Get Ready for Summer With These 7 New 2021 Romance Reads

Readers of this blog should know well by now that I love a good romance book. In terms of pure escapism, no genre does it better. In a world where sh*t unfortunately does hit the fan and fairytale happily-ever-afters are unlikely, these books are my go-to when I want to feel the warm-fuzzies and just all-around better about life in that moment. So, I pick up a romance novel (or many of them, over and over again) and get so engrossed and enthralled with the magical, happy stories. And like, well, magic, I always feel better by the time I reach those final pages. So, in this installment of Miranda’s Book Nook, I’ll be sharing new summer 2021 romance book titles that I can’t get enough of that should be on your radar this summer. Hello, beach reads, anyone??

Happy Endings by Thien-Kim Lam

I was very excited about this book premise because I think the romance genre in total is still strongly lacking in terms of sex positivity, representation, and diversity books, and this read delivers on those fronts. It’s a sexy second-chance romance about two exes with unfinished business together. Trixie just moved to DC and is determined to make her sex toy business a hit to prove to her traditional Vietnamese parents that she can succeed. Her first pop-up shop goes well, until, while at the restaurant where it’s being hosted, the owner strolls in. It’s none other than her ex, Andre, who broke up with her via a note, all Sex and the City-style.

Andre needs to save his family’s soul restaurant, and so the two of them agree to a merger of sorts, hosting her pop-up series at his business which will save his and help launch hers. But, their chemistry is still smoldering and they soon get engaged in a FWB situation. Yes, old flames are reignited and deep feelings re-emerge. Told in dual perspectives, this book is very spicy and has lots of backstory. Yet, the writing is very captivating to keep my attention. It should be noted that there is a massive content warning for grief if that’s triggering. Also, I don’t know why but these characters just felt a little cringe to me. But all in all, this was still a fun romance romp (albeit a bit of a smutty one) when you need to indulge.

Rating: Three Stars

Available: May 15


The Road Trip by Beth O’Leary

The acclaimed author of The Flatshare and The Switch is back once again with a delightful and impactful romance read! Here, we follow two exes who are road-tripping together to their mutual friend’s wedding, so you know things are bound to get awkward. The main characters of Dylan and Addie are total opposites, but fell in love years ago on holiday.

Now, two years since their breakup, they are forced to reunite at their friend Cherry’s wedding. But first, they have to get there, along with his best friend, her sister, and another random guest, all in one car. It’s forced proximity at its finest. The book is told in back-and-forth perspectives of both Addie and Dylan, in present and past timelines. There is a content warning for sexual assault that I think definitely should be addressed here, too, so heads up if that’s triggering for you.

Both Addie and Dylan have interesting and engaging sides that compel me to keep reading because I’m just so invested in this journey. These characters are well-written, authentic, and vulnerable. However, this read does feel quite long, but is way better than The Switch in my eyes. All in all, I just wish it didn’t have to end because I just wanted more to their story!

Rating: Four Stars

Available: June 1


Instructions for Dancing by Nicola Yoon

I initially had a different plan for my TBR order this past February, but as soon as I got approval for a galley of this brand-new Nicola Yoon book, all that went out the window! Yoon is a master at what she does, creating compelling contemporary YA (and I loved both of her previous books), so I knew this would deliver and totally be worth deviating from my monthly, scheduled TBR plan. And guess what, that paid off because it’s totally five-star worthy.

It starts with the main character Evie, who doesn’t believe in love anymore after her parents’ divorce. The girl who once devoured romance novels now can only see how couples’ love stories end instead of the actual loved-up parts. After some fated encounters, she ends up at La Brea Dance Studio and finds herself learning to dance with the spontaneous, adventurous X. Xavier (who goes by the nickname X) is the total opposite of Evie, but the two of them are thrown together as a pair for a local ballroom dance competition. As they practice together and get to know each other, Evie has to confront if love is worth the risk. An emotional Nicola Yoon novel that’s also a dance romance, um, yes, please!

