for the country moving forward and what the country is now.

This was a printed version of the monumental poem that she read at the POTUS’ inauguration ceremony back in January and it was so hopeful and captivating whenever you need a dash of motivation, which, let’s face it: We all could use at some point in our daily lives.

 

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It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover

So after seeing my fellow #bookstagram and #booktok people rave over Colleen Hoover books pretty much all year, I had to check them out for myself, including November 9 and Ugly Love, though nothing could compare to this read, my first foray into CoHo books. I literally devoured and sobbed my way through this emotionally charged contemporary romance novel.

After a challenging upbringing and past heartbreaks, Lily has moved from her Maine hometown to Boston and even started her own business. Soon, she meets gorgeous neurosurgeon Ryle and it seems like her life is almost too good to be true. But, then she somehow can’t get her ex Atlas and their troubled past out of her head when he comes spinning back into her orbit. This book was so poignant, vulnerable and heartbreaking. Plus, it’s literally like the book personification of Taylor Swift’s “All Too Well (10 Minute Version) (Taylor’s Version).” It tracks.

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Live Your Life by Amanda Kloots

After following Amanda Kloots’ and Nick Cordero’s heartwrenching coronavirus story and her inspiring positivity last year, I was so interested in reading her memoir about the ordeal. She reflects on love, loss, and life with her husband, Broadway star Nick Cordero.

It’s the story of their life together and his fight against COVID-19. It’s a beautiful, heartfelt, and emotional story of her entire journey with Nick, from the first time they met, their wedding, the birth of their son Elvis, through COVID and her unimaginable loss. It’s such a poignant and honest first-person account that makes your heart break even more than it did while reading the news stories. You can feel all her raw, vulnerable emotions from this period come through while reading. With Kloots’ positive spirit, her memoir shares an unplugged look at this awful period along with her strength, support from loved ones, and it provides a tribute/lasting memory for Cordero to assist with her grief.

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Blackout by Dhonielle Clayton; Tiffany D. Jackson; Nic Stone; Angie Thomas; Ashley Woodfolk; Nicola Yoon

These authors individually are some of my favorites and together they created a masterpiece. By the first few chapters, I already loved every page and each character’s story! It’s so full of heart, authenticity, representation, and adorable teen love stories.

Here, these authors came together to write an interlinked novel about Black teen love through heartwarming and charming coming-of-age stories. Each author writes a short story, focusing on one of six different love stories that all take place in New York City during a heatwave and blackout, on the same day. Each tale reads like a short story that’s compelling and adorable on its own (plus is well-written, obviously) with interconnected settings and characters to tie it all together. These are seriously adorable and cute teen love stories, plus I love to see all the representation done so accurately and relatably. Each chapter introduces a side character or background that effortlessly leads into the next story and chapter. It’s a YA novel and a romance read, unlike anything I’ve read before, which is what made it so great. Plus, the Obamas are set to adapt it for Netflix and I cannot wait.

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No Words by Meg Cabot

Meg Cabot has continued to prove her status as the queen of romance with her third “Little Bridge Island” book and it is equally adorable and engaging watching a new pair of characters fall in love.

Our main characters are Jo Wright, who is an acclaimed children’s book author with serious writer’s block, and Will Price, an arrogant novelist of literary fiction who lives in LBI. The duo are both set to attend and speak out the island’s first-ever book festival, yet they have an intense history and rivalry between them and so Jo doesn’t want to associate with the British-accented, good-looking author whatsoever. Yet, he desperately wants to prove to her that he’s changed and hopes to make amends during the course of the weekend festival. From the summary alone, I can tell we’re going to get a delicious enemies-to-lovers trope and a fun vacation romance from Cabot, which instantly excited me about this book — and it totally delivered on all fronts. Loved loved loved it!

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The Party Crasher by Sophie Kinsella

I requested and started this ARC on a complete whim because of the author, a clear instant-read for me. Once I started, I just couldn’t stop because it was so captivating and fun as a novel and as a women’s fiction novel specifically.

Here, it’s been two years since Effie’s parents divorced which has completely destroyed her idea of a happy, perfect family and relationship. Since then, she’s been estranged from her dad, in a feud with his much-younger girlfriend Krista, and learned her childhood estate has been sold. When Krista hosts a “house-cooling” party before they hand over the keys, Effie is left off the guest list, leaving her fuming. At first, she isn’t bothered about skipping the festivities until she remembers a childhood treasure is left at the house that she wants, and so she plans to sneak in during the party, grab her trinkets, and get out sight-unseen. But, as she does, she catches her siblings and dads in their hidden secrets and figures out all aren’t as she suspected. Then, there’s her ex and first love, Joe. While he broke her heart years ago, he’s finagled an invitation to the gathering, and when she sees him, it’s honestly as if nothing has changed.

This book, honestly, feels different from her other straight-up romance books, as this is more about familial drama and individual growth. Despite its differences, Kinsella stays true to her style and delivers compelling language that has me hooked and curious from the jump. So much so that I really didn’t want to put this book down and ended up devouring it in a single sitting. This book reads quickly and the hijinks of hiding/not getting caught juxtaposed with the vulnerable, heartfelt family dynamics and adorable first love/second chance trope makes a completely unputdownable novel. Plus, that epilogue was so darn adorable and precious that I’m still smiling just thinking about it.

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The Soulmate Equation by Christina Lauren

This Christina Lauren novel is another delightful romcom read from these two authors.

Here, single mom Jess is barely holding it all together to make ends meet. She lives with her grandparents, who helped raise her, and who helps raise her seven-year-old daughter Juno. She’s a statistician who loves data and crunching numbers but hesitates to get back in the dating game. As a statistician, when she and her best friend discover GeneticAlly, a DNA-based matchmaking service, she’s skeptical but intrigued. On a whim, she signs up and spits into a tube. Soon, she’s discovered that her results have matched her with Dr. River Pena at a freaking 98 percent compatibility, a nearly unheard of score. Oh, but she already knows River and doesn’t really like him after some initial, unfriendly meetings. The company has a proposition for her. To pretend to date, or actually just get to know, River and they’ll pay her a handsome sum that could really help her day-to-day. Since she needs the cash, she reluctantly agrees. They’re trotted out at all sorts of public events as the rare, elusive Diamond Match in order to help his company succeed, but eventually, they realize there might be something to each other than they initially thought.

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Meg & Jo by Virginia Kantra

I’ve always been a huge Little Women fan ever since childhood, and when I heard Virginia Kantra wrote a modern retelling of itI knew I’d like it just as much, which I did. Now, I’m even more besotted with the lives of the March sisters than ever before.

Here, we follow modern and grown-up versions of the March girls, here focused on Meg and Jp. While Jo has moved to NYC to become a journalist, things haven’t gone as planned, and Meg, for her part, has lived her so-called dream life as a wife and mother. However, “getting everything you’ve ever wanted isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.” After a family emergency forces the girls to return to North Carolina for the holidays, they rediscover what really matters.

 

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Beth & Amy by Virginia Kantra

After writing Meg & Jo, author Virginia Kantra put a fresh spin on the modern versions of sisters Beth and Amy as they get their chance in the spotlight.

This book is all about Beth’s and Amy’s coming-of-age stories: Amy’s an ambitious up-and-coming handbag designer in New York, whereas good girl Beth is a singer-songwriter working to overcome her anxiety and stage fright on tour with country superstar Colt. When they both return home for Jo’s wedding, they must confront their lives and what they actually want it to be.

As a reader who’s enthralled with the March sisters, while we all adore Meg and Jo, who doesn’t secretly love Beth and Amy, so, it’s exciting to see their perspectives and get inside their heads as they grow up, especially since in the original novel, they were children. This story alternates between the point of view of the two sisters, much like Meg & Jo, but also includes chapters focus on Marmee/Momma/Abby’s sides too, which is another intriguing perspective to understand. True to form, Kantra’s novel features rich storytelling and language to draw you in. Set three years after Meg & Jo, I loved seeing Beth and Amy shine, expressing vulnerability and complexity in both past and present timelines. As expected, I really dug this book and just didn’t (and couldn’t) want to put it down.

All in all, I think I did like this more than Meg & Jo because it’s partially a new story with previously hidden depths and vulnerabilities of these former minor characters that I loved so fiercely.

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The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

As the faithful #bookstagram and #booktok member I am, I had to give this read a spin after seeing y’all rave about it. And rave is right on the money.

Here, Greece in the age of Heroes as young prince Patroclus has been exiled to the kingdom of Phthia. As a nobody, he’s living in the shadow of King Peleus and his memorable son, Achilles. After he takes Patroclus under his wing, the boys develop a strong connection and bond into something quite strong and beautiful, however heartbreaking that means for me as a reader of this Greek mythology adaptation.

 

 

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Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

As you’ve probably guess, I spent my far time this year obsessing over this entire franchise and its Netflix adaptation, even figuring out how to adapt the character’s look into modern-day outfit ideas. While all the books have been great, I included this one because Book One is where it all begins.

