Have you already set your reading goals, found a challenge, or made a tracking spreadsheet to chart your bookish endeavors for the new year? I just made mine last weekend too! After completing around 140+ books for the entire year, I’ve decided to up the ante for 2021. I made a Google Doc spreadsheet, where I’ve listed out all the books on my TBR with its title, author, pub date, whether it’s an ARC or a purchased copy, and my rating. Then, I have additional tabs for books to buy and any reading challenge prompts to partake in. And of course, I’ve set a goal book amount that seems totally obtainable to my bookish soul. Now that I’m ready to roll on my bookish challenge for 2021, I want to help y’all finish yours.
We already got a peek at some of my latest 2021 reads already on here, and guess what? That’s not even half of it! Welcome back to Miranda’s Book Nook as I share some of the 2021 book titles I can’t get enough of and which ones should be on your radar in this new year. Happy reading!
Be Dazzled by Ryan La Sala
I read this upcoming read in an audiobook format, and GAH, it was so cute and the audio format just totally immersed me in the characters. This audiobook, narrated by Pete Cross, is so entertaining and I’m obsessed by the first chapter alone. This book reminds me of Red, White & Royal Blue meets Ashley Polston’s geeky fangirl slash cosplay YA romances, and that’s what has my heart before I even started. It’s described as Project Runway meets Comic-Con to make an epic queer love story, and that is one thousand percent an accurate description.
Here, we follow Raffy who has a passion for fashion and design and yearns to make his mark at this big cosplay competition to help jumpstart his future in the business. In the present timeline, his main competition is his ex-boyfriend Luca. As seen in different flashback chapters, they were the perfect team until Luca’s insecurities and Raffy’s perfectionism imploded everything. Back to the present, they are forced to team up once more on the most impressive cosplay comp yet, juggling unresolved romantic feelings, self-doubt, and working to build their most ambitious build yet. This book is chock full of funny, witty, and relatable language that reads as so authentic and engaging. This language is just so witty and rich, and I’m obsessed. Then, the narrator really nails each emotion and tone of every character. This audio version brings listeners the perfect way to envision every scene and feel every single emotion and vulnerability. The narrator brings so much personality to each character’s dialogue to differentiate and sells everything to me. Each character is so distinctive, rich, complex, and dynamic, and this audio version truly shows that. We jump back and forth between the present day competition and different flashbacks to demonstrate these boys’ journey to the current timeline. This couple, boy, are they absolutely adorable! Even from the beginning where they were hiding their relationship because Luca’s not out or the beginning of their feelings and craft sessions, or even openly pining present day at the competition, just, GAH, precious. These two just have such a precious banter and are just so dang cute, like totally squeal-worthy. This book’s pacing feels just right and authentic, which keeps me engaged and wanting to read more.
Available: January 5
A Pho Love Story by Loan Le
Here, Linh and Bao are both Vietnamese American teens who’ll fall in love amidst their families longstanding feud and competing pho restaurants. Bao is described as a quite average, yet handsome teen, whilst Linh, well, she’s quite the firecracker and an aspiring artist. To me, this already feels quite When Dimple Met Rishi-esque.
The teens both work part-time in the parents’ neighboring pho restaurants, who are age-old competitors of one another. So much so, in fact, that these two are barred from speaking ever since the age of 5 or so. A chance encounter, aka a moment of chivalry, brings these two together and despite their and their families’ best efforts, there are sparks amuck. It sounded like such an engaging premise and a fun YA read based on the summary, plus it is always lovely to see diversity in the genre more. It’s told in back-and-forth dual viewpoints as their slow-burn love story develops. It was a fine read, just fine, especially after its lengthy exposition. In my opinion, Bao’s sides were far more captivating and engaging to follow. He seemed to be a more fully formed character with more quippy, witty lines. It was definitely more of a challenge for me to get interested and invested in, but once further details about a family secret and history develop, there’s such a compelling storytelling aspect that I just demanded to know what was to happen next.
Available: February 9
Honey Girl by Morgan Rogers
This women’s fiction novel was captivating and compelling for a one-sitting read. Here, Grace has just completed her doctorate in astronomy and heads to Vegas to celebrate with her friends. She’s the typical high achieving, good girl who always follows the rules.
Yet, one night in Vegas and she drunkenly marries a woman whose name she doesn’t even know and who leaves bright and early the next morning. That all happens in the first chapter, so most of the book she’s dealing with grad school burnout, a rough job market, and parental expectations. To avoid all that, she flees her home in Portland to live in New York City for the summer with her stranger wife, Yuki, a late-night DJ, who discusses all things mythological and supernatural on air. Of course, this period brings them closer, enough to fall in love, but summer can’t last forever and so she’ll flee again in order to discover her own inner truths and desires. This book is full of authentic language that leaves me so curious to find out what happens next. However, this book is quite slow to start with a lot of exposition up top, but once you get like five chapters in, you finally want to start rooting for these complex characters, who are trying to figure out their own journeys.
Available: February 23
Kisses and Croissants by Anne-Sophie Jouhanneau
This book already had my attention from the jump. Just by reading the summary, we know it’s a romantic novel, set in Paris, starring an American ballet student and a charming French boy, and it’s ideal for fans of American Royals and To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before. Well, that’s like 100 percent my brand, so welcome, dear book, to my TBR shelf right now.
