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.

Get Ready: 2021 is Here With These 8 New Book Releases

Have you already set your reading goals, found a challenge, or made a tracking spreadsheet to chart your bookish endeavors for the new year? I just made mine last weekend too! After completing around 140+ books for the entire year, I’ve decided to up the ante for 2021. I made a Google Doc spreadsheet, where I’ve listed out all the books on my TBR with its title, author, pub date, whether it’s an ARC or a purchased copy, and my rating. Then, I have additional tabs for books to buy and any reading challenge prompts to partake in. And of course, I’ve set a goal book amount that seems totally obtainable to my bookish soul. Now that I’m ready to roll on my bookish challenge for 2021, I want to help y’all finish yours.

We already got a peek at some of my latest 2021 reads already on here, and guess what? That’s not even half of it! Welcome back to Miranda’s Book Nook as I share some of the 2021 book titles I can’t get enough of and which ones should be on your radar in this new year. Happy reading!

Be Dazzled by Ryan La Sala

I read this upcoming read in an audiobook format, and GAH, it was so cute and the audio format just totally immersed me in the characters. This audiobook, narrated by Pete Cross, is so entertaining and I’m obsessed by the first chapter alone. This book reminds me of Red, White & Royal Blue meets Ashley Polston’s geeky fangirl slash cosplay YA romances, and that’s what has my heart before I even started. It’s described as Project Runway meets Comic-Con to make an epic queer love story, and that is one thousand percent an accurate description.

Here, we follow Raffy who has a passion for fashion and design and yearns to make his mark at this big cosplay competition to help jumpstart his future in the business. In the present timeline, his main competition is his ex-boyfriend Luca. As seen in different flashback chapters, they were the perfect team until Luca’s insecurities and Raffy’s perfectionism imploded everything. Back to the present, they are forced to team up once more on the most impressive cosplay comp yet, juggling unresolved romantic feelings, self-doubt, and working to build their most ambitious build yet. This book is chock full of funny, witty, and relatable language that reads as so authentic and engaging. This language is just so witty and rich, and I’m obsessed. Then, the narrator really nails each emotion and tone of every character. This audio version brings listeners the perfect way to envision every scene and feel every single emotion and vulnerability. The narrator brings so much personality to each character’s dialogue to differentiate and sells everything to me. Each character is so distinctive, rich, complex, and dynamic, and this audio version truly shows that. We jump back and forth between the present day competition and different flashbacks to demonstrate these boys’ journey to the current timeline. This couple, boy, are they absolutely adorable! Even from the beginning where they were hiding their relationship because Luca’s not out or the beginning of their feelings and craft sessions, or even openly pining present day at the competition, just, GAH, precious. These two just have such a precious banter and are just so dang cute, like totally squeal-worthy. This book’s pacing feels just right and authentic, which keeps me engaged and wanting to read more.

Available: January 5


A Pho Love Story by Loan Le

Here, Linh and Bao are both Vietnamese American teens who’ll fall in love amidst their families longstanding feud and competing pho restaurants. Bao is described as a quite average, yet handsome teen, whilst Linh, well, she’s quite the firecracker and an aspiring artist. To me, this already feels quite When Dimple Met Rishi-esque.

The teens both work part-time in the parents’ neighboring pho restaurants, who are age-old competitors of one another. So much so, in fact, that these two are barred from speaking ever since the age of 5 or so. A chance encounter, aka a moment of chivalry, brings these two together and despite their and their families’ best efforts, there are sparks amuck. It sounded like such an engaging premise and a fun YA read based on the summary, plus it is always lovely to see diversity in the genre more. It’s told in back-and-forth dual viewpoints as their slow-burn love story develops. It was a fine read, just fine, especially after its lengthy exposition. In my opinion, Bao’s sides were far more captivating and engaging to follow. He seemed to be a more fully formed character with more quippy, witty lines. It was definitely more of a challenge for me to get interested and invested in, but once further details about a family secret and history develop, there’s such a compelling storytelling aspect that I just demanded to know what was to happen next.

Available: February 9


Honey Girl by Morgan Rogers

This women’s fiction novel was captivating and compelling for a one-sitting read. Here, Grace has just completed her doctorate in astronomy and heads to Vegas to celebrate with her friends. She’s the typical high achieving, good girl who always follows the rules.

Yet, one night in Vegas and she drunkenly marries a woman whose name she doesn’t even know and who leaves bright and early the next morning. That all happens in the first chapter, so most of the book she’s dealing with grad school burnout, a rough job market, and parental expectations. To avoid all that, she flees her home in Portland to live in New York City for the summer with her stranger wife, Yuki, a late-night DJ, who discusses all things mythological and supernatural on air. Of course, this period brings them closer, enough to fall in love, but summer can’t last forever and so she’ll flee again in order to discover her own inner truths and desires. This book is full of authentic language that leaves me so curious to find out what happens next. However, this book is quite slow to start with a lot of exposition up top, but once you get like five chapters in, you finally want to start rooting for these complex characters, who are trying to figure out their own journeys.

Available: February 23


Kisses and Croissants by Anne-Sophie Jouhanneau

This book already had my attention from the jump. Just by reading the summary, we know it’s a romantic novel, set in Paris, starring an American ballet student and a charming French boy, and it’s ideal for fans of American Royals and To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before. Well, that’s like 100 percent my brand, so welcome, dear book, to my TBR shelf right now.

To start, it’s a book about an aspiring ballerina living in Paris for the first time, plus with an adorable love story peppered in. What isn’t there to love, because I’m like obsessed already. It reminds me of Bunheads by Sophie Flack in a way, as it shows a BTS look at the real, authentic life of a ballerina-in-training who wants an apprentice contract so badly and is willing to sacrifice everything to get it. Here, Mia is an aspiring ballerina from New York, about to spend her summer in Paris training at an exclusive ballet intensive summer program. Soon, she discovers there’s more to the city when she meets a charming French boy Louis in an adorable meet-cute moment. He wants to be her tour guide as he takes her on all sorts of adventures in the city together. In a first-person account, we see Mia’s a dreamer who works her butt off to dance and wants this as a career so badly. As a former dancer, I can totally understand that, it’s part of what makes her such a relatable narrator and character. The book is chock full of rich language that makes me feel like I’m there too, right there with these characters. Her relationship with Louis gets complicated due to his father being her ballet instructor and mentor, plus she’s battling with roommate Audrey to be the best in the class and earn the main role in the end-of-program production of Swan Lake, and she’s desperate to meet her great-aunt and discover if a story from her grandma about an ancestor and the artist Degas is true because that’s part of her reason for dancing. There’s so much going on, and it’s just so interesting and fun. This one-sitting read makes me want to be in France right now so badly and have my own journey like Mia’s. Also, OMG, that HEA and epilogue was darn adorable and precious. It’s a super cute YA romance book for fans of dance, Paris, and love stories.

Available: April 6


Kate in Waiting by Becky Albertalli

Becky Albertalli is like YA royalty, and upon hearing her new book would be published by one of my new favorite YA imprints, Balzer + Bray, I’m getting super excited to actually read this. Plus, the summary sounds so intriguing and fun on its own! Also, because as a former theater kid and current theater nerd slash fangirl, this plot seemed right up my alley.

Here, best friends Kate and Anderson do literally everything together, even share communal crushes that don’t go anywhere. But when they both have huge, deep crushes on their theatre camp friend Matt, who just so happens to be new in school, everything goes crazy. Like, think Naomi and Ely’s No Kiss List because we get sort of a similar situation. From the prologue, I was already so intrigued and desperate to find out the whole story. It’s full of relatable and authentic language and characters that I’m so into it. This quick, one-sitting read is so easy to get sucked into from seeing Kate’s confidence grow, watching things with her brother’s best friend Noah blossom, and seeing her relationship with Anderson evolve as they all get older. It’s so much fun, and so cute for a YA novel, and like, eep, I definitely, actually, audibly squealed at one part. Bravo, Ms. Albertalli, you’ve done it again.

Available: April 20


The Happiest Girl in the World by Alena Dillon

This was a poignant, sharp, witty, and well-written fictional look at the world of competitive and elite gymnastics. Here, Sera is training to be an Olympic gymnast in part to her work ethic and skills, but also to appease her mom Charlene, who’s hungry for her daughter to have the glory she never got.

When Sera hears the USA Gymnastics team doctor is reported to the authorities about his so-called treatments, laced with abuse, she denies anything happened as a way to salvage her chance at success and all she’s dreamed of. This book has such compelling language that really draws me in from the prologue and makes me just want to learn more. This book is Sera’s truth in a firsthand look at the world of elite gymnastics and truly eye-opening if you’re on the outside. The book also switches to her mom’s perspective too and shows off her sacrifices and side of this journey. The writing is so sharp, witty, compelling, and well-written.

Available: April 20


The Bookshop of Second Chances by Jackie Fraser

I’m always down for a good bookish tale and a UK setting, so I was intrigued by this right away. Here, Thea is on the precipice of change when she’s fired and her husband leaves her. She then discovers her long-lost ancestor has left her a house in Scotland and an expansive book collection. So, she leaves Sussex for the coastal Scottish town. There she meets and butts heads with the gruff bookshop owner Edward.

The book is chock full of relatable characters and language, plus very descriptive wording that helps sell the second-chance story. The book has quite long chapters and is quite slow to start and dive into the action. It’s a fine read, but the ending is absolutely very, very, very cute and I cannot deny that.

