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

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.

18 Things I Want to See in ‘The Hating Game’ Movie From the Book

If you’ve followed along with Miranda’s Book Nook for some time now, you already know that I have a weakness for a banter-heavy, slow-burn, and enemies-to-lovers novel. And no book delivers that better than Sally Thorne’s The Hating Game.

I may have been a little late to the THG obsession party, but thanks to lockdown and TikTok, I made it at last. After devouring the book, I was so pleased to learn that an adaptation was already in the works starring Lucy Hale as our Shortcake. Eeep, I don’t know when we’ll get more information (other than any teasers revealed on Instagram), but in the meantime, I’ll settle for re-reading this book and imagining what a perfect film would include.

Join me as I recap the best buzzworthy moments from Thorne’s debut romance novel, in chronological order, that I just *need* see on the big screen.

**Note, this post does have spoilers from The Hating Game.**

1. Their Office Games

From the beginning, we see how Lucy and Joshua torment each other while working at their respective desks. We see how she hates him, how they mimic each other, and how they threaten to call HR on one another. It’s the banter that truly pulls you into this relationship. 


2. Password-Protected

OK, her computer password is literally some version of “IHATEJOSHUA4EVA,” and I sincerely hope we’ll get to see Lucy Hale typing that into her desktop in the B&G office set. Tee hee.


3. Rotating Shirt Colors

One thing about Joshua is that he’s very practical and efficient in all aspects of his life. That includes his wardrobe. He has a rotating staple of the same nine dress shirts in various colors. It infuriates librarian-chic Lucy that he wears the shirts in the same order week after week. Oh, I just want to see the robin’s egg blue one especially (more on that below). Several times over the duration of the movie, please.


4. All the Shortcake

Gah, I swear every mother-fudging time that Joshua calls her “Shortcake” or insinuates “you’d know when I’m flirting with you,” lord I swear I melt. Gah, it’s just a taste of the spiciness that a good romance should feature. Ugh, why is he such a perfect book boyfriend? Oh yea, he’s flipping fictional, girl. 


5. Those Planner Notes

One of the biggest “mysteries” of the book is deciphering what Joshua’s planner scribbles actually represent. As Lucy secretly discovers early on in the story, he has written all sorts of tick marks, tallies, D and S letters, et cetera, over and over again in his weekly planner. While she seemingly writes this off as some mundane task or part of their rivalry, the actual reason just proves how flipping besotted he is.


6. Whoops, She’s Got a Fake Date to Make Real

After having one of the steamiest dreams of her life about her nemesis and colleague, she wants to mess with him a little at work the next day. So, she wears a super-short, revealing dress to distract him. However, he assumes that means she’s got a date. In uncharted territory, she quickly lies that it’s true and tells him she’ll be at a local bar with him. Well, things don’t go as planned when Josh tries to poke holes in her story. So, she needs a decoy because lying about a date is pathetic, right?


7. A Post-It Kiss

Okay, one of the flirtiest moments is definitely when, to mess with the Type A Josh, she slathers on her red Flamethrower lipstick and kissed one of his Post-Its. She then sticks it directly in the middle of his computer monitor. His poor face, which will surely be as red as her lips, will be everything to see. Plus, finding out how this pops up later on in the story is even cuter.


8. That Elevator Kiss

It’s the kiss that ruins her! Before her fake-turned-real date with coworker Danny, Josh kisses her in the elevator. And I mean, like, he kisses her. This long smooch just oozes chemistry and it’s clear that sparks are plentiful, y’all.


9. Red Roses for a Beauty

After she runs out crying on her date with Danny, Josh feels so bad that he sends her red roses (like her lipstick) with the note “you’re always beautiful.” While she doesn’t realize who sent the flowers, it’s truly the sweet gesture that does it for me. Swoon. 


10. It’s Paintball Time

Obviously, they have to include this iconic game scene. It’s just fun. But, the best part is when she covers his back so he won’t get eliminated or hurt. It’s that moment when she starts to realize that perhaps she doesn’t hate him after all that’s the sweetest part.


11. Sleepysaurus and a Sick Shortcake

While we don’t know exactly how or why Lucy gets sick in the book, it’s overwhelming precious and kind to see Joshua take care of her all day and night long. It gave me such Ben from Meet You in the Middle vibes that way. Based on IG teasers, we know this old tee *will* make an appearance on screen. I chose this moment because to see this man who we thought hated her just want to take care of her, it’s so sweet and cute. He even called his estranged brother, a doctor, just to make sure she’ll be okay. If that’s not love, then I don’t know what is.