Reading this one, I found it’s full of engaging language where I can truly get inside bookish Evie’s head. There is a magical, fantastical element of sorts that explain how some things occur and connect. The subplot with her powers reminds me of Instant Karma by Marissa Meyer in that way. Overall, this doesn’t feel quite like her other books, but rather something completely new, and I dig it! I do equally love this one as much as her previous ones, even with its differences. The characters are relatable and authentic, too. Also, Evie+X has such a squeal-worthy, precious connection and romance. Then, there’s a big bombshell reveal in the second act that took me by complete surprise and hit me right in the feels. And I do mean, all of the feels. This book’s so vulnerable and surprisingly profound. And that ending: I just want more! Additionally, this one made me cry so, so hard by the end. Seriously. Bring me all the tissues right now because I need them.

It’s a beautifully written book and so authentic because, hey, not everything lasts forever except that feeling and association of love sometimes can. This book is romantic, fantastical, authentic, vulnerable, bittersweet, and heartfelt. I loved it so darn much. Yoon effortlessly blends the contemporary with the fantasy in this sweet YA read about the power of first love. This book is just so flipping good, she’s done it again. Brava!

Rating: Five Stars

Available: June 2


To Sir, With Love by Lauren Layne

Immediately based on the summary, I was drawn to this romance read. Being hailed as Love is Blind meets You’ve Got Mail, two thirty-somethings meet and connect via a blind dating app with no names or pictures, only to discover their online chemistry is just as strong as their IRL workplace rivalry.

We follow aspiring artist Grace, who runs her late father’s boutique champagne shop in Manhattan. She’s cheerful and oft dreaming of her prince, who she believes is this guy from the app even though he has a girlfriend and they are just virtual pen pals. Then, her store is in trouble but she’s hesitant to give up her dad’s dream, and the man from the company who owns her building wants to buy her out. It turns out that owner is none other than the attractive and arrogant Sebastian. Overwhelmed with what path to take next, Gracie seeks solace and comfort in Sir, her faceless pen pal who she initially matched with based on common interests. While she’s falling deeper and deeper for Sir online, she doesn’t realize that he’s actually the man she cannot stand ala You’ve Got Mail.

These two have such banter from the jump that’s just so delicious and fun as a reader, where I just want to keep reading more of this fun enemies to lovers tale. It’s told partially in the present day, but then each chapter begins with a snippet of their anonymous texts, giving us more of the juicy details. In the end, it’s definitely cute, I’ll give it that, but it’s also quite expected and, all in all, just fine. But, you know, sometimes that predicably sweet rom-com is just what you need at a time. Except for that epilogue, I need more like right now.

Rating: Three Stars

Available: June 29


Incense and Sensibility by Sonali Dev

After reading Sonali Dev’s Recipe for Persuasion, I was excited to check out her next book in this series, which was an Indian-American twist on Sense and Sensibility, as evidenced by this clever and punny title. Here, eldest Raje sibling Yash is the first Indian gubernatorial candidate in California, who always knows what he wants and how to use his privileged background to get it by controlling his feelings.

After a hate-fueled incident at one of his rallies critically injures his friend/bodyguard, Yash’s life starts to spiral. To keep his anxiety attacks from leaking to the press, his family sends him to his sisters’ best friend India Dashwood, a popular stress management coach and yoga instructor. Oh, and these two once shared a mystical, magical night over ten years ago that didn’t lead anywhere, but that neither of them ever forgot. From the get-go, it’s also always fun to see previous characters pop up and still have their HEAs from earlier novels.

This read starts with plenty of action, so you get in Yash’s head and just want to keep reading. This book, told in dual perspectives, features compelling and relatable storytelling that just drew me in. While obviously this is an adaptation, it still feels current, new, and fresh. And, yes, it’s plenty cute too with a few squeal-worthy occurrences and monologues.