Available: May 4


A Special Place for Women by Laura Hankin

After I thoroughly enjoyed the witty and insightful Happy and You Know It by this author, I instantly knew I wanted to read her next book. Here, it’s set in an exclusive women’s-only social club in Manhattan that’s presumably focused on smashing the glass ceiling, however, the secretive members are caught up in a dark business that no one outside the group knows.

Enter down-on-her-luck journalist Jillian, who needs a big scoop to pivot her career after getting laid off. So, after meeting the group’s head at her friend Raf’s restaurant, she decides she wants to write an expose of the club from the inside. It turns out she also has a vested personal interest in taking this group down, and the more she learns, it turns out there are more consequences for speaking out against these insanely influential and powerful women. This book has such descriptive language and relatable contemporary characters. Like, it’s just so juicy with plenty of secrets as the book chronicles Jillian experiencing this club with fresh eyes as a newbie. Then, holy heck, what a freaking bombshell! I didn’t see any of that coming, and like OMG! These bombshells were so unique, and nothing was truly predictable or tropey aside from her romantic relationship drama, but that was mostly a side plotline. Wow, just so engaging and enthralling.

Available: May 11


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

The 20 Best Books I’ve Read in 2020

This crazy, insane, bizarre year is finally almost over. And as you well know by now, I’ve coped with that time and everything I was dealing with by reading more and more books. Between purchasing books I was looking forward to or reviewing new ARCs (courtesy of NetGalley), I read so many new books that I can barely fit them on my bookshelves and much less count how many of them I completed during lockdown. While it’d be way too long of a post to recap each new book I read, I narrowed it down to the top 20 (get it, 20 in 20??). So, keep reading for the best books I’ve read in this freaking insane year, and hopefully, at least one of them gives you TBR inspiration when you need it.

One to Watch by Kate Stayman-London

Ever since I read this ARC and then purchased a print edition after its pub day, I’ve been hooked. It may be my penchant, err fine, obsession for all things Bachelor Nation and reality TV, but this book was so intriguing about the behind the scenes of such a production. It also stars a plus-size, body-positive lead, which is such a new change for adult fiction, and a long time coming one at that. This book was so refreshing, endearing, honest, authentic, sweeping, and fun. Hey, it was even a five-star read from me! I just couldn’t put it down and absolutely adored it. 

The book followed plus-size fashion blogger Bea Schumacher, who becomes the new show lead of the hit Main Squeeze reality show after her tweets and blog post about the show’s lack of diversity goes viral. And after a major breakup that left her reeling, this is the perfect chance to get over that and up her brand all at once. While she claims she’s only here to promote better beauty messages and not to fall in love, things get complicated when she meets some dashing, charming suitors who may help her find the real-life HEA she didn’t know she was missing. This book is funny and witty; equal parts empowering, glamorous, and indulgent. It’s very juicy, and was I just so intrigued and hooked.

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Beach Read by Emily Henry

Everyone was talking about this book this summer, and for good reason, because it’s so darn cute and impactful that I just devoured it in mere days. Here, romance writer January Andrews and acclaimed literary fiction author Augustus Everett are living in neighboring beach houses for the summer, both broke and suffering from writer’s block. One evening, the two opposites place a bet that they can each write something different: Augustus will pen a story with a happily ever after, while January must take a stab at the next Great American Novel. The plan is for each of them to finish their book and for no one to fall in love. She takes him on inspirational field trips worthy of a rom-com, and he takes her to investigate some backwoods death cult. While embarking on these field trips and sending inspirational ‘beat that writer’s block’ notes from their respective windows, it’s obvious that the only place they want to be is with one another.

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You Have a Match by Emma Lord

This was another five-star read that I just couldn’t get enough of, and just made me positively sob. It’s set at a summer camp, and I adored all of the different activities and friendships (Savvy, Mickey, Finn, and Leo know there’s nothing like camp besties, and now I just wanna call my BW sisters!) because it reminded me of my best days as a BW girl and how those days at camp with my fellow camp sisters were some of my all-time favorite memories. Overall, I’m not quite sure how to put this book into words. It’s more than a teen romance, more than a summer camp adventure, more than a familial drama, more than a story of friendship and sisterhood, more than a comedy, and more than a deep, emotional novel. It’s a book in a class all its own and had me captivated until I read that very last word on the final page.

Seriously, I can’t imagine not having read You Have a Match, and in a way, it’s made me feel closer to my late grandfather, who’s my own version of the character Poppy. And after every single page, it’s clear this book rightfully deserves this five-star rating and a coveted place on my must-buy TBR list once it’s published. Here, we follow 16-year-old Abby, who in a bet with best friend Connie, takes a DNA test to find out her ancestries along with their other best pal, Leo. So, the DNA test revealed that Abby has a secret full sister, Savannah, who’s an 18-year-old Instagram star. The two are polar opposites to their cores but want to get to know each other. To figure things out and get to know each other, Savvy invites her new sister to attend the camp where she’ll be a junior counselor. Then, there’s also a precious slow-burn romance between Abby and her best friend and neighbor, Leo. This book is just so much fun and I actually cannot put it down, staying up way too late in two nights just to finish it. Then, we get so much juicy drama and a big family secret that overshadows romance for a bit, and things escalate that make me actually want to ship Abby and Leo at screaming and squealing levels, because that definitely happened. Things get super heartwrenching, and gut-punching emotional that I’m legitimately in tears when it’s revealed all their grandfather did for the girls.

Read the Book starting January 12


The Hating Game by Sally Thorne

So, in all honesty, I had seen this contemporary romance on bookstore shelves for a while now but had no real pull to pick it up. Then, I saw something on Instagram about the movie starring Lucy Hale, who side note is the perfect casting for main character Lucy. Seeing that inspired me to check out the summary for this enemies-to-lovers romance, which had me hooked. I pretty much immediately Amazon’d a copy to my front door. And boy, am I glad because I couldn’t put this fun, engaging read down. Here, Lucy Hutton and Joshua Templeman are rival executive assistants to co-CEOs of a publishing company. When news of a promotion is on the table, their hating game ramps up a notch as their daily battles hit a fever pitch. However, all this tension between the two has reached its fever pitch too and they discover maybe they don’t hate each other after all. It’s such a fun E2L romance read that I cannot wait to see play out on the big screen.

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Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares by David Levithan and Rachel Cohn

After devouring the Netflix adaptation, I knew I had to check out the book. And guess what, it definitely lives up to the holiday and bookish goodness of the TV series. This is definitely the best of all three of the books in the D&L series, but they are all great with such a fun, dreamy meet-cute premise and gah, it’s beyond adorable. Here, when Lily is all alone for the holiday, her brother helps to create a scavenger puzzle in a red Moleskine, to be left at The Strand. Which, side note, this is like all I want in my serious lack of a love life, just saying. So, a surly teen Dash finds the book and accepts its dares. Soon, they start trading dares, hopes, dreams, and desires all over New York City, oh and feelings too. It’s beyond cute, every bit as adorable as the show, and gives me all the fun butterflies while reading.

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Heiress Apparently by Diana Ma

This was an unexpected five-star read that I still can’t stop thinking about because I just want to read it again. It’s like Crazy Rich Asians meets American Royals, and since I loved both books, this was obviously a must. And every part of this lives up to that hype. It’s a coming-home story and one of pursuing her dreams. Once aspiring actress Gemma meets her doppelganger cousin when she arrives in China to film her first movie, she discovers a long-held family secret. The book is full of drama, secrets, dreams coming true, and it’s so captivating and engaging. It’s more than just a YA story, it is so rich and wow, I loved it. Every single page, chapter, and character. 

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The Duke and I by Julia Quinn

From the first moment I heard Shonda Rhimes was producing a TV series based on this juicy AF book series, I knew it was something I needed. But naturally, I had to read the books first. So, I started with this first one and was so hooked that I had to quickly order Anthony’s and Colin’s sequels soon after. If this Netflix is every bit as witty, indulgent, fun, and romantic as this book then it’s sure to be a winner. Here, we start with Simon and Daphne’s story. Daff is hoping to secure a suitable prospect by the end of this Season, someone who isn’t as horrendous as Nigel Berbrooke. Meanwhile, Simon, the Duke of Hastings, wants to avoid all the marriage-minded society mothers parading their daughters around him. So, they hatch a scheme to enter a fake courtship to boost her profile slash eligibility, and lower his. But, of course, fake dating only opens the door to real feelings. This quick read got me more into the historical genre and this series, and it’s just so fun, grandiose, salacious, and romantic.

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Meet You in the Middle by Devon Daniels

I’ve actually read my digital ARC some four times in completion already, and then just its sweeping HEA an additional 2-3 times when I want to feel that level of comfort all over again. This romance novel is just that cute yet grounded. A slow-burn can be hard to feel connected to, but Kate and Ben’s quick-witted, feisty, and playful banter makes it delicious. That, and you can’t keep me from a good enemies-to-lovers book starring these two congressional aides from opposite sides of the aisle and the office building; that makes the inevitable romance so much more earned and justified by the time the HEA does happen. I just can’t wait to order a physical copy, so I can read this story an additional ten more times.