12. The ‘Or Something’ Game

After he takes care of her and she kisses him later on, they start a new game. But, it can only officially start once, and if, she kisses Danny and realizes that no one kisses her like Josh can. And lord help her, he’s right. This is where the book’s spice warnings all start after she races to his apartment to let him know.


13. All the Robin’s Egg Blue Colors

This blue hue is mega-important to the set and the story (and the book cover too, FYI), and I can’t wait to see the set decorator’s little easter eggs and homage to what this represents on screen.


14. A New Collection

Sure, we know that Lucy collects Smurfs as inspired by her Dad, but after the ‘Or Something’ game has commenced, she starts a whole new collection of Matchbox cars. While at his curiously decorated apartment, she fiddles with an old car toy that he then gifts her before heading home. Then, he searches for a new one to get her on his day off. That’s only the beginning till… epilogue spoilers at the end of 99 Percent Mine. Later, when she realizes he was the one who sent her the roses, she reciprocates it by sending him roses back with the swoony note, “I want you for more than your body. I want you for your Matchbox cars” and signed it “Shortcake.” The love is definitely real by now, y’all.


15. Plenty of Self-Growth

Throughout all this, Joshua really helps and inspires her to stand up for herself in the office. This is a beautiful scene to see of this innocent moment where she’s growing and evolving into a stronger, fiercer woman.


16. The Road-Trip to the Wedding

Along the way to his brother’s wedding, we see the pair open up and divulge why they like each other. He mentions her eyes and lips, and it’s so subtle yet absolutely pure and precious. I cannot help but just melt every single time I read those words.


17. The Wedding Reveals All

This wedding is chock full of drama. From discovering a family bombshell, Lucy standing up to Joshua’s family about what a magnificent man he is, his jealousy during her innocent work call with Danny, their “our hotel room only has one bed” antics, and realizing this is full-on capital-L love. Woo, oh boy, I’m not ready yet.


18. A Sweeping HEA & Epilogue

Seeing how everything works out to give this duo their HEA is absolutely swoony and smile-worthy, to say the least. It’ll be the perfect way to cap off their journey in the movie, too. Then, I sincerely hope we flashforward to get the extra epilogue from 99 Percent Mine, where we see how their relationship has evolved at least one year later. Her Matchbox collection. Their new jobs. Their continued and heightened passion. Their new accessories that glimmer in the light. I want it all.

Spring is Here With These 7 New 2021 Book Releases

After reading some 26 books in the month of January, I have no clear plans to slow down the rest of this year. Some of these books I’ve already discussed or plan to speak about later, so be sure to follow for the latest updates, but I’m here to talk about some adorable and engaging spring releases that should definitely be on our TBR if you enjoy reading the same genres as I do. So, without further ado, welcome back to another installment of Miranda’s Book Nook. Happy reading!

The Love Square by Laura Jane Williams

This was a truly lovely, easy romance read that I quite enjoyed. Set in London, Penny is single and quite unlucky in love. Suddenly, she meets three remarkable men one after another, which like meh they are just okay in my mind TBH, that all want to date her.

She must decide if any of these three dudes are The One for her, what she wants, and even confront if she’s truly as unloveable as she believes she is. This rom-com story is full of relatable language that draws me in from the beginning. It’s sweeping and cute. While there’s no need to reread this again, it’s perfectly lovely as a first read. It does become more of a women’s fiction novel than a romance where she must decide what she, and she alone, wants and I’m okay with that self-realization and empowering story arc.

Rating: Four Stars

Available: February 9


The Intimacy Experiment by Rosie Danan

This was an absolutely fun romp of a romance that enthralled me and captivated me, so much so that I just couldn’t even put it down. Here, Naomi aka The Roommate’s protagonists’ Clara’s and Josh’s best friend and business partner is ready for her own love story.

Naomi, as a former sex worker turned CEO of a sex-positive startup, pretty much always goes against the grain. The book starts as she wants to extend the Shameless service into an educational platform with lectures. However, higher ed won’t hire her despite her long list of qualifications for the gig. That’s where Rabbi Ethan Cantor comes in. He’s searching for a way to boost membership to his congregation before closure and thinks a modern intimacy slash dating seminar is the way to go. Together, they join forces to host a buzzy seminar series while dealing with their mutual attraction.

