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

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

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

If You Like: “brutal”

Try: Tiny Pretty Things by Dhonielle Clayton and Sona Charaipotra

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

Here, I’ll show you:

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

Read the Book | Listen To the Song


If You Like: “traitor”

Try: Heartbreak for Hire by Sonia Hartl

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

Read the Book | Listen To the Song


If You Like: “drivers license”

Try: One to Watch by Kate Stayman-London

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

Read the Book | Listen To the Song


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

Try: Hot Mess by Emily Belden

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

Read the Book | Listen To the Song


If You Like: “deja vu”

Try: Four Days of You and Me by Miranda Kenneally

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

Read the Book | Listen To the Song


If You Like: “good 4 u”

Try: Make Up Break Up by Lily Menon

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

Read the Book | Listen To the Song


If You Like: “enough for you”

Try: Love Your Life by Sophie Kinsella

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

Read the Book | Listen To the Song


If You Like: “happier”

Try: You Deserve Each Other by Sarah Hogle

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

Read the Book | Listen To the Song


If You Like: “jealousy, jealousy”

Try: Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy

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

Read the Book | Listen To the Song


If You Like: “favorite crime”

Try: Lore by Alexandra Bracken

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

Read the Book | Listen To the Song


If You Like: “hope ur ok”

Try: This Time Next Year by Sophie Cousens

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

 

Read the Book | Listen To the Song

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.

7 More New Books I Couldn’t Put Down

Oh, we’re still stuck at home? Ha ha ha, It’s July already. Well, I’ve still been reading and just powering through my spring-summer TBR, and finding even more new reads to add to it. And out of my latest reading list, I’ve discovered so many more new authors and books that I’ve loved that have provided some much-needed comfort during this weird time.

So, welcome back to Miranda’s Book Nook with more of my latest book recommendations. I hope you find these books as engaging, fun, impactful, and comforting as I have.

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

Honestly, I immediately preordered this on Amazon as soon as I saw the title alone, because that happens to be one of my all-time favorite camp songs, “A Boy and a Girl in a Little Canoe,” so yea, it was a definite. Then, I read the description, and it was a YA romance set at sleepaway camp. Though, I went to an all-girls camp and never had a camp fling because we had no boys on the premises, it still remains one of my favorite teen romance tropes.

We follow Sam who’s summer isn’t off to a great start when her boyfriend Eli heads out on a European backpacking trip and she’s back at the summer camp she hated as a kid and now a counselor. There, she meets good-looking sailing counselor Gavin who also spends his free periods with his girlfriend who is also in Europe this summer. Cue the inevitable friendship, which of course, turns into a bona fide summer fling. While Eli is away and Gavin is right there, Sam learns exactly what she’s really looking for and what she isn’t. This book is sectioned off by the different camp weeks, from staff training, the first week, and the last week, which is how chapters are divided. It’s a fun, summertime YA read for all of us who are missing camp because they’re either too old or COVID ruined the fun.

Available: Now


Most Likely by Sarah Watson

Another book I knew I had to get immediately, but this time, based solely on the author. Sure, it’s her debut novel, but Sarah Watson created one of my all-time favorite TV series, The Bold Type, and that was enough to tell me I needed this book for my collection. Here, we follow for best friends throughout their senior year of high school, and one of whom will eventually be President of the United States — except you have no clue who it is.

BFFs Ava, CJ, Jordan, and Martha have been a foursome for their entire lives. By senior year, these vastly different personalities face their faces about growing up and what they want to do. The prologue indicates one girl is about to be sworn in as the first female president. But of course, we never see the name. This way, as you read the book, you can see each of the girls equalling taking on the gig. The prologue did set aside some hints that could potentially help you figure out which girl is the prez. Well, I had my predictions (which, of course, was right LOL), but even I kept second-guessing myself because it could have been anyone’s future story. 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.

Available: Now


The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins

Yep, of course I read the new Hunger Games book, no surprise there. Now, I don’t want to give too much away to avoid spoilers before other HG fans have a chance to power through all 500+ pages or the movie adaptation comes out. But, I do have to say that I didn’t hate it. And Snow as the protagonist, well, I didn’t hate him, but I certainly didn’t like him. That being said, it was interesting to see how Snow got to the dictator-like position he has the original book.