Rating: Three Stars

Available: July 6


It Happened One Summer by Tessa Bailey

Just by the title and summary, I was already so pumped to check out this new Tessa Bailey read because she does her niche so well that’ll always have me hooked. Here, Piper is a socialite and Hollywood “It” Girl who’s been cut off from her family after she gets arrested. Not only that, but her millionaire stepfather cuts her off and exiles her to a small fishing-centric beach town in the Pacific Northwest.

In this Schitt’s Creek-inspired rom-com, the wild child twentysomething bumps into the surly yet sexy local fisherman Brendan. They butt heads at first, but after they keep running into each other all over town, it’s clear there’s something between them that is too palpable to ignore. It sounds like so much fun, and this book totally delivers. In her exile, Piper is sent to run her late biological father’s dive bar in town with her younger sister Hannah. Soon after her arrival, she meets sea captain and widower Brendan who doesn’t think this spoiled princess can survive here for even a week. She’s determined to prove she can, and a delicious enemies-to-lovers plot is born. She keeps running into Brendan all over town, only to discover that, while they are polar opposites, he’s also just a nice and friendly guy. They have such an undeniable pull to one another in this indulgent E2L story. It’s chock full of witty, compelling language that completely draws me in.

This book, with its dual perspectives, also explores the hidden depths of each character. Piper is also digging into her dead dad’s (whom she barely remembers) past while Brendan is attempting to finally move on with his life. Once these two figure out who they each are and how that impacts their own futures, it’s such an all-consuming type of love story, and I’m pretty sure I’m obsessed. Holy crap, so this book is so frothy, vulnerable, sexy, intense, and fun! It’s so much and I’m loving it. Like, it’s making my heart burst, I swear, and I’m just so into this read that I cannot put it down and ended up DEVOURING it in a single sitting until freaking four o’clock in the morning. I totally feel all of the zings, and then by the end, it’s just so flipping cute! Gah, I just cannot wait for the sequel to read all about Hannah+Fox’s story, too! I just need to read this one like four more times right now because I just can’t stop thinking about it.

Rating: Four Stars

Available: July 13


Heartbreak for Hire by Sonia Hartl

If you thoroughly enjoyed Sally Thorne’s The Hating Game, like me, then you’ll absolutely love this new romance read. With a similar spiteful enemies to lovers premise and quick, witty banter to boot, this novel delivers for those THG fans.

This book is hailed as a fun romance read for fans of Christina Lauren and Sally Thorne, and so immediately, I knew I’d be interested in this one, especially after I read the summary. Here, 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. Then, we find out one of her former targets Mark, who made quite the impression, is hired to work with her. Mark’s an adjunct professor struggling on the academic ladder, and quite the attentive and attractive nerd. Soon, Brinkley learns people aren’t always what they appear as they start working together and she trains him closely.

They have such delicious snappy banter that pulls me in and yearns to see what will happen next. This book is full of witty and captivating language that had me turning the page and polishing off this read in a single setting in only a few hours. The premise does give me such The Hating Game vibes, and its tone and language are whipsmart, witty, and banter-laden that backs that idea up. With that similar tone, rich and authentic characters, a heck of a plot twist, and more, it’s such a delicious, juicy enemies-to-lovers romance read.

Rating: Four Stars

Available: July 27


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

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.

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.

9 New Books I Can’t Stop Thinking About

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

The Fangirl’s Guide to the Universe by Sam Maggs

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

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

Available: Now


A Royal Disaster by Jennifer Bonds

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

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

Available: Now


Survival of the Thickest by Michelle Buteau

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

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

Available: Now

 


Mr Right Across The Street by Kathryn Freeman

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

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

Available: January 22


You Were Made For Me by Jenna Guillaume

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

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

Available: April 1


Accidentally Engaged by Farah Heron

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

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

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

Available: March 2


The Girls Are All So Nice Here by Laurie Elizabeth Flynn

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

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

Available: March 9


The Flipside of Perfect by Liz Reinhardt

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

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

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

Available: April 6


To Love and to Loathe by Martha Waters

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

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

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

Available: April 6


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

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 End-of-the-Year Book Releases That’ll Have You Obsessed All Fall/Winter Long

As fall has swept in already, I’ve been trying to keep busy by updating my personal library with all sorts of new books, organizing my bookshelves in a color-coordinated rainbow order, ordering a personal library stamp and affixing it on each novel on my shelf, and of course, reading every day and night. Some of these books have made me weep, scream, smile, and, well, feel all of the feels, both good and bad.