So, while Rosie Danan’s first novel was uber-popular in the romance community, I hadn’t read it, but after recalling its popularity and the high reviews of this book, I was intrigued to give it a shot. And now, I’m ready to go back and dive into the world which started it all, especially for more background on Shameless because I felt I was missing some crucial details by just diving in with the follow-up. And if you have read its predecessor, you’ll enjoy seeing Clara+Josh and Shameless once more for more post-HEA goodness. This book, told in dual perspectives, features fresh, fun, and engaging language that reads quickly, draws me in, and made me laugh right from the start. Here, it’s very interesting and intriguing to see the correlation between sex slash intimacy and religion that’s well-thought-out and interesting. Then, having two Jewish leads is such a refreshing bit of diversity rarely tackled in the romance genre, and also the queer representation, which you really love to see it. This fun romp of a book features such sizzling, delicious banter that kept me on my toes. It’s empowering and sex-positive, yet vulnerable and romantic. Danan also delivers a super precious ending that had me up until two-thirty in the morning because I couldn’t put this book down. Now, usually, there’s a second book curse for authors, but Danan’s broken that with this delightfully fun romance.

Rating: Four Stars

Available:


Hooked on You by Kathleen Fuller

This was a cute, wholesome whirlwind romance read. Here, artist Riley had left her small hometown of Maple Falls, Arkansas right after her graduation to live in New York City and pursue an art career.

Although, after her grandma, aka Mimi, breaks a leg in the church softball game, Riley agrees to come home for the first time in nine years to manage the family yarn store until Mimi is back on her feet. Meanwhile, Hayden’s been stuck in town working for his dad’s hardware store after an injury ended his pro baseball career. He’s in a rut but slowly discovering what he wants out of life, from working at the store, coaching a new church softball league in town, or fixing up a house in town. These two went to high school together but ran in different circles, and so they never talked, although there were definitely some unresolved and unrequited feelings back then. After Mimi plays matchmaker to get Riley to stay in town that continues to put Hayden in her granddaughter’s orbit, and they catch feelings.

This clean, wholesome small-town romance is told through dual perspectives mostly, but there’s also a brief section or two told through Mimi’s eyes. All in all, it’s cute but not all that extraordinary. I liked it just fine, but that’s about it. Also, several plot points or backstories that were mentioned in the book summary do not occur in the book at all, which is a little bit of a misnomer.

Rating: Three Stars

Available: May 11


The Soulmate Equation by Christina Lauren

This Christina Lauren novel is another delightful romcom read from these two authors. Here, single mom Jess is barely holding it all together to make ends meet. She lives with her grandparents, who helped raise her, and who helps raise her seven-year-old daughter Juno. She’s a statistician who loves data and crunching numbers but hesitates to get back in the dating game.

As a statistician, when she and her best friend discover GeneticAlly, a DNA-based matchmaking service, she’s skeptical but intrigued. On a whim, she signs up and spits into a tube. Soon, she’s discovered that her results have matched her with Dr. River Pena at a freaking 98 percent compatibility, a nearly unheard of score. Oh, but she already knows River and doesn’t really like him after some initial, unfriendly meetings. The company has a proposition for her. To pretend to date, or actually just get to know, River and they’ll pay her a handsome sum that could really help her day-to-day. Since she needs the cash, she reluctantly agrees. They’re trotted out at all sorts of public events as the rare, elusive Diamond Match in order to help his company succeed, but eventually, they realize there might be something to each other than they initially thought.

This book, in true Christina Lauren fashion, is chock full of compelling language that draws me in from the get-go and I hesitate to put this book down because it’s so intriguing and engaging. Overall, it reads quite quick because I just need to know where things go with these rich, relatable characters. It’s an authentic love story for this pair of skeptics, which makes it all the more romantic and sweeping in the end because the coupling up feels justified and earned. These authors did what they do best with this romance read and I’m already wishing I could read it all over again. Now, as an ARC galley, there were a few continuity errors and kinks that weren’t exactly logical, but that didn’t stop me from getting into this book, and I’m sure it’ll all be adjusted by its pub date. I thoroughly enjoyed reading and swooning over this book. Also, the ending’s a bit ambiguous, which I understand the narrative point, but as an invested reader I just wanted to know what we didn’t know, which is my way of saying I just wanted more content or just settle for a reread instead.

Rating: Four Stars

Available: May 18


Talk Bookish to Me by Kate Bromley

This contemporary romance read completely mesmerized me and had my heart. Wholeheartedly. Here, Kara Sullivan is a popular romance author and bookstagrammer. She’s dealing with her best friend’s upcoming wedding stress, her latest book deadline, and writer’s block. Then, her first love and ex-boyfriend Ryan shows up for the wedding to her surprise and he sparks some sort of writing inspiration in her that gets her book on track.