We follow the orphaned Alina Starkov, an ordinary soldier in the Ravkan Army who takes her first-ever harrowing trek across the Shadow Fold. After her regiment is attacked, it turns out some dormant magic may be the key to saving them all. As a newly discovered magical entity, Alina is thrust into the luxe world of the Grisha as she starts her training with General Kirigan AKA The Darkling. And once you finish Alina’s three books, check out the Six of Crows and King of Scars duologies. You won’t be disappointed, trust me.

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The Charm Offensive by Alison Cochrun

This book is pitched as a Red, White, & Royal Blue meets One to Watch rom-com, and as a fan of both of those books, I was excited about that juxtaposition come to life in this totally original romance novel.

The story follows awkward tech wunderkind, Charlie, as he’s set to become the next lead on a reality TV dating show, called “Ever After.” Then, there’s his handler, producer Dev, who wholeheartedly believes in fairy tales though hasn’t had luck with his own. Charlie, who only agreed to go on the show to rehab his image to get a new job after the show airs, isn’t the typical show lead and is very awkward and anxious. It’s up to his producer Dev to jumpstart a massive “charm offensive” to get Charlie to open up, be a likable lead, and fall in love on the TV show. Along the way, Charlie starts opening up to Dev and vice versa, and the two realize they have the most chemistry with one another. But, reality TV shows have scripts to follow and unfortunately, a queer love story with a show producer isn’t what the executive producer had in mind for the season (though, I’d watch it!).

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In Every Mirror She’s Black by Lolá Ákínmádé Åkerström

This novel shares insight into what it means to be a black woman today, following three distinct POCs who are in some way linked to the same influential Swedish white man in Stockholm.

Kemi is a workaholic marketing executive who moves to Sweden to head up diversity for CEO Jonny’s company after a tone-deaf incident and partially looking to reclaim her social life in the process. Meanwhile, Brittany-Rae is a flight attendant who meets Jonny on a flight and is suddenly thrust into his luxury world. Then, there’s Mena, a refuge struggling to establish residency in a new country while working as a janitor for his company.

The book aims to tackle racism, classism, sexism, tokenism, and fetishization as these three women come to terms with what it means to be a black woman in a white-dominated society. Told in three point-of-views, this book reads quite quickly and is well-written, engaging, and difficult to put down with many complex characters sharing their stories and journeys.

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If This Gets Out by Cale Dietrich & Sophie Gonzales

Everything about this story intrigued me so much. Besides, as a massive boy band fan, I was super excited about this concept and a behind-the-scenes look at what that recording and touring lifestyle is really like.

Here, 18-year-olds Ruben Montez and Zach Knight are two of the four members of the hit boy band, Saturday, which is one of the biggest acts in America. Onstage, the four boys are teen heartbreakers, and offstage they are just four normal best friends. However, cracks are starting to form under the pressures of fame. Ruben even confides in Zach that he’s feeling smothered by their management’s pressure to stay in the closet. During a whirlwind European trip, while dealing with a busy schedule and minimal supervision, Ruben and Zach rely on each other more and more as their close friendship soon evolves into romance. Though the guys decide they are ready to tell their fans and live freely, they realize that their management will never support the plan. They question how to hold on tight to what they have when the entire world seemingly wants to come between them.

I would describe this book as Red, White & Royal Blue meets One Direction, which means it’s pretty darn close to perfect for my interests. Co-authors Sophie Gonzales and Cale Dietrich, who are masters of their craft, have created such a compelling narrative that’s chock full of engaging language that draws me in from the very first page. Told in dual points-of-view, readers have the chance to get inside the mindsets of both leading men, who are equally vulnerable and authentic. Plus, they as a couple are 1000% precious and adorable, and I ship them. Facts are facts.

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Lease on Love by Falon Ballard

I was enthralled and captivated by this romance novel from the very first page until the very last. It wasn’t just a sweeping romance that totally had my heart from the get-go but it also shared insight into a pair of flawed, vulnerable individuals who find their own identity and dreams along the way.

This book picks up when Sadie gets passed over for a long-overdue promotion in the finance sector of Manhattan, so she does what any millennial in the midst of a quarter-life crisis does: She gets drunk and tries to seek a date. However, when she accidentally mixes up a dating app and a roommate-finding app, she stumbles upon Jack, the owner of the most beautiful Brooklyn brownstone she’s ever seen. Knowing she’s not interested in Jack romantically in any way but rather lusting over his gorgeous apartment, she rents a room in his place for a tiny sum. After losing her job, she decides to start a new career as a BK-based florist. Then, there’s the mysterious Jack, who’s been grieving the death of his parents and unexpectedly finds himself drawn to the vivacious gardening enthusiast who brings him out of his shell.

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7 Late 2021 Books I’ve Been Obsessing Over

With my new work normal finally settling in, I’ve also been able to get a new reading schedule in place so I continue to read for fun daily or weekly, because the last year, it bummed me out that I had zero time to actually read my overflowing TBR. Now, that the latter half of 2021 is fast approaching, I’ve been able to make a sizable dent in my ARC reading list on NetGalley — many of which have become Instant Must-Reads to share with you all.

So, without further ado, welcome back to another installment of Miranda’s Book Nook because I have even more 2021 book recommendations for you! These reads I just couldn’t get enough of and, subsequently, be on your bookish radar later this year. Happy reading!

The Sweetest Remedy by Jane Igharo

I thoroughly enjoyed this women’s fiction slash romance novel, so much so that I barely wanted to put it down between reading sessions! Here, Hannah travels to Lagos, Nigeria for the funeral of the father she only met once briefly. In this fish-out-of-water tale, she meets her long-lost and extravagant family for the first time, a new love interest, and even unearthed new parts about herself and her culture/identity she didn’t know was missing. The book follows the chaotic days leading up to the funeral as she is accepted by some members of her new family and scorned by others, learns about this other side of herself and her father’s culture, and unexpectedly falls for a local man during the few days she’s in town.

This Berkley book intrigued me from the summary and author Jane Igharo’s previous bestselling novel, so I was so excited to try this out. As I read, I discovered the story is told through multiple points of view, including Hannah and her various siblings. The chapters are quick and engaging that pulled me in from Chapter One. The language’s compelling, the perspectives’ intriguing, and the characters are authentic yet complex.

It was super difficult to stop reading this read, which ended up being a sweet romance mixed with an endearing coming-of-age type of story. And while, yes, there’s a romance here, this story was more than just a romance which is why I gravitated towards it so much. It’s also a family tale, a story of identity and finding yourself, too. It was a very good, engaging, and compelling read. Would definitely recommend.

Rating: Four Stars

Available: October 12


The Party Crasher by Sophie Kinsella

Honestly, I requested this ARC on a whim the moment I saw the author was Sophie Kinsella without even reading the synopsis because that was, like, an instant-read for me. Then, once I started, I just couldn’t stop because it was so captivating and fun as a novel and as a women’s fiction novel specifically.

Here, it’s been two years since Effie’s parents divorced which has completely destroyed her idea of a happy, perfect family and relationship. Since then, she’s been estranged from her dad, in a feud with his much-younger girlfriend Krista, and learned her childhood estate has been sold. When Krista hosts a “house-cooling” party before they hand over the keys, Effie is left off the guest list, leaving her fuming. At first, she isn’t bothered about skipping the festivities until she remembers a childhood treasure is left at the house that she wants, and so she plans to sneak in during the party, grab her trinkets, and get out sight-unseen. But, as she does, she catches her siblings and dads in their hidden secrets and figures out all aren’t as she suspected. Then, there’s her ex and first love, Joe. While he broke her heart years ago, he’s finagled an invitation to the gathering, and when she sees him, it’s honestly as if nothing has changed.

This book, honestly, feels different from her other straight-up romance books, as this is more about familial drama and individual growth. Despite its differences, Kinsella stays true to her style and delivers compelling language that has me hooked and curious from the jump. So much so that I really didn’t want to put this book down and ended up devouring it in a single sitting. This book reads quickly and the hijinks of hiding/not getting caught juxtaposed with the vulnerable, heartfelt family dynamics and adorable first love/second chance trope makes a completely unputdownable novel. Plus, that epilogue was so darn adorable and precious that I’m still smiling just thinking about it.

I don’t often give out 5/5 stars, but this book earned it because it’s so well-written and captivating, and I just loved it. Truly devoured it. Like, wow, there aren’t a ton of books like this one, and, yeah, I just wanted to root for the whole family so much. Each character is so authentic, realistic, and vulnerable like real-life people. Bravo, Bravo.

