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.

Here are 10 New Books That Should Be on Your Radar This Summer

Summer is just starting to arrive and my TBR’s only gotten longer. Whoopsies. But, I have managed to read 86 books this year so far (as of early May when I wrote this blog post). But, I feel like I’m just getting started for the year. After all, I still have the likes of People We Meet on Vacation by Emily HenryCirce by Madeline Miller, Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo, If This Gets Out by Cale Dietrich & Sophie Gonzales, and wayyy more left on my TBR book cart (yes, I indeed own a book cart for my TBR and it’s packed).

Out of all the upcoming releases I’ve been reading this spring/early summer in ARC form, there are some good ones that I’ve been obsessing over ever since I read those final pages. We even have three five-star reads on this list! So, without further ado, welcome back to Miranda’s Book Nook; apologies for the delay. But what can I say, I had books to finish first… Keep reading for even more 2021 book releases that I haven’t been able to get enough of that should definitely be on your radar this summer. Beach reads, anyone??

Gutter Girl by Kelly Anne Blount, Lynn Rush

I really enjoyed these authors’ collaboration on the teen hockey romance, In The Penalty Box and so, I was excited to check this new YA novel out.

Told in dual perspectives, we follow star football player Jace who writes fantasy romance stories, and outsider McKenna. Jace loves writing these fantastical romances with action, adventure, swordplay, and kissing yet no one knows he’s written one of the most popular stories on Scribbles (a fictional version of Wattpad). Certainly not his overbearing parents, the other kids at school, or his thousands of fans who read it online each week. When his teammate grabs his notebook and starts to read out a kissing scene, McKenna (who typically hates the spotlight) jumps in to save him and claims the notebook is hers. He convinces her to keep up this ruse and keep his secret for a price, and he’d do anything to keep this under wraps. As the duo starts to fall for one another, he knows he has to keep the biggest, darkest secret to himself: The main villain that his fans love to hate is based on goth girl McKenna before they got to know one another.

The action kicks off right away, and I’m immediately drawn into this story, and it’s fun and I like it. The characters are deep and complex, yet still tell a light, fun, enjoyable, and emotionally vulnerable YA story. It’s so cute and so precious, and I just want more to their story like right now.

Rating: Four Stars

Available:


One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston

I was beyond, beyond excited to receive an advanced galley of this book after I devoured her first book, Red, White & Royal Blue. My galley came in audio-form from MacMillian Audio, and I swear, I would have taken this ARC in literally any format if it meant I could read this one as soon as possible. So, yes, I’m so pumped to start listening to this one. And now that I’ve read it (well, listened), guys, my fellow RWRB obsessives: y’all are going to go nuts because it’s that good.

Here, we follow 23-year-old August who just moved to New York City as a way to prove to herself that magic and true love doesn’t exist, because after all, she’s a skeptic and a closet detective. One day she spots a gorgeous girl on the subway, on the Q train to be exact. This girl, Jane, is dazzling and mysterious who shows up to save August’s day when she needs it most. So, obviously August develops a little subway crush on the girl that makes every single day better, but soon she realizes that Jane is actually displaced in time from the ’70s, and August sets out to help her remember who she is and beat this curse/problem. It’s billed as a magical, sexy, and bighearted romance, which is definitely an accurate depiction. The language has humor in spades, like laugh-out-loud lines. August is described in a way that makes her an authentic and realistic main character, which makes me super into her story.

It feels unlike anything I’ve read before, including RWRB, but it’s still a fun sapphic New Adult romance with a sweeping romance sprinkled in. It’s fun, and I was so curious to keep reading to find out what would happen next. Plus, Jane+August are so flipping cute, like I couldn’t stop smiling for a minute while listening. This slow-burn romance is also a love letter to NYC and good friends, too. Plus, it has this fun mysterious element to take it out of the realm of *just* being a romance novel; it’s way more than that. If I had to categorize this book, I’d say it’s Veronica Mars meets time-travel meets sapphic romance, which seems like an odd combination yet it completely works, and I’m sold. The language is witty and funny, too, and I love, love, love it and yes, it totally lives up to all the hype it’s already been racking up.

As an audiobook, I found the story so immersive and compelling. The narrator puts you in August’s head and what she sees. She uses different voices to effortlessly capture all the different characters and their various personalities. It feels realistic, yet engaging and bubbly. Between the story and the narration, I just want to keep listening to this story to find out what would happen next. It’s impossible not to get wrapped up in this story thanks to such compelling language and vibrant narration. Plus, there’s so much diverse representation that feels authentic and real, which is another win in this book’s column. Everything is brilliantly planned out, interconnected, and woven together in terms of the story organization. All in all, it feels so original and unlike anything I’ve read prior, which is a very good thing.

Also, I just have to say: 🚞 🌶 🚞, which, like, I know, right?!?!

Rating: Five Stars

Available:


Better Together by Christine Riccio

This book is pitched as Freaky Friday meets The Parent Trap, which immediately intrigued me. Then, I started this book and just couldn’t put it down. Told in alternating viewpoints between two sisters, there’s aspiring comic Jamie and ballerina Siri who live on opposite coasts and just meet for the first time thanks to meddling accomplices and a bit of magic. The two estranged sisters meet at a wellness retreat in Colorado, where they each discover that the sister they haven’t seen in 14 years is there, too. After a rocky time and grudges aplenty, they decide to switch places with a dash of glittery magic to meet the parent they barely knew.

This was such a fun read from the get-go, giving me similar vibes to You Have a Match by Emma Lord, yet it’s still very much its own thing. The author uses fun and authentic language that pulls me into both girls’ worlds. It’s just so light and fun, which makes it easy and quick to get sucked in and just keep reading.

Rating: Four Stars

Available:


Of Princes and Promises by Sandhya Menon

I’ve been a fan of this author’s previous works for just about a year now, and so, when I heard of this novel and the fairytale adaptation it was, I was intrigued.

