11 New Fall and Winter Book Releases That’ll Inspire You When You’re Stuck at Home

Fall can often be dreary. Cold, isolating, and boring — plus a global pandemic and an unknown government situation can only add to those feelings. So, I like to curl up with a blanket and a book and shut out the world by escaping to my array of fictional worlds from my personal library. Anyone surprised?

So, settle in for another installment of Miranda’s Book Nook as I share even more new book titles that coming out this fall and winter that just I can’t get enough of. Happy reading, y’all!

Dearly by Margaret Atwood

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

There are some wanderlust motifs inside that make me just want to be able to travel again. Plus, messages about being remembered, which from story to story, we will definitely remember everything that Atwood has shown us long after we’ve closed the book’s pages.

Each poem effortlessly flows from one to the next and the book is impeccably organized, where I can see how poems and stories are related to each other with its seamless, well-positioned transitions. The tones and points of view are very realistic to the modern world, and while most are less doe-eyed optimistic, it skews on the darker side. There are rhyme schemes that just flow so well when you read these poems aloud. There’s definitely a motif of sisterhood and women sticking together in their fight for survival, forgiveness, love, and strength. Would you expect anything less from Atwood’s work? Because she does feminist writings very well and with covering such meaningful themes. The poems have such rich language and captivating word choice that tells complex stories that capture the readers due to strong symbols and metaphors. This is definitely a poetry collection I need to add to my personal library as soon as I can.

Available: Now


I Want to Be Where the Normal People Are by Rachel Bloom

This book of essays is by Rachel Bloom, who’s the creator and star of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, a show that I was a huge fan of. Her TV series was full of witty dialogue, which prompted my initial interest in this nonfiction read. First off, the cover gives me throwback The Babysitter’s Club book cover vibes, which is so much fun in itself.

Then, inside, the text is composed of relatable, conversational language that’s both funny and impactful. It’s focused on a bunch of different stories chronicling everything from childhood, selling the CXG series, falling in love, and more. Sure, these stories may be full of funny language and jokes, but they all have deeper meanings with plenty of heart. The read is told through first-person accounts, make-believe stories, original scripts, her actual childhood diary entries, and even Harry Potter fanfiction! Bloom’s tone of voice in this book of essays is very relatable, which makes me laugh out loud because, like, I GET IT. After reading, it makes you realize, ‘Oh, hey I wasn’t normal either and who cares because being me is much more rewarding and fun.’ It gives hope to all us theatre kids out there about our futures and that things will get better. It’s a one-sitting read because it was enjoyable, funny, relatable, honest, and authentic.

Available: November 17


It Only Happens in the Movies by Holly Bourne

I had loved Holly Bourne’s novel Pretending earlier this year and her compelling characterizations and perspectives. So I was instantly excited to read this new book and its fun premise. Here, British teen Audrey is currently dealing with the aftermath of her parents’ divorce, her own breakup, and her changing friend dynamics, all of which have made her cynical about the concept of love and romance. However, she soon finds herself falling for the ever-charming playboy Harry from her part-time job at the local cinema, even though she knows she shouldn’t.

From the prologue alone, I was hooked. Full of compelling and relatable language and a fresh perspective, I just couldn’t put it down. I had to keep reading. Then, the first chapter dives right into the action rather than pages upon pages of exposition and background, which I appreciated. So, Audrey’s working on a school project about the unrealistic behaviors in romance movies and is starring in Harry’s own movie as the love interest character, where she’s facing whether or not she still believes love is hopeless. This book is just so easy to get sucked into and I just didn’t want to put it down. It’s a quick, fun, and engaging YA read. The lead character of Audrey, by the ending, is so vulnerable and full of heart that reads as authentic. By the end, I just couldn’t stop reading, it had me enthralled and hooked to find out the rest of her story and what she actually wants.

Sure, the ending was cheesy and cute, but I’m glad that it didn’t just end on a romantic HEA, but rather a self-love HEA, which I find even more impactful and empowering. It made me happy to see her realizing her worth and becoming stronger because, hey, real life isn’t the perfectly curated movies, and I admire this book bringing that realism.

Available: December 1


Teddy Spenser Isn’t Looking for Love by Kim Fielding

This quick, fast-paced romance read was absolutely adorable, chock full of enemies-to-lovers, business trips with a shared hotel room, and opposites-attract tropes that made it just delightful to complete.

Here, Teddy Spenser and his work rival Romeo Blue are assigned to collaborate on a big work project that could save the fate of the company, a tech startup in Chicago. Teddy is quite cynical about love at first, but cannot deny that Romeo is very dapper. This book is full of funny, relatable language that makes Teddy such an authentic, engaging protagonist. The men are complete opposites, yet both seem to have been pining for the other a bit. But, it isn’t until their work trip in Seattle where they discover each other’s true selves: mind, body, and soul. This read is so quick and engaging, which makes it so easy to get sucked into. The writing is witty and sharp in this slow-burn love story. It’s just so freaking adorable, like audibly squeal-worthy.

Available: December 29


West End Girls by Jenny Colgan

I was really excited to read Jenny Colgan’s newest book, however, this seems to have fallen a bit flat and wasn’t my exact cup of tea. Not that it was terrible, it just wasn’t my favorite.

Here, 27-year-old twins, Lizzie and Penny are complete opposites from Essex, yet are tasked with moving to London together to watch their paternal grandmother’s flat in Chelsea who was just moved into a nursing home. It’s confusing how the chapters abruptly change from the perspective of Lizzie, Penny, or artist Will who likes Penny. It took me a while to get into with all the perspective jumping, and because of that, it took longer for me to really dig these characters, which is a shame because typically Colgan does such a great job at characterization. Both girls want to find where they belong and their purpose, so this book follows their journey living in Chelsea, with jobs, love, family, and friends. It’s fun and cute, but just kind of like, eh, here’s a few months of their lives living in the West End. That’s all.