Read the Book starting February 2

 


Pretending by Holly Bourne

From page one, narrator April is snarky, relatable, witty, and I just love this tone and language. It’s so relatable and fun that I just want to keep reading because April feels so honest and real. She’s vulnerable and genuine, making a stellar protagonist and I’m so invested in her journey and story. Now, April, at the beginning, hasn’t exactly had the best luck with dating, and she’d fed up with that. So, she’s after revenge on any guy that’s hurt any girl and made them worthless. She sets out to make a new dating profile and date (or catfish) men as Gretel, the girl in her head that she thinks men want and is the complete opposite of the real her. This way she can break their hearts like they so often do to her. She matches with Joshua, and their first date is super cute, except that she’s pretending to be someone else. But, this experiment is helping the real her because April is becoming more confident and not overanalyzing every little detail, but of course, she starts to see they are quite compatible even though she’s admitted that he’s not good-looking, not bad-looking, and not a good kisser.

All in all, this book is witty and captivating, and I can’t put it down; I have to keep reading.  I loved this read because I get it, everything April feels, and it’s real, authentic yet still frothy, light, and fun that keeps you turning the pages. So many women’s fiction nowadays revolve around a man or romance, and getting a man to fall in love with a girl, her needing or wanting love. And it’s refreshing to see that this book isn’t that because love and relationships are real, raw, and messy, just like life really is. 

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Shine by Jessica Jung

I’d heard a lot about this next read before I even picked it up off the YA shelf. Sure, the summary was intriguing: All about a teenaged K-pop trainee eager to live her dream and make it into a band. Oh, and the shiny love story with a fellow K-pop star didn’t hurt. But, in all honesty, I didn’t know what to expect when I’d actually start reading it, and OMG, this YA debut novel delivers! It was absolutely precious and a book I just couldn’t put down.

Here, seventeen-year-old Korean-American Rachel Kim loves K-pop and would do just about anything to be chosen for a group and live her dreams. Six years ago, she’s recruited by Korean label DB Entertainment as a trainee where the rules are clear. Train and practice all the time. Be perfect. Don’t date. At first, the rules seem like no-brainers, but soon enough, Rachel realizes all the dark scandals of the controlling industry and the pressure to constantly be perfect, and she questions everything and if she has what it takes to shine and be the star. Plus, once she captures the attention of DB golden boy, K-pop superstar, Jason Lee, the rules get increasingly difficult to mindlessly follow. He’s the label’s big star, has the voice of an angel that blends in perfect harmony with hers, is flirty and charming, and only seems to have eyes for her. This book pulls the veil back on the glamorous, picture-perfect world of K-pop and K-pop girl groups, which is so interesting to get this behind-the-scenes viewpoint, plus an empowering protagonist, amazing sets, and a sweet-as-doughnuts teen romance.

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Sex and Vanity by Kevin Kwan

The second I first learned that Kevin Kwan was coming out with his first new book since the worldwide phenomenon that is the Crazy Rich Asians trilogy, I was stoked. Here, we get a brand-new tale of a young woman torn between two men: her influential WASPy fiancé and George Zao, the man her family’s tried to keep away from her since she was a teenager. This book was so indulging and deliciously decadent that I just couldn’t put it down and had to devour it in a single setting.

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Rodham by Curtis Sittenfeld

Sittenfeld’s newest novel reimagines Hillary Clinton’s life and political career stemming from one question, “What if she hadn’t married Bill Clinton?” The fact that this compelling novel was based upon one of my feminist heroes and was authored by one of my favorite authors, I was initially drawn to this book. Then once I started it, I just couldn’t put it down! The beginning feels a bit like Hillary Clinton’s biography, but that just proves how well researched it was on Sittenfeld’s part. Then, you get into her fictionalized portrayal of relationships, career What Ifs, and more.

It’s so cute, interesting, feisty, and fierce at the same time, I honestly couldn’t stop reading. Sittenfeld’s portrayal of Hillary is everything a young Miranda wanted to be and to see that woman can be strong and powerful without the help of a man was inspiring. This book is like the empowering twist of history we’ve needed and yearned for since 2016, and I’m so glad to have read it.

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Act Like a Lady by the Ladygang

The hosts and besties behind the “LadyGang” podcast wrote this advice-filled, self-help, and humorous guidebook about what it means to be a woman in the twenty-first century. It’s a fun yet relatable book of essays that’ll inspire just about any girl to rise up and be a powerful force to be reckoned with. From taking on lessons with dating, friendship, career, self-confidence, and more, it’s all the message we all need to hear more. It’s empowering as heck and something most women should have in their arsenal to remember. These pearls of wisdom make a perfect coffee table book for any millennial apartment. You can read this in a day, you can read it again and again because it’s evergreen, it’s timely, it’s what you just need to hear every once and a while. 

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Kate in Waiting by Becky Albertalli

A close runner-up is her cowritten Yes No Maybe So novel, but this ARC just bewitched my soul as a reader. The summary sounded so intriguing and fun on its own when I first saw it. Also,  as a former theater kid and current theater nerd slash fangirl, this plot seemed right up my alley.

Here, best friends Kate and Anderson do literally everything together, even share communal crushes that don’t go anywhere. But when they both have huge, deep crushes on their theatre camp friend Matt, who just so happens to be new in school, everything goes crazy. This quick, one-sitting read is so easy to get sucked into from seeing Kate’s confidence grow, watching things with her brother’s best friend Noah blossom, and seeing her relationship with Anderson evolve as they all get older. It’s so much fun, and so cute for a YA novel, and like, eep, I definitely, actually, audibly squealed at one part. Bravo, Ms. Albertalli, you’ve done it again.

Read the Book starting April 20


Four Days of You and Me by Miranda Kenneally

As I’ve previously mentioned, I’ve been reading other books by Miranda Kenneally for years, so drawn to the strong characterizations, friendships, and of course HEA and love stories. And her latest YA novel has not disappointed me. It’s teeming with dramatics, yet feels grounded and relatable, and I love it no matter how many times I restart it.

It’s so juicy yet grounded, I absolutely love it. From the very beginning, I just want to know all the gossip and I couldn’t stop reading; I needed to find out what happened next. The book takes place across Lulu’s four years of high school, based around the class trips at the end of the year, which somehow always brought her and Alex closer and closer. Of course, not all was revealed during the present timeline, the book seamlessly wove in flashbacks to fill in the missing gaps of Alex and Lu’s love story. It’s absolutely adorable and so easy to get sucked into.

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The Fangirl’s Guide to the Universe by Sam Maggs

This handbook for geek girls is so much fun!! It’s a fun, uplifting guidebook is for all the unapologetic fangirls out there, no matter what you stan. This book is for the fangirls and guys that are living their best stan lives passionately and free.

Author Sam Maggs writes from her own fangirl experience, which makes the book all the more realistic. With her first-person essays and lists, the book is chock full of empowering and informative language, plus fun, cute illustrations and graphics. It’s all about finding your geek tribe and then embracing this weird, wonderful geek life. Then, Maggs also interviews some of the top geek girls who use fandom in their careers, which is so cool to see their takes on the fandom world. All in all, it’s all about embracing your inner fangirl loud and proud, which I love to see it. Fangirls unite, it’s time to suit up and change the universe!

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Together, Apart by Erin A. Craig

This was everything I’ve needed to stay sane and happy during lockdown. Nine acclaimed, witty, and popular YA authors did what they do best and wrote short stories starring diverse and complex teens facing the pandemic, lockdown, and adorable first love stories. Each story was equally compelling and told a complete story with an interesting protagonist who learns that love always finds its way. The characters and storylines are all relatable, endearing, and engaging which makes the story so much fun, authentic, and beyond precious.

There’s one about a cute pizza delivery boy who gives the new girl in town a free book and cake; one where a girl is desperate to impress her crush on TikTok; two dog walkers getting closer; a new boy in town who can’t stop thinking about the girl next door; an enemies-to-lovers sitch from across apartment balconies; an unexpected romance that stems from a fortune reading and a take-out order; a flirty exchange that begins over two balcony herb gardens, a roommate enemies-to-lovers journey; and a mask-making entrepreneur and her famous crush. There’s something for every romance fan, and it’s just absolutely adorable and heart-melting. They are all so freaking cute in their own way between the love stories and the HEAs. It was something to make me smile during such a freaking hard time.

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Dearly by Margaret Atwood

In this brand-new book of poetry from acclaimed author Margaret Atwood, there’s an assortment of compelling and impactful poems, each that tells a story full of compelling language. These poems aim to make you think, feel, dream, desire, yearn — basically all of the feels.

Each poem effortlessly flows from one to the next and the book is impeccably organized, where I can see how poems and stories are related to each other with its seamless, well-positioned transitions. The tones and points of view are very realistic to the modern world, and while most are less doe-eyed optimistic, it skews on the darker side. There’s definitely a motif of sisterhood and women sticking together in their fight for survival, forgiveness, love, and strength. The poems have such rich language and captivating word choice that tells complex stories that capture the readers due to strong symbols and metaphors.

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The Trouble With Hating You by Sajni Patel

Seriously, re-reading this gave me all of the zings and goosebumps, even more than the first time. Like, every time I read this, and Jay and Liya realize their feelings, I swear, I can feel my heart beating so loud. This romance read is sweeping, romantic, and adorable. It’s hard to resist.

This novel lives up to that and is 100 percent adorable and totally squeal-worthy. I love how independent our protagonist Liya is and how cute Jay is as he’s head over heels in love with her, even when she tried to push him away. Their love story feels so real, authentic, and earned as these two people break past their boundaries to eventually find love and acceptance. The book starts where headstrong engineer Liya walks out the door of a dinner party set up with an eligible bachelor whom her folks are trying to marry her off to. It’s a shock to both of them when Liya keeps spotting her one-time suitor around town, and it’s Jay. Jay has everything right on paper, but after Liya’s behavior during that first meeting, he’s embarrassed and infuriated to see her. Although, that tension is too much to resist in this second chance love story.