In this contemporary retelling and twist on The Frog Prince, Caterina is the queen of St. Rosetta’s Academy who is determined to continue her reign after being dumped when her boyfriend Alaric cheated on her. Then, there’s the adorkable Rahul who’s harbored a crush on Caterina ever since they shared a dance at the school winter formal months ago when she was the most heartbroken. When Caterina finds out Alaric is taking some supermodel to a big gala, she needs a ringer on her harm. She enlists the clueless Rahul to be her fake date, and she’ll even dress him up to go with her. She uses a mysterious and magical hair gel that alters the wearer into whatever his heart desires, which for Rahul was RC who’s a charming and debonair guy. However, transformation comes with a price and the line between his two personas blur together as RC gains popularity in town.

Told in dual perspectives. it’s such a cute and fun YA romance novel. It’s definitely a quick read that’s so enjoyable and hard to put down.

Rating: Four Stars

Available:


Live Your Life by Amanda Kloots, Anna Kloots

After following Amanda Kloots’ and Nick Cordero’s heartwrenching coronavirus story and her inspiring positivity last year, I was very much 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. It’s a well-written and honest memoir to read that, yes, makes me tear up. 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.

Rating: Five Stars

Available: June 15


Blush by Jamie Brenner

This was a compelling women’s fiction/general fiction read that I could hardly put down. This book is set at the Hollander Estates vineyard in Long Island. After years as a tourist destination and wedding venue, the Hollanders family fortune has dwindled and the threat of sale brings secrets and old wounds to life. This book, full of captivating language and complex characters, focuses on the women in the family throughout one summer: matriarch Vivian, daughter Leah, and granddaughter Sadie.

Each lady is searching for an escape from her current life, so they decide to start a book club together and re-read the old romance novels that Vivian’s own former book club had read so many years ago. It turns out reading these so-called trashy romances illuminate the life, love, and career (with the future of the vineyard) they wanted all along. In this story of love, family, and second chances, we get to see each of these three perspectives in a novel that is easy and quick to read, plus it’s engaging and intriguing that you don’t want to put it down.

Rating: Four Stars

Available: June 22


When Stars Collide by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

This novel is like part women’s fiction, part romance, and part mystery/thriller, and odd combination in theory, yet it works here. Here, Thad Owens is the backup quarterback for the Chicago Stars team who has a low tolerance for divas, and especially Divas with a capital letter D. Olivia is an international opera star and a hugely driven Diva.

The two are paired for a national tour to promote a luxury watch brand, but obviously, they aren’t fans of one another. Along the journey, the trash talk, soul search, and deal with all sorts of dramatic, behind-the-scenes drama and threatening fans. Told in dual perspectives, it’s set up to be a fun, light forced-proximity and enemies-to-lovers romance with a twist. There’s a major mystery element that takes this book out of just a romance novel category and into something else. However, there are actually like three mysteries going on, which seems like a lot. Then, of course, you get that sweeping, grandiose, romantic ending to make this a read I could hardly put down.

Rating: Four Stars

Available: June 29


The Turnout by Megan Abbott

This book is described as a “revelatory and mesmerizing new novel set against the hothouse of a family-run ballet studio,” and now that I’ve finished, I concur that it’s a thrilling, intriguing piece of literary fiction. Sisters Dara and Marie grew up as ballerinas, under the tutelage of their professional dancer mother who owned a dance studio. After their parents tragically died, the two sisters took over the studio along with Dara’s husband Charlie. After a suspicious accident right before Nutcracker season, an interloper arrives to disrupt their delicate three-person balance.

This book is full of engaging language that draws me in right from page one. It’s so intriguing and thrilling. Then, once the interloper (contractor Derek) arrives in town, it adds a whole mysterious and cunning element. So, once you get into it, it’s hard to put down with its many, many bombshell twists and turns. Oh woah, it’s just so good yet so surprising.

Rating: Four Stars

Available:


The Betrayed by Kiera Cass

After I read The Betrothed earlier this lockdown, I admit I was unsure about the story and the ending because something just didn’t vibe with me as I read it. Yet, I was intrigued to learn about this sequel and figure out how things ended. I’m so glad I gave this series another chance because I did quite enjoy this action-packed novel.

Here, it picks up quite literally where Book 1 ended up with Hollis fleeing Coroa after her husband Silas’ death, where she’s been living with his mom, sister, surly cousin Etan who’s distrustful of her and all Coroans, aunt, and uncle in Isolte. While attempting to move forward with her life, a growing distrust in the Isoltean kingdom threatens the future of her new country and her old one. As tensions rise, she learns that the Eastoffe family could unseat the tyrannical Isoltean king and take over, but only with her help to stage a revolution among the people.

From the minute it started, exactly where we last left off, it is full of exciting language that pulls me back into this fantastical world. It’s a quick YA read and way more action-packed than the first book (to me, at least), which helped to keep my interest.

Rating: Four Stars

Available: July 6


Meant to Be: If the Shoe Fits by Julie Murphy

I’ve been waiting for this book for over a year, and so, I’d like to offer a massive, massive, massive thank you to Disney Hyperion and NetGalley for this advanced galley. Even though, my Amazon preorder is already confirmed, oops.

Julie Murphy, who’s killed the YA game with her Dumplin, Puddin, and Pumpkin novelsis kicking off a new series, titled Meant to Be that’s a bunch of modern fairytale adaptations and romances with body-positive leads. One, I love seeing more diversity of any kind in romance. Two, Murphy is a master at authentically writing plus-size characters. Three, it’s a Disney fairytale retelling. All in all, this book has everything I want, and this is before I’ve started it! This book wasn’t meant for my March TBR considering its August release date, but within a day of my galley approval, I was rearranging the rest of the TBR to start this as soon as possible.

