7 Summer Book Releases I’m Loving Right Now

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

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

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

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

Rating: Five Stars

Available: Now


The Girl Least Likely by Katy Loutzenhiser

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

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

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

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

Rating: Three Stars

Available: Now


Pretty Little London by Sara Santini, Andrea Di Filippo

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

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

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

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

Rating: Four Stars

Available: July 13


So We Meet Again by Suzanne Park

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

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

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

Rating: Four Stars

Available: August 3


The Dating Dare by Jayci Lee

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

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

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

Rating: Four Stars

Available: August 3


The Man Ban by Nicola Marsh

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

Rating: Three Stars

Available: July 27


Palm Beach by Mary Adkins

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

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

Rating: Four Stars

Available:


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

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

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

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

Gutter Girl by Kelly Anne Blount, Lynn Rush

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

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

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

Rating: Four Stars

Available:


One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston

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

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

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

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

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

Rating: Five Stars

Available:


Better Together by Christine Riccio

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

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

Rating: Four Stars

Available:


Of Princes and Promises by Sandhya Menon

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

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

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

Rating: Four Stars

Available:


Live Your Life by Amanda Kloots, Anna Kloots

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

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

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

Rating: Five Stars

Available: June 15


Blush by Jamie Brenner

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

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

Rating: Four Stars

Available: June 22


When Stars Collide by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

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

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

Rating: Four Stars

Available: June 29


The Turnout by Megan Abbott

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

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

Rating: Four Stars

Available:


The Betrayed by Kiera Cass

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

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

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

Rating: Four Stars

Available: July 6


Meant to Be: If the Shoe Fits by Julie Murphy

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

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

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

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

Rating: Five Stars

Available:


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

These 7 Upcoming Spring Releases Stole My Bookish Heart

Well well well, here we are, knee-deep in March and yet still basically hunkered down at home for who knows how much longer because it’s already been a full calendar year. As expected, I’ve continued to spend my free time reading a good book (I managed 28 in January, 18 in February, and 2.5 so far in March.), starting up my brand-new #bookstagram page, and maintaining my rainbow-organized bookshelves. As I kept on reading, I discovered some truly incredible reads that completely stole my bookish heart. So, without further ado, welcome back to Miranda’s Book Nook for another round of 2021 book recommendations that should definitely be on your radar this spring. Happy reading!

Hana Khan Carries On by Uzma Jalaluddin

This book completely took me by surprise, and honestly, that’s what I liked the most about it. It’s pitched as a You’ve Got Mail-type of romcom, which is both a trope and a movie I adore, and so I was already hooked.

Here, Hana juggles her dream job in radio, a side hobby as a podcaster, and spends the remainder of her time waitressing at her family’s halal restaurant in Toronto. Sales are slow, especially as a new upscale halal eatery is moving in across the street. In the exposition, she’s working as a radio intern hoping to get promoted, rambling on in her podcast episodes which is where she forms a connection with an anonymous listener, all while trying to keep the family business afloat. Then, a mysterious aunt and cousin arrive from India, she discovers a family secret and grapples with a hate crime attack nearby. There are all sorts of complications to contend with, including her attraction to rival restaurant owner Aydin who may not be as much of a stranger as she initially thinks. When life as she knows it shifts and changes, Hana must figure out how to use her voice, be strong, and decide what her life should be.

This coming-of-age read features captivating, descriptive language, and in addition to see the text, the story’s also told through her podcast transcripts and the anonymous DMs they share. There is a lot of exposition that starts off pretty slow, but thanks to vulnerable and authentic characters you can’t help but get sucked in and want to find out what happens next. It’s well-written and captivating, as well as profound and insightful to look at this cultural identity and perspective, especially if you are on the outside. Then, of course, the ending romance and HEA is so flipping cute and precious that had me smiling from ear to ear.

Rating: Four Stars

Available: April 13


The End of Men by Christina Sweeney-Baird

Let me preface this by saying that I don’t hand out five-star ratings often because, to me, that means a book needs to be fan-freaking-tastic and just all-around unforgettable. And let me tell you: This book is just that. Christina Sweeney-Baird’s debut novel is poised to be a prolific piece of prose that’ll have everyone talking this April. It already has a select few NetGalley reviewers buzzing, and I’m happy to join those ranks. In this work of fiction, a virus circulating around the UK sweeps the world and takes out most of the male population, leaving women to pick up the pieces of society as Sweeney-Baird posits what would happen to the world without men.

The book starts in 2025, when a mysterious virus shows up at a hospital in Scotland. Only men are carriers and are affected, and as the virus grows into a global pandemic, it’s up to women to save the future of humanity while also dealing with their own loss and grief. This book is the immersive first-person account of the women rebuilding the world, including Amanda the doctor who treated Patient Zero, Catherine a social historian documenting everything, scientist Elizabeth working on a vaccine, and others around the world. It aims to chart how the absence of men changed society both personally and politically in this prolific and prescient novel.