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The Boys’ Club by Erica Katz

I was intrigued from the get-go while reading thanks to its relatable language that feels like you are in the main character’s head. It reads very quickly and is really intriguing. In this women’s fiction novel, high-achieving Alex Vogel accepts a job at a prestigious law firm in NYC as she soon finds herself seduced by the firm’s promise of glory, money, and powerful energy. She finds herself succeeding in the hyper-competitive Mergers & Acquisitions division and neglecting what we originally thought was a settled, happy personal life. Soon, a scandal rocks her corporate world and reveals the dark reality at the firm, she soon understands all the ways women are told to act to succeed and she cannot stand idly by anymore.

The book is less about romance or friendship but more about a woman’s drive to succeed on her own terms yet play by the “boys club” rules of the legal profession to get there. You aren’t rooting for Alex and a partner but rather her succeeding at shattering the glass ceiling for future female attorneys to come. It’s inspiring and empowering to see that as the primary theme of the story.

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17 Books to Read Based on Your Favorite Songs From Taylor Swift’s ‘folklore’

As I previously mentioned, I’ve basically been listening to Taylor Swift’s “folklore” and “evermore” on repeat all lockdown long. There’s something so special about these albums from its pretty melodies, lyrics that really tell a story, and the catchiness of literally every single song. And since each song tells such specific stories, I couldn’t help but think that many of the “folklore” songs remind me of some of my favorite books, just as “evermore” did. So, just like Mamma Mia, here we go again! Keep reading for all sorts of my personal book recommendations based on each track off of “folklore.”

Writer’s Note: In case you were wondering how on earth I put this, and its sister post together, I was meticulous in my choices. I listened to each track while simultaneously studying the lyrics. From there, I went to my digital and physical bookshelves, plus my Goodreads read list, and aimed to search for at least one book I’ve read that at least somewhat fits the song’s lyrics or stories. Now, not all are perfect matches, of course, since they are both original works. But, I tried to pull books with a similar plotline, character, love story. Something quite similar to one another. And that’s what we have here.

If You Like: “the 1”

Try: The Code for Love and Heartbreak by Jillian Cantor

If this song was set in high school, it would perfectly describe how I envisioned this YA read. Where, in the song, the main character is pining for their crush who doesn’t notice them, hell, that’s basically George about Emma. Then, Emma’s coding club project is a matchmaking app that goes awry because none of the couples last, which reminded me of the part of the song about wishing for love and their crush to fall for them despite the real couples not having a chance. Also, Emma just wants to do “cool shit” AKA make a rockstar app and find her niche in life and at school. The parallels just fit so well.

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If You Like: “cardigan”

Try: Hot Mess by Emily Belden

Now, this one took a bit of imagination to put together. The song is all about looking back on an old, messy relationship. So, as I looked back at my bookshelf to find a comparative option, my eyes flitted over Emily Belden’s debut novel. I imagine this song would be representative of main character Allie some five-ten years in the future looking back at that messy AF relationship with reckless Benji and the hell she put herself through to open his restaurant she invested in, while he ran off in a drunken haze with another woman.

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If You Like: “the last great american dynasty”

Try: Heiress Apparently by Diana Ma

OK, this was an easy one considering it’s all about an outrageous, fabulously wealthy family’s life and their crazy shit. I went with this first book in the “Daughters of the Dynasty” series, because, technically this family is something like that. Plus, the song starts with Rebecca arriving into town on the train and the book picks up with Gemma arriving in Beijing via plane to film a movie despite getting mistaken for massive influencer and her newly found cousin Alyssa. There are so many family secrets and drama, and it just fits this song so very well.

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If You Like: “exile”

Try: Once And For All by Sarah Dessen

The whole “I think I’ve seen this film before and I didn’t like the ending” part was my main inspiration. With that line, I think of someone looking at someone and knowing what’s going to happen, understanding fully it won’t be good. That reminded me of Louna at her part-time job at her mom’s wedding planning business in the latest Sarah Dessen book. She’s so cynical about romance that it affects her perspective in front of clients after watching years of poorly behaved weddings. Then, the “I can see you starin’, honey” line reminds me of how new hire Ambrose would always show up at her side at each event, like he’s always there and around, and she “didn’t even see the signs.”

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If You Like: “my tears ricochet”

Try: The Night We Met by Zoë Folbigg

For one of the most emotional songs, I knew I needed one of the books that left me reeling. For a song that speaks about ashes, how the lover will love ’em till their dying day, and how the day they leave is the worst day of their life, yea that reminded me of this ARC I recently finished. Here, this vulnerable women’s fiction novel follows young mum Olivia on hospice, dying of cancer, as her husband (who’s been so scared to give up) writes the story of their romance to tell their young daughters. Even though it predictably ends tragically for her, the epilogue aims to put a meaningful, optimistic spin on this unexplainably sad moment and show how they’ll always love Olivia as they move forward because she accomplished so much she loved in her short life. And that reminds me of this song.

Read the Book starting February 11 | Listen To the Song


If You Like: “mirrorball”

Try: Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

The chorus of this song says “When no one is around, my dear, you’ll find me on my tallest tiptoes. Spinning in my highest heels, love, shining just for you.” And, I swear, if that doesn’t directly relate to HRH Prince Henry and Alex then I give up!! It tracks so well since most of their relationship is in secret and in private. But, also it fits since Henry really helps Alex learn who he is because they see each other like they are looking through a crystal ball.

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If You Like: “seven”

Try: Eyes On Me by Rachel Harris

To me, this song focused on being scared to try something new, and that’s Lily Bailey to a tee. Here, valedictorian Lily gets so stressed out that her dad forces her to take salsa dance classes for fun. Of course, she needs a partner. So, enter popular jock Stone Torres who steps in to help at his mom’s dance studio. When her dad offers him extra cash to be Lily’s permanent dance partner, he can hardly refuse. They spend more and more time together and create a beautiful love story, err, dance together.

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If You Like: “august”

Try: Just a Boy and a Girl in a Little Canoe by Sarah Mlynowski

This song completes the teenage love triangle story off the album, with Sam becoming the “august” girl in her story, and it just fits so well. So, the “august” girl is the summer fling, who will be nothing more than a good time, hidden from anyone even when real feelings develop on her end. Here, in this book, Sam spends her summer (already perfect timing!) as a camp counselor missing her boyfriend. Meanwhile, Gavin is also missing his girlfriend for the summer. So, the strike up an inevitable friendship bond commiserating, however, that quickly turns into a bona fide summer fling “twisting up in bedsheets” through the duration of camp. Then, when their S.O.’s show up at the camp’s visiting day, she realizes her boyfriend isn’t her future and maybe Gavin is, however, he’s still stuck on his girlfriend because he was never Sam’s. Just like “august.”

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If You Like: “this is me trying”

Try: Pretending by Holly Bourne

This song definitely fits April very well. In the song, our narrator is tired of her current life and just trying to move forward, feeling regretful about her past and wasting her potential. This reminds me of April in this novel, as she was tired of heartbreak and ghosting, so she wanted to try something new and be someone that people and guys would like because obviously, her real potential isn’t doing her any favors. So, she’s just trying to see if this brings her vengeance or confidence. And the chorus where the narrator reveals her intentions rings familiar to the moment Joshua finds out the truth about “Gretal.”

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If You Like: “illicit affairs”

Try: Party of Two by Jasmine Guillory

It’s a song about a clandestine romance, so that reminded me of the newest Jasmine Guillory book. Here, lawyer Olivia strikes up a relationship with popular senator, and eligible bachelor, Max. But, since his career is in the public eye, they hide things. It’s quite similar to the song, except he uses a baseball cap and not a hoodie to shield his face! Their chance meeting soon sparks a whirlwind affair and relationship with plenty of heat, passion, and emotions. After concealing everything, like “they don’t even exist,” she realizes this hiding a part of her life isn’t what she wants.

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If You Like: “invisible string”

Try: The Recipe Box by Viola Shipman

This beautiful track is all about the invisible little things that tie people together, much like these recipes that literally connect Sam’s family ties.  Here, we follow Sam, a busy sous chef for a hot New York bakery, Her life isn’t going as she planned, so she returns home to her small Michigan town to take inventory of her family’s orchard and pie shop. There, she discovers secrets and memories of her family, one recipe at a time in the heirloom recipe box. Through this family heirloom, she realizes hidden truths about her family and feels so much closer to her mom, grandmother, and so on.

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If You Like: “mad woman”

Try: The Boys’ Club by Erica Katz

This song is all about a woman’s twisted life, all about “striking to kill” and “getting more crazy when you call me crazy,” “mouthing f*ck you forever instead of smiling,” and how “no one likes a mad woman, you made her like that.” Much like that haunting tone, I thought of this upcoming, thrilling novel and main character Alex, a woman trying to rise through the male-dominated field of Mergers and Acquisitions and all the misogynistic crap she deals with on the daily, plus how that shapes her career and life. The book is less about romance or friendship but more about a woman’s drive to succeed on her own terms yet play by the “boys club” rules of the legal profession to get there. You aren’t rooting for Alex and a partner but rather her succeeding at shattering the glass ceiling for future female attorneys to come. It’s inspiring and empowering to see that as the primary theme of the story, and that reminds me of this track.