Rating: Five Stars

Available: October 12


All the Feels by Olivia Dade

For anyone who is a fan of Spoiler Alert or spicy romance novels in general, you are sure to enjoy this novel. Written as a follow-up to Marcus and April’s story, now it’s Alex’s turn. Alex, Marcus’ friend from God of the Gates who also enjoys writing fanfiction, knows his star is failing after a recent arrest and public altercation becomes tabloid fodder. While he’s needed to finish filming the show, the showrunners hire a minder to watch out for him. So, they enlist one of their cousins: Lauren. Lauren is a former ER therapist between jobs, trying to figure out her next step. And she does need the cash, so she agrees to help out her cousin and watch over this incredibly good-looking superstar. But, the more she gets to know him and spend time with him, the more she realizes there’s more to him than meets the eye.

After devouring Spoiler Alert, I was instantly excited about this one, and boy, did it deliver! Told in dual perspectives, the language just drew me in and captivated me until the very last page of the epilogue. Yes, there is some ~spice~ here, and it does get, um, ahem, hot, so fair warning if that’s not your thing or is, no judgment either way. Plus, that ending was beyond adorable yet still felt completely justified.

Rating: Four Stars

Available: October 26


A Certain Appeal by Vanessa King

I’m a sucker for a good Pride & Prejudice retelling, and that’s what drew me to this read. Imagine: Austen’s classic story in a contemporary setting at a burlesque club in New York City because that’s what we get here/

After a stinging betrayal at work, Liz Bennet found a fresh start in NYC as an assistant slash burlesque club “stage kitten” at night. The prospect of love isn’t on her radar right now until Mr. William Darcy struts into her club one night. They look eyes before he refers to her as merely “tolerable.” Oh, how I’ve heard this tale before… She plans to write him off until her bestie Jane ends up falling for his, Charles Bingley, and they are continuously thrown together into the same orbit more often than she’d like. And, true to fashion, with time, she soon discovers her prejudices slipping as she gets to know the real Darcy.

So, it can best be described as Pride & Prejudice mixed with found family and the world of burlesque, which takes a classic and spins it on its head. For a retelling, it does feel original and fresh. There have been plenty of Austenian adaptations, but none have been exactly like this one. It’s a fairly quick read, chock full of engaging language and more representative/diverse characters, oh, and spice. Yes, plenty of spice.

Rating: Three Stars

Available: November 2


The Wedding Ringer by Kerry Rea

Knowing how much I’ve enjoyed other Berkley romances and the premise of this one, I was instantly excited about this one from the start. And my thoughts continued to live up to that hype after I finished it, too.

Here, we follow Willa, who was a successful Ohio-based blogger with a loving fiance until she caught him cheating on her with her very best friend. Now, she works as a dress-up princess for children’s birthday parties but dreams of starting over somewhere new and escaping her life. But to do so, she needs money. Randomly, she meets Maisie who needs to hire a last-minute replacement bridesmaid is willing to shell out big bucks for that to open, and since Willa needs the money, it seems like a simple enough gig. Willa is thrust into Maisie’s high-energy world of wedding planning into the path of the best man: the handsome and successful doctor Liam, who has sort of has a not-so-nice history with when she meets up at Maisie’s engagement party.

OK, so, this book! Author Kerry Rea writes such engaging storytelling that puts you right into the moment and in her head with first-person narration in this fun, indulgent rom-com. TBH, it’s such a quick type of read that I don’t want to put down at all thanks to its witty language and fun premise. Towards the end, there is a big surprise twist that showcases the vulnerability and authenticity of the characters, which I liked to see. And, of course, that HEA was beyond precious and had me grinning so darn wide. Also, just want to put it out there: Liam is the perfect book boyfriend candidate, calling it now.

Rating: Four Stars

Available: November 9


If This Gets Out by Sophie Gonzales and Cale Dietrich

This book has been on my “To Read Upon Its Release” TBR list after reading a summary and seeing a cover photo via Instagram, and so the moment I saw this ARC available on NetGalley, I jumped at the chance to request an early copy because everything about this story intrigued me so much. Besides, as a massive boy band fan, I was super excited about this concept and a behind-the-scenes look at what that recording and touring lifestyle is really like.

Here, 18-year-olds Ruben Montez and Zach Knight are two of the four members of the hit boy band, Saturday, which is one of the biggest acts in America. Onstage, the four boys are teen heartbreakers, and offstage they are just four normal best friends. However, cracks are starting to form under the pressures of fame. Ruben even confides in Zach that he’s feeling smothered by their management’s pressure to stay in the closet. During a whirlwind European trip, while dealing with a busy schedule and minimal supervision, Ruben and Zach rely on each other more and more as their close friendship soon evolves into romance. Though the guys decide they are ready to tell their fans and live freely, they realize that their management will never support the plan. They question how to hold on tight to what they have when the entire world seemingly wants to come between them.

I would describe this book as Red, White & Royal Blue meets One Direction, which means it’s pretty darn close to perfect for my interests. Co-authors Sophie Gonzales and Cale Dietrich, who are masters of their craft, have created such a compelling narrative that’s chock full of engaging language that draws me in from the very first page. Told in dual points-of-view, readers have the chance to get inside the mindsets of both leading men, who are equally vulnerable and authentic. Plus, they as a couple are 1000% precious and adorable, and I ship them. Facts are facts. It’s a fun read that takes place BTS of their European tour. I’d categorize this book more as New Adult than a true-form Young Adult because there’s a tad bit of *spicy* content here, which I was totally on board with. It’s a quick read, and both the characters together and the book are just so darn cute. In terms of tropes, we’ve got friends-to-lovers and secret love, so what could go wrong?

By the end of this book, I wanted to make one thing clear: I officially stan Saturday and Zach+Ruben as a couple. This novel is completely and wholeheartedly precious and squeal-worthy. It was so difficult to put down this book because I just needed to know what would happen next.

Rating: Four Stars

Available: December 7


Smile and Look Pretty by Amanda Pellegrino

I was instantly intrigued by this book, because like many other employees in the workforce, I have survived life as an underpaid assistant and intern, and I was so curious to see how this book would tackle such a complicated and seldomly spoken about topic. And this author did so seamlessly and authentically in a way that still told a compelling story. This book was described as a 9 to 5 for the Instagram generation, which instantly intrigued me because I understand where they’re coming from all too well.

Here, we follow four best friends (Cate, Lauren, Max, and Olivia) who all have had enough of their grueling assistant gigs in the entertainment industry and dealing with their powerful bosses taking advantage of their labor and desire to get ahead in their careers. These four overworked and underpaid assistants realize that, like the assistants who came before them, know they have to pay their dues to get to the top yet they are continually passed over for promotions and fed up with the work environment’s toxicity and reach their collective breaking points. So, they start a secret and anonymous blog where they can share their assistant woes and experience. The blog’s a hit, and soon more and more assistants start sharing their stories too, which launches them into viral fame.

Told via multiple perspectives, you get an in-depth look at how each girl got to this decision to chronicle their Me Too-era work experiences via the blog in a poignant and authentic way. After a slow start, the book ramps up into a compelling, relatable, and unputdownable read, chock-full of captivating language.

Rating: Four Stars

Available: December 28


Advance reader copies of the books listed were provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

7 New September Book Releases That Belong on Your Fall TBR

The latter half of July hasn’t been the most productive for me as a reader either. I believe my final monthly total was just 11 books, which is significantly down from what I was managing at the top half of the year. But, that being said, I did manage to complete some extraordinary novels (one even got a five-star review from little ole me!)

So, settle back in for another installment of Miranda’s Book Nook as I reveal seven September book releases that I couldn’t get enough of this summer! As always: Happy reading, my lovely followers!

In Every Mirror She’s Black by Lolá Ákínmádé Åkerström

This novel shares insight into what it means to be a black woman today, following three distinct POCs who are in some way linked to the same influential Swedish white man in Stockholm.

Kemi is a workaholic marketing executive who moves to Sweden to head up diversity for CEO Jonny’s company after a tone-deaf incident and partially looking to reclaim her social life in the process. Meanwhile, Brittany-Rae is a flight attendant who meets Jonny on a flight and is suddenly thrust into his luxury world. Then, there’s Mena, a refuge struggling to establish residency in a new country while working as a janitor for his company.

The book aims to tackle racism, classism, sexism, tokenism, and fetishization as these three women come to terms with what it means to be a black woman in a white-dominated society. Told in three point-of-views, this book reads quite quickly and is well-written, engaging, and difficult to put down with many complex characters sharing their stories and journeys.

Rating: Four Stars

Available: September 7


The Charm Offensive by Allison Cochrun

This book is pitched as Red, White, & Royal Blue meets One to Watch rom-com, and as a fan of both of those books, I was excited to see that juxtaposition come to life in this totally original romance novel.

The story follows awkward tech wunderkind, Charlie, as he’s set to become the next lead on a reality TV dating show, called “Ever After.” Then, there’s his handler, producer Dev, who wholeheartedly believes in fairy tales though hasn’t had luck with his own. Charlie, who only agreed to go on the show to rehab his image to get a new job after the show airs, isn’t the typical show lead and is very awkward and anxious. It’s up to his producer Dev to jumpstart a massive “charm offensive” to get Charlie to open up, be a likable lead, and fall in love on the TV show. Along the way, Charlie starts opening up to Dev and vice versa, and the two realize they have the most chemistry with one another. But, reality TV shows have scripts to follow and unfortunately, a queer love story with a show producer isn’t what the executive producer had in mind for the season (though, I’d watch it!).