Then, I started it. And oh boy, it’s 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. What, who would have thought that huh?

I’m immediately drawn into this world, just as I was in Murphy’s previous books, and it’s just so fun and makes me want to keep reading and find out what would happen next. As time goes on, it gets cheesy cute that gives me butterflies, and I swear I feel my heart turning all swoony as the feelings between Cindy and the suitor Henry grow and develop. This read was so hard for me to put down because I just didn’t want it to end! Initially, I wasn’t sure if this was a 4 or 5-star situation, but after finishing it, I think it’s definitely a five-star romance read and I’ll definitely be reading this one again when I have the chance. Murphy has delivered her next series post-Dumplin, and I’m pleased to report that whenever the rest of this series drops, I’ll be first in line to order a copy. And if Cindy+Henry pop up and still has their HEA, all the better.

Rating: Five Stars

Available:


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

9 Modern Ways to Dress Like ‘GrishaVerse’ Characters

After finding new ways to reinvent my wardrobe based on Julie And The Phantoms, other popular TV and book characters, and Disney princesses, I kept thinking about how else I could reinvent the clothes in my closet. Then, I started the Netflix series Shadow and Bone (and began to read the books soon after, obviously). After I saw a few similar videos over on my TikTok feed, I was intrigued to see if I could take characters from the Ravkian army, the Second Army, and the Crows, and figure out how to twist their outfits into something I could wear here in the 21st century and to modernize their looks to spruce up my wardrobe staples. Check out a few outfit pairings based on these iconic characters and how you can recreate similar ‘fits in your own closets.

Alina Starkov

Alina is the ever-powerful Sun Summoner, yet she’s still quite down-to-earth who won’t forget her humble orphan and cartographer beginnings. So, I wanted to pay homage to all of that with my look. Since Alina explicitly told Genya and The Darkling she wanted a blue kefta to better fit in with the other Summoners over one in his signature black hue, I chose a blue dress to fit that. I went with this blue-and-white strapless maxi dress paired with a denim jacket. I chose this jacket as a nod to Alina’s days in the First Army. Then, to complete the look, I added this J.Crew diamond choker necklace as a modern homage to her stag amplifier collar. Then, for fun, I’m holding up a black dress from Zara and discarding it because Alina doesn’t want to dress like the villain, duh.

What You Need to Replicate It: Blue dress, casual jacket, choker necklace


Mal Oretsev

After reading Book 1 and watching Season 1, I understand what fans mean by not liking Mal on the page but thanks to Archie Renaux’s portrayal on the show, it’s a totally different story. I get it. Now back to the task at hand, since Mal is a tracker and a soldier in the Army, I wanted a practical-looking outfit. I paired black trousers with this white peasant blouse and a black bomber jacket (mine’s from Calia by Carrie Underwood), and some black boots on my feet.

What You Need to Replicate It: White peasant blouse, black pants, black bomber jacket, black boots


The Darkling/ General Aleksander Kirigan

Fine, go ahead and make me your villain because I’m downright obsessed with this next ‘fit. Inspired by the Darkling himself in all his powerful and wicked glory, of course, I had to pull together an all-black look to pay homage to his signature color, even if Alina won’t wear it. I decided my high-low Maleficient dress from Her Universe fit this vibe well, and even finished off the look with matching tights, boots, bow headband, and moto-inspired blazer.

What You Need to Replicate It: Black dress, black tights, black moto jacket, black headband, black boots


Kaz Brekker

For the strategic and morally grey Kaz, I went with a simple look to show off my peacoat and gloves. I chose a pair of black trousers and a black-and-white blouse that I wore underneath a dark navy peacoat that just screamed KB to me. Then, I added a pair of black leather gloves (can’t leave fingerprints at a crime scene, I’m not a rookie!). Total badass vibes, yea, I see it.

What You Need to Replicate It: Black trousers, white and black blouse, black or navy peacoat, leather gloves


Jesper Fahey

So, I haven’t read Six of Crows yet as I wanted to finish the S&B trilogy first. But from the show, Jesper was definitely one of my favorite characters. He and Milo make the perfect pair, don’t you think? So, for my Jesper-inspired look, I paired this pair of jeans with a navy top and a long trench coat (collar popped, naturally). Then, to represent his emotional support goat, Milo, I brought out my old stuffed animal puppy for a similar look (hey, I love my props!).

What You Need to Replicate It: Jeans, navy top, trench coat


Inej Ghafa

Oh, Inej, is anyone more of a badass? I highly doubt that. To take fashion inspo from the acrobatic assassin, I wore this pair of skinny pleather jeggings and layered two tops together (one short-sleeve turtleneck and one flowy leopard-print tank over it). For a pop of color and increasing the badass vibes, I added my Her Universe moto jacket on top. I tied my hair up in a high pony, too, and decided to pose with a knife (just for the photo because, after all, it is Inej).

What You Need to Replicate It: Black skinny jeans or leggings, layered black (sheer?) tops, moto jacket


Nina Zenik

If I could have any Grisha power, I’d totally choose to be a Heartrender and specifically one like Nina who’s off doing her own thing in Ketterdam and with Matthias. So, obviously, I have to dress up like her; no-brainer. For Nina, I couldn’t decide between two outfits. For one, I went with the off-the-shoulder peasant top route with my H&M x Kenzo off-the-shoulder blouse paired with a leather skirt and a chunky necklace. Alternatively, I wanted to showcase the color red, since she’s a heartrender and works with hearts. For that ‘fit, I paired this red blouse with a different leather skirt, chunky necklace, and red lipstick. The look’s a bit flirty and totally as fierce as Nina. Now, where’s my Matthias? Is he still in a Ketterdam prison?