Read the Book | Listen To the Song


If You Like: “epiphany”

Try: Instant Karma by Marissa Meyer

This was a trickier prompt to fill, but instead, I focused on a certain stanza. The lyrics are: “But you dream of some epiphany. Just one single glimpse of relief to make some sense of what you’ve seen.” This seemed especially fitting considering Pru’s new superpower “she can’t speak about.” Don’t you think? Here, Quint and Prudence are biology lab partners sophomore year, and she’s been so annoyed with him over his lateness and unwillingness to contribute to their final project. Plus, after a nasty bump on her head at karaoke night, Prudence now has some magical, mystical power to enact karma on random people, both good and bad. She can magically give off “instant karma” when people do something as an immediate reaction, like if someone litters, talks rudely about her twin brother, or helps take care of wounded sea animals.  All this karmic justice gives her such a power trip, juxtaposed with spending more time with Quint at the center to teach her about his world and other perspectives in this book.

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If You Like: “betty”

Try: The Right Swipe by Alisha Rai

The third part of Swift’s “folklore” teen love triangle follows James’ perspective who tries to do everything to win Betty back after breaking her heart and his summer fling in “august.” This seriously reminded me of Samson Lima from Alisha Rai’s first “Modern Love” book, and especially how this book was all about Samson attempting to win back Rhi and give in to her feelings when he always wanted to know more about it because dude was falling deep. Here, we follow empowering and fierce Rhiannon Hunter. She owns and runs a successful Bumble-like dating app, and career is her main, and well only, priority. Occasionally, she engages in brief hookups, like when she matched with the one-photo-only Samson for a night of good fun on the beach. While their dalliance went well and she actually was willing to give him another chance, he ghosted her and she shut off any feelings. The book starts up, months later, when the cynical app founder heads to a tech conference and unexpectedly spots Samson there, on stage, discussing her competitor that he’s now an ambassador for. Turns out, Samson still has eyes for Rhi. A temporary work truce and friendship soon reveals an intimate bond that is too precious to miss. Like seriously, Samson = James and you cannot convince me of anything else.

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If You Like: “peace”

Try: Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins

The following lyrics from this track reminded me so much of Lucy Gray Baird and Coriolanus Snow and their relationship: “Our coming-of-age has come and gone. Suddenly the summer, it’s clear I never had the courage of my convictions as long as danger is near. And it’s just around the corner, darling ’cause it lives in me. No, I could never give you peace.” This section, from Snow’s perspective much like the book, really resonated with me about these two Hunger Games characters and how he couldn’t give her the peace and freedom again once she was chosen as a tribute.

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If You Like: “hoax”

Try: A Spy in the Struggle by Aya de León

This one was one I really struggled to find a recommendation for, pun not intended. I finally went with the concept of a hoax, a mystery, and her leaving “a part of me back in New York” because, hey, that was Yolanda. Here, Yolanda Vance is a junior attorney in Manhattan for a big, fancy corporate law firm, which was under investigation for security fraud, according to the FBI. Instead of shredding papers as her boss asks, she keeps them and becomes a whistleblower for justice. She then joins the FBI as a backup plan because she needs a job after she’s blackballed from corporate law for not shredding the papers. The FBI sends her on an undercover mission with a black extremist activist group in California. As she spends more time with the organization and new friend and college professor Jimmy during the height of the BLM movement, she soon begins to question her values and career, her legality here and ethics, when she realizes she’s on the wrong side of what she wants to be. There’s a bunch of similar aspects to this song, not an exact match, but similar characters and big pictures.

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If You Like: “the lakes”

Try: Beach Read by Emily Henry

This song is all about going to a lake, a romantic and poetic setting, for inspiration. And that’s exactly what lead Augustus and January to their neighboring beach houses. Here, she’s a romance writer who no longer believes in love and he’s an acclaimed novelist who’s stick in a rut. They agree in a summer-long challenge to write what the other does so well to help combat their writer’s block. She takes him on inspirational field trips worthy of a rom-com, and he takes her to investigate some backwoods death cult that’s eerily close to “the lakes where all the poets went to die,” just saying. While embarking on these field trips, sending inspirational ‘beat that writer’s block’ notes from their respective windows, it’s obvious that the only place they want to be is “right here” with one another.

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15 Books to Read Based on Your Favorite Songs From Taylor Swift’s ‘evermore’

If you’re anything like me, you’ve been listening to Taylor Swift’s “folklore” on repeat ever since it came out. Then, as of late last week, dropped everything to give her ninth album “evermore” its due diligence. There’s something so special about this album from its pretty melodies, storytelling lyrics, and the catchiness of literally every single track. And since each song tells such specific stories, I couldn’t help but think that many of the “evermore” songs remind me of some of my favorite books, and then I saw similar trends going around on TikTok. So, here we go! Keep reading for all sorts of my personal book recommendations based on each track off of “evermore.”

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

If You Like: “willow”

Try: Not If I Save You First by Ally Carter

This is probably one of my favorite songs off the album with its totally ethereal vibe. After hearing the lyrics, I really kept picturing a story of two people in the middle of nowhere, in the snow, falling in love again. That brought me to Ally Carter’s Not If I Save You First. Here, Maddie and Logan used to be best friends. You see, Logan’s dad was the POTUS while Maddie’s was a Secret Service agent, so they were always around one another. Then, suddenly, Maddie’s life turns upside down when her dad moves her to a remote Alaska town without any word from Logan. Then, one day, Logan shows up in her remote town and a mystery assailant is after them. Sure, she’s not happy their friendship dissolved without a word uttered, but she has to save him before they can hash any feelings out.

Read the Book | Listen To the Song


If You Like: “champagne problems”

Try: Sex and Vanity by Kevin Kwan

For fans of the glitzy yet dramatic song, I’d recommend Kevin Kwan’s latest, Sex And Vanity, about a glittery world and all sorts of drama. Here, Lucie Churchill is torn between two men: Her influential WASPy fiancé Cecil and George Zao, the man her family’s tried to keep away from her since she was a teenager. It’s so indulging, decadent, juicy, and dramatic — much like the Swift song. When the ruggedly handsome yet cultured George reappears in her Upper East Side world, she does everything in her power to dissuade him from permanently occupying his own place in her carefully curated world.

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If You Like: “gold rush”

Try: Shine by Jessica Jung

When listening to this track, I heard a story all about someone who appears to have it all on the surface. That premise reminded me of Shine by Jessica Jung. Here, seventeen-year-old Korean-American Rachel Kim is a K-pop trainee who works her butt off to make it into the rose-colored world of K-pop girl groups and fame. Throughout the book, she wonders and dreams — much like the song — what it’ll be like to have this fame and the world to know your name and love you.

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If You Like: “’tis the damn season”

Try: In A Holidaze by Christina Lauren

For this holiday song, you definitely need a cute holiday romance book to read next. In the latest Christina Lauren novel, we head to a cozy Utah mountain cabin and a Groundhog’s Day-type tale. Here, Mae visits the family cabin with her family and their longtime friends. A love triangle brews when, that first night, she kisses Theo but has always had a crush on his brother Andrew. After that embarrassing encounter she and Theo try to forget, she gets into a car wreck trying to escape the secluded cabin. From there, she enters a Groundhog’s Day-type of situation where she gets to relive the whole trip to the cabin and get it right and fall in love with the right guy for her. With every injury and wrong turn, Mae gets a fresh chance to relive it and get things right. Eventually, she learns that change isn’t necessarily a bad thing and to stay true to herself as her many reboots buck tradition and allow her to be her true self.

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If You Like: “tolerate it”

Try: Love Your Life by Sophie Kinsella

For this song all about a polar-opposite couple coping with one another, I realized that it fits this new Sophie Kinsella read so well. Here, Ava meets “Dutch” at a writing retreat in Italy. Without knowing each other’s real lives or names, these two form such a connection in their vacation flirtmance. With such an undeniable pull and connection, it’s clear they want to continue whatever this is back in London as they head back to their vastly different real-world lives. There are dogs, jobs, exes, family drama, friends, and apartments in the way and, outside of their retreat bubble, it’s almost as if they are just tolerating their lives rather than trying to join them. This song perfectly captures their London relationship journey to a tee.

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If You Like: “no body, no crime”

Try: The Girls Are All So Nice Here by Laurie Elizabeth Flynn

For a mystery story song, you’ve gotta read a thrilling murder mystery. After about two or three listens (and the countless times in my head because it won’t leave my mind), I couldn’t help but think of the ARC of The Girls Are All So Nice Here that I just finished. Here, former best friends Ambrosia and Sloane (aka Amb and Sully) are summoned back to their college with some mysterious letter. The letter forces them to reunite to find someone who wants to get revenge for some dark deed these ladies did ten years ago, sans proof. Sure, there’s no body or proof, but these girls have to revisit everything to find out what happened and who is behind this revenge. Plus, the end of the book and its eventual epilogue are very, very similar to this track. Just you wait and see.

Read the Book starting March 9 | Listen To the Song


If You Like: “happiness”

Try: Majesty by Katharine McGee

Okay, the first time I heard this song, it immediately reminded me of Bea and Connor’s love story from American Royals and its follow-up, MajestySo, to clarify, this song is best for just their love story. Here, we pick up with Bea becoming queen after her father’s somber funeral and the royal family’s grief slash her trying to figure out her next steps as the reigning queen. Without anyone alive knowing about her relationship and engagement to Connor, they all try to push back to Teddy. She tries to do what’s right and push Connor away and tries to get to know Teddy, but little details here and there, especially his nickname for her, also force her to remember their relationship as she figures out who she is as a woman and a monarch. The song’s first stanza sum these two up the best: “…But now I’m right down in it, all the years I’ve given is just shit we’re dividin’ up. Showed you all of my hiding spots, I was dancing when the music stopped and in disbelief, I can’t face reinvention I haven’t met the new me yet.”