Told in dual perspectives of both Charlie and Dev, this book is broken down in a logical way by the weekly production and episode. Okay, as I read I really did love this book. It brought a similar narrative as Red, White, & Royal Blue if it were set in the world of The Bachelor, and its language was so well-done. It was engaging, funny, and enjoyable from the start, which made it difficult for me to put this book down at all. It’s so darn precious and cute, plus was a quick, unputdownable read. This book and these characters were so authentic and relatable as the author touched on mental health, therapy, and LGBT+ representation in poignant, realistic ways.

Rating: Four Stars

Available: September 7


The Pick-Up by Miranda Kenneally

After reading several of her YA novels, Miranda Kenneally is fast becoming an auto-purchase YA author for my bookshelf, and so I was so excited to learn about her latest book. Told in dual perspectives, it’s a fun and light romance read about two teens, Mari and TJ, that meet in a ride-share en route to Lollapalooza.
Here, Mari doesn’t believe in dating and only plans to be at her Dad’s house in Chicago for the weekend only for the festival. Meanwhile, TJ wants to study art in college but struggles how to tell his family, especially as he visits his overachieving brother in Chi-town for the summer. After they meet and fate brings them together more than once, they both realize the spark between them is burning way too bright to ignore. The pair starts out at the festival, but quickly get separated. It’s up to fate and a viral Twitter hashtag to bring them back together. Once they reunite, they contemplate if this thing is a weekend fling or something more.
Reading this book, I found it to be a quick, fun, and light New Adult read. The language is fun, relatable, and witty that just pulls me in and I don’t want to put it down. Plus, it’s a beyond cute story. Then, I loved the post-HEA tie-in to her characters from Four Days of You and Me since that was one of my top YA books of last year.

Rating: Four Stars

Available: September 7


A Lot Like Adios by Alexis Daria

I was so excited to learn about Alexis Daria’s most recent novel after I devoured her You Had Me at Hola romance book. A Lot Like Adiós is an equally fun, spicy, and engaging beach read with heart! Set in the same universe as Hola, we follow Jasmine’s cousin Michelle (the second Prima of Power, FYI) on her own love journey, and it’s a second-chance romance with her childhood best friend Gabriel (Gabe).

Michelle is described as a commitment-phobic Latina who’s built a successful freelance graphic design business after corporate burnout. Meanwhile, Gabe owns the hottest celebrity gym in LA and his investor urges him to open an NYC branch. New York aka the place he fled after high school graduation, disappearing from his best friend and longtime hidden crush Michelle’s life. The story starts as Gabe is about to go to New York to open this branch and work with the already-hired Michelle to tackle the brand’s marketing. She’s itching for closure so she agrees to have him stay with her for the days he’s in town. But soon enough, they pick up exactly where they left off 13 years ago. As the duo works together, they find their old feelings resurface and SERIOUS SPICE ALERT.

Told in dual perspectives, it’s chock full of engaging storytelling that just pulls you in, and as expected, yes you’ll get *some* spice. Also, I really like the insight of the pair’s high school IM chats; it makes a fun flashback scene peppered throughout for insight into where they once were. It has such engaging, quick language that drew me in. Also, while it did have LGBT+ representation, which is great and I love to see more diversity in romance novels, it was only just a piece of their backstory and something that’s flitted over quickly. But all in all, A Lot Like Adiós will be an ideal beach read to toss in your bag during a vacation!

Rating: Four Stars

Available: September 14


First Love, Take Two by Sajni Patel

I absolutely adored the author’s previous novel, The Trouble With Hating You, and so the moment I learned of her upcoming sequel, I knew I had to read it. And it was a good one. After wanting to be a part of Liya’s badass girl gang from the get-go in TTWHY, I’m so glad we get to see her best friend Preeti find (or re-find) love. This read picks up pretty soon after the last ended, but from Preeti’s side. She’s been finishing up her residency, overly stressed with work and job hunting, and managing her traditional family and community. She’s desperate to find a new place to live, and the only option she has is with her ex. Her ex-boyfriend is none other than her first love Daniel, who’s good-looking, confident, supportive, a good cook, and basically perfect. Or he would be if their families approved of the couple.

We’ve got a second chance romance and a forced proximity trope and ooh boy, was I so excited for that. Much like her last book, this read has such quick and witty language that pulls me in from the first chapter, Preeti is such a vulnerable and authentic main character, and this book is a quick read yet plenty swoon-worthy. Their relationship in this slow-burn story is basically the premise of Olivia Rodrigo’s “1 step forward, 3 steps back,” which is all I will say for now. And that ending is completely, absolutely, and squeal-worthy precious.

Rating: Four Stars

Available: September 21


No Words by Meg Cabot

Meg Cabot has done it again! Cabot is back with her third installment in the “Little Bridge Island” series, and it is equally adorable and engaging watching a new pair of [bookish, which, yes please] characters fall in love. Our main characters are Jo Wright, who is an acclaimed children’s book author with serious writer’s block, and Will Price, an arrogant novelist of literary fiction who lives in LBI. The duo are both set to attend and speak out the island’s first-ever book festival, yet they have an intense history and rivalry between them and so Jo doesn’t want to associate with the British-accented, good-looking author whatsoever. Yet, he desperately wants to prove to her that he’s changed and hopes to make amends during the course of the weekend festival. From the summary alone, I can tell we’re going to get a delicious enemies-to-lovers trope and a fun vacation romance from Cabot, which instantly excited me about this book — and it totally delivered on all fronts. Loved loved loved it!

Once I started reading, I was pulled in from the get-go and chapters told via IMs, emails, and interstitials of Will’s latest novel further, which help put you into the character’s heads. Plus, by chapter one, we see that Molly (from No Offense) is back and readers are clued into what’s going on with her post-HEA. Like the rest of the LBI books, No Words is a good and engaging standalone yet the side characters and setting weave in the beloved, established community that Cabot previously and masterfully created. Enthralling language pulls me in and I just have to know more thanks to its endearing and authentic characters. Like seriously, I’m devouring this book just like Jo devoured The Moment in it! As a romantic couple, Will and Jo are so adorable and have banter up the wazoo: totally precious and cute. The epilogue is equally adorable yet I would have liked more to their HEA and journey as a fan, just saying, but as is, it is quite satisfying as a romance read.

Rating: Five Stars

Available: September 28


The Matzah Ball by Jean Meltzer

I love a good holiday rom-com and to see a rare one about Hanukkah and Judaism immediately piqued my interest. Here, Rachel is a Nice Jewish Girl (and daughter of an acclaimed rabbi) who secretly loves Christmas, who even authors several popular Christmas romance books. After her publisher insists she writes a Hanukkah romance next, she faces a bout of writer’s block until she comes up with the brilliant plan to attend the glamorous Matzah Ball in the city. Except it’s sold out. And run by her former summer camp nemesis, Jacob, who she hasn’t seen since he broke her heart that one summer.

Told in dual perspectives, it’s a quick read and a cute-enough romance that gives off wholesome yet pretty religious vibes. Like think of a Hallmark holiday movie and it is a clean, precious romance: It’s like that. It’s easy to follow along as a reader and was enjoyable and fun.

Rating: Three Stars

Available: September 28


Advance reader copies of the books listed were provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

7 Summer Book Releases I’m Loving Right Now

Once again, it’s time to get bookish. By the end of June (and early July too), I was starting a new job and completely focused on getting settled, so my reading goal took a big hit. That being said, I did still manage to read 11 books (and counting) for these two summer months. So, I thought it was high-time for another Miranda’s Book Nook book update! Check out some of the summer 2021 book releases that I just can’t get enough of and should totally be on your radar when looking for the best beach reads this year. Happy reading!

Blackout by Dhonielle Clayton; Tiffany D. Jackson; Nic Stone; Angie Thomas; Ashley Woodfolk; Nicola Yoon

I was beyond pumped to receive an ARC of Blackout by some masters of the YA game: Dhonielle Clayton, Tiffany D. Jackson, Nic Stone, Angie Thomas, Ashley Woodfolk, and Nicola Yoon. By the first few chapters, I already loved every page and each character’s story! It’s so full of heart, authenticity, representation, and adorable teen love stories.

Here, these authors came together to write an interlinked novel about Black teen love through heartwarming and charming coming-of-age stories. Each author writes a short story, focusing on one of six different love stories that all take place in New York City during a heatwave and blackout, on the same day. Each tale reads like a short story that’s compelling and adorable on its own (plus is well-written, obviously) with interconnected settings and characters to tie it all together. These are seriously adorable and cute teen love stories, plus I love to see all the representation done so accurately and relatably. Each chapter introduces a side character or background that effortlessly leads into the next story and chapter. You can clearly tell this book was meticulously organized and planned to be this interconnected which works to tie it all together so seamlessly. It’s a quick read that was hard to put down and is so engaging, well-written, and adorable. It’s a YA novel and a romance read, unlike anything I’ve read before, which is what made it so great.