Available: January 5


The MeetCute Project by Rhiannon Richardson

This YA romance was utterly delightful and adorable, the perfect one-sitting read to get sucked into on a cozy Sunday, because, guilty, that definitely happened.

Here, teenager Mia has a jam-packed schedule between classes, friends, and her growing extracurriculars. Thanks to all of that and how nervous she gets around boys, she’s single. For her older sister Sam’s upcoming wedding, Mia is instructed to bring a date to help balance out the wedding photos since she’s the only one sans a partner. To do so, her three best friends play matchmaker and arrange a series of meet-cutes to help Mia meet a prospective date.

It’s such a cute premise and the characters and language are so authentic and relatable, I can’t help but get sucked into this book. In addition to the blind dates, there’s the jerkish Ben who she has a crush on but her besties don’t approve of, and also Gavin who works at the community garden she starts to volunteer at, so this love triangle gets a bit bigger. She and Gavin have a completely organic meet-cute all on their own and made me scream out, several times, to just tell each other how they feel because it was so painfully obvious and I just wanted that be endgame here. As all of her friends’ setups go awry in different ways, she turns to Gavin like a Cyrano-type to ask for advice from a boy’s perspective. This book was so captivating that I just couldn’t put it down and ended up finishing it in a single sitting. This quick read is absolutely and positively cute, and that ending, however predictable, was just adorable.

Available: January 12


Everybody (Else) Is Perfect by Gabrielle Korn

This memoir slash collection of essays from the former EIC of Nylon Magazine shares her own experience escaping the hamster world of the corporate world and success, especially as a journalist. She notes how, since resigning, she’s been able to focus on her personal wellbeing, which isn’t tied to work success.

Through a series of essays, Korn shares memories about her place in life at work and covering articles she believed in, and her personal identity journey. This book handles such raw, vulnerable topics in a way that’s well-written, compelling, and authentic. There’s definitely some very empowering scenes that encourage us readers to remember that while we all may be insecure, we shouldn’t be and instead embrace our authentic selves fully. She reveals her internal struggles, personal identity journey and growth, and how she got where she is today both personally and professionally. Now, as a journalist and lifestyle writer/editor myself, I came for the professional advice and guides to help further my own career goals, but I ended up reading something that was way more, with lessons about embracing my entire self with confidence and not just sacrificing my personal life for the sake of the job of my dreams.

Available: January 26


Love is a Revolution by Renée Watson

First, I always love to see both racial and body diversity in a book, especially with YA and a romance, which historically doesn’t have the best reputation for it. But seeing that change is so great to see. This book takes place the summer before senior year, where Nala loves making lists and dreams of changing her hair, hanging with friends and family, and falling in love on this school break. Then, she meets a new boy in town, Tye, and she has a big crush on him. He’s very involved with the same community organization as her cousin, and so Nala tries whatever it takes to keep his attention even if it involves little fibs about also being a vegetarian and a volunteer because now he’s interested in this fake version of her. These lies pile up and get bigger and bigger as they start to date and she keeps pretending, and it’s almost like he tries to get her to be what’s she’s not and so, while there is a romantic love story, the main focus is on a self-love journey.

There’s such an authentic teen point of view and compelling language that makes me want to keep reading right off the bat. It’s a quick read that I could polish off in a single sitting because I just couldn’t put it down in the middle, and I was just so invested. In the end, it was just so adorable and I loved how it was more than just a romantic love story, but rather a focus on her journey to self-acceptance and confidence.

Available: February 2


How to Date Your Wardrobe by Heather Newberger

In this short guidebook, stylist Heather Newberger aims to help you reinvent your wardrobe and learn tricks to become more confident in your own skin. It’s all about inspiring your self-confidence, and less about what clothes to specifically wear through her helpful strategies and processes honed through her years as a stylist.

The quick book has an informative, yet conversational tone that feels approachable, realistic, and yet is still seen as an expert here to help. It’s a book for those readers who are seeking a way to upgrade your style and closet with pieces that speak to you and make you feel like a million bucks. She offers handy pop-up pro tips throughout with specific examples of how to put her strategies into action to really focus on how to figure out your own personal style and harnessing that. She brings further tips about shopping, including where to go, mixing things up, and how to navigate the online marketplace. Want to know what this book is really like? It’s like Marie Kondo or The Home Edit or other types of similar organization shows where I immediately get super inspired to redo everything I own right away. It’s like that. All in all, it’s mostly about inspiring you to think critically about clothes so that you only have and wear what you love, need, and make you feel like a star.

Available: February 9


First Comes Like by Alisha Rai

I’ve been waiting to read and review this book for so long, like you don’t understand how excited I am to actually have this baby in my hands right now. As you know well by now, I devoured Alisha Rai’s first two books in her “Modern Love” series: The Right Swipe and Girl Gone Viral. In both swoon-worthy contemporary romances, we were briefly introduced to Rhi and Kat’s third roomie, Jia, who’s a mega-popular beauty influencer. Now, it’s Jia’s turn for some love, and hopefully, get a quick update on how our fave HEAs are doing up in Santa Monica after their books.

We start off with a nervous Jia about to crash a Hollywood party to meet her crush Dev, an international actor, whom she thinks slid into her DMs a year ago and continued to chat with her. However, he doesn’t recognize her and she realizes that she was catfished. Like the previous two books in the series, we see back-and-forth perspectives to get insight into both Dev and Jia’s inner thoughts. While he doesn’t recognize her, Dev is quite mesmerized by her beauty and confidence from the moment he saw her at that party. Also, it was great to see that Rhi and Kat both still have their HEAs with their love interests. That made me squeal, once again, because I love to see that.