Here, we go back 60-something years to the morning of the tenth annual Games. For the first time, Capital teens at the prestigious Academy will serve as mentors to the tributes to jumpstart their adult societal statuses. Eighteen-year-old orphan Coriolanus Snow is assigned to mentor the female tribute from District 12, Lucy Gray Baird. You see, Snow needs this victory to restore his family’s position and wealth in society to what it once was. The Games are totally different early on, from the treatment of the tributes, the arena, and how the Games are watched/ how mentors are involved.

The book goes past an account of the Games because it’s a love story of sorts. I mean, whatever happens in the movie, we better get that Lucy-Snow compact scene, because I NEED IT. So adorable. We then see Snow and Lucy Gray navigate post-Games life, together and apart. And wowza, I did not see that twist ending coming with Snow’s ultimate fate and the master plan. I mean, mind blown.

Available: Now


You Had Me at Hola by Alexis Daria*

This was the ultimate, perfect summer beach rom-com read and I enjoyed devouring every morsel of Jasmine’s and Ashton’s stories. Here, readers are thrust into soap star Jasmine’s fast-paced Hollywood world immediately, and I’m captivated and just want to keep reading.  Both telenovela star Ashton and Jasmine have their own complex backstories, which makes them so much more vulnerable, intriguing, and dynamic as characters. It’s a quick, indulgent telenovela-inspired romance read and gives me Jane the Virgin vibes.

In the book, these two scene partners have a lack of chemistry after a mortifying first encounter. To build up their chemistry, the duo starts rehearsing on their own in private, and of course, they both have all the feels that they are desperately trying to ignore, because professionalism. All that tension and passion is brewing and is bound to explode. So, of course, the pair stars kissing and making out, even though they know its a bad idea. They just can’t quit each other, so we get the whole secret romance trope. Things do get, um, very steamy and descriptive, as a heads up if that’s not your thing, just a warning. But aside from that, these characters are vulnerable, emotional, and raw, and that’s why they make such endearing leads, and an eventual romance so interesting and sweet.

I love seeing more representation in the romance industry, and I love to see these romance stories are so reflective of today’s world and reality. The cute romance, the drama of telenovela, and the representation will have this all over romance readers’ radars this summer. Trust me on that one.

Available: August 4


Smash It! by Francina Simone*

This was an impactful and intriguing YA work with such a vibrant point of view, as I briefly referenced in my last post. The book features a fun, authentic tone to represent the protagonist Liv and I was so so so thrilled to see more diversity (race and body) representation in contemporary YA, I love that.

It’s the story of a shy girl who has an unrequited crush on one of her best friends. She’s ready to move and start living life, and be open to new possibilities, including finally trying out for the school musical. So, Liv makes a “F*ck It” list to inspire her to be bolder and free, and I want to make a list of my own.

The book is like a love square of romance and feelings and Liv is just so awkward and relatable, which is endearing as a reader. It’s realistic and engaging, and I love Liv’s growing sense of confidence. Like Othello, which is the school musical, there’s a lot going on with all the characters, and I just want to keep reading and get all the juicy details. Then, in the end, Eli and his letter to her is just so vulnerable and raw and I saw both of their whole hearts explode, and I felt all that emotion. As a good book should.

I’m so here for all these strong and empowered AF women that are owning their lives! Love to see it. Liv as a character finds her voice and confidence, which is so raw and honest and impactful. It made me smile to see her grow because that’s inspiring. If she can smash it, so can all of us.

Available: September 22


Spoiler Alert by Olivia Dade*

First off, I love a good geeky love story. So, I was instantly intrigued by this. This story reminds me of Ashley Polston’s YA geek romances, but obviously with adults. Here, we follow two anonymous virtual pen pals that chat through a fanfiction site about their favorite TV show characters and OTP. Both Marcus and April have descriptive point-of-views that make it exciting to read on. He’s the actual star of the show they’re writing fanfic about and she’s a massive fan of the show. Also, I love to see a body-positive lead in general, and also it brings more diversity to the cosplay community. That’s always great to see. April is so proud of herself and confident, and I love to see that; even though she’s not stick-thin, she still knows her value and deserves the world.