What You Need to Replicate It: Off-the-shoulder peasant blouse or red top, leather skirt, chunky necklace, red lipstick


Genya Safin

For these next two looks, I mostly took inspiration from the Netflix series with a sprinkle of inspo from the books. For the duplicitous Genya, I went with her Tailor look. I matched this cream denim skirt with a white sleeveless Oxford blouse and a cream quilted vest. To finish off the look and for the perfect prop, I decided to pose with one of my makeup palettes (I used this Making Mauves one from Colourpop). After all, she has to help Alina get ready for another day at the Little Palace.

What You Need to Replicate It: Cream skirt, white blouse, cream vest or jacket


Zoya Nazyalensky

While Zoya may not get the best rep from the book or most of the Netflix series, but I was still interested to replicate her Summoner kefta style with clothes in my closet. Since she’s a Summoner Grisha, she wears a blue one, which is why I went with this navy dress. I chose navy to provide a difference between her and Alina’s shades of blue since they are very different characters and often rivals. Then, I added a silver bangle bracelet to represent her amplifier.

What You Need to Replicate It: Navy/dark blue dress, silver bangle

Hey, Look! 7 More New Books That I Devoured This Spring

The end of the month has been hectic for me, to say the least. And so, unfortunately, my March TBR took a hit and wasn’t as productive as earlier months this year. Well, those work deadlines have passed and I’ve gotten all settled into my new apartment (including setting up my bookshelves and new book cart!), so I’m ready to dive back into my April reading list. In the meantime, here are a few of the books that drop this spring that I haven’t been able to get out of my head. Welcome back to another installment of Miranda’s Book Nook as I share more 2021 book titles that I can’t get enough of for your TBR lists this year. Happy reading!

You Love Me by Caroline Kepnes

Years ago, I was captivated by the pilot of Lifetime’s drama You (way before Netflix picked it up, in case you were wondering). After just one or two episodes, I immediately hit the library to read the novel the show was based on and was equally captivated. Then, I tried to read her second novel, Hidden Bodies, before Season 2 and after the first season ended on Lifetime, but alas, the library had a long waiting list and then lost the copy that should have been rented to me. So, over time I just forgot about it. Then, I saw a description for this third book on NetGalley recently and instantly recalled how much I loved the first one. Plus, the premise sounded interesting and unique.

Here, Joe has moved away from LA post-Book 2 and has settled in the Pacific Northwest, ready to start over. He intends to volunteer at the local library, where he’s enthralled with single mother and librarian Mary Kay. He intends to woo her over, the right way and not resulting in any of his past tricks. As I read, I’m immediately drawn back into Joe’s world and mind thanks to Kepnes’ fantastically well-written prose. There are many bombshells in this slowly drawn-out novel. It’s chock full of compelling language, and I just wanted to know what would happen next!

Rating: Four Stars

Available: Now


Pride and Premeditation by Tirzah Price

One thing about me: I’m a sucker for a good Pride & Prejudice story, whether it’s the original text, a movie or TV adaptation, or a modern retelling. No matter what format, P&P is a classic in its own right and one I will watch or read any time I can. So, when I saw this book’s description on NetGalley, my eyes went wide. Literally. It’s like P&P, but a murder mystery and thriller. Ooo, yes, please!

Here, Lizzie Bennett is an aspiring lawyer who’s trying to prove innocence for her client and Mr. Darcy is the opposing counsel and the heir to the prestigious Pemberley Associates firm. It’s a teen mystery novel, full of compelling language and juicy dialogue. It’s a thrilling twist on a story we know and love, and that twist changes everything you thought you knew about the ending. A quick, engaging YA Regency mystery novel.

Rating: Four Stars

Available: Now


Second First Impressions by Sally Thorne

Ever since I first found and devoured Sally Thorne’s The Hating Game, I was hooked on her compelling writing style and language with its delicious trope, witty banter, and fun dialogue. Then, I ordered a copy of 99 Percent Mine as soon as I hit the last page and soon devoured that one too. Upon hearing her latest release was coming out this April, I was instantly excited to read this next story.

The wealthy yet eccentric Parloni sisters are back searching for an assistant to help them with various errands throughout the days. The job seems easy yet, somehow, most male employees can barely make it through a week. Ruthie Midona works at the front desk at the retirement home and is forever at the sisters’ beck and call. She is yearning for a managerial promotion, so she’s focused on proving to her boss she can handle running the place on her own without any hijinks or hiccups. And perhaps she can easily keep her happy little place safe from the new owner, Prescott Development. And even find a nice boy to date, if there’s time. One day, someone dazzling rolls into town on a motorcycle, covered in tattoos, and he spins Ruthie’s world upside-down. Enter Teddy Prescott, who’s dedicated his life to sleeping, tattoos, and avoiding seriousness. Looking for a place to crash, he makes a deal with his developer father to stay in one of the villa’s on-site maintenance cottages (right next door to Ruthie) if he agrees to work there and start to grow up. Ruthie has just the job opening to satisfy the elder Prescott, keep this selfish rich boy out of her hair, and only around for about a week.

I was beyond pumped to start this book and see what this forced proximity and opposites-attract romance had in store. While it was a bit slow to start for me (much like 99 Percent Mine), I did find the writing compelling and engaging that kept me willing to continue on the characters’ journey, true to Thorne’s style of her past works. Seeing how Ruthie and Teddy’s connection grows deeper with time was fun and lovely. While it’s no enemies-to-lovers story and they’re no Joshua & Lucy, it is Ruthie and Teddy; a fun love story that’s all their own! As I got into this slow-burn romance, things eventually start to develop thanks to plenty of rich language and authentic characters that I couldn’t help but get sucked into it. Then, oh baby, it picks up steam about halfway through. While it does get steamy, much like her first novel, but it’s not that raunchy, and I’d call it “tamely sexy” for a romance novel. Then, the ending was absolutely precious in terms of a love story/HEA but also for Ruthie as an individual finding her path. Yay for self-growth storylines!