This book was a tad slow to start, especially in comparison to The Right Swipe and Girl Gone Viral, and I was just waiting for more than one hundred pages for that heat and action to pick up. And honestly, I’m just not as invested or feeling the butterflies as I was reading the first two books, this feels a lot slower. Back to the story, Dev wants to make up for the catfishing and agrees to her terms to fake date each other to appease her parents, but at the same time, they keep getting to know each other and the feelings deepen. There’s a lot of build-up, but then during the road trip scene, that’s the turning point for them and the book because that’s where things start to pick up.

The POVs flip midchapter in some parts, which can be a bit abrupt at times. However, this book is still cute and true to Rai’s style. Yes, it’s less steamy and more romantic compared to her other books in the “Modern Love” series, but once again, I couldn’t put it down. This book makes such a sweet addition to the series with a cute HEA and a similar style to the other books — as soon as the pacing picked up halfway through.

Available: February 16


Jew-ish: A Cookbook by Jake Cohen

Think: A recipe book for all the modern millennial Jews because that’s pretty much what we have here.

In this cookbook full of “reinvented recipes from a modern mensch,” it’s the perfect way for modern millennials to up their cooking game and put their own spin on the classic Jewish dishes they were raised on. The cookbook features loads of helpful tricks and tips told through first-person experiences from the author. Cohen includes recipes for everyday dining and meals to serve for the big holidays too, organized by meal, holiday, and beverages. Each category has such a variety of items included too. Each recipe gives you detailed instructions so that even the most basic of cooks, and non-cooks like me, can follow along and execute the steps. Each page features conversational language, that’s relatable and authentic to the reader. Then, each recipe has a little intro about the dish’s origin and history, plus the author’s tricks to modernize it and make it taste delicious with its step-by-step detailed instructions.

The book features some of the most gorgeous food photography I’ve ever seen, and I swear my mouth is watering already. Seriously, I’m not much of a cook or baker, but there’s a whole host of recipes that even I cannot wait to try.

Available: March 9


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

Get Ready for 2021 With These 8 Hot New Winter Book Releases

With the dumpster fire that is 2020 almost in our rearview mirror, it brings all the hope and promise of a new year. One reason I love a new year is thinking of all the new books that will be released that I can read! Ahh, sounds heavenly, doesn’t it?

I’ve started on my 2021 TBR list a bit early (thanks a million, NetGalley!), and I can already tell my little personal library is going to be overflowing with new titles this upcoming winter. Settle in for another installment of Miranda’s Book Nook as I share some of the 2021 book titles coming out this winter and just I can’t get enough. Happy reading, y’all!

You Have a Match by Emma Lord

It’s time to start off with a five-star read, y’all! After the adorable cheesy teen romance that was Tweet Cute, I’m already looking forward to Lord’s follow-up novel. Oh, and this one is set at a SLEEPAWAY CAMP. Instant interest from me. (#CampGirl 4 Life!) Like, I loved all the camp activities and friendships (Savvy, Mickey, Finn, and Leo know there’s nothing like camp besties, and now I just wanna call my BW sisters!) because it reminded me of my best days as a BW girl and how those days at camp with my fellow camp sisters were some of my all-time favorite memories.

Okay, to be quite honest, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to read this book at first because I thought the author’s first book, Tweet Cute, was just alright and not *totally* my type of read. But, now I can’t imagine not having read You Have a Match, and in a way, it’s made me feel closer to my grandfather, who’s my own version of the character Poppy. And after every single page, it’s clear this book rightfully deserves this five-star rating and a coveted place on my must-buy TBR list once it’s published. Here, we follow 16-year-old Abby, who in a bet with best friend Connie, takes a DNA test to find out her ancestries along with their other best pal, Leo. This book brings an engaging point of view that feels both authentic and current for a teen girl with really fun and relatable language. So, the DNA test revealed that Abby has a secret full sister, Savannah, an 18-year-old Instagram star. The two are polar opposites to their cores, but want to get to know each other. To figure things out and get to know each other, Savvy invites her new sister to attend the camp where she’ll be a junior counselor. It’s seriously like a modern-day version of The Parent Trap, and I’m here for it.

Then, there’s also a precious slow-burn romance between Abby and her best friend and neighbor, Leo. At the opening of the book, she’s still mortified about her almost-kiss with him months ago because it turned out, he didn’t feel the same and she was crushed. Then, it turns out, he’s working in the kitchen at the same camp and seems very excited they’ll be spending the time together, like in a certain eyes-twinkling, heart-fluttering way?? But because boys are stupid, Leo makes my head spin as it’s evident he does like her but is either pretending or hiding it really well, and gah, I don’t know what’s going on here. Then, also at camp, we meet Finn, the bad-boy camper Abby’s age who has a Hot Boy Name, so love triangle, here we go.

This book is just so much fun and I actually cannot put it down, staying up way too late in two nights just to finish it. Then, we get so much juicy drama and a big family secret that overshadows romance for a bit, and things escalate that make me actually want to ship Abby and Leo at screaming and squealing levels, because that definitely happened. Things get super heartwrenching, and gut-punching emotional that I’m legitimately in tears when it’s revealed all their grandfather did for the girls. It actually makes tear up because Poppy really resonates with me to my core about my late grandfather. I just want to say that books typically do not make me cry, but this 100 percent did because of Poppy and my own life. But enough about me, back to this read. That ending was absolutely precious and so darn cute that my cheeks still hurt from smiling so much. Like, Leo’s big monologue at the end had me literally squealing at 2 in the morning over its sheer adorableness! I wasn’t sure about Leo as a love interest and a book boyfriend to start, but by the end, we got to see inside his heart and he won me over and proved to be good enough for Abby. So, I approve. And gah, that epilogue was so damn cute.