Read the Book | Listen To the Song


If You Like: “dorothea”

Try: Four Days of You And Me by Miranda Kenneally

This song focuses on looking back on a relationship (or friendship) from when they were younger. That reminds me of Four Days of You And Me as Lulu looks back on how her relationship with her first love Alex on the same days, four years apart. We follow where their relationship (both the good and bad parts) has taken them on the end-of-the-year class trip between freshman and senior year, and throughout the school years in between.

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If You Like: “coney island”

Try: Most Likely by Sarah Watson

This song talks of looking back on a memory and if a “lifetime of achievement” is even worth it without that one special relationship. That gave me similar vibes to this debut novel from Sarah Watson. Here, we follow four best friends throughout their senior ear of high school, and one of them will eventually be President of the United States — except you have no clue who it is. Ava, CJ, Jordan, and Martha have been a foursome for their entire lives, but by senior year start to take divergent paths as they grew up. They are all interesting, smart, and engaging characters on their own. And together? They are a powerful force to be reckoned with in this tale of four best friends who have each other’s back through all the highs and lows of high school and beyond.

Read the Book | Listen To the Song


If You Like: “ivy”

Try: The Seven Days of Us by Francesca Hornak

The setting of this song reminded me of this holiday read. Here, it’s Christmastime and for the first time in years, the whole Birch family will be together at their aging country estate. Within seven days, the family’s locked down in quarantine and are “forced into each other’s orbits” once again. They each have their own secrets and lives, but one may disrupt everything they know and change everything.

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If You Like: “cowboy like me”

Try: The Love Interest by Cale Dietrich

This is a song about a “dangerous game” of a romance and having plenty of tricks up one’s sleeves to win. That reminds me of The Love Interest as these two teen spies use all their tricks to get the girl to fall for them and ignore their own feelings for one another. Caden and Dylan are “Love Interests” spies tasked with getting close to people destined for great power to obtain and protect their secrets. When these boys both are sent to the outside world for the first time, they may be highly trained to win, but new feelings start to bubble and could threaten everything and their safety.

Read the Book | Listen To the Song


If You Like: “long story short”

Try: By The Book by Julia Sonneborn

In this song, the main character looks back on this grand literary-like relationship, but can’t stop thinking about it even when they’ve moved on. Actually, that reminds me of this bookish romance. Here, Anne is a literature professor up for tenure at a small college making do, until her ex-fiance shows up as the new university president. She’s forced to wrestle her current and former feelings for him and her new boyfriend while still keeping her head above water at work and with her family.

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If You Like: “marjorie”

Try: You Deserve Each Other by Sarah Hogle

This song starts off with a hateful tone and being so clever to best one another, much like the beginning of this contemporary novel. Here, it starts like an anti-love story where engaged couple Naomi and Nicholas cannot even stand one another or even remember how they met and fell in love. But, with time and pages, you get to see firsthand how Nick and Naomi slowly warm to each other again as accomplices, teammates, best friends, and lovers to become even stronger. It’s not a romance where you expect the lead couple to be together without any problems, but Nicholas and Naomi have to work for love and to open up, discovering who they are as individuals in the process. By the time they reclaim their love, it feels earned and justified.

Read the Book | Listen To the Song


If You Like: “closure”

Try: Don’t You Forget About Me by Mhairi McFarlane

This song gave me such “the one that got away” and first love vibes, so I was looking for a similar type of book, which led me to this Mhairi McFarlane one I read as an ARC a few years back. Here, Georgina is reeling after being fired from her job and learning her boyfriend cheated on her. Trying to move on, she snags a job at the first job she finds as a barmaid for a new pub that’s run by the first boy she fell in love with at school, Lucas McCarthy. Where she’s done nearly nothing with her life, he’s been way more successful and grown-up. Seeing, and working for, him again throws her present into disarray and brings a secret from her past back up again. 

Read the Book | Listen To the Song


If You Like: “evermore”

Try: Romancing Mister Bridgerton by Julia Quinn

It may be all the writing and time passing mentioned the song, but I get such *Polin* vibes from this Bridgerton book. Here, the charming Colin Briderton returns to London after years abroad and sees his sister’s best friend, the aging spinster Penelope Featherington is different from what he remembered when they were kids. Meanwhile, Penelope has had a crush on Colin for ages and thinks she knows everything about him. Soon, they each discover one another’s deepest secrets and fears as they find solace in one another.

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9 New Books I Can’t Stop Thinking About

We already got a peek at some of my latest 2021 reads already on here, and guess what? That’s not even half of it! Welcome back to Miranda’s Book Nook as I share some of the 2021 book titles I can’t get enough of and which ones should be on your radar through the end of this year and into the next. Happy reading, y’all!

The Fangirl’s Guide to the Universe by Sam Maggs

OMG, this handbook for geek girls is so much fun!! It’s a fun, uplifting guidebook is for all the unapologetic fangirls out there, no matter what you stan. This book is for the fangirls and guys that are living their best stan lives passionately and free.

Author Sam Maggs writes from her own fangirl experience, which makes the book all the more realistic. With her first-person essays and lists, the book is chock full of empowering and informative language, plus fun, cute illustrations and graphics. Lololol, like, I love this book already. It’s all about finding your geek tribe and then embracing this weird, wonderful geek life. Then, Maggs also interviews some of the top geek girls who use fandom in their careers, which is so cool to see their takes on the fandom world. All in all, it’s all about embracing your inner fangirl loud and proud, which I love to see it. This cute and fun nonfiction book focuses on being a geek girl feminist and how to bring change to the geek world, which I loved to see too. Fangirls unite, it’s time to suit up and change the universe!

Available: Now


A Royal Disaster by Jennifer Bonds

I was looking for a happy regal romance to transition my TBR and this book was exactly that. The book follows Elena (aka Lena), a nickname that’s used interchangeably, who’s sworn off dating following a bad breakup and undercover prince Liam in dual back and forth perspectives.

After a disastrous meet-cute, it’s clear these two have so much heat and banter between them. When paparazzi pictures of the two of them go viral, he proposes a fake dating scheme to get the press off their backs and get his parents off of the idea of an arranged marriage right now. Ok, so like Lena repeatedly says “Ay Dios Mio” throughout the book, and that’s the only applicable reaction to reading this steamy romance novel. It’s a fun and quick one-sitting read, and boy, does it bring the heat because there’s so much tension between them, like things had to explode, and damn, did they! It’s smutty and good fun for a romance. I did get so wrapped up in the story that I just couldn’t put it down and ended up devouring it in one sitting. Sure, it’s predictably cheesy but it’s just so darn cute as is. And then, that HEA gave me so many damn butterflies in the pit of my stomach. Like, in general, I do love a good royal romance, it’s truly my favorite trope, and this was the perfect addition to that squad of books. It was so cute, and I just need a full freaking series with the continuation of their love story. Right now.

Available: Now


Survival of the Thickest by Michelle Buteau

This book of essays from comedian and actress Michelle Buteau is all about her life and journey, peppered with a conversational tone and language as almost like if she’s in element doing a standup routine.

I’ve found her comedy bits from The Circle or 2 Dope Queens to be amusing, so I was intrigued by the prospect of her own book. It’s an authentic memoir of essays, where everything she writes and experienced is quite funny because it’s relatable as heck. A fun, lighthearted celebrity memoir read.

Available: Now

 


Mr Right Across The Street by Kathryn Freeman

I was looking for a fun, contemporary British romance, and I got that. Here, Mia has recently moved to Manchester for a fresh start from her disastrous dating life. Then, she notices her hunky neighbor across the street has begun to leave her notes in his window since both their spare rooms face another. He’s Luke, a bar owner with his own issues but by helping to show Mia the town sights, he sees what real romance can be. Because he’s just besotted.

The book is told through back-and-forth dual perspectives, and the two of them have such banter down pat. Soon, they start exchanging messages through the windows, and a friendship develops. It’s a cute slow-burn romance full of fun language and fun, delicious banter that I can’t get enough of. Sure, this book is a bit slow to start and really get into, but it does get a lot better and cuter. I love a good “nerd and cool kid” romance story, and this one is just positively cute and fun. The ending is very sweet too, like giving me butterflies type of good.

Available: January 22


You Were Made For Me by Jenna Guillaume

This YA romance was delightful, fun, and just plain cute. Here, less than popular Katie and her best friend Libby sort of, accidentally, sculpted and baked a perfect teen boy replica who then magically came to life. And it turned out that, once real, he was a super devoted boyfriend to the never been kissed Katie.

It’s described as a modern, feminist retelling of the eighties cult movie Weird Science, and just by the description, I could tell this would be super cute and fun. Which it was. The book’s written like a post-experiment diary from Kate, with interjections by Libby, as they recount this story in the first-person perspective. Sure, it’s a bit slow to start before the boy they make, Guy, comes to life. But once he does, it ramps up and I just find myself so compelled by the language that I have to know what happens next. Sure, this premise is completely off-the-wall bonkers, but I’m actually into it. It’s just a fun and cute YA. A great one-sitting read. Then, there’s Theo, the boy next door who definitely, positively has a crush on her but she doesn’t see it, and also the most popular boy in school who she’s always liked. So, there’s a whole bunch of things happening here. But in the end, it was such a cheesy, cute teen romance, but enjoyable nonetheless.