Within a few chapters, it’s already super cute. It’s sort of like the old musical She Loves Me, where he learns they are pen pals but keeps her in the dark instead of filling her in. It’s fun to read the actual fanfics and their DMs throughout the novel, as a nod to the backstory of the characters and how they met. It’s definitely a cute romance and plenty enjoyable.

Available: October 6


Come On In: 15 Stories about Immigration and Finding Home by Adi Alsaid*

This a compelling, touching anthology of short stories about immigration and the perspectives of teens who’ve dealt with it. It tells the stories of different teens all dealing with immigration (past and present) struggles and their own racial identities, as they find a sense of belonging. With everything that’s going on in the world right now and the important fight for social justice, it’s eye-opening to see so many different worldly perspectives through these essays. Obviously, as it is a collection, some essays were more engaging than others, but they all had a unique point of view.

We see the highs and lows of immigration through these stories written by so many acclaimed YA authors. These teen characters deal with being stopped on the street, TSA detention, customs anxiety, and the terrifying journey to new places. We see fifteen different parts of the immigrant experience on these characters’ (and authors) journey to find a home.

Available: October 13


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

8 Fall Book Releases I Couldn’t Put Down

Will we have a summer? Will we have a fall, even? Will the world go back to normal and will our country actually enact change so equality is a given? As much as I wish I had the answers or that everything would be answered affirmatively and in a timely manner, we just don’t know anything. You know, a good book can help you cope, and that’s a fact. (I’m proof as I’ve gotten lost in many a book since the stay-at-home orders were enacted.)

So, welcome back to Miranda’s Book Nook with my latest recommendations perfect to keep you busy and engaged during this crazy, anxious, and uncertain time.

Kiss My Cupcake by Helena Hunting

This novel focuses on two neighboring bars competing for business in a college town, and immediately I spy a delicious enemies-to-lovers trope brewing, chock full of sparks and chemistry. The dual perspectives of Ronan and Blaire help show there’s more to each side. Let’s just say this book is as sweet as … cupcakes! But, I like it, it’s fun and indulgent and sometimes that’s exactly what you need.

It’s a super quick read, and damn now I just want a cupcake myself! Once the duo gets to know each other and even team up, it gets a heck of a lot cuter and they are so in sync, it’s adorable. All that perfection and cuteness finally comes crumbling down in the final acts, and all that rawness and vulnerability is selling this book as more than just a cutesy romance. It has a predictable, sugary sweet ending, but yea, I enjoyed it. It was a very quick romance read and it was fun, definitely.

The story follows business owners Blaire Calloway and Ronan Knight who find themselves competing for customers and publicity. But, like any good romance, with every disagreement, more chemistry and sparks develop. Then, when a bigger business threat could take both their shops down, they must team up and well, I think you know where that is headed.

Available: August 11


Not Your #LoveStory by Sonia Hartl

This a quick, fun, and easy YA romance read. At first, you’re following aspiring YouTuber Macy in what looks like a love triangle of sorts between one complete jerk and two of her coworkers/friends, so it’s a little unclear who the main characters are and the story is definitely slow to start.

It reminds me of a teen, YA version of Girl Gone Viral with the context of a bystander live tweets a supposed meet-cute, even if it turns out to be faked. But, of course, the truth isn’t what it seems online. Eric is a cocky, slimy jerk who wants to capitalize on the attention. And, there we get the classic fake dating trope, so the duo can get more exposure and website revenue. Then, there’s a love triangle trope with Paxton, the sweetheart she’s big-time crushing on. Macy is caught between ethics and money and if she should play into this Twitter narrative or not. But, she and Paxton together are just so raw, vulnerable, and super cute. It’s a quick, fun YA read.