Rating: Four Stars

Available: April 13


The Break-Up Book Club by Wendy Wax

This was a quick, women’s fiction read that I devoured in just a few days and quite enjoyed. Here, four women have little in common but attending a weekly book club in a vintage Atlanta-based bookshop, which brings them together as they bond over reading and the notion that their lives aren’t turning out how they planned. There’s former tennis star Jazmine who’s a top sports agent who’s balancing work and single motherhood, empty nester Judith questioning her marriage, Erin who’s engaged to her high school sweetheart before he proclaims he has cold feet, and Sarah whose husband works out-of-state which leaves her home alone with just a difficult mother-in-law as a companion.

Through books, laughter, and friendship, these women learn how to navigate new chapters in their lives. From reading, I was equally drawn into each woman’s perspective and voice, all have compelling and relatable sides I enjoyed learning more about. It’s a compelling read, and I didn’t want to put it down as there are some juicy bombshells that I needed answers to, which heightened the raw and emotional drama. It reads quite quickly, and I liked it with all the engaging yet relatable language. I loved seeing how this book club brought them together in this novel about friendship. Then, the ending: While, I liked it to a degree and felt it did wrap things up in an empowering way, I just wanted more and to see where these characters’ journeys continued.

Rating: Four Stars

Available: May 18


Sunny Song Will Never Be Famous by Suzanne Park

I was so excited to start this read based on the cover design, author’s past work, and summary, and reading it totally lived up to the hype! It’s such a fun, cute, yet authentic and diverse YA novel.

Here, Sunny Song is a small influencer based in LA, but when she accidentally goes viral, her parents put their feet down. They send her to a digital detox camp on a local farm in Iowa. She absolutely doesn’t want to go, but instead comes up with ways to grow her social following. While there, she ends up making unexpected friendships and meeting a cute farm boy that teaches her all about the connections she can make while disconnecting.

While reading, I found this novel has so much engaging, relatable language that draws me in, as well as authentic characters that leave me curious. It’s a fun, easy, and light YA adventure set at a summer camp, so like score one for this book. Then, there’s the precious and cute farm boy Theo who makes my heart melt, too. All in all, I couldn’t put this read down and it’s just so adorable.

Rating: Four Stars

Available: June 1


The Marvelous by Claire Kann

I had few expectations of this book before starting, other than the premise sounded interesting. But as I started reading, I soon couldn’t put it down!

Here, an elusive heiress and social media app founder Jewel invites four of her site users to her estate for some “Golden Weekend.” There’s megafan Luna and her best friend Alex (since she’s 15), Nicole the big influencer with thousands of followers, Stella the user no one knows but she has very strict parents, Harlow the last girl invited no one really likes, and Francis who’s the mysterious late arrival with secrets of his own.

These users all get a GW invitation to spend the weekend at Jewel’s mansion, but there’s a catch. They have to play some game full of riddles and challenges for a cash prize. This story is all very mysterious but intriguing, thanks to some dishy and engaging language that has me hooked. While it may be a tad confusing at first to keep up with all the shifting viewpoints that aren’t easily labeled, I still really enjoyed this one. I don’t think I’ve read a single book like this one and I liked it for precisely that reason. All in all, it’s so captivating that made it unputdownable.

Rating: Four Stars

Available: June 8


We Can’t Keep Meeting Like This by Rachel Lynn Solomon

After recently finishing her adult romance, The Ex Talk, I was definitely excited to read Solomon’s latest New Adult/Young Adult book, made more exciting by the premise. Here, Quinn is a teenaged wedding harpist who’s disillusioned with love and helps out with her folks’ wedding planning business, while hopeless romantic and king of the grand gesture Tarek works for his family’s catering company. So, naturally, their paths keep crossing.

Last summer, Quinn confessed her crush for her longtime pal in an email but never heard back before he went off to college. When they see each other again, they clash for sure. After they keep getting thrown together at wedding after wedding to save the day from potential disaster, Quinn realizes her feelings might not be over him just yet. It’s such a quick, fun, and cute read that gives off Sarah Dessen vibes to me. It was a tad predictable at the end only, to get the HEA, but other than that, it wasn’t too much for a teen romance, and I did quite enjoy it.

Rating: Four Stars

Available: June 8


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

Get Ready for Summer With These 7 New 2021 Romance Reads

Readers of this blog should know well by now that I love a good romance book. In terms of pure escapism, no genre does it better. In a world where sh*t unfortunately does hit the fan and fairytale happily-ever-afters are unlikely, these books are my go-to when I want to feel the warm-fuzzies and just all-around better about life in that moment. So, I pick up a romance novel (or many of them, over and over again) and get so engrossed and enthralled with the magical, happy stories. And like, well, magic, I always feel better by the time I reach those final pages. So, in this installment of Miranda’s Book Nook, I’ll be sharing new summer 2021 romance book titles that I can’t get enough of that should be on your radar this summer. Hello, beach reads, anyone??

Happy Endings by Thien-Kim Lam

I was very excited about this book premise because I think the romance genre in total is still strongly lacking in terms of sex positivity, representation, and diversity books, and this read delivers on those fronts. It’s a sexy second-chance romance about two exes with unfinished business together. Trixie just moved to DC and is determined to make her sex toy business a hit to prove to her traditional Vietnamese parents that she can succeed. Her first pop-up shop goes well, until, while at the restaurant where it’s being hosted, the owner strolls in. It’s none other than her ex, Andre, who broke up with her via a note, all Sex and the City-style.

Andre needs to save his family’s soul restaurant, and so the two of them agree to a merger of sorts, hosting her pop-up series at his business which will save his and help launch hers. But, their chemistry is still smoldering and they soon get engaged in a FWB situation. Yes, old flames are reignited and deep feelings re-emerge. Told in dual perspectives, this book is very spicy and has lots of backstory. Yet, the writing is very captivating to keep my attention. It should be noted that there is a massive content warning for grief if that’s triggering. Also, I don’t know why but these characters just felt a little cringe to me. But all in all, this was still a fun romance romp (albeit a bit of a smutty one) when you need to indulge.