Available: April 1


Accidentally Engaged by Farah Heron

Before I started this read, I was in the mood for an adorable, fluffy contemporary romance with a little steam as a transition read for my TBR, and this book delivers on that front.

Here, the main character Reena sets up a fake engagement with her new neighbor Nadim in order to enter a couples’ only baking competition. So, we’ll get that ole reliable fake date trope to keep us occupied. Nadim is instantly described as a “brown Captain America” which, like, what a solid description lololol with a British accent. He moves to Canada to work for her father and they’re set to have an arranged marriage, which she’s not interested in. Each chapter reads quite quickly with tone and language that pulls you in. It’s captivating and relatable, a book I could hardly put down. It’s a fun, indulgent romance read with a number of laughable scenes. Also, OMG the Buffy jokes were on point at the end. LOL, unexpected but, like, well done.

Overall, this book was juicy and dramatic that I got so invested in the storyline and these characters. Then that HEA actually gave me butterflies in my stomach, so yes, it is darn cute. It’s just so precious and so much fun.

Available: March 2


The Girls Are All So Nice Here by Laurie Elizabeth Flynn

This psychological thriller and women’s fiction novel follows former best friends Ambrosia and Sloane (aka Amb and Sully) as some mysterious letter forces the two girls to reunite to find someone who wants to get revenge for some dark deed they did ten years ago at their college reunion. It starts with an intriguing, mysterious hook that has me so curious from the get-go that had me so interested to keep reading. This book flashes between the reunion in the present day and Amb’s freshman year when the incident went down and what led to its occurrence. Once Amb and Sully get letters summoning their attendance at the reunion, they find out they’ve been stuck in the same room but who did that and is stalking them, or what do they want? This book has so many juicy bombshells and insane reveals that had me on the edge of my seat. It’s so mysterious and I was just so desperate to find out more with all of its unexpected and unpredictable twists that gave me such can’t-put-it-down vibes at nearly 3 in the morning. Whoopsie daisy.

Then, that epilogue. Like, what the heck, it seriously had the biggest twist of them all and I just wanted to scream at ****** for their lack of trust and not believing the truth, and what actually had happened was just so freaking messed up and ***** was so freaking bonkers and bizarre to do this whole thing, like geez, hun, why didn’t you just move on rather than basically try to Single White Female anyone, eesh. But wow, that’s a pretty damn good mystery novel then. I mean, as a non-mystery fan, like holy freaking hell, I can’t believe all that went down and that was so surprising, and also the language was just so captivating that I got so into it.

Available: March 9


The Flipside of Perfect by Liz Reinhardt

I had no earthly idea what to expect when I first was approved for this book on NetGalley, and now that I’m on the other side of this read, I was quite surprised with how cute and realistic it was, and how much I enjoyed it! Here, the main character Adelaide has divorced parents, and when she splits her time between their homes across the country, she takes on opposite personas.

With her mom, stepdad, little sisters, and school friends in Michigan, she’s the proper, perfect, good girl AJ. Then, with her dad and older siblings down in Florida over summer breaks, she’s the more free-spirited and fun Della. These separate worlds, while both her, do not have any overlap whatsoever, until the summer after junior year. While she’s at her dad’s, her younger sister Marnie unexpectedly comes to stay with them, and she must realize who she actually is and how to merge her separate lives. It’s almost as if she lives parallel lives and doesn’t know who she really is or how to merge her complete self into one.

This book has such an engaging, compelling, and relatable point of view, and it’s a quick, fun YA read that I couldn’t put down. I just had to know what would happen next! Then, there’s Della’s former childhood nemesis Jude, who works for her dad in Florida. And the two of them are so dang precious with their little crushes and feelings. Like, awww!! Also, he was the only one to know about her two halves and separate personalities, so clearly she trusts him on a whole other level. Seriously, this book was just so flipping cute.

Available: April 6


To Love and to Loathe by Martha Waters

I’m not usually one for historical books, but this was giving me, like, Pride & Prejudice slash Elizabeth-Darcy and Bridgerton vibes, so like, it’s clearly worth a shot. If you are a fan of the Bridgerton series at all, you’ll definitely fall head over heels for this new Regency-set romance.

Here, Diana and Jeremy are enemies of sorts in their upper echelon of English society. They banter and poke each other quite a bit. So much so, that they agree to a wager that the eligible playboy bachelor must marry within the year or she’ll forfeit one hundred pounds. However, he has a counterproposal for her. Embark on a no-strings-attached, secret affair during his fortnight-long party so she can prove he’s not bad in the bedroom after a former paramour yelled at him that he was. Hahaha, oh I love this book already.

The widowed Diana and Jeremy have so much banter that’s so delicious as a reader. This whole book is so freaking juicy, like, by the prologue alone, I was so into this story! Told through back and forth perspectives, this very enjoyable book is full of witty, captivating language and all the tropey romance goodness. These two characters have a certain level of tension between them, told through all their banter, that’s so delicious to watch play out on the page. It’s a compelling read, and one I just couldn’t put down. Sure, it all ends quite predictably but it’s still fun and cute nonetheless.

Available: April 6


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

13 Ways to Up Your Style Game by Taking a Cue From Your Favorite Book Characters

After finding new ways to reinvent my wardrobe based on Julie And The Phantoms and other popular TV characters, I decided to continue my momentum. So, I compiled a list of some of my all-time favorite book characters and figured out how I could modernize their looks for myself because, after all, I’m a huge freaking book nerd. So, here we go! Keep reading for some of my new favorite outfit pairings and how you can recreate something similar in your own closets to render looks just like some iconic fictional book characters.

Lara Jean Song Covey, To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before

There’s no better bookish romance lead than Lara Jean, and that’s a FACT. To pay homage to her iconic look, I aimed to recreate her signature style with my denim skirt, long-sleeved striped tee, black ankle boots, and a scrunchie to tie up my high ponytail. Now, if only there was a Peter Kavinsky or John Ambrose sniffing around…

What You Need to Replicate It: Denim skirt, long-sleeve striped shirt, black boots, scrunchie


Eloise, Eloise

When I was growing up, all I wanted to be was Eloise. Seriously. So, I decided to take cues from the legendary Plaza resident with my next ‘fit. Here, I paired a black skirt with this sleeveless white button-down shirt and accessorized the look with a bow headband, because duh, and black ballet flats. And since Eloise has some of the cutest pets ever, I brought along some stuffed animals as props.

What You Need to Replicate It: Black skirt, sleeveless or short-sleeve white button-down, black ballet flats, hairbow or headband of some kind


Tris Prior, Divergent

Divergent was hands-down my favorite dystopian YA series back in the day, and Tris my favorite heroine. So naturally, I had to replicate her popular Dauntless look. To do so, I matched a pair of black skinny jeans with a black V-neck tee and moto blazer. Alternatively, I swapped the moto-inspired blazer for my faux-leather snakeskin-print Wonder Woman 1984 motorcycle jacket from Her Universe. The look’s completed with a pair of black sneakers, you know, in case I gotta go jump onto a train or rappel off a building into the arms of Four. What, it could happen??

What You Need to Replicate It: Black skinny jeans, black tee, motorcycle jacket, sneakers


Hazel Grace Lancaster, The Fault in Our Stars

As you might be aware by now, Augustus Waters is one of my top book boyfriends of all-time. But, he’d be nothing without his Hazel Grace. So, this look is in her honor. I put together a gray tee-shirt with some faded jeans and sneakers to feel very Hazel. The look needs some props to polish it off, so I brought in my gray Calia backpack and a worn book copy (an older version of a Sarah Dessen novel I’ve had for ages) to assist.

What You Need to Replicate It: Gray tee, jeans, book, backpack


Nancy Drew, The Secret of the Old Clock

I’ve always loved Nancy Drew as this fierce AF female protagonist who could go on adventures and save the day all on her own and didn’t need a boy to save the day. She’s been one of my favorite bookish heroes forever, so obviously, I wanted to pay homage to her too. To replicate her style, I coordinated this preppy-looking J.Crew dress with a black headband, pearl earrings and coordinating bracelets, some gold ballet flats, and a cardigan. Then, in true Nancy Drew fashion, I finished off the look with my long tan trench coat and a flashlight for some quintessential Drew-worthy props.

What You Need to Replicate It: Preppy dress, headband, pearl baubles, cardigan, ballet flats, trench coat


Prince Henry, Red, White, & Royal Blue

For any contemporary YA or romance fans, RWRB has fast become one of our favorite reads as Alex and Henry become some of the best book BFs we’ve ever read about. So, I decided to find a royalty-approved outfit that the bookish prince could rock. To do so, I paired these wide-legged black trousers with my royal blue sweater, with a white Oxford button-down underneath, its collar peeking out around my neck. Then, as the perfect prop, I brought out my gorgeous hardback copy of Little Women because props are important and he loves to read flowery literature like that.

What You Need to Replicate It: Wide-legged black trousers, white Oxford button-down, colorful sweater


June Claremont-Diaz, Red, White, & Royal Blue 

Alex’s sister is described as a bonafide fashionista slash impressive journalist, so clearly, I need her tutelage to up my own fashion game. Just like the FDOTUS, I put on this pencil skirt and pink sleeveless blouse with some matching ballet flats and a headband. Then, naturally, as a prop, I’m reading a magazine.

