7 Late 2021 Books I’ve Been Obsessing Over

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

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

The Sweetest Remedy by Jane Igharo

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

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

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

Rating: Four Stars

Available: October 12


The Party Crasher by Sophie Kinsella

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

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

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

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

Rating: Five Stars

Available: October 12


All the Feels by Olivia Dade

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

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

Rating: Four Stars

Available: October 26


A Certain Appeal by Vanessa King

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

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

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

Rating: Three Stars

Available: November 2


The Wedding Ringer by Kerry Rea

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

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

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

Rating: Four Stars

Available: November 9


If This Gets Out by Sophie Gonzales and Cale Dietrich

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

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

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

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

Rating: Four Stars

Available: December 7


Smile and Look Pretty by Amanda Pellegrino

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

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

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

Rating: Four Stars

Available: December 28


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

7 New September Book Releases That Belong on Your Fall TBR

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

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

In Every Mirror She’s Black by Lolá Ákínmádé Åkerström

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

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

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

Rating: Four Stars

Available: September 7


The Charm Offensive by Allison Cochrun

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

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

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

Rating: Four Stars

Available: September 7


The Pick-Up by Miranda Kenneally

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

Rating: Four Stars

Available: September 7


A Lot Like Adios by Alexis Daria

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

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

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

Rating: Four Stars

Available: September 14


First Love, Take Two by Sajni Patel

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

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

Rating: Four Stars

Available: September 21


No Words by Meg Cabot

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

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

Rating: Five Stars

Available: September 28


The Matzah Ball by Jean Meltzer

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

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

Rating: Three Stars

Available: September 28


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

7 Summer Book Releases I’m Loving Right Now

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

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

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

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

Rating: Five Stars

Available: Now


The Girl Least Likely by Katy Loutzenhiser

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

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

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

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

Rating: Three Stars

Available: Now


Pretty Little London by Sara Santini, Andrea Di Filippo

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

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

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

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

Rating: Four Stars

Available: July 13


So We Meet Again by Suzanne Park

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

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

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

Rating: Four Stars

Available: August 3


The Dating Dare by Jayci Lee

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

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

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

Rating: Four Stars

Available: August 3


The Man Ban by Nicola Marsh

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

Rating: Three Stars

Available: July 27


Palm Beach by Mary Adkins

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

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

Rating: Four Stars

Available:


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

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

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

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

If You Like: “brutal”

Try: Tiny Pretty Things by Dhonielle Clayton and Sona Charaipotra

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

Here, I’ll show you:

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

Read the Book | Listen To the Song


If You Like: “traitor”

Try: Heartbreak for Hire by Sonia Hartl

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

Read the Book | Listen To the Song


If You Like: “drivers license”

Try: One to Watch by Kate Stayman-London

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

Read the Book | Listen To the Song


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

Try: Hot Mess by Emily Belden

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

Read the Book | Listen To the Song


If You Like: “deja vu”

Try: Four Days of You and Me by Miranda Kenneally

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

Read the Book | Listen To the Song


If You Like: “good 4 u”

Try: Make Up Break Up by Lily Menon

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

Read the Book | Listen To the Song


If You Like: “enough for you”

Try: Love Your Life by Sophie Kinsella

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

Read the Book | Listen To the Song


If You Like: “happier”

Try: You Deserve Each Other by Sarah Hogle

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

Read the Book | Listen To the Song


If You Like: “jealousy, jealousy”

Try: Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy

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

Read the Book | Listen To the Song


If You Like: “favorite crime”

Try: Lore by Alexandra Bracken

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

Read the Book | Listen To the Song


If You Like: “hope ur ok”

Try: This Time Next Year by Sophie Cousens

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

 

Read the Book | Listen To the Song

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

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

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

Gutter Girl by Kelly Anne Blount, Lynn Rush

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

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

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

Rating: Four Stars

Available:


One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston

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

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

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

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

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

Rating: Five Stars

Available:


Better Together by Christine Riccio

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

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

Rating: Four Stars

Available:


Of Princes and Promises by Sandhya Menon

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

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

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

Rating: Four Stars

Available:


Live Your Life by Amanda Kloots, Anna Kloots

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

It’s the story of their life together and his fight against COVID-19. It’s a beautiful, heartfelt, and emotional story of her entire journey with Nick, from the first time they met, their wedding, the birth of their son Elvis, through COVID and her unimaginable loss. It’s such a poignant and honest first-person account that makes your heart break even more than it did while reading the news stories.

You can feel all her raw, vulnerable emotions from this period come through while reading. It’s a well-written and honest memoir to read that, yes, makes me tear up. With Kloots’ positive spirit, her memoir shares an unplugged look at this awful period along with her strength, support from loved ones, and it provides a tribute/lasting memory for Cordero to assist with her grief.

Rating: Five Stars

Available: June 15


Blush by Jamie Brenner

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

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

Rating: Four Stars

Available: June 22


When Stars Collide by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

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

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

Rating: Four Stars

Available: June 29


The Turnout by Megan Abbott

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

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

Rating: Four Stars

Available:


The Betrayed by Kiera Cass

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

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

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

Rating: Four Stars

Available: July 6


Meant to Be: If the Shoe Fits by Julie Murphy

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

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

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

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

Rating: Five Stars

Available:


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

9 Modern Ways to Dress Like ‘GrishaVerse’ Characters

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

Alina Starkov

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

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


Mal Oretsev

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

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


The Darkling/ General Aleksander Kirigan

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

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


Kaz Brekker

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

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


Jesper Fahey

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

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


Inej Ghafa

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

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


Nina Zenik

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

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


Genya Safin

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

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


Zoya Nazyalensky

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1. Their Office Games

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


2. Password-Protected

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


3. Rotating Shirt Colors

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


4. All the Shortcake

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


5. Those Planner Notes

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


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

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


7. A Post-It Kiss

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


8. That Elevator Kiss

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


9. Red Roses for a Beauty

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


10. It’s Paintball Time

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


11. Sleepysaurus and a Sick Shortcake

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


12. The ‘Or Something’ Game

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


13. All the Robin’s Egg Blue Colors

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


14. A New Collection

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


15. Plenty of Self-Growth

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


16. The Road-Trip to the Wedding

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


17. The Wedding Reveals All

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


18. A Sweeping HEA & Epilogue

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

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.