Rating: Three Stars

Available: May 15


The Road Trip by Beth O’Leary

The acclaimed author of The Flatshare and The Switch is back once again with a delightful and impactful romance read! Here, we follow two exes who are road-tripping together to their mutual friend’s wedding, so you know things are bound to get awkward. The main characters of Dylan and Addie are total opposites, but fell in love years ago on holiday.

Now, two years since their breakup, they are forced to reunite at their friend Cherry’s wedding. But first, they have to get there, along with his best friend, her sister, and another random guest, all in one car. It’s forced proximity at its finest. The book is told in back-and-forth perspectives of both Addie and Dylan, in present and past timelines. There is a content warning for sexual assault that I think definitely should be addressed here, too, so heads up if that’s triggering for you.

Both Addie and Dylan have interesting and engaging sides that compel me to keep reading because I’m just so invested in this journey. These characters are well-written, authentic, and vulnerable. However, this read does feel quite long, but is way better than The Switch in my eyes. All in all, I just wish it didn’t have to end because I just wanted more to their story!

Rating: Four Stars

Available: June 1


Instructions for Dancing by Nicola Yoon

I initially had a different plan for my TBR order this past February, but as soon as I got approval for a galley of this brand-new Nicola Yoon book, all that went out the window! Yoon is a master at what she does, creating compelling contemporary YA (and I loved both of her previous books), so I knew this would deliver and totally be worth deviating from my monthly, scheduled TBR plan. And guess what, that paid off because it’s totally five-star worthy.

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. An emotional Nicola Yoon novel that’s also a dance romance, um, yes, please!

Reading this one, I found it’s full of engaging language where I can truly get inside bookish Evie’s head. There is a magical, fantastical element of sorts that explain how some things occur and connect. The subplot with her powers reminds me of Instant Karma by Marissa Meyer in that way. Overall, this doesn’t feel quite like her other books, but rather something completely new, and I dig it! I do equally love this one as much as her previous ones, even with its differences. The characters are relatable and authentic, too. Also, Evie+X has such a squeal-worthy, precious connection and romance. Then, there’s a big bombshell reveal in the second act that took me by complete surprise and hit me right in the feels. And I do mean, all of the feels. This book’s so vulnerable and surprisingly profound. And that ending: I just want more! Additionally, this one made me cry so, so hard by the end. Seriously. Bring me all the tissues right now because I need them.

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. Brava!

Rating: Five Stars

Available: June 2


To Sir, With Love by Lauren Layne

Immediately based on the summary, I was drawn to this romance read. Being hailed as Love is Blind meets You’ve Got Mail, two thirty-somethings meet and connect via a blind dating app with no names or pictures, only to discover their online chemistry is just as strong as their IRL workplace rivalry.

We follow aspiring artist Grace, who runs her late father’s boutique champagne shop in Manhattan. She’s cheerful and oft dreaming of her prince, who she believes is this guy from the app even though he has a girlfriend and they are just virtual pen pals. Then, her store is in trouble but she’s hesitant to give up her dad’s dream, and the man from the company who owns her building wants to buy her out. It turns out that owner is none other than the attractive and arrogant Sebastian. Overwhelmed with what path to take next, Gracie seeks solace and comfort in Sir, her faceless pen pal who she initially matched with based on common interests. While she’s falling deeper and deeper for Sir online, she doesn’t realize that he’s actually the man she cannot stand ala You’ve Got Mail.

These two have such banter from the jump that’s just so delicious and fun as a reader, where I just want to keep reading more of this fun enemies to lovers tale. It’s told partially in the present day, but then each chapter begins with a snippet of their anonymous texts, giving us more of the juicy details. In the end, it’s definitely cute, I’ll give it that, but it’s also quite expected and, all in all, just fine. But, you know, sometimes that predicably sweet rom-com is just what you need at a time. Except for that epilogue, I need more like right now.

Rating: Three Stars

Available: June 29


Incense and Sensibility by Sonali Dev

After reading Sonali Dev’s Recipe for Persuasion, I was excited to check out her next book in this series, which was an Indian-American twist on Sense and Sensibility, as evidenced by this clever and punny title. Here, eldest Raje sibling Yash is the first Indian gubernatorial candidate in California, who always knows what he wants and how to use his privileged background to get it by controlling his feelings.

After a hate-fueled incident at one of his rallies critically injures his friend/bodyguard, Yash’s life starts to spiral. To keep his anxiety attacks from leaking to the press, his family sends him to his sisters’ best friend India Dashwood, a popular stress management coach and yoga instructor. Oh, and these two once shared a mystical, magical night over ten years ago that didn’t lead anywhere, but that neither of them ever forgot. From the get-go, it’s also always fun to see previous characters pop up and still have their HEAs from earlier novels.

This read starts with plenty of action, so you get in Yash’s head and just want to keep reading. This book, told in dual perspectives, features compelling and relatable storytelling that just drew me in. While obviously this is an adaptation, it still feels current, new, and fresh. And, yes, it’s plenty cute too with a few squeal-worthy occurrences and monologues.

Rating: Three Stars

Available: July 6


It Happened One Summer by Tessa Bailey

Just by the title and summary, I was already so pumped to check out this new Tessa Bailey read because she does her niche so well that’ll always have me hooked. Here, Piper is a socialite and Hollywood “It” Girl who’s been cut off from her family after she gets arrested. Not only that, but her millionaire stepfather cuts her off and exiles her to a small fishing-centric beach town in the Pacific Northwest.