What You Need to Replicate It: Pencil skirt, sleeveless flowy blouse, headband, ballet flats


Nora Holleran, Red, White, & Royal Blue 

Nora’s the quirky one of the White House Trio and so, I really wanted to play that up in this next outfit. So, I fall-ified my Her Universe Minnie Mouse overall dress with this white long-sleeve tee and a pair of tights underneath. Then, I paired the outfit with some white Keds, or alternatively, black ankle booties for either a more casual or dressy look.

What You Need to Replicate It: Long-sleeve tee, overalls, tights


Massie Block, The Clique

If you were a tween girl in the aughts and didn’t read The Clique series, first off, I’m so sorry about your deprived childhood. And second, as readers, did you also try to dress and act like Massie all the time? Because, guilty. So, here’s your chance. I brought out this H&M dress that I purchased in London for the British Fashion Awards and accessorized it to be more Massie-like. I jazzed it up with some heels, a black blazer, a Kate Spade handbag, and a diamond-encrusted headband to tie the look together.

What You Need to Replicate It: Formal or couture-adjacent dress, blazer, clutch bag, headband, heels


Claire Lyons, The Clique

Don’t lie, fellow Clique fans. I know you, like me, also practiced your best Claire monologue when you heard news of an official movie adaptation. Now’s your chance, girls. My best modern Claire look takes this pair of white skinny jeans, a graphic tee (I chose this Her Universe x Disney one), and topped off with a pair of white Keds. This look is totally, say it with me, KUH-LAIRE.

What You Need to Replicate It: Keds, white skinny jeans, graphic tee


Bex Porter, The Royal We

OK, real talk, I may be a tad obsessed with royalty romances, especially contemporary ones like The Royal We. So, naturally, I needed to put together my best Bex ‘fit. You know, the one that first made a freaking prince notice her? If somehow this look can do that too, then god bless it. My look pairs this casual striped long-sleeve shirt with some jeans over my Victoria Beckham for Target black jacket and some sneakers on my feet. As a perfect prop, I wheel out my go-to luggage so that I can pretend I just got off a plane at Heathrow, took a cab to Oxford in the rain, and just happened to run into a royal prince. What? What? Hey, it could happen, alright. Right? Right?

What You Need to Replicate It: Striped long-sleeve tee, jeans, sneakers, light jacket


Duchess Rebecca, The Heir Affair

But since I dressed as Bex, I had to also switch things up once she got the Lyons Emerald and was bestowed a duchess title in the sequel. Like the new Duchess of Clarence, I found a prim and proper ‘fit in my closet. I matched this striped wrap dress with some kitten heels. To top it off, I sport my amethyst ring (on my right hand, calm down y’all, because I’m still a single pringle lol) since I don’t have an emerald one. Alternatively, I put on this emerald-green, long-sleeved blouse with a black pencil skirt with some nude pumps. Queen Eleanor would definitely approve of these looks, err, well, I hope she would.

What You Need to Replicate It: Formal dress or skirt and blouse, kitten heels, gemstone ring


Delilah McPhee, Between the Lines and Off the Page

It may have taken me nearly an entire year, but I’ve finally gotten into the right headspace to read this Jodi Picoult YA novel. It might be the possibility of seeing the musical heavily weighing on my brain as soon Broadway reopens. Anyways, now, that I’m here and very much a Delilah-type of MC IRL, I definitely had to recreate her look for myself. To do so, I paired some jeans, a white or black tank top (as seen in the book’s chapter header illustrations), and my white Keds together. Alternatively, like some clips from the musical demonstrate, I change out the tank for a chunky sweater. I already have glasses, so that’s done, and I toss my hair up in a low ponytail down my back. Plus, as a prop, I carry a book, because, obviously! And, since Delilah has a worn stuffed panda on her bed and both she and Oliver have faithful dogs in Humphrey and Frump, I brought out my 20-year-old stuffed animal pup as a prop too. What? It’s called authenticity.

What You Need to Replicate It: Jeans, Keds or Converse sneakers, tank top or chunky sweater, and a book (duh!)


Annabeth Chase, Percy Jackson & The Olympians

Okay, don’t hate me fellow book nerds, but I came late to the PJO fandom. I had obviously heard of it back in the day, but I was too focused on the likes of the Hunger Games, Twilight, Gallagher Girls, The Clique, and Divergent series to start anything else. So, it wasn’t until I heard songs from the musical, saw it off-Broadway, then on Broadway, and heard the cast speak at NYCC that I became a legit fan. But, now that I’m here: OMG, Annabeth. What a fierce, badass demigod! I wanna be her when I grow up. So, step one, outfit. I pair a striped tee with jeans, a choker necklace (like this one from Gagged Chokers!), and a crossbody bag. Now, IDK about you, but I’m ready to take on any monsters that cross my path!

What You Need to Replicate It: Striped shirt, jeans, crossbody, choker


There you have it! Thirteen different ways to bring your favorite book characters to life based on the clothes you already own! Yes, these looks took me out of my comfort zone, but that’s the great part. These looks gave me all the confidence that, sure, I could rock any of these looks in my usual day-to-day activities.

Keep Your Head Up: Personal Reflections

I don’t often share my personal thoughts or get deep on here, but rather, primarily sticking to fun and upbeat topics from wardrobe upgrades, book recommendations, or my random musings about various lifestyle topics and trends. Yet, the pandemic had changed everything for me, my career, and my perspectives, which has gotten harder to compartmentalize everything as I try to cope with changing realities. I know I’m hardly alone in that respect, and for all those people in similar situations, this post is for you.

Let me start this story by saying that before the pandemic struck, I couldn’t even fathom changing and pivoting my professional career at that moment in time. After years of freelancing and straight-up hustling trying to make it as a writer in the city after I graduated from college, I had finally landed a full-time position that I loved. I then spent nearly two years there and was so dedicated to both my and the company’s growth, without any immediate plans to find a new adventure. I enjoyed the content, the team, I was good at my role, everything. Then, the pandemic came and changed everything. I was completely blindsided when suddenly, almost out of nowhere, I was out of work and back job-hunting full-time just like millions of others this past April. When you’re already trying to cope with the new never-leaving-home reality when you’re all by yourself, adding in unemployment woes takes it to a whole other level of sorrow.

So, after eight-nine months of pivoting everything, taking freelance gig after freelance gig just to be able to make ends meet to cover my rent, plus endless job applications, interviews, and rejections, it was hard to see an end in sight. It was hard not to get dejected, fretting and imagining what my career path could look like moving forward or if I should give up and start over again in a more practical field, and all that without leaving my apartment because we were still in lockdown mode during what seems like a never-ending pandemic.

It’s discouraging as all hell, especially logging onto sites like LinkedIn or Twitter, and seeing everyone seemingly thrive while it seems like you’ve been left in the dust. Oh, this connection got a new job? New promotion? Your old companies are thriving just fine business-as-usual without you? All that makes everything sting even more. All that hurt, disappointment, rejection, and boredom boils up inside of you, and sometimes it feels like too much and you start to question if this path you’re trying to follow is even worth it. But, you know what, don’t give up. If that’s your dream, you cannot let rejections or lack of jobs stop you. If you want to write, start a blog, social media profiles, or find freelance hustles. Or even just write on a Word or Google Doc just for you. Do whatever you have to do to keep up your craft and passions because passion never abandons your soul, it’ll always be there however dormant o shoved down it may be. So, it’s not worth quitting what you love to do just because you can’t find a full-time gig right now. If it’s what you love, find a way to make it happen because your happiness and sanity are not worth giving up.

Now, I personally believe everything happens for a reason and refused to give up even when it was hard as hell. I tried to remember that every writer has experienced tens of thousands of rejections, and very rarely do succeed on a first try. However hard that was, I refused to let that deter me and wouldn’t allow myself to sit and wallow. So, I pulled myself up by my bootstraps after each templated email rejection. I then booted up my Word Doc and started to come up with pitches for different sites I contributed to, applied for new freelance opportunities, developed a slate of posts for this blog, and started writing a new novel and short story. I did what I needed to keep my passions alive and spirits high. Each morning, I’d apply for three to five new job opportunities and then spend the rest of the day writing, editing, and more writing — even if it was just a fictional story draft for me or some post on here. I refused to give up or wallow while indulging in another Netflix, daylong binge. I made sure to keep regular working hours Monday-Friday, where I’d sit at my desk and churn out writing for some platform or another all day from 9-5. That structure saved me from excessive wallowing and hosing a pity party after all the rejections. This was my dream, and what type of coward would I be if I let some little medical pandemic stop me? I’m no coward, and I refused to stop trying or fighting. I was going to do what I needed to do.

From there, I became even more determined not only to find a full-time job, but one doing something I truly loved and could create the content I absolutely adore. I’m so grateful not only to have my side hustles and personal projects that creatively fulfill me and helped cover my expenses, but as of mid-December, I just received an actual offer. I’m so grateful and humbled to continue my dreams and career, while still creating and editing the content that I fiercely love. And to everyone in similar positions who still searching for work or yearning to make a change from where they are: Just remember that the tide will turn and something will come your way when it’s meant to, and so, it’s not worth giving up will things are hard right now. If you want it, work your butt off to make it happen. And the right time will happen exactly how and when it’s meant to. Just keep the faith and stay strong

Well, thanks for reading my rambling words. I know it’s probably not what you followed Quite Simply Miranda for, but I appreciate you taking the time to read. And everyone in a similar position, I see you. I understand you. And just remember, everything will happen as it’s meant to, and so, if this is your dream, don’t give up or abandon it.