So, welcome back to Miranda’s Book Nook with even more of my latest book recommendations that’ll keep you company as 2020 winds down. I hope you find these books as engaging and comforting as I have. Happy reading!

Majesty by Katharine McGee

As you may recall from a previous post or my endless social posts, I was absolutely obsessed with American Royals. So much so, in fact, that I finished the chunker of a royalty YA novel in a single day. A couple hours, even. (Which, I’d like to report has occurred yet again with this follow-up.) After the first novel ended on such a freaking cliffhanger, I knew I needed to read the eventual sequel, like, immediately just to find out what happened and to make sure that my beloved ship of Connor and Bea were still motherf***ing endgame, or I was prepared to literally throw something. Sure, they may be from different stations in life, but that doesn’t matter because it’s love. They needed to be together, and I demand that courtesy as such a fan. We’ll get to that later.

The YA sequel picks up pretty much where we left off and takes us to the king’s (their dad’s) somber funeral. Then, we jump ahead a mere six months later as the royal family attempts to grieve slash move forward, and Bea attempts to figure out her next steps as the reigning queen. Since no one in the book even knew about my beloved ship (which, like, boo!), they kept trying to push Bea’s wedding to Teddy sooner, because god forbid we have an unmarried queen! Also, please god no, I need her not to do the “proper” thing and not shut the door on Connor and their love story, as he’s done nothing but support, love, and be there for his longterm love. Also, I was super ready to have some flipping words with Connor as the reader, because, dude, you need to get your girl, however, you need to. Not the queen, but his Bee. He needs to snap her out of this pretend world she’s attempting to go through the motions and woo her all over again, for them and their true love. And boy, he flipping better. Or, I swear. (Seriously, he’s just so precious and perfect, all this sh*t between the two of them is killing me! Bea, ugh, if you don’t marry him then I will!)

The book still features the same multiple stories, but I’m still primarily drawn to Bea’s perspective because that’s the one love story and journey that rang the most heartfelt, genuine, and long-lasting to me from the first book. However, ugh, Beatrice is acting so dumb. She’s the queen, like she shouldn’t have to get married and spoiler alert, she could change the rules of the game, because she’s in charge. I just want her to do something and follow her heart. Like, how can she govern a nation if she can’t follow her own desires? I’m pissed at both her and Connor by now. Thank gosh for our other perspectives and leading ladies to fill in on the true love department.

I literally couldn’t stop reading, as I was onto chapter six within about twenty minutes of starting this novel on pub day. I just couldn’t put it down until I found out what would happen next. I’m just so captivated, even if Bea doesn’t rightfully realize she wants and needs Connor in her life. So, the book continues and we see the other ladies too: Sam is embracing her role as The Spare since her love Teddy is still marrying her sister and so she starts partying more, her bestie Nina wants to move on from her breakup with Jeff, and Daphne still will do whatever it takes to marry Jeff and secure her family’s status. Sam gets her own love story this time around with her unexpected pairing with new character Marshall, but hey, that old fake dating trope always works! It’s beyond cute, and the same with Nina and Jeff’s pal Ethan. However, Bea and Teddy are a thing here. I just cannot deal because I’m such a hardcore Bea+Connor shipper and like, all their history and passion can’t just disappear overnight to me, at least. I just feel that their story just isn’t over and I just can’t move on.