Rating: Five Stars

Available: Now


The Girl Least Likely by Katy Loutzenhiser

This YA novel is billed as To All the Boys meets The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel meets Dumplin, which made it an automatic read for me. Yet, I only got the teen Maisel vibes located in the contemporary setting similar to TATB or Dumplin.

Here, aspiring comic Gretchen is learning to be herself as she balances school, family, first crushes, and trying her hand at stand-up comedy. While she’s always been the “least likely” girl (which I didn’t fully get here, tbh), she finds herself living out every major rom-com trope (BFF crush, makeover, bad boy love interest) which is the perfect cover for her double life trying out comedy. It seemed that this rom-com thing didn’t quite mesh with the double life/comedy thing to me.

Casting expectations aside, this was a very cute teen coming-of-age story with funny, engaging language. However, it took nearly halfway through this book to get there. I enjoyed the different chapters following a variety of classic rom-com tropes, which it was fun to see how each related to the characters and the bigger story. Plus, it’s full of well-written and authentic characters.

So, yea, it took a while to pull me in. It was slow to start, and I had struggled with getting into it and wanting to keep reading. You see, it didn’t have any real exposition and just dived right in, which (to me) felt like I was missing something as I didn’t get much (or any) true introduction to meet these characters before the story starts. I was struggling to muster enough energy to pick it up daily and was seriously debating DNFing before I even reached the halfway point of my galley copy. I’m glad I did stick with it because the story does pick up soon after that and it gets funnier and more engaging. So, if you can stick with this read, you’ll end up smiling over its absolutely precious rom-com-worthy ending.

Rating: Three Stars

Available: Now


Pretty Little London by Sara Santini, Andrea Di Filippo

As the massive Anglophile that I am, I needed this book no matter how short or picture-heavy it would end up being. Based on, and curated by the creators of the Instagram page of the same time, this nonfiction read provides a seasonal guide to the UK city’s most Instagrammable sites, the blog/IG page history, and plenty of advice to take the best Insta snaps.

There’s helpful text and gorgeous pics that make this read so fun and gives me so much wanderlust! (Gosh, I miss London!!) It reads like a friend giving off travel advice for little-known places you have to visit in order to up your IG game. With such gorge snapshots inside and on the cover, this book would make a perfect coffee table book for your living room. Facts.

This book advises you on the best places to visit by seasons, and the best ones to see, what to know or order, and why it’s so ‘grammable. It’s so much fun and gives me serious wanderlust while reading about the best hidden gems to check out. Plus, the IG-worthy snaps are breathtaking and only add to my wanderlust. You’ll read about various categories of places, from hotels, restaurants, day trips, cafes, and more. It also gives helpful maps and nearby tube stations.

I only wish I had this guidebook before I last went to London, oh well, there’s always next time…

Rating: Four Stars

Available: July 13


So We Meet Again by Suzanne Park

After I devoured the author’s latest YA novel (Sunny Song), I was pumped to learn about her newest contemporary romance story. And let me tell you, it’s fun and lighthearted, making it perfect for your summer beach bags!

Here, we begin with investment banker Jessie as she’s laid off from her boys-club Wall Street firm in a virtual meeting. After packing up and moving home to Nashville with her parents, she has no idea what to do with her life. She decides to reboot her old Korean cooking YouTube channel with fresh hacks and meal prep tips, and it’s actually quite well-received. All the while, she runs into her childhood nemesis and all-around golden boy Daniel who helps her launch her new business venture and even perhaps opens her heart along the way.

In this romance novel, there’s plenty of banter and wit between leads Jessie and Daniel, and a boatload of chemistry to boot. It’s very fun, engaging, and quick to read. The romance is very very very very slow-burn, so much so that Daniel is barely in half the book which makes this more of a coming-of-age women’s fiction novel rather than a straight-up romance book. Nonetheless, it’s very cute and I’d like a post-epilogue HEA update, like, now please, thank you.

Rating: Four Stars

Available: August 3


The Dating Dare by Jayci Lee

Set in the same world as the author’s first novel (A Sweet Mess), now it’s Aubrey’s best friend’s and Landon’s little brother’s turn to find love. Tara Park has one rule when it comes to dating: nothing serious. Between her past heartbreak and a laser-focus on the family’s brewery, there’s no way she could even entertain the idea of dating.

When Landon’s brother Seth waltzes into town, he’s a massive temptation to her and she may be willing to bend her rules for a few dates with the well-known fashion photographer. Seth is only in town for a month because he’s moving to Paris soon after. While he’s in town, he challenges Tara to a four-date no-strings-attached dating “dare” that could be a nice distraction for them both. But the more he sees of her, the less willing he is to let her go when the dare’s over.

As I read the dual-perspective book, I found it had banter and spades that had me hooked. It’s an easy, quick romance read that you can polish off in a day. The romance is cute, the characters are dynamic, and all that leads to a cute and fun romance read.

Rating: Four Stars

Available: August 3


The Man Ban by Nicola Marsh

I was very excited to start this read, looking forwards to a fun enemies to lovers novel, and this read delivered on that front. Here, Harper has been on a self-appointed “man ban” for a year after a really bad breakup, and instead, focuses on her growing career as a food stylist.
 
Her latest gig is styling dishes at her best friend’s traditional Indian wedding, where she meets the best man Manny who belittles her work the entire night. In retaliation, she decides she’ll lead him on during the event so she can later humiliate him. Well, things don’t always go as planned. Manny (as seen in the author’s The Boy Toy) is a handsome Anglo-Indian doctor who immediately feels an inimitable pull towards Harper.
 
One week later, he shows up at the same New Zealand resort where she’s working on her next job. After a work catastrophe, he offers to help her and she notes his chivalry has gotten under her skin. She’s ready to lift her “man ban” for a vacation fling. He agrees, after all, he’s not looking to get married despite his grandmother’s dying wish for him to do so. Yet, he can’t help but fall under Harper’s spell. Told in dual perspectives, this enemies to lovers novel is full of compelling language that draws me in, plus so much freaking banter that makes me fall for this read even quicker.

Rating: Three Stars

Available: July 27


Palm Beach by Mary Adkins

This book isn’t my usual happy-go-lucky YA or romance read, but nonetheless, its vibe intrigued me to try it out. Here, married couple Rebecca and Mickey move from their teeny Queens apartment and freelance gigs to Palm Beach, Florida (hence the title) with their young son when Mickey gets a job as the estate manager for a multimillionaire. As he works to manage the household of this influential businessman, Mickey soon gets a job offer to work in the same role for a more powerful businessman, making even more money. At the same time, freelance journalist Rebecca gets the chance to ghostwrite Mickey’s boss’ wife’s memoirs (that’s right, plural). As a wealth inequality writer, this is Rebecca’s chance to peek inside this incredibly wealthy world. As time goes on, Mickey and Rebecca become more reliant and dependant on money and their bosses’ help until a big secret could topple everything.

This literary fiction novel captures the divide between the haves and the have nots in the wealthy enclave of Palm Beach. From the start, it has such engaging language and strong storytelling that pulls me in and compels me to keep reading. Then, the big twist reveal gets soooo juicy and I just *have* to keep reading. However, there’s a ton of exposition and background that feels a touch too long in certsin parts. But overall, it’s compelling and intriguing.

Rating: Four Stars

Available:


Advance reader copies of the books listed were provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

11 Books to Read If You Can’t Stop Listening to Olivia Rodrigo’s ‘SOUR’

Even though I’m a millennial and not a cool Gen Z’er, I’ve still been listening to Olivia Rodrigo’s debut album, “SOUR” ever since it dropped earlier this spring. What can I say? Music that slaps, slaps; no reasoning necessary. Just like my posts on here that gave you personalized book recommendations based on Taylor Swift’s “folklore” and “evermore” albums, I’ve decided to do that for Rodrigo’s newly released album, too. Just like those two previous posts, I combed through each song off the album for core messages, lyrics, themes, and stories to see if any reminded me of some of my favorite books. So, keep reading for an assortment of book recommendations based on each “SOUR” track.

Writer’s Note: In case you were wondering how  I put this post together, know that I was meticulous in my choices. Much like my “evermore” and “folklore” recommendations, I listened to each track while simultaneously studying the lyrics. From there, I went to both my digital and physical bookshelves, my Storygraph already-read list, where I aimed to search for at least one book I’ve read that at least somewhat fits the song’s lyrics or stories. Now, of course, not all are perfect matches, since they are both original works. But, I tried to pull books with a similar plotline, character, love story, or something quite similar to one another.