Available: September 1


Older by Pamela Redmond

I’ve been so so so excited for this sequel to Younger since I first found out about it, because I loved the original book and the popular TVLand series based on it. Here, we pick up some five years after Liza’s big lie and wow, so much as happened for her. The writing style and language are just so descriptive and captivating, I just can’t put it down. Oh, what a laugh, with the Sutton Foster and TV show references: It’s so brilliant to tie-in the show for the fans. Okay, like holy sh*t, I’m actually OBSESSED with everything in this book by just chapter one alone.

So, Hugo Fielding is the perfect choice for any Team Charles fans from the show, don’t you worry. He’ll bring the romance, and so will Josh for quite the love triangle (erm, square?). A romantic connection for Team Hugo is a bit of a slow burn, and then it comes in hot, hot, hot, wowza.

Hugo even says a line that implies that he finished this book at 3 in the morning, and hey, that tracks so well, because, SAME. I’m absolutely in love with this book and Pamela Redmond does the world of Liza and her perspective so much justice, and I just need to keep reading. It has to be a five-star read for me, like I’m actively clapping, squealing, and I’m just obsessed. I really liked the script parts and the show connections are fun, especially as a fan of the TV show myself. There’s so much drama, and I’m living for it!  Seriously it’s so descriptive, I can’t stop reading: it feels like a movie in my head, I can see it all so clearly. Also, it may seem silly, but I really appreciate the non-flowery, non-cutesy *ahem* monikers that you’d typically find in other romance novels, and thank goodness; this makes the book feel so much more realistic. In the end, everyone does get their HEAs, but in a way that feels authentic and justified, and about damn time. In the end, it comes full circle to the show and it’s a nice way to pay tribute to that world and fans.

This book has frothy romance and melodrama, core friendship bonds, odes to both LA and NYC, plenty of heart and vulnerability, independence, and so many meta ties to the show and its actors. I loved it as a sequel and on its own, though it does help if you know the story already whether, from the first book or TV series, it certainly helps you connect to the world right off the bat.

Available: September 8


White Coat Diaries by Madi Sinha

It’s definitely an eye-opening look at the life of an idealistic young doctor, just as she begins her residency at a prestigious hospital. We first meet Norah who’s having a tough time transitioning into her new role and her chief resident Ethan, whom she obviously falls for despite him not being interested.

It reads quickly with engaging language, it and does remind me of Grey’s Anatomy (I do love my medical dramas!), but I like that it is more about her career than just romance and finding a man. It’s the story of her residency, friendships, and family. Norah is definitely idealistic which I’d rather see her more realistic and wanting to do this job well and not fawn all over a man. It’s engaging and I couldn’t put it down. The ending did feel out of character for her, and I do wish there was no implied romantic interest because the book didn’t need it, that part all felt like filler. Other than that, it was a quick read about the medical field.

Available: September 15


Tools of Engagement by Tessa Bailey

This enemies-to-lovers romance is set in the house flipping world, much like the author’s previous books in the Just Us League. With this one, Wes and Bethany have so much banter together, which is what I love, so it won me over. In the book, house stager Bethany teams up with construction worker Wes to flip a house on a tight deadline.

It does awkwardly flip between the two point-of-views, but the voices are drastically different, so it’s not that confusing. It’s very cute, but does escalate very fast, which is good because a slow burn wouldn’t have worked as well between these two characters with their chemistry and attraction.

It does feel like just another cutesy, steamy romance and that’s about it. There’s some very detailed language and lots of steamy scenes, so if that’s not your style, FYI. It’s a romance, nothing more or nothing less, it is what it is and just what you’d expect in the genre. It’s a fine, easy romance read. That being said, the HEA at the end is sweet and adorable, I can’t ignore or brush over that. Since it is the third book in the series, it definitely is meant for an audience that knows the other two books since it has the same characters. Having not read the others first, it’s just fine, but had I read the others, I’m sure I’d like even more.

Available: September 22


The Code for Love and Heartbreak by Jillian Cantor

It starts off cute enough, back in high school. The book feels original with the story and characters and from the beginning, I’m very intrigued to see where things will go.