So, we get some good forced proximity and second chance romance tropes here that I became utterly obsessed with and couldn’t put this book down. Can she embrace Ryan, her unlikely and handsome muse, to get everything done and find her own happily ever after too? I’m always down for a fun bookish romance, and this totally fulfilled that niche for me, and that GAH, so freaking cute. Ryan and Kara have such a sharp, fun, and engaging banter, and it leads to such a cute romance read. I just couldn’t, nor did I want to, put it down before I finished this read. It’s so sweeping and cute. Then, even when the biggest freaking bombshell dropped, my heart ached, and I just wanted a HEA for our hero because I had fallen for this book and Kara+Ryan have such a connection and that spark. It’s so heartfelt, vulnerable, and emotional yet so sweeping and squeal-worthy. Author Kate Bromley didn’t just write one book that I need, but two because I also need Kate’s full manuscript IRL. Then, that epilogue is absolutely precious to boot. It’s so fun, full of compelling language, and an enjoyable romance read for all us bookish girls.

Rating: Four Stars

Available: May 25        


Pumpkin by Julie Murphy

It’s Dumplin’ part three! Eeep, I’m so stoked about this one already because I adored both of the previous books in this series, Dumplin’ and Puddin’!

Here, Waylon Brewer is a fat, openly gay boy in Clover City who’s just trying to bide his time until graduation when he can finally move to Austin with his twin sister and start anew, living authentically. However, once his sister Clementine deviates from the plan and he’s dumped, Waylon decides on a whim to audition for his favorite drag competition show. After his audition tape gets shared with the entire school, Waylon ends up nominated for prom queen as a joke, right next to Clem’s girlfriend Hannah as a prom king nominee.

Even though they believe they were nominated as a joke, they decide to go for it and campaign. Along the campaign, he discovers there’s a lot more to the whole prom queen ritual than he thought. Oh, and he’s been spending more time with fellow king nominee Tucker who’s equal parts cute and infuriating. The summary explains how Waylon needs to learn the best plan for tomorrow is by living for today with the help of some fellow queens. As a book, this has such a compelling and engaging tone of voice and language that really pulls me into his story right off the bat. It’s so much fun to see this new story and to check in on your favorite characters from CCHS during their senior year. Which, side note, I’d like to confirm that Bo is still one of my top Book BFs after *that* Dolly-inspired promposal scene, thank you very much. It’s real, authentic, and engaging, just like Murphy’s other reads in this series and I thoroughly enjoyed it, even polishing it off in a single day because I couldn’t put it down. This fast read is super cute and I absolutely loved seeing Waylon embrace his true self and shine, just like Maddie and Willowdean had the chance to do (and did) in their books. Then, that ending is absolutely precious and I couldn’t stop smiling.

Rating: Four Stars

Available: May 25


Playing the Palace by Paul Rudnick

Royal romances are generally one of my favorite tropes to read, and so, I was excited about this one mixed with the queer representation of the leads. However, this story wasn’t my type and its pacing was off for me. Here, American event planner Carter starts dating the openly gay Prince Edgar of Wales when a royal media uproar ensures in this rom-com read. Carter’s fresh off a painful breakup and no longer believes is in the cards for him before he randomly meets the prince. But, there’s a sizzling chemistry between the two of them, and that’s true, I was full-on shipping them together by just a few chapters into reading.

They set off on an international romance, setting off media fireworks everywhere they go. Between that and average guy Carter fighting this newfound pressure in the spotlight, things get to be a lot, and if they want a HEA, they’re going to have to fight. It felt like it was going to be an adult version of “Red White and Royal Blue,” however, it’s not, and nothing really like that. It’s more like other royal-average person romances. The writing is quite funny and engaging from the start that kept me interested, making this pair so freaking cute and adorably awkward. It’s a cute read, sure, however, the pacing is all off and just way too fast. We speed through literally every milestone that could have been milked and teased to enthrall us, but it didn’t. I also couldn’t really vibe with these main characters or get inside of their heads. Yes, the writing is good, however, this book wasn’t exactly my personal cup of tea.

Rating: Three Stars

Available: May 25


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

18 Things I Want to See From the Book in ‘Bridgerton’ Season 2

Photo courtesy of Netflix/Liam Daniel

If you’ve followed along with Miranda’s Book Nook all lockdown long, you already know that I became a tad ~obsessed~ with Julia Quinn’s Bridgerton series before the show even dropped and you could binge-watch the first season on Netflix, and you, like me, may have watched the adaptation in just one day.