If You Like: “brutal”

Try: Tiny Pretty Things by Dhonielle Clayton and Sona Charaipotra

This song has such an angsty feel, plus lines about insecurities, exploitation, and even “I’m so sick of 17. Where’s my f*cking teenage dream?” From the moment I first listened to it, I felt my eyes drift over to my Tiny Pretty Things copy. This book follows a gaggle of girls at their prestigious ballet school in New York, who would do anything to be the star, no matter how dark. These girls are willing to play dirty to tear their competition down, which reminds me of the grit and angst in the song. Plus, much of the song is Olivia being insecure which I can see bits of Bette, June, and Gigi coming out.

Here, I’ll show you:

I feel like no one wants me (Gigi being the new girl at school)
And I hate the way I’m perceived (June, totally June)
I only have two real friends (Gigi, but also June)
And lately, I’m a nervous wreck (June!)
‘Cause I love people I don’t like (Bette)
And I hate every song I write (All three with all their insecurities)
And I’m not cool and I’m not smart (Again, all three with all their insecurities)

Read the Book | Listen To the Song


If You Like: “traitor”

Try: Heartbreak for Hire by Sonia Hartl

The twist, oh, the twist! When I listened to this track, I thought of that giant twist about halfway through. In this enemies-to-lovers story full of witty banter,  twentysomething Brinkley works at “Heartbreak for Hire,” a Chicago-based company that helps women take back their power and get revenge on the men that jilted them. This undercover gig helps her earn enough money to eventually open her own gallery, while still getting her frustrations out on her ex and helping to empower other women. When her boss reveals her plans to hire male employees, she questions whether or not she’s in the right field. She learns her former target Mark, with who she had a brief flirtation, is hired to work on her team. As she trains him, they get closer and she falls for the nerdy professor. Yet, the big twist comes when she realizes he’s ********** [potential spoiler has been redacted]. And because of that, he’s sort of a traitor to her and the company alike. Sure, he didn’t cheat, but this book was full of their “twisted games” and betrayal that hurt her.

Read the Book | Listen To the Song


If You Like: “drivers license”

Try: One to Watch by Kate Stayman-London

From the first stanza, I kept going back to Bea and her ex slash old crush, Ray. From the lines, “I got my driver’s license last week just like we always talked about ’cause you were so excited for me to finally drive up to your house,” I felt a similar tone to where Bea was at trying to move forward after all the things Ray always said to her about them. But then, “today I drove through the suburbs, crying ’cause you weren’t around” because he was with that blonde girl his fiancee. The whole book is built around the premise of Bea coping with her broken heart that Ray smashed into a million tiny pieces, which is pure Olivia to me. Plus, the line about insecurity and “how could I ever love someone else” is totally where Bea’s head is at. 100 percent.

Read the Book | Listen To the Song


If You Like: “1 step forward, 3 steps back”

Try: Hot Mess by Emily Belden

While Allie was dealing with an addict ex-boyfriend that leads her in different directions, that push-and-pull gave me a similar vibe to this track. With the lines, “And maybe in some masochistic way, I couldn’t find it all exciting like which lover will I get today? Will you walk me to the door or send me home crying” that really reminded me of the beginning of this book, where some days Benji is this talented genius who’s head-over-heels in love with her or the tortured addict who walked out on her. Benji definitely “got [her] f*cked up in the head” this entire book. The back-and-forth of this read does show how she ends up doubting if she can run a restaurant after he bails and their “one step forward and three steps back” relationship that has her so confused. Allie meet Olivia and Olivia meet Allie, you girls have a lot in common.

Read the Book | Listen To the Song


If You Like: “deja vu”

Try: Four Days of You and Me by Miranda Kenneally

The whole premise of this book gives off serious déjà vu, truly. The whole concept is that it follows the same couple on the same day (and end-of-school-year trip) each year for the four years they are in high school. Whether Lulu and Alex are together or apart, the book mimics the same day.  Then, there’s the line, “So when you gonna tell her that we did that, too? She thinks it’s special, but it’s all reused. That was our place, I found it first,” which to me goes back to Lulu spotting her ex Alex at Six Flags with his new girl giving her a Jolly Rancher candy, just like he used to gave to Lulu between classes. So much tracks. So much.

Read the Book | Listen To the Song


If You Like: “good 4 u”

Try: Make Up Break Up by Lily Menon

Just focused on the very beginning of the book, it does somewhat resemble this angsty AF song. The whole premise is that the one who broke your heart has completely moved on when you are still a mess. That reminds me of the post-Vegas hookup between Annika and Hudson when they disappear from each other’s life. Then, he reappears in her office building and is a total work success while she’s struggling. The lines “Well, good for you, you look happy and healthy … Good for you, you’re doin’ great out there without me” seems to fit that for me. Especially as Olivia continues on, “Well, good for you, I guess you’re gettin’ everything you want. You bought a new car and your career’s really takin’ off. It’s like we never even happened.” Then, from the flip side, once we learn about the purpose of Hudson’s app: This song applies to that too.

Read the Book | Listen To the Song


If You Like: “enough for you”

Try: Love Your Life by Sophie Kinsella

This song reminded me of Matt and Ava once they returned from their whirlwind vacation/writer’s retreat. After they returned home to London, they discovered they were quite different and she “tried so hard to be everything that you liked” even if it wasn’t true to herself. She stayed in his modern apartment with his slobby roommates, slept on his uncomfortable bed, rarely went to her own house, let his parents drone on and on about his ex who’s so much better than her. The line about “I wore makeup when we dated ’cause I thought you’d like me more if I looked like the other prom queens I know that you loved before” and “maybe I’m just not as interesting as the girls you had before” really stood out to me about that part involving her insecurity about his ex-girlfriend. She tried to change herself so much just to be enough for this man she loved, which was just like what Olivia sang about.

Read the Book | Listen To the Song


If You Like: “happier”

Try: You Deserve Each Other by Sarah Hogle

While this wasn’t an exact match, something about this book stuck out to me while I listened to “happier” and read through the lyrics. The whole concept of the book is that Naomi and Nick are unhappily engaged and searching for a way out, without getting stuck with the massive wedding bill. As they try to get the other to back out first and start in on their childish pranks back-and-forth, I felt the chorus sort of captured Naomi’s mindset as she realized one day he will marry the societally accepted woman that his mom would love and she’d be alone or with some fling. So, the lyrics of “Oh, I hope you’re happy, but not like how you were with me. I’m selfish, I know, I can’t let you go” kind of reminded me of that, where she knows they aren’t right for one another at this point yet can’t seem to walk away first. Plus, their whole cat-and-mouse games reminded me of the part of the song that goes, “So find someone great but don’t find no one better. I hope you’re happy, but don’t be happier.” Just as heartbreaking!

Read the Book | Listen To the Song


If You Like: “jealousy, jealousy”

Try: Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy

This was another song I just couldn’t quite find the right book recommendation that matched. Before I landed on Dumplin, I was stuck on the lyrics about confidence versus insecurity especially in terms of looks and relating to the whole body positivity movement. I saw the lines “I kinda wanna throw my phone across the room ’cause all I see are girls too good to be true with paper-white teeth and perfect bodies. Wish I didn’t care,” “But it feels like that weight is on my back and I can’t let it go,” and “Comparison is killin’ me slowly. I think, I think too much” and thought about Will’s struggles with her body images, not believing a boy like Bo could want her as she was or that she could enter or win the beauty pageant.

Read the Book | Listen To the Song


If You Like: “favorite crime”

Try: Lore by Alexandra Bracken

While I definitely clocked the song relating to a romantic couple, I thought Lore related to the same story just not in a romantic way. I compared this track’s message to the twist after Lore decided to bind her fate to her so-called mentor in an attempt to save the world. If you listen to the lines “Know that I loved you so bad, I let you treat me like that. I was your willing accomplice, honey” or “And I watched as you fled the scene, doe-eyed as you buried me,” I saw a similarity to how she blindly decided to follow her mentor of sorts, Athena. Then, there’s the part about “you used me as an alibi” and how “I crossed my heart as you crossed the line,” which definitely could be the soundtrack to that big twist/reveal scene.

Read the Book | Listen To the Song


If You Like: “hope ur ok”

Try: This Time Next Year by Sophie Cousens

As I listened to these lyrics, I heard Olivia sing about how she once knew this boy and sort of watched him from afar, wishing he’d just be okay even if they never saw one another again. That sort of reminded me of this book I read as an ARC last year when Quinn and Minnie kept randomly meeting once a year. From the lines “I knew a boy once when I was small. A tow-head blond with eyes of salt,” that reminded me of this read. Plus, even though they “fell out of touch” and didn’t “know if I’ll see you again someday,” they still wanted everything to work out with them each time met and tried to make their day/night better each time they re-met.