Overall, I’m not quite sure how to put this book into words. It’s more than a teen romance, more than a summer camp adventure, more than a familial drama, more than a story of friendship and sisterhood, more than a comedy, and more than a deep emotional novel. It’s a book in a class all its own and had me captivated until I read that very last word on the final page. Seriously, it’s totally worth those five stars because now I have to buy and I just can’t imagine a world where I haven’t read this, and it also made me feel closer to my grandfather who’s passed away, my own Poppy, which I needed now more than ever. Like, with all that, this has to be five stars and I have to buy it once it’s released this January, I have to.

Available: January 5


Happily Ever Afters by Elise Bryant

Here was another YA romance that I was looking forward to prior to reading, and boy, did this read deliver! I mean, I still can’t stop smiling now that I reached the ending. The book follows Tessa, a diverse romance writer whose family just moved to Long Beach with her parents, and her older brother who has disabilities. One day, just after the move, her brother Miles intends to prank their neighbor, but when she has to clean up the mess, she meets the dorky, not fashion-savvy Sam wearing a Hawaiian shirt, and it turns out they’ll both be starting at the same art school, and he cooks! (Which, side note, I want those lavender donuts he made for her SO SO SO bad. My stomach is growling right now.) So, it’s clear he’s the dream guy right, because he cooks, huh? Hm, or am I projecting a bit? Oh, well.

It’s such a fun and engaging YA novel that I enjoyed and really got sucked into. I also loved all the YA callouts to classic works from the genre, such as TATBILB, The Hate U Give, and mentioning Sarah Dessen as a queen, like yes, I love my bookish references! Then, there’s the ridiculously handsome Nico in her writing class that is exactly how she pictured her latest manuscript’s love interest. So, love triangle trope time, please! She starts school and with all the anxiety of being the new kid, not knowing anyone, and not feeling like she’s a good enough writer, as the deadlines for her novel writing class pile up, it’s a terrible time for writer’s block, but of course that happens and leaves her feeling like a fraud. Her best friend Caroline, back in Sacramento, helps Tessa devise a plan to get her groove back by having her experience her first love and get a boyfriend, so she can get back to writing her romances.

This book is shaping up to one super cute slow-burn romance, and I’m digging it. We definitely get a fun love triangle, and as she gets closer to the previously unavailable Nico, Sam gets a little makeover moment where Tessa sees him in a whole new light. She and Sam just have such an effortless connection, while Nico is more of a suave, smooth operator who flirts with her, so obviously I’m team Sam, bad Hawaiian shirts, zip-off cargo shorts, and all. After a few introductory chapters, the plot finally picks up and moves faster. Like once I’m into this book, I’m so obsessed and just can’t stop reading until I finish it thanks to its captivating, authentic language. The real romance at the end is just so cute and dear, sweet Sam is just so pure and precious. I mean that homemade ice cream, I swooned. Then, yes there’s a HEA, because of course, but what I loved was that it was more than a romantic love HEA, but also her own self-love and growth, her becoming the best writer she can be, and ahhhh, then she makes her own grand gesture which was just so adorable. But that ending, gah I just wanted more!! The cover’s cute and dreamy, and I love how the ending was more about her self-love and confidence, finding her own voice.

Available: January 5


Love Songs for Skeptics by Christina Pishiris

When I first requested this NetGalley ARC, I suppose I hadn’t thought too much of it, and thought it’d be just a fun, indulgent, and a bit basic for a romance read. But, it definitely wasn’t and I surprised myself with how into this book I was, to like can’t-put-it-down until the wee hours of the morning, it was that surprising, fun, humorous, engaging, cute, and enjoyable.

Here, Zoë is a music journalist and editor for a struggling music magazine in London, which, my surprise over its British setting and UK slang already nudged this read up one star. Hence the title and her bad luck in the dating department, she doesn’t quite believe in love, especially after she fell in her love with her bestie and neighbor Simon in her teen years, but didn’t get a chance to share her feelings before he left the country.

Ever since that moment, she’s definitely bitter towards the whole concept of love, however, one day in the present storyline, some twenty years later, Simon has officially moved back to London, newly divorced, handsome and charming and ever, and it seems he may have some feelings for our girl Zoë? Between this new relationship on the horizon, Simon’s once-famous ex-girlfriend popping up in their lives, a cocky music publicist blackmailing and flirting with Zoë, and her brother’s upcoming big Greek wedding; man, there’s a lot happening at once. (I would just like to point out that Zoë first describes Nick as “sexy AF,” so obviously there’s gotta be something there to that potential romance story.) Despite all this happening in the story, I still enjoyed this read. It was fun, relatable, engaging, made me laugh and cringe, and also want to scream out ‘what the heck is happening??,’ much like dating IRL. And seriously, boys like Simon are why I have trust issues and they just do my f***ing head in, geez! There are so many funny, relatable quips that keep me wanting to read more. I just got so wrapped up and invested in this story, so captivated by all the characters and the drama.

This book had a compelling and relatable point of view. We also get plenty of tropes between two love triangles, enemies to lovers, and falling in love at a wedding. It was just so hard for me to put it down because I just wanted to continue it until I finished this fun romp of a romance book. It’s all good fun, until about a hundred pages from the end where things unexpectedly get super heavy and dramatic, adding turns that were anything but predictable, but I was captivated by everything. It’s also clever how the chapter names are all applicable song titles, which make sense in a full-circle moment at the end. It’s not just a romantic love story, but a self-love story as Zoë figures who she is and what she really wants. Like, she may be a skeptic when it comes to love, but within an hourlong scene, she’ll have two men dropping L-bombs at her. Then, by the end, things it super soapy and messy, but it was plain, good fun. In her HEA, once she figures out her own desires, we do get that grandiose, sweeping romantic moment that was so darn cute, I couldn’t stop smiling. It’s more than a romance book and that’s what I was drawn to about this read. Also, she and Nick definitely have so much freaking chemistry and banter that I love to see in a romance and it is so dang amusing as a reader. In the end, it was just so entertaining and fun to read.