So, the ending (beware of spoilers, but the book’s already been out for a hot minute, so likely you could’ve already read it for yourself). I am glad that Bea called off the wedding because she didn’t need to be married at 22 anyway just so she can be queen, but like, I’d be very happy if sometime in the future, she and Connor could somehow find their way back to each other because I can feel that their story isn’t concluded just yet. The whole book just felt like the author was trying to force Teddy on us by making Bea fall for him, but that wasn’t the book I wanted and yearned for, because Connor was everything to her. Also, she didn’t even like Teddy, and until she was like “well, better get to know my fiance because me leaving him killed my dad and we need a royal wedding,” and like no, that’s not a good enough reason for me. But, I guess American Royals was Bea’s big, shippable love story and Majesty is the place for Nina and Sam to be the stars and find love, which I enjoyed as well, but, like it was harder to enjoy because at the same time I saw my beloved Connor+Bea ship sinking hard and deep, which you can’t get over that so quickly. However, the writing was plenty captivating and there was tons of drama and intrigue that kept me reading.

Available: Now


My Therapist Says: Advice You Should Probably (Not) Follow by @MyTherapistSays*

This Instagram account is one of my favorite meme IG accounts out there because it’s so dang relatable. So, upon hearing the brains behind the account were writing a book, instantly, I knew it belonged on my TBR list. Initially, I was excited to read it as a follower of the @MyTherapistSays Instagram page, often liking memes about reality and anxious moments of life that we all go through.

From the get-go, the brand’s signature sense of humor and tone is on point with the book’s fun, humorous tone that you can immediately deduce from the title alone. The book is designed to provide advice about this crazy journey of life from the Insta-famous ladies and interjections from their real-life therapist. Seriously, I couldn’t stop laughing for the first half of this read, because everything is one hundred percent accurate. Underneath all the humor and jokes, there really are some lovely, deep messages and advice about how to live your best life. Each essay reads quite quick, and who knows, maybe this isn’t the type of read I shouldn’t have started at 11pm at night, because here we are midnight and eighty pages in. Well, we are how we are.

While I enjoyed this ARC, will I read this again? Meh, probably not. Not to say it wasn’t captivating for a self-help, advice book because it was. It had some good tips, and if you follow the girls on Instagram, then you’ll likely get their humor and tone too. For those of you who do follow them, you’ll also likely want to read this, whether you need their advice to help you cope or more often just for a laugh, because hey, life’s quite the dumpster fire now, we need any chance to laugh and feel joy. It’s definitely a book geared towards their followers and millennials like them (and me too). I would have loved an introduction upfront that introduced who’s writing this and their qualifications, but it dives straight into everything and assumes the reader already knows them. So, their existing followers is definitely the sole target audience. On that note, the IG page is notoriously run by a group of friends, but here, it’s written in the “I” tone, which is addressed at the end but not the beginning, which is a bit confusing. For me, as a reader, I was confused who’s viewpoint the essays were about throughout the book.

I thought this book would be like a collection of their IG, but it’s not. It’s the same commiserating tone, sure, but there’s no real way to improve yourself or no research to back up any of their claims. Which, it all comes out a bit preachy to me. However, I did think the language was funny and the designs/graphics/journal pages were cute, but that’s it. That being said, the goal-setting part was actually decent for self-growth and the anxiety checklist is helpful, but that’s about it. And I do appreciate the section on addressing insecurities, but nothing actually motivates me to attempt to better myself just from reading. The self-care lessons of this only really work if you’ve already done the work on yourself, but by no means should this be a starting point for self-improvement. Overall, it’s pretty negative and, like, just pointing out all you’re doing wrong without offering any real self-improvement messages.

Available: October 6


The Twelve Dates of Christmas by Jenny Bayliss*

Even though it’s late summertime as of reading this galley or fall at the time of publishing this post, this romance book has me yearning for winter, hot chocolate, and cozy sweaters! By page one, I knew this was a book that was right up my alley. I mean: British setting, romance, and the holidays? Check check and check! Here, Kate and Matt have been old friends since childhood, and like, it’s clear they have to fall in love, right? But, the timing’s not quite right. Tired of her horrible dating luck, she (at the urging of her best friend) signs up for a matchmaking dating service, and hence the book’s title, she’ll go different blind dates before the holiday. The primary focus of the book is all about her bad dates and horrible dating luck, which, like, Kate, you are preaching to the choir on that one!

