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.

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

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

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

If You Like: “willow”

Try: Not If I Save You First by Ally Carter

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

Read the Book | Listen To the Song


If You Like: “champagne problems”

Try: Sex and Vanity by Kevin Kwan

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

Read the Book | Listen To the Song


If You Like: “gold rush”

Try: Shine by Jessica Jung

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

Read the Book | Listen To the Song

 


If You Like: “’tis the damn season”

Try: In A Holidaze by Christina Lauren

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

Read the Book | Listen To the Song


If You Like: “tolerate it”

Try: Love Your Life by Sophie Kinsella

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

Read the Book | Listen To the Song


If You Like: “no body, no crime”

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

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

Read the Book starting March 9 | Listen To the Song


If You Like: “happiness”

Try: Majesty by Katharine McGee

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

Read the Book | Listen To the Song


If You Like: “dorothea”

Try: Four Days of You And Me by Miranda Kenneally

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

Read the Book | Listen To the Song

 


If You Like: “coney island”

Try: Most Likely by Sarah Watson

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

Read the Book | Listen To the Song


If You Like: “ivy”

Try: The Seven Days of Us by Francesca Hornak

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

Read the Book | Listen To the Song

 

 


If You Like: “cowboy like me”

Try: The Love Interest by Cale Dietrich

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

Read the Book | Listen To the Song


If You Like: “long story short”

Try: By The Book by Julia Sonneborn

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

Read the Book | Listen To the Song

 


If You Like: “marjorie”

Try: You Deserve Each Other by Sarah Hogle

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

Read the Book | Listen To the Song


If You Like: “closure”

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

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

Read the Book | Listen To the Song


If You Like: “evermore”

Try: Romancing Mister Bridgerton by Julia Quinn

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

Read the Book | Listen To the Song