Available: January 19


Make Up Break Up by Lily Menon

In this steamy romance novel set in LA, Annika and Hudson (which, hello Hot Boy Name alert) are work rivals after they both develop dating-centric apps, and just by that core detail, it’s evident we’re about to get a delicious enemies to lovers romance here. Menon’s novel features witty language and smart female protagonists, which like yes, please! So, Annika is the CEO of her app “Make Up,” which specializes in helping couples stay together, while Hudson is the CEO of his already-more-successful app “Break Up,” which hires terminators to break up with your partner on your behalf. With her business on the verge of failing, Annika’s last hope is to win a pitch competition for a major influx of capital. Which, surprise, he needs that money to continue growing his firm. Also, it turns out these rivals already met, when they spent the week at a conference the year prior, hanging out and hooking up. The plot thickens as she believes Hudson stole and tweaked her app idea after the Vegas conference, and then rented the office down the hall from hers on purpose to drive her out of business.

In the workplace, the pair starts to play silly pranks on one another, but you can’t ignore how freaking flirty this dude is to Annika, like come on, this boy’s got a massive crush and then, on the flip side, she can’t stop thinking about that night in Vegas. It turns out Hudson’s just a good guy that likes the girl and less of an enemy, which like, it’s so predictably cute. He’s basically a lost puppy dog following her around, just blindly in love. And this book is Annika attempting to catch up to him.

The book’s slow-burn and banter are paced exactly right that’s teasing, but still intriguing that you want to keep reading. Speaking of their love story, man, Annika and Hudson have so much fiery chemistry and that massive spark, even when she goes on another date, it’s clear what these two have together. That spark’s on fire and it’s electric. It might be predictable in terms of plot and tropes, but I loved it all the same, in part to these dynamic characters. It’s a quick, all-consuming, can’t-put-it-down romance read that I finished in one sitting.

Towards the end, this book does get super emotional and vulnerable, and full of heart. But in the end, I don’t know why, but I was literally laughing out loud at the real reasons they both made their apps. But yeah, that was such an engaging, witty romance that I definitely, very much enjoyed. The HEA was just adorable, but I just wanted more. A flash-forward, an epilogue, something more.

Available: February 2


Love in English by Maria E. Andreu

First off, Balzer + Bray is fast becoming one of my favorite new publishing imprints for telling witty, compelling, and diverse YA stories about complex teen protagonists with adorable first love tales, so I’m already excited about this read from the get-go.

Here, Ana and her mom just moved to the US from Argentina to join her dad who had already gotten settles. The book picks up on the 16-year-old’s first day of school, and she’s nervous and homesick. Ana is a poet who just hasn’t found the right words in English since immigrating. Immediately, we meet Harrison, a cute boy from her math class who’s like “Netflix series cute,” she’s smitten because of his dashing looks, and of course, he’s in a band. Also, he needs a math tutor and she excels in math, so it’s a perfect fit. Then, she meets Neo from Cyprus in her ESL class. who also knows very little English, even less than she does, and he’s mysterious but slowly they bond over first-time viewings of classic American teen movies and New York City. So, it’s clear there’s a love triangle brewing.

This book is slow to start, but I just want to know more because it does have such an intriguing point of view that we seldom think about as native-born Americans. Ana’s inner thoughts about the English language are amusing and relatable because English is a weird, funny, and complicated language. It’s neat how the author used repeating pound signs in the middle of sentences to show what Ana’s perspective is like and how she knows some words but not all the words we often say in a conversation. As Ana gets to know both boys, she and Neo are just so pure and beyond precious, like it’s adorable. Now, things may get lost in translation with him, but they have a lot in common. This book is not just her love story with a boy or two, but her love story with America, trying new things, and embracing a new culture. It’s absolutely precious and adorable.

Available: February 2


Hot British Boyfriend by Kristy Boyce

NetGalley didn’t have a summary for this book listed when I first requested this ARC, and I didn’t need one to know I had to read this. The title is Hot British Boyfriend, which, like, that’s easily one of my all-time favorite types of love interests, so, um, yes, please. Being such a massive Anglophile and a fan of British love interests, this book immediately had my attention.

And boy, was this quick YA read just as adorable as I could have imagined. Here, Ellie is new to DC after she and her mom just moved to town. The high schooler has an extremely embarrassing, viral moment at a party and her only way to escape that memory for the duration of her senior year is to take the last-minute, open slot on the school’s study abroad trip to England.

As a reader, it is super easy to get insider Ellie’s head and feel deeply for what she’s going through. Now that she’s England-bound, Ellie is dreaming of finding her own British prince charming, which like join the club, girl. Once she arrives at the Manor where the class is studying, she has a meet-cute moment with Dev from her school and he helps her unload her massive suitcases and carry them up the four flights of stairs, and lets her into his inner group of best mates. Then, she meets Will at a flea market in town, and he’s sophisticated, charming, British, and they hit it off and he gets pretty flirty with her. Like, Will is so charming that IDK how, but I really want a British boyfriend now, lol sorry not sorry. So, her friendship with Dev is complicated as she enlists him to tutor her to impress Will, but he doesn’t approve of this snotty boy. It turns out Ellie’s pretending to be a lot of different things to impress Will rather than embrace all her quirks and dorky interests that make her happy. One day, she stumbles upon Dev playing Quidditch and she realizes there’s more to him than just studying, so we get a slow-burn romance with the two of them and a love triangle between the three of them. With the love triangle, both boys like her, however, Dev is the only guy who sees and understands all of her, which makes him too pure for this world.