 

Read the Book | Listen To the Song

My First Impressions on the 30 Men Who Will Date ‘The Bachelorette’ This Summer

I’ve been falling off the Bach Nation wagon in recent years. First, Arie, Colton, and Peter bored me so badly I had to quit watching. Then, there was the hot mess that was Clare/Tayshia’s season, which was followed by the massive sex-shaming, bully-centric season that belonged to Matt James. And it’s all gotten to be too much to handle. Though, James’ contestant Katie Thurston (AKA TikToker @ventwithkatiee) was a beacon of light for anyone who had to endure his entire season with her funny quips and actions to stand up to the bullies. So, we were glad to hear the network made the only acceptable choice to cast her as the next lead.

Will I watch? I don’t know if I’ll make it past Night One again, but I guess for the sake of tradition, I’ll give it a try. And, speaking of tradition, I’m back on this blog to share my raw first impressions of the 30 men that were cast and vetted to date Katie on national TV. With the official cast bios out, keep reading below as I share what I think about each contender based on their headshot, name, age, hometown, job, and ABC’s definition of “fun facts.”

Aaron, 26, Insurance Agent

His bio calls him a “strapping young man,” which blech. Apparently, there’s more to the San Diego native than meets the eye — and bring on the cliches. He works in sales, but loves the outdoors, surfing, swimming, and lifting weights. All in all, I get a basic twentysomething dude vibe here.

He claims to be thoughtful, sensitive, and ambitious which all sounds great, but what guy wouldn’t say that try and land a girlfriend? Apparently, his only flaw is that he’s a procrastinator, but I’m sure with a little more time I could find more. *squints at this photo with intensity*

Also, he has a neck tattoo, but the ABC photo editing software seems to be quite adept at airbrushing because I don’t see it.

Can We Just: He fears an animal that’s extinct. Well, hun, good news, it can’t bother you.


Andrew M, 31, Deputy District Attorney

We’re already off to a good start with a right-reasons age and a stable job for this Cali boy, based in Newport Beach. Yada yada yada, he loves his job but is more than just a DDA. He coaches youth water polo because he used to play pro in Hungary (who knew they were great at water polo?) and loves adventure. Oooh, he “LOVES” to play pranks: all caps. And at age 31? Red flag.

Oh, spoke too soon: He actually “Tebowed” on the stage at his college graduation. Oh, Katie, please save yourself.

Can We Just: He openly admits that he “loves to sample men’s fragrances from magazine inserts.” One, why would you admit that? And two, how is that a “fun” fact?


Andrew S, 26, Pro Football Player

Coming all the way from Vienna, Austria (by way of Chicago), fans have already noted Andrew No. 2’s cousin is none other than footballer Clay from Boring Becca’s season. Sooo, Dale vibes? Or wrong reasons ones? Too early to call on this one.

He is open that he really wants to get married and have five children. Excuse me, your poor future spouse; I hope she’s okay with that. He’s close with his 96-year-old grandma, so cue the hearts of Bach Nation women melting, I guess?

Can We Just: His go-to party trick is “imitating accents from around the globe” and eesh that could go south real quick, hun.


Austin, 25, Real Estate Investor

This is one of our class babies, and he’s from Mission Viejo in Cali. He’s a house flipper with lofty aspirations. He’s described as smooth, funny, and handsome, which like who actually says that about themself?

He’s openly admitting that he’s dated “many” women, but none serious enough for him. Poor girls, I hope they didn’t think so. And like most basic AF dudes, he just wants to find his Queen Bey to his Jay-Z. No. Just no.

Can We Just: He really loves his white shoes and fears something spilling on them. Oh, please, capture this on the show??


Brandon, 26, Auto Parts Manager

First off, producers really did him dirty because that is one awful hairstyle. I don’t even know where to start. Anyway, he’s from Queens and is “quirky, intelligent, and unapologetically himself,” which that’s nice. You do you, hun.

IDK what his bio is, but “He attended Northwestern University where he says he learned to outgrow behaviors that limit his progress as a person” and “He currently spends most of his weekends at home working on a new skill he’s trying to develop.” Where do you think you are?

He does want an equal partner in life, but he *needs* a woman who “understands the importance of putting in effort.” Like with her appearance? I’m making a face right now since you cannot see me typing this.

Can We Just: He loves an *occasional* rave and riding a motorcycle, but really hates overpriced restaurants. Which like, he wants effort but won’t take you to a nice dinner? I’m confused.


Brendan, 26, Firefighter Trainee

He’s our token Canadian this year! Hailing from Toronto, he loves enjoying life to the fullest, and oh hello, more cliches. He’s training to be a firefighter if you couldn’t tell because he wants to make a positive difference in his community, which that’s sweet. Cannot deny that.

He wants a partner with banter, which don’t we all, hun, and who’s adventurous with an open mind. He loves being clean and organized, which dude is racking up points quickly in my notebook.

Can We Just: He really doesn’t like vegetables. Um, how is that a fun fact?


Christian, 26, Real Estate Agent

This Boston boy is a big-time romantic and family-oriented. But, not humble. Oh no, he revealed that he’s quite the professional success, having sold more than $25 million worth of real estate. Yea, he does look a little slick like many agents. Blech.

He just wants to find his best friend and someone to go through life with, which like who doesn’t? His ideal girl can keep a promise. That’s your main thing?

Can We Just: He loves parades! Fun fact how? Also, he boasts that he “rocked” a fauxhawk as a kid. Dude, you’re an adult move on from the past, yea?


Cody, 27, Zipper Sales Manager

First things first, what is a zipper sales manager? Does he just sell zippers or is Zipper the name of the company he does sales for? Need more information, please.

So, Cody’s from San Diego, has a six-pack, surfs, and is a romantic gentleman. Blech, please don’t talk about your abs already, I hardly know you. He’s an Eagle Scout, which that’s nice. Oh, oh no: “When Cody falls, he falls hard.” I foresee a rough, clingy journey ahead for Katie.

Can We Just: His favorite TV series is The Jersey Shore. Which, a real fan would know there’s no “the” in the title. Also, out of every single show??


Connor B, 29, Math Teacher

Hailing from Nashville, Connor with two N’s is lovable, quirky, and charming who teaches math in middle school: how adorable. He has a master’s in medical physics and has previously been a nuclear engineer, which, like damn: he’s smart and nerdy. I like it.

OK, I’m surprising myself because I don’t see a single red flag??? He wants a partner who can share his zest for life, is genuine and kind, is accepting and open-minded. He owns his own tux, which, like, cutie. Like, where is he hiding? Why haven’t I met someone like him? Katie, don’t let him go. He’s the one man out of 30 (including a box, see below) that I actually like as a competitor. He’s the Ivan (my birthday twin, just saying) of this year’s crop of suitors!

Can We Just: He claims “he can eat cereal faster than anyone,” which how and why do you want to know that?


Conor C, 28, Former Baseball Player

Apparently, one Connor isn’t enough because we have two, except this one has only one N in his name. He lives in Costa Mesa, Cali and is a *barf* “athletic stud with a heart of gold.” He loves the beach but wants to move back home to Oklahoma with his wife by his side. He’s looking for a “giver” and is always up for a good time, whether it’s bowling or an intimate night at home. *coughs* Those are the only options for date night?

Religion is important to him, and growing up he loved wearing puka shell necklaces. I’ve seen enough.

Can We Just: He shares a birthday with Matthew McConaughey. What? He didn’t do anything for that, that’s by chance.


David, 27, Technical Product Specialist

He seems normal. He lives in Nashville but is from New York, and is a first-generation American. He’s looking for a driven and intelligent woman with quiet confidence.

He did debate in high school, is an *NSYNC fan, and digs NYC pizza. All relatively normal.

 

Can We Just: If you’re such an *NSYNC fan, you should know how to stylize it in print. Just saying.


Gabriel, 35, Entrepreneur 

He looks like some suave Frenchman, which I’ve yet to decide if that’s a good thing. He’s based in Charlotte and is quite the “Renaissance man,” apparently.

Well, he has a lot of passions, including finding forever love, which blech. He says he’s introspective, creative, and confident. He’s looking for a woman who’s stimulated by intelligent convos and knows herself.  Eh, seems fine?

Can We Just: He “doesn’t understand the concept of athleisure” and believes that “people should respect elegant styles of the past.” Which, WTF does that mean? So, ladies, red alert because you can’t wear your leggings around this man.


Garrett, 29, Software Marketing Manager

We can’t have The Bachelorette without one Garrett! He’s from Salinas, California, and loves his marketing career. He wants a woman who is caring, intelligent, and is a critical thinker.

He has a five-year-old German Shepherd named Archer and describes him as a “very good boy.” Awww, pics please???

First red flag: He claims to be a “YOLO type of guy.” If you say, ‘YOLO,’ that’s the red flag part, sweetie.

 

Can We Just: He’s not a fan of tangy food. How is that fact fun??


Greg, 27, Marketing Sales Representative

This New Jersey dude is also suffering from a Bad Hair Day, eesh. And oh no, do I see the words “Greg is the full package?” Oh, good lord. So apparently, he’s handsome, kind, vulnerable, and serious about settling down.