In this Schitt’s Creek-inspired rom-com, the wild child twentysomething bumps into the surly yet sexy local fisherman Brendan. They butt heads at first, but after they keep running into each other all over town, it’s clear there’s something between them that is too palpable to ignore. It sounds like so much fun, and this book totally delivers. In her exile, Piper is sent to run her late biological father’s dive bar in town with her younger sister Hannah. Soon after her arrival, she meets sea captain and widower Brendan who doesn’t think this spoiled princess can survive here for even a week. She’s determined to prove she can, and a delicious enemies-to-lovers plot is born. She keeps running into Brendan all over town, only to discover that, while they are polar opposites, he’s also just a nice and friendly guy. They have such an undeniable pull to one another in this indulgent E2L story. It’s chock full of witty, compelling language that completely draws me in.

This book, with its dual perspectives, also explores the hidden depths of each character. Piper is also digging into her dead dad’s (whom she barely remembers) past while Brendan is attempting to finally move on with his life. Once these two figure out who they each are and how that impacts their own futures, it’s such an all-consuming type of love story, and I’m pretty sure I’m obsessed. Holy crap, so this book is so frothy, vulnerable, sexy, intense, and fun! It’s so much and I’m loving it. Like, it’s making my heart burst, I swear, and I’m just so into this read that I cannot put it down and ended up DEVOURING it in a single sitting until freaking four o’clock in the morning. I totally feel all of the zings, and then by the end, it’s just so flipping cute! Gah, I just cannot wait for the sequel to read all about Hannah+Fox’s story, too! I just need to read this one like four more times right now because I just can’t stop thinking about it.

Rating: Four Stars

Available: July 13


Heartbreak for Hire by Sonia Hartl

If you thoroughly enjoyed Sally Thorne’s The Hating Game, like me, then you’ll absolutely love this new romance read. With a similar spiteful enemies to lovers premise and quick, witty banter to boot, this novel delivers for those THG fans.

This book is hailed as a fun romance read for fans of Christina Lauren and Sally Thorne, and so immediately, I knew I’d be interested in this one, especially after I read the summary. Here, 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. Then, we find out one of her former targets Mark, who made quite the impression, is hired to work with her. Mark’s an adjunct professor struggling on the academic ladder, and quite the attentive and attractive nerd. Soon, Brinkley learns people aren’t always what they appear as they start working together and she trains him closely.

They have such delicious snappy banter that pulls me in and yearns to see what will happen next. This book is full of witty and captivating language that had me turning the page and polishing off this read in a single setting in only a few hours. The premise does give me such The Hating Game vibes, and its tone and language are whipsmart, witty, and banter-laden that backs that idea up. With that similar tone, rich and authentic characters, a heck of a plot twist, and more, it’s such a delicious, juicy enemies-to-lovers romance read.

Rating: Four Stars

Available: July 27


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

These 7 Upcoming Spring Releases Stole My Bookish Heart

Well well well, here we are, knee-deep in March and yet still basically hunkered down at home for who knows how much longer because it’s already been a full calendar year. As expected, I’ve continued to spend my free time reading a good book (I managed 28 in January, 18 in February, and 2.5 so far in March.), starting up my brand-new #bookstagram page, and maintaining my rainbow-organized bookshelves. As I kept on reading, I discovered some truly incredible reads that completely stole my bookish heart. So, without further ado, welcome back to Miranda’s Book Nook for another round of 2021 book recommendations that should definitely be on your radar this spring. Happy reading!

Hana Khan Carries On by Uzma Jalaluddin

This book completely took me by surprise, and honestly, that’s what I liked the most about it. It’s pitched as a You’ve Got Mail-type of romcom, which is both a trope and a movie I adore, and so I was already hooked.

Here, Hana juggles her dream job in radio, a side hobby as a podcaster, and spends the remainder of her time waitressing at her family’s halal restaurant in Toronto. Sales are slow, especially as a new upscale halal eatery is moving in across the street. In the exposition, she’s working as a radio intern hoping to get promoted, rambling on in her podcast episodes which is where she forms a connection with an anonymous listener, all while trying to keep the family business afloat. Then, a mysterious aunt and cousin arrive from India, she discovers a family secret and grapples with a hate crime attack nearby. There are all sorts of complications to contend with, including her attraction to rival restaurant owner Aydin who may not be as much of a stranger as she initially thinks. When life as she knows it shifts and changes, Hana must figure out how to use her voice, be strong, and decide what her life should be.

This coming-of-age read features captivating, descriptive language, and in addition to see the text, the story’s also told through her podcast transcripts and the anonymous DMs they share. There is a lot of exposition that starts off pretty slow, but thanks to vulnerable and authentic characters you can’t help but get sucked in and want to find out what happens next. It’s well-written and captivating, as well as profound and insightful to look at this cultural identity and perspective, especially if you are on the outside. Then, of course, the ending romance and HEA is so flipping cute and precious that had me smiling from ear to ear.

Rating: Four Stars

Available: April 13


The End of Men by Christina Sweeney-Baird

Let me preface this by saying that I don’t hand out five-star ratings often because, to me, that means a book needs to be fan-freaking-tastic and just all-around unforgettable. And let me tell you: This book is just that. Christina Sweeney-Baird’s debut novel is poised to be a prolific piece of prose that’ll have everyone talking this April. It already has a select few NetGalley reviewers buzzing, and I’m happy to join those ranks. 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.

Before reading this book, I was intrigued by the summary (reminding me of the likes of The Handmaid’s Tale or Children of Men-type of dystopia) and the sheer number of glowing reviews. So, I started it. And, I couldn’t put it down for nearly two days until I finished every last page, just pouring 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, which is made all the more prescient considering it was written two years ago. Yet, it’s still so relevant, raw, and vulnerable, and just like wow. This book, what else is there to say without giving much away other than it’s so bloody brilliant, and I mean that wholeheartedly. The story is just so real and gripping but also has messages and themes that are so impactful and important that elevate this read into what it is.