This read is very captivating and downright adorable, it’s absolutely precious, and I cannot stop smiling. In addition to love, she’s made some very good friends here and had excellent travel adventures, and now I feel all the wanderlust and miss London so freaking much. By the end, once Ellie stops thinking about what she thinks she wants, she realizes what she actually wants and needs, in terms of love, friendships, and her plans. It’s so cute! Also, where do I sign up to get a Hot British Boyfriend now, because I really want one?

Available: February 9


The Night We Met by Zoë Folbigg

This was a sweet, vulnerable, and emotional women’s fiction novel. Set in England, we start in the present when 43-year-old Olivia is in the hospital, on hospice, where she has cancer. While she knows she’s dying, her husband Daniel refuses to give up hope and isn’t ready to lose his wife. Time’s running out for his fashion designer wife and he has been frantically working to find a solution that’ll save her. Knowing she doesn’t have much time left, she asks her journalist hubby to write down their love story so he can tell their two daughters when she’s gone. So, based on that alone, this book starts off super heavy but definitely captivating.

Most of this read is told in flashbacks as we see the story of how they met. In the past, over the course of several years, Daniel kept seeing her around while traveling post-graduation in Australia and New Zealand, when she was in college in London, when he visited her in Milan when she went back home. Over and over again, he was mesmerized every time he saw her in a bunch of near-meetings. We also see Daniel starting off his career after Australia and NZ, plus years earlier when Olivia first got sick and started her treatment. This book features such rich language that plays out like a movie in my head and I can totally see their story unfold. However, all the back-and-forth between 2017, 1996, and 1998 is really abrupt, and it should have been in chronological order rather than just jumping around.

In the book, Daniel was always captivated by this elusive, wild creature that she was and in the present has a deep fear of losing her and will do anything to make sure he doesn’t. The book is written in the third person, but it’s primarily Daniel’s point of view, however, occasionally it switches to Olivia’s or her friend Mimi’s, which comes almost out of nowhere and a bit choppy. Even though it’s a really slow-burn love story, you can tell Daniel always just had eyes for Olivia. Even though, predictably, it ends tragically, the epilogue aims to put a meaningful, optimistic spin on this unexplainably sad moment and show how they’ll always love Olivia as they move forward because she accomplished so much she loved in her short life.

Available: February 11


All Girls by Emily Layden

This is an honest coming-of-age story, full of captivating and descriptive language. This novel is set in the middle-of-nowhere Connecticut at an elite, all-girls boarding school called Atwater. The book starts on the opening day and continues throughout the year, all the way up until graduation and covering all of the school’s important traditions.

Starting on the first day at the school, a former student’s rape allegation starts to get media traction, and it seems like the school is covering things up to save the reputation of a beloved, accomplished teacher by discrediting this alum. The book follows a group of girls starting the school year, from freshman to seniors, and each of their different perspectives and backgrounds as they try to find out the truth that their school’s been hiding for years. We follow various girls from different classes, cliques, who all have different coming-of-age journeys. There, we start with the student newspaper as they try to figure out what happened and how the administration is handling everything. Then, one student hacks into the school newspaper and Instagram pages to post these anti-assault messages that the school tried to censor. Which, like, boo to that school. It’s a captivating mystery trying to deduce what happened and how each girl can relate the alum’s story to their own life and how big of an issue assault and rape is as young women.

Available: February 16


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

9 Late Summer Book Releases to Keep You Busy While Hanging at Home

Since summer is officially canceled (ugh, so tragic) and all the plans we made are disappearing rapidly (RIP, my Memorial Day Weekend vacay plans), now we get to stay inside and do just about anything we can think of to stay busy. Me? I’ve been spending all my free time reading. Seriously, I’ve been averaging one book every other day; sometimes even staying up way too late (ugh, I’ll regret that by the time my alarm goes off in the morning) just to keep reading these captivating books.

So, check out my Late Summer/ Early Fall installment of Miranda’s Book Nook with several new books that’ll keep you busy and interested while staying indoors for the foreseeable future.

Act Like a Lady by Keltie Knight, Becca Tobin, & Jac Vanek

The hosts and besties behind the popular LadyGang podcast (and their own show on E!) have come together to share their truths and advice in a brand new book about what it means to be a woman in the twenty-first century.

This is an amusing, relatable, and inspiring book of essays that completely captures the voices of the LadyGang on-air with funny, truthful language. Their essays do make quite important and good points, nestled between relatable, funny anecdotes about dating, self-love, career, friendships, and more. It’s chock full of empowering reminders that we could all stand to hear a little bit more! It’s an advice book that makes you feel a little less guilty about the stuff we’ve gone through, and you get a clear look at each woman’s point of view by chapter, which are easily labeled as you read through.

From taking on lessons with dating, friendship, career, self-confidence, and more, it’s all the message we all need to hear more, from ‘don’t date that jerk,’ ‘therapy is okay,’ ‘pack the extra tampons,’ and ‘you are good enough.’ It’s empowering as heck and something most women should have in their arsenal to remember. It may be funny and jokingly at first glance, but at its core, the lessons of each essay are crucial pearls of wisdom we all deserve to remember. It’s a perfect coffee table book for any millennial apartment and I need it! As a woman, sometimes you don’t want to feel alone and with this book, you don’t. The LG is here to tell you that we all through the same stuff and we come out stronger and fiercer.

You can read this in a day, you can read it again and again because it’s evergreen, it’s timely, it’s what you just need to hear every once and a while. It feels like your friend is saying it directly to your face which makes their lessons easier to accept.