Now, with the news that the Shondaland series will return for a second season on Netflix and will be focused on Anthony’s journey to find love, as inspired by The Viscount Who Loved Me, I instantly was stoked. Join me as I recap the best buzzworthy moments (if you know you know, but if not that was a very clever pun you’ll get in just a few moments) from Quinn’s second book, in chronological order, that just *need* to be seen onscreen in the second series.

**Note, this post does have spoilers from The Viscount Who Loved Me.**

1. A Happy Family

The prologue has a lovely backstory of Anthony’s childhood and his relationships with his parents and siblings. Much like the first season of the show, I do hope we get to see this backstory in a flashback scene. I want to see Anthony and his family playing at the country estate, his heart-to-heart with his father, and processing his grief individually.


2. The Most Reprehensible Rake with a Capital R

While TV viewers may think Simon was the rakiest rake there ever was, that honor is actually all Lord Bridgerton’s himself, right from page one. All I want to hear the incomparable Julie Andrews recite that monologue from Lady Whistledown’s first article, all about how Anthony is a Rake with a capital R aka the most dangerous kind of rake. Also, side note, I’m positive that “The Most Reprehensible Rake” should definitely be the title of the first episode of the season and you cannot convince me otherwise.


3. Newton In All His Glory

I hope, hope, hope the casting team does its due diligence to find the cutest and rowdiest corgi pup to portray Kate’s rambunctious doggo. Also, I just want to say that Jonathan Bailey cuddled up with said pooch will steal every scene and Every. Single. Take.


4. A Moody Teen Gregory

By this point, the youngest Bridgerton brother is a mere 13 years old and a full-on prankster. As Colin reveals to Kate at the first ball, the G sibling often puts frogs on people’s chairs, which is how you can separate him from big bro Anthony. This would be a fun, short moment of levity on the show, and I’d be all for it.


5. A Banter-Laden Enemies-to-Lovers Journey

First off, y’all know I have a weakness for a good E2L romance with delicious banter, and honestly, no Bridgerton couple delivers that better than Anthony and the quick-witted Kate Sheffield. From their first dance even, you see that tenfold and, boy, I cannot wait to see Bailey’s pure chemistry with whoever is cast as Kate. Then, based on Anthony’s dreams of her kissable lips and her body to their first kiss and beyond, wooo, are we in for some even steamier scenes this season!


6. Kate’s UnderTheDesk Antics

During his mama’s ball, which featured Italian opera singer Maria who’s definitely meant to be represented by Siena in the show, Anthony sneaks the songstress away to his study for an intimate moment. However, little does he know, Kate needed a breather from the social scene and was hiding out there. The best moment is where Kate, hiding underneath his desk, bites Anthony’s ankle like a dog to avoid getting caught. Lolololol aren’t y’all gonna be shocked to see it but, sweeties, I’m so ready for that scene.


7. Lady W Laying Down the Law About Men

This is one of Whistledown’s funniest and most relatable lines from her news sheet, and I need Julie Andrews to read it out in full with her signature flair. The line is as follows, “Men are contrary creatures. Their heads and their hearts are never in agreement. And as women know all too well, their actions are usually governed by something else altogether.”


8. The Rules of Pall Mall

Ok, I’ve been waiting to see a game of Pall Mall on the show ever since I read the first game scene and saw their family dynamics on screen! It could take the place of a scene much like the one last season where the family was all in the park prepromenading. I want to see Kate steal Anthony’s black Mallet of Death ball and leave him with the pink one to his chagrin. Oh, they better not cut this game from the show.


9. A Lovely Bond with Penelope

During the Bridgerton country estate party, we see Kate’s blossoming friendship with Penelope Featherington. I, for one, cannot wait to see this beautiful relationship grow onscreen between Nicola Coughlan and whoever’s cast as Kate.


10. Anthony the Hero

Also during the country party, we see Anthony come to Pen’s rescue when the wicked Cressida Cowper bullies her. Kate witnesses this, which of course makes her swoon even harder, but I love seeing this softer side of the viscount and how he’s just such a good friend.


11. Kate’s Vulnerability and Anthony Just Being There

Once again during the country event, we see Kate’s traumatic sleepwalking during a thunderstorm. That’s not the moment I want to see in particular, but rather its aftermath. I want to see her curled up in a ball in the library as Anthony finds her and comforts her, displaying yet another softness to him. That’s the Lord Bridgerton I was a fan of while reading and who I want to see Jonathan Bailey portray on the show.