With its current publication date, that makes this novel all the more poignant and reflective. In this book, as these women try to keep the world running, they also grapple with fear, loss, grief, mortality, fertility, and humanity. 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. Now, with all that going on, there’s bound to be some triggering scenes. And so, yes, that does mean I have some content warnings to deliver if scenes of grief and loss; death of a parent, child, or spouse; infertility; or suicide is triggering for you. In the end, this has to be a five-star read for me, it’s just so poignant, well-written, and prolific. I sincerely hope that once this book is officially available, it gets all the hype and acclaim because it’s that good and deserves it.

Rating: Five Stars

Available: April 27


Turning Pointe: How a New Generation of Dancers Is Saving Ballet from Itself by Chloe Angyal

Author Chloe Angyal provides an insightful look at the behind-the-scenes world of ballet in this nonfiction read full of facts, history, and interviews. Through this inside look at the ballet world’s present, readers can see how this art form is shaped by race, gender, and class inequalities, as well as how dancers and professionals are fighting for a more inclusive and positive future.

This book is written by journalist Chloe Angyal who aims to capture students’ love for ballet all while they grapple with its unfair and unbalanced shortcomings in terms of power, beauty, and race. Angyal interviews students, parents, teachers, health care workers, professionals, and more industry insides about the damaging path of this industry in the modern world and how that affects the dancers.

She takes a concept that isn’t largely discussed outside of gruesome or idealized TV or movies and blows everything you didn’t know about this hard field wide open. It’s all about how the art form s broken and how to fix its inequities to move forward. The writing is very detailed and informative. However, at times the text could be quite dry, although I found it interesting as a former dancer myself.

Rating: Three Stars

Available: May 4


The Summer of Broken Rules by K.L. Walther

This was an absolutely adorable New Adult romance read that I just devoured. Here, Meredith joins her extended family at her grandparents’ compound in Martha’s Vineyard every summer. This is the first time she’s been back after her sister died, so grief content warning, and it’s her cousin’s wedding weekend.

She’s dealing with her sister’s death, grief, a fresh breakup from her ex, and heading off to college for the first time in a few weeks. She needs a distraction, which their annual family Assassin game comes at the right time. In her quest to win to honor her sister, she teams up with a cute groomsman in the wedding, Wit. She can’t help falling for him during this weekend fling, but that may very much cost her both the game and her heart. This read is full of compelling language that just draws me in from the first page. It’s a fun summer romance that’s for sure, however, the title doesn’t seem to make much sense to me and that’s a little awkward, I guess. But, all in all, it’s a very cute and absolutely precious NA romance.

Rating: Four Stars

Available: May 4


Where the Grass Is Green and the Girls Are Pretty by Lauren Weisberger

True to Lauren Weisberger’s style, her latest novel delivers her signature wit, insight into an elite world, enthralling storytelling, relatable yet authentic characters, and snappy language.

In this book, readers follow two sisters Peyton and Skye, who are complete opposites but seemingly have perfect lives to one another. Then, several lies threaten to derail everything. Peyton is a TV anchor who always has it together, including her daughter Max who is Ivy League-bound. Meanwhile, Skye is a stay-at-home mom in the New York suburbs who is fundraising to start up a new home for underprivileged kids as a way to get away from this PTA mom life she’s been living in. Then, there’s Max, Peyton’s daughter, who is coming of age in this elite Manhattan prep school and who does want to attend Princeton but rather a film school on the west coast. This book follows all three of them as they attempt to move forward once lies explode and derail everything they know. It’s basically based on the age-old saying that the grass is greener on the other side. Everything blows up for Peyton when her husband is arrested in a college admissions scandal, while Skye is hiding her deep debts.

This book is full of quick, witty language and relatable characters and dialogue. We get back-and-forth perspectives to show how each woman is dealing with everything and interact with one another. I was definitely very, very, very interested to see where things would go and happen next, and in the end, I just wanted more. It’s so rich with details and complex characters that made this read totally unputdownable.

Rating: Four Stars

Available: May 18


Beth & Amy 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 it in Meg & Jo, I knew I’d like it just as much, which I did. Now, that I’ve finished her follow-up, I’m even more besotted with the lives of the March sisters than ever before, and here it’s Beth’s and Amy’s turns in the spotlight to share their stories.

After I devoured and loved Meg & Jo, I was stocked to read this follow-up, which I can now report that I loved even more. 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 (from the previous book). 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. Thank you so much Berkeley for this ARC, I was absolutely thrilled to once again rejoin the March sisters on their journeys.

Rating: Four Stars

Available: May 25


Sixteen Scandals by Sophie Jordan

This is a fun Regency romp of a read that I just couldn’t put down! Here, Primrose Ainsworth is the fourth daughter of a modest upper-class family who’s approaching her sixteenth birthday without debut plans in sight. Always tired of being a child and stuck at home she concocts a ruse with her best friend to sneak out on her birthday to London’s Vauxhall Gardens for a night of masqueraded fun. When she gets separated from her friend, a mysterious hero is here to help her escape when her cover is nearly blown. This stranger is 19-year-old Jacob, who becomes her partner in crime all evening long as they dodge all sorts of hijinks and antics.

It’s described as having “Austen-type flirtation” and “Shakespearan hijinks,” which is already giving me Bridgerton meets the happy Romeo & Juliet vibes, and I’m here for it. The language is curious, engaging, frothy, and fun. Plus, the banter between Prim and Jacob is just on fire and explodes off the page. It’s captivating and fun that I just don’t want to put this book down!

To me, it did end super, super quickly because we were just getting started with their love story, and I want more. But overall, it was very cute as is. It just flew by, and just as I was finally starting to get the characters and their story, boom it ended, and I just want more content. This is a quick Regency romp of a YA romance novel that you can polish off in haste, but nevertheless, still engaging to indulge in their banter and hijinks as Prim makes her own rules in this restrictive society for women.

Rating: Four Stars

Available: May 25


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