Available: June 2


Head Over Heels by Hannah Orenstein

Hannah Orenstein’s latest novel brings a fresh, Millennial-esque tone that’s fun, engaging, and relatable. She uses captivating writing where you just want to keep reading. Main character Avery’s relationship with her former childhood crush Ryan is adorable yet authentic, but also flirtatious sweetly and innocently. Within ninety pages, I’m sitting here squealing over the prospect of them becoming the hottest new couple and co-coaches ever. I’m definitely getting ahead of myself, but that’s because you want to root for these characters.

In the book, Avery is a down-on-her-luck former elite gymnast and Olympic hopeful who has moved back home when her NFL star boyfriend. Once home, she runs into former crush and coach Ryan who asks for her assistance training a promising young athlete. She reluctantly agrees because this girl has what it takes, but soon enough the sparks start flying between the two coaches just as a massive scandal rocks the gymnastics world that may threaten to pull them apart in this quick, fun romance read.

I loved Orenstein’s first novel, and this new book is just as adorable and I couldn’t stop reading or smiling, and I even polished off the book in a single day. Once you’re deep into the story, it’s heartwrenching and authentic, and way more than just a romance. The story is empowering, fierce, and strong. And I loved it, wow, I just couldn’t put it down! In the end, it warmed my heart because I loved that it was primarily about a girl finding her inner strength and power. And the love part certainly made it cuter.

Available: June 23


Boyfriend Material by Alexis Hall

It’s a quick and funny read that you can’t help but get sucked into. There’s plenty of banter right from the first page and that completely sold me. Even though protagonist Luc is supposed to the “bad boy” type, he’s actually so endearing and authentic that you want to root for him. As a romance reader, you’ve gotta love a good fake dating trope where they don’t like each other, because it makes the eventual feelings feel more earned, justified, and authentic. It’s cute, endearing, and very enjoyable! Within just fifty pages, I just wanted to keep reading because even through text they have cheeky banter down pat, and I love it! Oliver is literally the perfect boyfriend, and just wow, it’s so adorable to read about. All in all, the book is absolutely adorable and so freaking cute. It’s big and sweeping into the beyond adorable love story. The two love interests make each other better and you just want to root for them. The language is witty and you become so captivated by the story.

In this male-male romance, Luc is the son of former music icons and therefore famous by association. After getting some bad publicity, he needs an image makeover, stat. And preferably a fake boyfriend who can reel him in and keep in centered. Oliver certainly fits the bill as he’s a lawyer, normal, and friends with one of Luc’s BFFs. Everything about him is perfect boyfriend material, and it turns out he could use a fake date for a big event coming up, so this deal is mutually beneficial. But, as many fans of a good fake date trope can attest, faking dating and turn into something real super quickly once someone catches the feels.

Available: July 7


Louisiana Lucky by Julie Pennell

First off, I love a good Southern tale and this novel totally delivers. While there is some romance, that’s definitely not the focus and that’s what makes it special. The focus is on the strong sisterly bond because that’s the heart of this story. Each sister has a strong and intriguing point of view yet very different, and equally interesting to read. It’s a quick read that you won’t want to put down with language so descriptive it feels like a movie is playing out in your head.

In this book, sisters Lexi, Callie, and Hannah Breaux grew up in small-town Louisiana, always struggling to make ends meet. The lottery is certainly the fantasy they’ve been dreaming of: Imagine not having to work or worry so much? Hanna could buy her dream house and send her kids to a great school, Callie can follow her career ambitions without worry, and Lexi can get her dream wedding. But then the unexpected happened, they win. And soon, some $20 million richer each, the girls find themselves changing who they are and all because of a little extra cash.

It’s the story of three optimistic girls thrust into a new world that’s never as it seems. The majority of the book though, I feel like I was just waiting for the other shoe to drop. Everything just felt too perfect and then boom, at the end, and rather abruptly, there’s a gutwrenching twist that blows up everything they thought they needed. I honestly didn’t think it was possible to wrap up the story and hot mess that erupted in just about forty pages but it was, and it was even better than what I could have imagined. It was a lovely HEA because it was earned and authentic, not some sugarcoated fantasy.

Available: August 4


The Boys’ Club by Erica Katz

This book starts off on a cliffhanger with a mystery trial and protagonist Alex giving a deposition about her first year of experience at a big law firm in Manhattan. As she recounts her memories, the book flashes back to the beginning of her career at the firm. I was intrigued from the get-go with its relatable language that feels like you are in Alex’s head. It reads very quickly and is really intriguing. It is engaging and juicy, like, I just wanted to know what happened!

In this women’s fiction novel that’s sure to be a hit, high-achieving Alex Vogel accepts a job at a prestigious law firm in NYC as she soon finds herself seduced by the firm’s promise of glory, money, and powerful energy. She finds herself succeeding in the hyper-competitive Mergers & Acquisitions division and neglecting what we originally thought was a settled, happy personal life. Soon, a scandal rocks her corporate world and reveals the dark reality at the firm, she soon understands all the ways women are told to act to succeed and she cannot stand idly by anymore.

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

Available: August 4


No Offense by Meg Cabot

I was so excited to be back on Little Bridge Island, and this time it’s all about books! Much more my speed than animals. So, I was intrigued from the very start, but I’d expect nothing less from Meg Cabot with her resume. It’s a very engaging read and I don’t want to put it down. For one, it’s always very cute to see a couple from a previous book still have their HEA ala Drew and Bree from No Judgments, it’s sweet. And to see the same characters, it keeps you engaged from the beginning since you already know and invested in these supporting characters.