12. *That* Bee Sting

You had to know this one was coming, right? It should be quite obvious, but that doesn’t make this scene any less iconic. After Kate and Anthony went for a walk around the garden, we see she gets stung by a bee, which in turn traumatizes the viscount because of his father’s death. So, his only logic is to pull down her bodice, still in the garden mind you, and suck the bee venom out. And of course, his mama Violet, her stepmother Mary, and Lady Featherington all spot what’s going down and insist on a proposal because lord knows Miss Portia Featherington cannot keep anything to herself.


13. The Bridgerton Heirloom Ring

Once engaged, Anthony presents Kate with a simplistic ancestral diamond ring. The fashionista in me just cannot wait to see what the wardrobe team will dream up to bring this facet of her costume to life!


14. The Talk

While Daff was very underinformed about the birds and the bees going into her wedding, Mary wanted to make sure Kate wasn’t before her own big day. I really want to see how the show writers will script out this potentially awkward talk, but also sculpt it towards the female gaze by focusing on female pleasure specifically.


15. Falling in Love

After their wedding, Anthony and his new viscountess have such a swoon-worthy yet steamy romance ahead that viewers will surely go nuts for. I mean, when Anthony tells her on page 261 that he’ll give her “anything in my power” that she asks for, just like GAH. And her response is “just love me,” repeated several times. I cannot help but melt and need those words written into the script.


16. The First L Word

Once Anthony realizes he’s crazy in love with his wife, he rushes off on horseback to find her and tell her. I cannot wait to see Jonathan Bailey on horseback, but also that terror on the face once he sees the carriage accident and that worry he might not get to tell her how he’s feeling. Her leg’s broken and bloody, and immediately he says those three words with such urgency that never fails to give me goosebumps. I cannot wait to see Bailey play that.


17. A Happily Ever After

In the book epilogue, we see Anthony surpass his 39th birthday and the year he thought he’d die per superstition. This party, with their kids and his siblings, would surely make the perfect ending scene for the season.


18. The Biggest F**king Lady W Clue Yet

Ok, this final page of the epilogue was how I knew exactly who Lady Whistedown was because Kate tells her husband that it seems odd that the popular writer extensively writes of his brother Colin an awful lot. Like a ton. Hello, clue alert! So, that would be a fun nod to the book and an easy way to wrap up the season to mirror the first season’s final season as well.

Bring on a New Year With These 8 New 2021 Book Releases

Now that we’re weeks into the New Year, that’s certainly plenty of time to start your 2021 TBR challenge with a bang! For me personally, I’ve already polished off 14 books this month, currently in the middle of another one, and about to head out to the library this weekend to pick up another hold that’s ready. So, suffice it to say, once I finish my daily work duties, I pretty much spend all my time reading. I mean, it’s still a pandemic and a lockdown, so like, what else is there to do instead? From my first five-star read of the year, sweeping romances, impactful guidebooks, and powerful literary masterpieces, my Recently Read list has been absolutely packed with winners. And so, welcome back once again to Miranda’s Book Nook! Keep on reading for eight more 2021 book titles that I can’t get enough of this month that should be on your radar this year. Happy reading!

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

I know, I know, I’m late to the party on this read. And, I’m kicking myself for not picking this book up earlier, however, you can’t change the past and we’re here now. So, a bit of backstory: After seeing TikTok after TikTok where readers proclaim it one of the best, I immediately looked up a book summary and was floored by what I read. It sounded so good, so I immediately went to find a copy. While, unfortunately, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and the library didn’t have a copy readily available as soon as I wanted to read it, Target did. And so, within three days of ordering, my book mail was shipped and arrived at my house.

Okay, so, GAH, I didn’t even realize that I polished off this four hundred-plus page novel in a single day. I just couldn’t put it down, as I read it early Tuesday morning at midnight, then slept until my alarm, read some fifty pages as I ate breakfast, worked my normal hours at my new job, and then picked up this book again as I cooked and ate dinner, and then kept on reading until 11 at night when I finished this read. That’s how good and enthralling this was because I just couldn’t put it down.

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

Rating: Five Stars (I’m adding a new section for all my 2021 book reviews and recommendations from here on out, where I’ll be including my rating out of five stars here.)