To start, it’s a book about an aspiring ballerina living in Paris for the first time, plus with an adorable love story peppered in. What isn’t there to love, because I’m like obsessed already. It reminds me of Bunheads by Sophie Flack in a way, as it shows a BTS look at the real, authentic life of a ballerina-in-training who wants an apprentice contract so badly and is willing to sacrifice everything to get it. Here, Mia is an aspiring ballerina from New York, about to spend her summer in Paris training at an exclusive ballet intensive summer program. Soon, she discovers there’s more to the city when she meets a charming French boy Louis in an adorable meet-cute moment. He wants to be her tour guide as he takes her on all sorts of adventures in the city together. In a first-person account, we see Mia’s a dreamer who works her butt off to dance and wants this as a career so badly. As a former dancer, I can totally understand that, it’s part of what makes her such a relatable narrator and character. The book is chock full of rich language that makes me feel like I’m there too, right there with these characters. Her relationship with Louis gets complicated due to his father being her ballet instructor and mentor, plus she’s battling with roommate Audrey to be the best in the class and earn the main role in the end-of-program production of Swan Lake, and she’s desperate to meet her great-aunt and discover if a story from her grandma about an ancestor and the artist Degas is true because that’s part of her reason for dancing. There’s so much going on, and it’s just so interesting and fun. This one-sitting read makes me want to be in France right now so badly and have my own journey like Mia’s. Also, OMG, that HEA and epilogue was darn adorable and precious. It’s a super cute YA romance book for fans of dance, Paris, and love stories.
Available: April 6
Kate in Waiting by Becky Albertalli
Becky Albertalli is like YA royalty, and upon hearing her new book would be published by one of my new favorite YA imprints, Balzer + Bray, I’m getting super excited to actually read this. Plus, the summary sounds so intriguing and fun on its own! Also, because as a former theater kid and current theater nerd slash fangirl, this plot seemed right up my alley.
Here, best friends Kate and Anderson do literally everything together, even share communal crushes that don’t go anywhere. But when they both have huge, deep crushes on their theatre camp friend Matt, who just so happens to be new in school, everything goes crazy. Like, think Naomi and Ely’s No Kiss List because we get sort of a similar situation. From the prologue, I was already so intrigued and desperate to find out the whole story. It’s full of relatable and authentic language and characters that I’m so into it. This quick, one-sitting read is so easy to get sucked into from seeing Kate’s confidence grow, watching things with her brother’s best friend Noah blossom, and seeing her relationship with Anderson evolve as they all get older. It’s so much fun, and so cute for a YA novel, and like, eep, I definitely, actually, audibly squealed at one part. Bravo, Ms. Albertalli, you’ve done it again.
Available: April 20
The Happiest Girl in the World by Alena Dillon
This was a poignant, sharp, witty, and well-written fictional look at the world of competitive and elite gymnastics. Here, Sera is training to be an Olympic gymnast in part to her work ethic and skills, but also to appease her mom Charlene, who’s hungry for her daughter to have the glory she never got.
When Sera hears the USA Gymnastics team doctor is reported to the authorities about his so-called treatments, laced with abuse, she denies anything happened as a way to salvage her chance at success and all she’s dreamed of. This book has such compelling language that really draws me in from the prologue and makes me just want to learn more. This book is Sera’s truth in a firsthand look at the world of elite gymnastics and truly eye-opening if you’re on the outside. The book also switches to her mom’s perspective too and shows off her sacrifices and side of this journey. The writing is so sharp, witty, compelling, and well-written.
Available: April 20
The Bookshop of Second Chances by Jackie Fraser
I’m always down for a good bookish tale and a UK setting, so I was intrigued by this right away. Here, Thea is on the precipice of change when she’s fired and her husband leaves her. She then discovers her long-lost ancestor has left her a house in Scotland and an expansive book collection. So, she leaves Sussex for the coastal Scottish town. There she meets and butts heads with the gruff bookshop owner Edward.
The book is chock full of relatable characters and language, plus very descriptive wording that helps sell the second-chance story. The book has quite long chapters and is quite slow to start and dive into the action. It’s a fine read, but the ending is absolutely very, very, very cute and I cannot deny that.
Available: May 4
A Special Place for Women by Laura Hankin
After I thoroughly enjoyed the witty and insightful Happy and You Know It by this author, I instantly knew I wanted to read her next book. Here, it’s set in an exclusive women’s-only social club in Manhattan that’s presumably focused on smashing the glass ceiling, however, the secretive members are caught up in a dark business that no one outside the group knows.
Enter down-on-her-luck journalist Jillian, who needs a big scoop to pivot her career after getting laid off. So, after meeting the group’s head at her friend Raf’s restaurant, she decides she wants to write an expose of the club from the inside. It turns out she also has a vested personal interest in taking this group down, and the more she learns, it turns out there are more consequences for speaking out against these insanely influential and powerful women. This book has such descriptive language and relatable contemporary characters. Like, it’s just so juicy with plenty of secrets as the book chronicles Jillian experiencing this club with fresh eyes as a newbie. Then, holy heck, what a freaking bombshell! I didn’t see any of that coming, and like OMG! These bombshells were so unique, and nothing was truly predictable or tropey aside from her romantic relationship drama, but that was mostly a side plotline. Wow, just so engaging and enthralling.
Available: May 11
Advance reader copies of the books listed were provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.