After a broken engagement, children’s librarian Molly accepts a dream job in the Florida Keys. But, once she finds a newborn left in the library’s bathroom, she finds herself at the center of a town-wide mystery and attracted to divorced sheriff John. Soon, they are solving crimes and opening their hearts in this fun, playful romance.

While a relationship between leads John and Molly started off professional at best, their sparks burn so bright and you end up rooting for them to solve crimes together and fall in love. (Side note, I’d love a movie adaptation if just to see Molly teach John that “Single Ladies” dance IRL, hahaha!) Meg Cabot, you’ve done it yet again, bravo, it’s so cute and I’m loving every single page. There’s romance, friendship, small-town gossip, and a big mystery full of intrigue: it has everything! Ahhh, this ending is so squeal-worthy, seriously, it’s so darn cute. I read this in a single day, it’s just adorable and engaging and fun. I liked this way more than No Judgments, don’t get me wrong that was cute and all, but this was more my speed and more than just a romance.

Available: August 11


Live in Love by Lauren Akins with Mark Dagostino

Upon first hearing about this book, I already knew I wanted to read it because I loved looking at her cute little family on social media and her husband’s sweet songs about them, and I was so intrigued by her story and hearing her side of things. As a couple, Lauren and Thomas Rhett seem super sweet and down to Earth, and this memoir completely captures that. It’s a book of advice, memories, and the story of their love, marriage, and family in such an authentic and conversational way. It reads as if she’s speaking her truth in a genuine, casual way.

From this book, she’s way more than just Thomas Rhett’s wife but this is her own story and she’s the star here. The book is so raw, vulnerable, and honest. It’s so sweet to see how their love story and partnership began. Even when Thomas Rhett adds little parts here and there, it doesn’t feel overpowering and like he’s taking over, it feels like they are a team and he is helping her make her dreams come true. In a high-profile industry like music, Lauren and Thomas Rhett prove they are down to Earth folk and it makes me smile that fame and acclaim can’t take away or change real love and what matters the most. While Lauren has made it clear she wants to live a relatively normal life and follow her own dreams to help people, more than just a musician’s wife, through this book, it’s clear she’s succeeded and she’s done just that. I even found myself tearing up at her adoption story, it was so vulnerable and authentic; so raw and honest. While life isn’t perfect, least of all not for celebrities, Lauren and Thomas Rhett have proved that hard work, effort, teamwork, and love can make everything worth the struggles. And it was just a beautiful, lovely story to read.

Available: August 18


The Wrong Mr. Darcy by Evelyn Lozada and Holly Lorincz

This romance was inspired by the iconic Pride and Prejudice, which you can clearly tell (and part of its appeal). At first the sports talk is sort of off-putting to me because sports aren’t really my thing, so it took a bit to get into the story.  But the writing was sharp and reeled me in. It’s very engaging and the characters Darcy and Hara have so much chemistry from the get-go. It’s oh-so-juicy with twists and turns, and I loved it! While it was slow to draw me in, by the end, it is a very cute and adorable romance, which I did enjoy. It’s a romance with plenty of action and drama. And by the end, I just wanted more! Like, give me an epilogue or a sequel, stat!

In this book, journalist Hara Isari has lofty journalistic ambitions that could change her life when she gets the amazing chance to interview one of basketball’s biggest stars. There, she also meets rookie Derek Darcy (yes, Darcy, you read that right) who is handsome, wealthy, and yet, kind. He’s arrogant and she writes him off more than once. But, once he keeps showing up for her, she soon finds her guard dropping and starts to feel something new.

Available: August 25


Meet You in the Middle by Devon Daniels

OMG y’all, I’ve been dying to talk about this one since I went through the withdrawal of finishing this good book. In this enemies-to-lovers, slow-burn contemporary romance, we meet political rivals Kate Adams and Ben Mackenzie, who sit across the aisle on Capitol Hill but have a heck of a time bantering, debating back and forth; and boy, do the sparks fly. The language is authentic and relatable, so engaging that you just want to keep reading, as this duo has quick-witted, feisty, and playful banter and so many sparks. 

I’m super into this enemies-to-lovers story; it’s very cute and fun with all this banter. I can’t put it down and end up finishing it in a single setting. I already cannot wait to reread again and again, because I definitely need to just to relive this romance book magic. In this book, conservative Senate staffer Ben Mackenzie is the only thing standing in liberal staffer Kate Adams’ way to pass a bill she’s fought so hard for over a year. But after he’s late and arrogant in their first meeting, it’s anything but smooth sailing as the two find themselves in a head-to-head debate and yearning for the upper hand.

It’s so captivating with such descriptive language that you get into Kate’s head. Beneath all the descriptive language and steamy emotions, this book has a tremendous amount of heart and is quite an endearing story. So, while nothing steamy or too romantic happened for the majority of the book, their slow-burn romance has so much passion and heat, I just craved more. Most romances feel predictable through storylines, character types, and tropes, yet Meet You in the Middle doesn’t and instead feels fresh and unique. Seriously, there aren’t many romances like this one, and that’s precisely what makes Meet You in the Middle special: it’s different yet sweeping and I can’t stop thinking about it.

It’s a charming opposites-attract romance set in the head-to-head world of politics and I just don’t want it to end! Then, things their relationship gets all-consuming and passionate, and I’m hooked, obsessed. Seeing Ben fight for her nearly makes me cry and I feel so many emotions, as a good book should. It has such a sweeping ending and it all feels right, earned, justified, and authentic. I don’t know, this book has something about it: I’ve never read a romance quite like this one and that’s perhaps why I liked it so much. This book’s slow-burn was timed exactly perfect and I was hooked from the start. I don’t give out five-star reads often, a book has to be extraordinary and something I can’t get out of my head, and Meet You in the Middle delivers on that ten-fold. I just want to read this like ten more times.

Available: May 4, 2021


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