Available: Now


Ballet Orphans: A Prequel by Terez Mertes Rose*

I have a soft spot for books about the behind the scenes world of dance and ballet, and this read was a lovely addition to that genre. Here, it is 1990 and April is a ballet soloist in New York when her mom dies just two years after her dad’s death.

She’s trying to rebalance her life when she gets a principal offer at a struggling San Francisco ballet company. A new life in a new city seems like an exciting prospect to her, but the other dancers are wary of both a new dancer and a new artistic director. Then, there’s a troubling former dancer with an explosive past. While technically this is a prequel novel, I found it easy to get into as a newbie to the series. Here, she realizes the sacrifices that are necessary to make her professional dreams come true and her desire to be loved and protect her chosen family.

This reads quite quickly with engaging language and tone. It’s a fun read about the behind-the-scenes world of ballet. It’s vulnerable, authentic, fun, and engaging that I very much enjoyed.

Rating: Three Stars

Available: Now


Enjoy the View by Sarah Morgenthaler*

Sarah Morgenthaler continues her popular Moose Springs romance series with this adventurous new addition. Here, Hollywood starlet River Lane is in need of a career facelift, so she heads up to Moose Springs, Alaska with her film crew to make a tourism-boosting documentary about the area and this charming town. However, the locals are less than accommodating.

She’s determined to prove herself with this movie both for her career and to everyone that gets in her way, oh, and none of the quirky locals want anything to do with her. Except one. Easton Lockett, a side character in the author’s previous books, is a survival expert and mountain guide, who’s a big pile of mush underneath his rugged, outdoorsy facade. He’s tasked with getting River and her crew up and down the mountain safely as they film the journey along the way. However, falling for her was not part of his plan and makes his job a lot tougher, but ultimately he can’t shake their inevitable connection.

I picked this book up right after finishing the all-consuming drama of Addie LaRue (see above) because I wanted something light, easy, frothy, cute, and fun. And, this book gave me just that. For those of you who loved the author’s previous books in the series, you’ll enjoy returning to Moose Springs and getting a deep-dive into the beloved side character, plus seeing both Graham+Zoey and Rick+Lana still have their HEAs is fun. Or if you, like me, are just jumping into the series, it totally stands on its own as a cute, wilderness-y romance book. River and Easton start off at odds, which of course, but that allows for such fun banter. It gives me similar vibes to Not If I Save You First because they both need to survive physically but also learn to be open when love is right in front of you. It has dual perspectives and is full of easy, relatable, and indulgent language that draws you into the story. Trust me, once you get sucked into the action, you’re all in on this read. These two have the sparks and banter, and it’s beyond cute. Then, the ending is absolutely precious, sweeping, and cheesy romantic as all heck.

Rating: Four Stars

Available: January 19


The Divines by Ellie Eaton*

I was excited to begin this highly anticipated literary fiction novel, which just completely enthralled me and I couldn’t put it down. It’s set in present-day LA with flashbacks to a British boarding school in the ’90s and this coming-of-age novel explores the destructive relationships between teenage girls.

In the flashback, the girls of the elite St. John boarding school are notorious for pushing boundaries, their sharp tongues, and chasing boys. Now in her thirties, Josephine hasn’t spoken to any of her former peers in fifteen years ever since the school closed in the wake of a mysterious scandal. During her honeymoon, she takes a detour to the old school grounds, which brings up all sorts of memories of that time and the horrid things they got away with. This visit provokes all sorts of recollections about the school’s final weeks, leading up to the big scandal, and her violet secret at its center. As she remembers more and more, her life, her sense of self, and her marriage all crumble around her. Eaton looks at adolescent sexuality, female identity, social class divide in this suspenseful novel. This book is full of rich, exciting language that draws you in. Josephine has such an intriguing first-person point of view and voice. It has such a compelling tone, and it gets so engaging that makes this read hard to put down.

Rating: Four Stars

Available: January 19


David and Ameena by Ami Rao*

This read was such an unexpectedly poignant and moving romance story starring American-Jewish aspiring jazz pianist David and British-Pakistani painter Ameena. This story is set in New York City, and their journey begins when they meet in a crowded subway car, which, like, don’t I wish that was realistic hahaha.

While hailing from vastly different upbringings, beliefs, and experiences, they are both torn between their dreams versus their families’ expectations, which connects them. after their fated initial meeting. The book shows how they navigate their relationship amidst ambitions, careers, and the city they live in and love while they must deal with and confront the challenges and struggles of today’s world. This book, told in dual perspectives, features very descriptive language that feels very romantic for me as a reader. Everything is timed just right to draw me in, except for a few sections that out of nowhere tell the story of Ameena’s dad or brother. These tales almost feel out of place in this story, leaving me confused at its purpose because it doesn’t seem to make sense or intersect with this romantic story until the very end, which was almost too late for me.