This retelling of Jane Austen’s Emma follows coding rockstar Emma and co-club president and friend George as they must develop a brand-new coding project for competition. Her idea is to create “The Code for Love,” a dating algorithm slash matchmaking app. At first, he disapproves of her idea, but it actually works and for the first time, she becomes popular across the whole school.

It’s a fast and fun contemporary YA read and very enjoyable. I’ve gotten so invested in the story because Emma is so oblivious to what’s right in front of her and I just want to shake her like, ‘Girl, what is right in front of you!’ And then, George, gah, this boy, this boy is indecisive and is messing with my head because it all seemed so obvious, but I don’t know what to think anymore. But that being said, I couldn’t put it down and ended up devouring it in one night. That ending is beyond is cute, like heart-melting, earth-shattering, grand romance, and all that stuff. It’s so cute and that ending/epilogue is precious. It’s a love story for all us nerd types out there, and proof that you can’t rationalize everything. For a YA romance, it’s just what I want.

Available: October 6


Cobble Hill by Cecily von Ziegesar

I was so excited about this book just being the latest from the mind of the woman who created Gossip Girl, which was a series I devoured back in the day. That, and the premise had me intrigued. The story follows a year-in-the-life of parents and kids in the well-off neighborhood of Cobble Hill, Brooklyn, and how they all connect and relate with each other.

There’s so much descriptive language that it really does play out like a movie in your head, but there’s a lot of point-of-views; almost too many at times, which is hard to keep up. While some of the adult characters are providing all the chaos, little nerdy teen Liam is the shiny and adorable bright spot with his schoolboy crush on the shy new girl Shy. There are so many secrets, which obviously causes all of the drama. There were a few continuity problems: like how on Earth did Editorial Assistant Manfred somehow, magically get promoted straight away to Senior Editor??? It doesn’t make sense. However, the book is very well-written, I can’t deny that. (Also, side note, are babysitters in Cobble Hill really making $20 per hour? If so, I may need a new side gig!)

The book starts to pick up by the second part after an extremely long exposition, but there’s still no singular or central story, it’s sort of all over the place. It is interesting to see all these different perspectives because it’s all so incredibly weird, like what is happening?? The plot is so odd, so odd, but yet, I couldn’t stop reading. The plot is so bizarre, it feels strange for it to be written by the same author who created Gossip Girl. But, I’m addicted and just have to keep reading because of the captivating, descriptive writing and storytelling devices; it really draws you in. Everything in this book is so off-the-walls-bonkers with the characters, I had no clue what was going on, but perhaps that’s what the author was going for. Then, there’s sort of a mystery going on, but just sort of as a device to show time passing? Then, there’s some resolution at the end, but it’s mostly a jumble, mish-mosh of a year in the life of eclectic, wealthy Brooklyn families. While the plot was strange and different, I was so intrigued and just couldn’t put it down.

Available: October 20


Stories from Suffragette City by M. J. Rose and Fiona Davis; introduction by Kristin Hannah

This collection of short stories honors the struggle for women’s suffrage and several perspectives of a variety of women across New York and the country at this time across the essays. Written by an assortment of bestselling authors, each story is set on the same day: October 23, 1915, during the march for women’s suffrage in New York City.

Each story uses impactful, captivating language to draw the reader in. With everything that’s happening in the world, this book is more important than ever to show why we need to stand up and fight for justice and equality. The stories are all about such strong, curious women and their male allies, who all turn up for the same suffragette parade in NYC. Some of these stories do end quite abruptly and ambiguously, while others feel completed and whole. But its overarching lesson about standing up and remaining strong at protests still rings true. Then, the little Grace character bounds from one story to the next, and as she weaves through the parade, multiple stories are tied together and show off a symbol of hope for the next generation.

It’s an eye-opening and important read, chock full of compelling language. It shares a message that women are not invisible and can/will/need to make their own destiny. The stories do highlight diverse voices, with two WOC protagonists, however, I wish that had a higher proportion instead of making it seem like a “white woman issue,” I would have loved more of a diverse perspective in a more even split overall.

Available: October 27


Advance reader copies of each book were provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.