He calls himself a hopeless romantic, like every other dude here. His perfect first date is something active (hard pass, hun) like “riding bikes, dancing, or going to a concert.” HOW IS GOING TO A CONCERT ACTIVE???? Also, he wants at least SIX kids, good lord.

Can We Just: I think it might be that he thinks going to a concert is an “active” date or doesn’t know how grammar works.


Hunter, 34, Software Strategist

Hunter’s from Houston and is one of two single dads on this season. He’s described as expressive, passionate, and outgoing and something about him gives me Evan Bass vibes. He has two kids and is a romantic. He claims to be known for writing love letters and give his crushes mixtapes or flowers. That’s sweet. What will he bring Katie one for Night One then?

So, he’s never ridden a horse, but “REALLY” wants to. So, like he wants a horseback riding date? Or at least a cowboy-themed one?

Can We Just: He’s openly admitting his favorite pastime is people-watching. Why would you admit that you basically like stalking?


Jeff, 31, Surgical Skin Salesman

OK, let’s get this over with. I understand that he sells artificial skin for surgeons to use in the O.R., but, like, surely he has an actual job title that sounds less creepy??

IRL, he’s from Jersey City and comes from a big Italian family. So apparently, he’s energetic, outgoing, and loving. He’s seeking an adventurous woman with a sense of humor. IDK, I’ll think I’ll pass on this guy, Katie.

Can We Just: He calls himself an “exceptional lover,” which like NO HE DID NOT. OH, HE DID. WHAT. That’s a bold statement, which, also makes me want to gag. Can we get an ex in here to corroborate then?


John, 27, Bartender

Oh brother, we do not need another pilot on this show. John’s from Pacific Beach in Cali and is quite the thrill-seeker, who’s even studying for his pilot’s license, surfing, hitting up EDM shows, and jumping out of planes. Ew, nope.

He’s a vegetarian and is also a romantic looking for someone genuine, honest, and willing to challenge him to be a better version of himself. Oh, we’re going there with turn-ons, too, ooookay then.

 

Can We Just: Loving the smell of fireplaces? Weird fun fact, right?


Josh, 25, IT Consultant

This Miami-based baby of the class is embracing his inner Matt James (AKA he’s wearing a turtleneck here). So, he claims to love hard, is humble, and is kind-hearted yet goofy.

We have another hopeless romantic in the bunch who’s very in touch with his emotions. How many times will we see him cry then this season?

My red flag things: He starts celebrating Christmas months early in October. No. Also, he’s so inflexible that he has to sleep on the right side of the bed at all times.

Can We Just: He *has* to sleep on the right side of the bed.


Justin, 26, Investment Sales Consultant

This tall and handsome painter is a self-proclaimed catch, which like blech. He hails from Baltimore and is specifically looking for a girl who’s passionate about fitness. Hahaha, nope. Thanks for playing, hun.

Oh, what do you know? He’s also a romantic and wants to find a meaningful physical and emotional connection with our girl Katie.

IDK, don’t have much of an opinion on him.

 

Can We Just: He doesn’t like to dance at all. But, will he dance though?


Karl, 34, Motivational Speaker 

If you remember, he was supposed to go on Clare/Tayshia’s season but was cut. So, welcome back, I guess?

Karl’s based in Miami and is quite charismatic and confident, who’s still “looking for his forever love.” Oooh, red flag alert: commitment-phobic because work’s outweighed personal life.

Meh, IDK quite the boring bio if I’m being honest.

Can We Just: His favorite holiday is New Year’s Day, and I think he’s the only one?


Kyle, 26, Technical Recruiter

So, Karl and Kyle are both Floridians, so my memory is going to be scrambled trying to remember both of them just by name.

He’s looking for a rom-com love, which I see why you are here now. He’s also a hopeless romantic and is ready to settle down and start a family. At 26? Maybe it’s my skewed sample in NYC but like do those guys actually exist at that age?

 

Can We Just: He hates mayo and mustard, which that is not a “fun” fact.


Landon, 25, Baseball Coach

Hailing from Dallas, apparently, he’s a kind, handsome, and outgoing guy who’s ready to settle down. LOLOLOL this line, “After a very successful collegiate basketball career, while working hard to receive his master’s degree in global business, Landon is finally ready for marriage and children.” Like, school’s done? Time to pop out some babies? Also, is that code for he has no real ambition?

Noo, oh, no: He’s also a “strong lover,” guys, BLECH. Why would you say this???

Can We Just: He’s a Belieber hahahahah! Do we still say this word?


Marcus, 30, Real Estate Agent

He’s from Portland, Oregon, so he’s the closest to where Katie is. But, proximity doesn’t always mean anything. So, he’s sweet with a calming presence, which that’s nice.

He’s successful in business yada yada, looking for someone smart and ambitious, that tracks. He loves board games, and Monopoly is his favorite. Oh sweetie, red flag, that’s like the worst and most annoying one.

Can We Just: He’s an “amazing” lover too. Why would you want to put this out to the world? Also, can we get an ex to actually answer if it’s correct?


Marty, 25, Dancer

What type of dancer is this Reno-based dude? Like Broadway-caliber, a Chippendales situation, or like a club patron-goer? I need answers, people.

So, he apparently has lots of energy and confidence, and a necklace just as long too. Oh gosh, he “loves to show off his rockin’ bod,” which, NO.

 

Can We Just: He has a self-declared tagline, which is “Marty brings the party.” Double red flag.


Michael, 36, Business Owner

Here’s our second single dad of the bunch and it’s Michael from Akron, Ohio. He mentioned his kid’s age and name, which like no, you don’t care about his privacy? Oh ok, just checking.

His life is apparently fulfilling and he is ready to find someone to share it with. He’s looking for someone witty with a sense of humor and is compassionate and resilient. Good qualities. Definitely get a right-reasons vibe from him, that’s for sure. Also, please bring Dino Nuggets for Night One.

Can We Just: He “makes a mean plate of Dino Nuggies.” And either if that’s because he’s a dad or he just like nuggets, I can roll with that.


Mike, 31, Gym Owner

We’ve got a Michael and a Mike. Mike is from San Diego, is apparently religious and (red flag alert) owns a gym.

So, he’s a former baseball player in the MLB, like the one-N Conor! He’s definitely very into his faith, evident from his bio and cross necklace. So, he’s quite easygoing, social, and goofy yet disciplined. He wants a woman who likes to stay active (buh-bye) and make him laugh.

Hahahah so he calls himself basic, well, I’ll call you basic, too. For sure.

Can We Just: He doesn’t like dessert AKA a monster. That’s all. You may see yourself out, hun.


Quartney, 26, Nutrition Entrepreneur 

He’s from Dallas, and I’m not sure what a “nutrition entrepreneur” is and how that’s different from like a gym owner, but you know, I’m cool not knowing.

So, he’s apparently ready to put it all out there for love, well, have you seen the group dates? You’re in the right place for that. He’s called compassionate, caring, and honest who likes making big romantic gestures. But what will his limo exit be??

Oh wow, so he “loves to daydream about having a family and says that the number one thing he is looking for is someone to be an amazing mother to his future children.” But, um maybe don’t bring that up Night One. Just a helpful hint. It does say “idea of a perfect nightcap is a robust bonfire with s’mores, music and dancing,” which does sound good, so you get one point for a good idea. I’ll give you that.

Can We Just: “Scuba diving is at the top of Quartney’s bucket list.” That’s not a fun fact about you, that’s what you’d like to eventually do one day.


Thomas, 28, Real Estate Broker

Hailing all the way from Poway, Cali, Thomas believes everything happens for a reason, and oh good, we’re back to an excessive use of cliches. Cool cool.

Other than that, he’s looking for companionship and really loves food. Like really loves it. A lot. A lot a lot. Have you gotten the memo yet? Just really want to drill home that Thomas loves food and considers it his love language. He can even dedicate an entire half-paragraph to talking about it.

Oh no: He used to “rock” Ed Hardy back in high school. I don’t like the sound of that.

Can We Just: “Thomas often wonders if The Rock really can eat everything he posts on Instagram for his cheat meal days.” THIS IS NOT A FUN FACT. A FUN FACT IS SUPPOSED TO TELL US SOMETHING ABOUT YOU.


Tre, 26, Software Engineer

Tre’s coming to meet Katie all the way from Covington, Georgia as the “handsome catch with the huge heart.” Have we heard that line already? Can’t recall but sounds familiar.

So, he’s family-oriented, kind, outgoing, and open-minded. Nice qualities. He wants a strong woman and someone to be spontaneous with. So, his favorite activity is going to brunch with friends and book club. Which, YES. Do they go together? Either way, yes.

Can We Just: He loves the harmonica. Interesting yet odd fun fact. But is it fun?


??????, ??, Box

Everything is literally described with “??????” I know we saw someone wheel this in on Night One, and presumably, a person is in there. But, like, who thinks they are a present for Katie? Gross, I just threw up in my mouth a little writing that line.

Can We Just: We have no information. Who thinks they are, like, God’s gift to women and this show? Because NO. Hard pass.