As I kept reading, it was already shaping up to be a fun, indulgent, and very cute holiday romance read. The concept is quite a good idea, however, the execution fell a bit, I don’t know, meh. It’s cute and all, but that’s pretty much it. And then, it is a super, super slow burn for the HEA in a romance. Like, I just wish the pace was quicker because it felt like some parts kept dragging on. It’s a predictably cute holiday romance and that’s the whole book basically. Nearly approaching the end of the story, after all her bad dating luck over and over again, it’s clear that best pal Matt is her only decent option even if they don’t know it yet. It all becomes painfully clear for the reader that they are meant to be, but the slow pace means we’re not there yet, and you are just hoping for some type of HEA to make all her troubles and heartache worth it, even if it is just self-worth and friendship. Besides, Matt is really the only decent option that could potentially give her love (Soz, Richard. You gave me such offputting and smarmy vibes any time you were on the page. Blech!), and that’s painfully clear. TBH, I was quite cynical going into this read and reading about these trash dating options and how predictable everything was, but I can’t deny that the ending made me smile because it was just so damn adorable.

Available: October 13


Fangirl, Vol. 1 by Rainbow Rowell, Sam Maggs*

For anyone that used to obsess over Rowell’s Fangirl back in the day, which, um, guilty, this manga adaptation is the perfect way to reinvent the novel. The graphic novel features all sorts of detailed pictures that really bring the story to life and tells the vivid story we all know well by now, and this way you can actually see these characters face to face and not just in your head!

In case this concept is all new to you, here’s a brief summary. The main character Cath is a huge Simon Snow fan, like the world, but she just can’t let go of the fandom and even is a popular fanfic writer. Now that she and her twin sister Wren are in college, she must decide if she’s ready to start living her own life, and if she does, will she leave the world of Simon Snow behind? She’s far outside her comfort zone now, as she meets all sorts of new people, including a moody roommate with an overly charming boyfriend, a writing professor who doesn’t like fanfiction, and a cutie-pie new writing partner.

This read is definitely for fans of the original novel and not newbies to the book. But that being said, it’s definitely fun to see Cath’s story and her fanfics with my own eyes and not just in my mind. It reads very quickly, and you can definitely finish this edition in a single setting slash day. It just fun and enjoyable! This Vol. 1 does end on such a cliffhanger, and I just want the next editions like now!

Available: October 13


Together, Apart by Erin A. Craig; Auriane Desombre; Erin Hahn; Bill Konigsberg; Rachael Lippincott; Brittney Morris; Sajni Patel; Natasha Preston; Jennifer Yen*

This was everything I’ve needed to stay sane and happy during lockdown. Nine acclaimed, witty, and popular YA authors did what they do best and wrote short stories starring diverse and complex teens facing the pandemic, lockdown, and adorable first love stories.

In short, each story was equally compelling and told a complete story with an interesting protagonist who learns that love always finds its way. The characters and storylines are all relatable, endearing, and engaging which make the story so much fun, authentic, and beyond precious that I just want more content and updates to each one!

There’s one about a cute pizza delivery boy who gives the new girl in town a free book and cake which like winning already; one where a girl is desperate to impress her crush on TikTok; two dog walkers getting closer; a new boy in town who can’t stop thinking about the girl next door; an enemies-to-lovers sitch from across apartment balconies; an unexpected romance that stems from a fortune reading and a take-out order; a flirty exchange begins over two balcony herb gardens, a roommate enemies-to-lovers journey; and a mask-making entrepreneur and her famous crush. There’s something for every romance fan, and it’s just absolutely adorable and heart-melting. They are all so freaking cute in their own way between the love stories and the HEAs, and I’m obsessed and just want more of each story. Like, for example, Erin Hahn’s story had me literally jumping up and down on my bed at the big, sweeping, and romantic as hell reveal and HEA, like, OMG, that’s so freaking cute!