There is one other thing that struck me as inauthentic. So, I get the author, Ameena, and the publisher are based in the UK and use British English, however, David is American and the primary setting is in the US. So, the use of British English for his sections, or her boss’ scenes, for example, doesn’t exactly make sense because American English is quite different. I liked this read and its authentic, vulnerable portrayal of the characters, the hard moments, and the story, but it does take quite a bit of time to get into it.

Rating: Three Stars

Available: February 4


Yes & I Love You by Roni Loren*

While this book initially took me a little bit to really get into, by the end, it was an all-consuming, sweet romance read that I could barely put down. Here, Miz Poppy is a popular and vibrant reviewer who covers the most exciting nightlife options in New Orleans, but little do crowds know, is that Hollyn Tate is the girl behind the online persona.

After her boss tells her to start adding videos to her reviews, Hollyn is fearful of people finding out her true self and finds help to conquer those fears where she least expects. That’s where aspiring actor Jasper Deares comes in. After he realizes that the girl who orders coffee from him is Miz Poppy, he thinks a review from her about his improv troupe will be his chance at fame and media attention to jumpstart his acting career. All he needs to do is help her overcome her stage fright so she’ll write a review of his troupe. But, things soon get complication as their connection deepens, she overcomes her fears, and he realizes what he actually wants to do in life and how to get there. Told in dual perspectives, this book is full of realistic and authentic character. Oh, and the representation is so nice to see in this friends with benefits trope read. And that ending is just way too cute to put into words!

Rating: Three Stars

Available: March 2


The Rejection That Changed My Life by Jessica Bacal*

After everything many of us have gone through during this tough and unprecedented time, this timely book provides just what we need to look forward and move on.

This self-help book deals with rejection, failure, and searching for work. It features all sorts of interviews with more than 25 women in a variety of fields all about their experiences, providing you with new ways to think and cope with career changes, challenges, and triumphs. All these empowering, diverse stories serve as confidence-building inspiration to help facilitate your own growth and coping mechanisms. So, obviously, this is far from my usual type of read, but after everything that’s happened post-COVID, I want to grow more, and this book is a huge help full of advice to pick yourself up and keep going.

It makes you realize that your feelings of rejection are far from unique, and it is OK, but that doesn’t mean you should give up because of it. The format per interview includes an intro about their background, a first-person account of their rejection story, and then their key tips. This book, now more than ever, is so important to show women that nothing is worth giving up on our dreams and to stay strong. The end also features a workbook of seven exercises the reader can complete to help deal with and process their feelings. before moving on. To me, this book promotes strength and confidence.

Rating: Four Stars

Available: April 6


Twice Shy by Sarah Hogle*

I absolutely adored this author’s first book, the five-star You Deserve Each Other, and so, I was instantly excited about picking up her second novel. Here, Maybell is a big-time dreamer and a hopeless romantic, who often thinks of a romanticized AU to cope with her disappointing and struggling reality.

After she learns she has inherited an estate and surrounding land in the Smokies from her late great-aunt, Maybell sets out to make a new start in this house aka the only happy memory from her childhood. However, when she arrives, she learns the house and grounds are falling apart and that she’s actually the co-inheritor alongside the grouchy yet gorgeous groundskeeper Wesley. It’s hard for her to get Wesley to stop avoiding her and compromise on how to fix up the house, all while trying to attend to Great-Aunt Violet’s dying wishes. These two slowly let their guards down, open up to each other, and get out of their comfort zones to find something totally new together. It sounds very cute, and now that I finished it, that holds up.

This cute, precious novel is full of very descriptive language and details that pull me in. Also, Hogle portrays a genuine, vulnerable portrayal of anxiety which is so authentic and real, yet still so rare in many books out there, and this level of care added such a depth and a raw, authentic layer to Wesley, However, it’s quite a really, really slow slow-burn story that at times, I wished the pacing was accelerated a tad. Then, there’s a couple of sudden jumps between reality and Maybell’s AU scenes, which can be confusing at times. That being said, this one-sitting read is very romantic, indulging, and sweet. It kept me alert and intrigued to just find out what happens next immediately after I started. While in my eyes this can’t top my love for Hogle’s first book, I still very much enjoyed this cute romance.

Rating: Four Stars

Available: April 6


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