After reading all nine, it’s like, ugh why couldn’t that have been my quarantine? Lol, I’m so single over here. But, hey, I’ll settle for getting sucked in and reading about these quarantine love stories rather than wishing for one of my own. Probably a lot easier to manage my expectations if I’m reading about someone else’s experiences than dreaming of that in mine. Also, a lot of these characters’ parents are essential workers, so this short story collection is a nice shoutout to the true heroes of the pandemic. Woohoo, three cheers!!

Available: October 20


Instant Karma by Marissa Meyer*

Okay y’all, this was one of the absolute cutest YA romance reads that I’ve picked up in a while, and wow, now that I finished it, I just can’t stop smiling because that was beyond adorable! Here, Quint and Prudence are biology lab partners sophomore year, and she’s been so annoyed with him over his lateness and unwillingness to contribute to their final project (or any assignment all year, really). So, initially, I’m thinking we’re about to get a delish enemies-to-lovers teen novel right here. And boy, did this book deliver on that front!

Quint is cocky, relaxed, and very attractive, so it’s evident he’ll be her love interest, and bingo! But, it’s a slow-burn love story that makes you savor every single early flirtatious moment. Plus, after a nasty bump on her head at karaoke night, Prudence now has some magical, mystical power to enact karma on random people, both good and bad. She can magically give off “instant karma” when people do something as an immediate reaction, like if someone litters, talks rudely about her twin brother, or helps take care of wounded sea animals. All in all, everything about this makes for an absolutely precious YA book that’s so easy to get sucked in and just keep reading. The book takes place during summer break as she’s determined to get Quint to help redo their science project for a better grade, and he only agrees if she’ll volunteer at his mom’s marine life rescue center for a few weeks and actually split the project work with him, since she hadn’t all year long. Then, all this karmic justice gives her such a power trip, juxtaposed with spending more time with Quint at the center to teach her about his world and other perspectives in this book.

It’s a quick, easy, and fun YA romance read about the power of fate. The romance part is quite the slow burn, where you wonder if either of them will actually make a move, but in a cutesy teen love story way that’s sweet and endearing. Then, that ending was like beyond f***ing cute, and like awww, my heart is most definitely melting from that HEA. So sweet.

Available: November 3


The Cul-de-Sac War by Melissa Ferguson*

Unfortunately, this book missed the mark for me as an absolute favorite, which is a shame because based on the summary, it felt like one that was right up my romance-loving alley. In this novel, Bree moves to a small town in Virginia to pursue a career as an actress with a local theater company in her grandma’s hometown. There, she meets Chip during a show while she was having a wardrobe malfunction. She ran off the stage to fix it, where she stumbled into his arms and he heroically duck-taped her costume in place for the remainder of the show. He’s already saved her within a few minutes, so obviously she becomes infatuated with him.

Her BFF is Cassie from The Dating Charade, the author’s previous work, which is always fun to see old characters return after their HEAs and see they’ve still got them. After the show, she gets pissed that a truck is tailgating her, and follows her home. Naturally, she gets road rage only to discover that the driver is her new neighbor, and it’s construction worker Chip, as in the dude she just met at the show that saved the day. The book is told in back and forth perspectives between and Bree and Chip, who’s just come back to town and is desperate to build his new business and finish his home renovation quickly. The two spend most of the book at odds as his renovation interferes with her house and life, and so they play juvenile pranks on each other. Then, these two definitely warm to each other after expressing similar types of grief they are both dealing with. This book is super slow to start and hard to get into, and as much as I wanted to like it, I just couldn’t find my interest in it, and it didn’t seem as if our two protagonists had any real interest, spark, or chemistry. So, it just fell flat in my eyes. This book was okay, nothing more and nothing less. It’s a sweet, wholesome slow-burn romance, so if that’s your thing, this book is perfect for you.

Available: November 10


Truth, Lies, and Second Dates by MaryJanice Davidson*

No summary, book cover, or book title could have prepared me for this read because I didn’t see any of this story coming. And I loved that. It wasn’t too predictable that made me yawn, but kept me on my toes to desperately find out what happens next. This book is a mystery slash romance that follows commercial pilot Ava Capp, who reveals that her best friend Danielle was brutally murdered a decade ago, and became one the of biggest cold cases back in her hometown in Minnesota.

In the present, Danielle’s twin brother and Ava’s former crush, Dennis, is on her flight back to MN with his (distant) cousin-slash-girlfriend. He asks her if she’s going to Danielle’s memorial service, which she doesn’t want to but goes anyway. After a crazy day, she and Dennis go out on the town where she meets Tom. Dennis disappears for the night, and later, she and Tom get cozy and share an intimate makeout sesh, naturally. Turns out, the next day there was an incident at the funeral home, so she and Dennis are called in to check out the scene. And who’s there but TOM, our new leading man, who’s a whip-smart medical examiner and has taken an interest in Danielle’s cold case and solving her murder. (Only thing that gave me pause from this book was that Tom has a niece who repeatedly calls him “Uncle Tom” which like IDK if that was the best way to go with naming characters, but that just struck me as odd.) This book is told in back-and-forth perspectives, which were a little jumpy because we didn’t see Tom’s point of view until after 13 chapters of Ava’s, so it felt a bit jumpy, and I wish it was less abrupt and made more sense chronologically.

I really liked this read because it wasn’t too tropey or predictable for a romance. But, that romance was quite cute as they try to, albeit terribly, hide their feelings. Once there’s a relationship, it’s pretty lukewarm on the hot-and-steamy scale, well, until the buzzer and the final chapters. There’s a few deep makeout moments, but nothing too smutty until the very end. It’s a very intriguing mystery novel and a cute romance that was fun to dive into as well. By the end, obviously, the murder was resolved in a way I didn’t see coming but maybe that’s because I just didn’t remember the person who did it from the earlier chapters. By the end, I just couldn’t put this read down and was desperately waiting to find out what actually happened.

Available: December 15


A Spy in the Struggle by Aya de León*

This was a compelling read that I couldn’t put down and just had to find out what happened next. Here, Yolanda Vance is a junior attorney in Manhattan for a big, fancy corporate law firm, which was under investigation for security fraud, according to the FBI. Instead of shredding papers as her boss asks, she keeps them and becomes a whistleblower for justice. We definitely stan a woman who’s unwilling to throw away her hard-earned career because some man told her to go down with a sinking ship!

She then joins the FBI as a backup plan because she needs a job after she’s blackballed from corporate law for not shredding the papers. This book’s tone is very clear and engaging which gives me all the information about the protagonist yet still makes me need to keep reading. I love Yolanda as a protagonist because she’s strong as hell, like YASSS! Yolanda is just so strong and fierce, which I love to see. It’s so endearing and I just want to keep reading and find out all the action and drama. Back to the story, she’s sent on an undercover mission with a black extremist activist group in California. The book also has a few other perspectives, including a mystery agent who was taken off this case and thinks Yolanda’s not the right fit to take over, plus cop Rodriguez who finds a black woman dead after an OD. These two other viewpoints are a bit much and didn’t add much to the overall story, you honestly could have just had Yolanda’s side and the book would be just fine. But this SA sends redacted emails, which I just want to know all the juicy details.

Outside of all that, Yolanda meets college professor Olujimi aka Jimmy, and the two start flirting, and soon enough, love blinds her to her real job and purpose here. As she spends more time with the organization and Jimmy during the height of the BLM movement, she soon begins to question her values and career, her legality here and ethics, when she realizes she’s on the wrong side of what she wants to be. Also, Jimmy. Let’s talk about him for a bit. He’s so sweeping and romantic, but I can’t tell if it’s a ‘too good to be true’ thing or if he’s completely innocent in all this, I would have loved more backstory and insight into him. Overall, this read was so compelling and full of emotions, that wow, I thoroughly enjoyed that.

Available: December 29


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