Before reading this book, I was intrigued by the summary (reminding me of the likes of The Handmaid’s Tale or Children of Men-type of dystopia) and the sheer number of glowing reviews. So, I started it. And, I couldn’t put it down for nearly two days until I finished every last page, just pouring over the text, the language, the story, the vulnerability, and the heart. This gripping modern thriller slash literary fiction read is so poignant and timely about the world’s new normal, which is made all the more prescient considering it was written two years ago. Yet, it’s still so relevant, raw, and vulnerable, and just like wow. This book, what else is there to say without giving much away other than it’s so bloody brilliant, and I mean that wholeheartedly. The story is just so real and gripping but also has messages and themes that are so impactful and important that elevate this read into what it is.

With its current publication date, that makes this novel all the more poignant and reflective. In this book, as these women try to keep the world running, they also grapple with fear, loss, grief, mortality, fertility, and humanity. The language just enthralled me, captivated me, and drew me in. I loved the ending about how these women found the strength and power in this new world, while also dealing with what they lost. Now, with all that going on, there’s bound to be some triggering scenes. And so, yes, that does mean I have some content warnings to deliver if scenes of grief and loss; death of a parent, child, or spouse; infertility; or suicide is triggering for you. In the end, this has to be a five-star read for me, it’s just so poignant, well-written, and prolific. I sincerely hope that once this book is officially available, it gets all the hype and acclaim because it’s that good and deserves it.

Rating: Five Stars

Available: April 27


Turning Pointe: How a New Generation of Dancers Is Saving Ballet from Itself by Chloe Angyal

Author Chloe Angyal provides an insightful look at the behind-the-scenes world of ballet in this nonfiction read full of facts, history, and interviews. Through this inside look at the ballet world’s present, readers can see how this art form is shaped by race, gender, and class inequalities, as well as how dancers and professionals are fighting for a more inclusive and positive future.

This book is written by journalist Chloe Angyal who aims to capture students’ love for ballet all while they grapple with its unfair and unbalanced shortcomings in terms of power, beauty, and race. Angyal interviews students, parents, teachers, health care workers, professionals, and more industry insides about the damaging path of this industry in the modern world and how that affects the dancers.

She takes a concept that isn’t largely discussed outside of gruesome or idealized TV or movies and blows everything you didn’t know about this hard field wide open. It’s all about how the art form s broken and how to fix its inequities to move forward. The writing is very detailed and informative. However, at times the text could be quite dry, although I found it interesting as a former dancer myself.

Rating: Three Stars

Available: May 4


The Summer of Broken Rules by K.L. Walther

This was an absolutely adorable New Adult romance read that I just devoured. Here, Meredith joins her extended family at her grandparents’ compound in Martha’s Vineyard every summer. This is the first time she’s been back after her sister died, so grief content warning, and it’s her cousin’s wedding weekend.

She’s dealing with her sister’s death, grief, a fresh breakup from her ex, and heading off to college for the first time in a few weeks. She needs a distraction, which their annual family Assassin game comes at the right time. In her quest to win to honor her sister, she teams up with a cute groomsman in the wedding, Wit. She can’t help falling for him during this weekend fling, but that may very much cost her both the game and her heart. This read is full of compelling language that just draws me in from the first page. It’s a fun summer romance that’s for sure, however, the title doesn’t seem to make much sense to me and that’s a little awkward, I guess. But, all in all, it’s a very cute and absolutely precious NA romance.

Rating: Four Stars

Available: May 4


Where the Grass Is Green and the Girls Are Pretty by Lauren Weisberger

True to Lauren Weisberger’s style, her latest novel delivers her signature wit, insight into an elite world, enthralling storytelling, relatable yet authentic characters, and snappy language.

In this book, readers follow two sisters Peyton and Skye, who are complete opposites but seemingly have perfect lives to one another. Then, several lies threaten to derail everything. Peyton is a TV anchor who always has it together, including her daughter Max who is Ivy League-bound. Meanwhile, Skye is a stay-at-home mom in the New York suburbs who is fundraising to start up a new home for underprivileged kids as a way to get away from this PTA mom life she’s been living in. Then, there’s Max, Peyton’s daughter, who is coming of age in this elite Manhattan prep school and who does want to attend Princeton but rather a film school on the west coast. This book follows all three of them as they attempt to move forward once lies explode and derail everything they know. It’s basically based on the age-old saying that the grass is greener on the other side. Everything blows up for Peyton when her husband is arrested in a college admissions scandal, while Skye is hiding her deep debts.

This book is full of quick, witty language and relatable characters and dialogue. We get back-and-forth perspectives to show how each woman is dealing with everything and interact with one another. I was definitely very, very, very interested to see where things would go and happen next, and in the end, I just wanted more. It’s so rich with details and complex characters that made this read totally unputdownable.

Rating: Four Stars

Available: May 18


Beth & Amy by Virginia Kantra

I’ve always been a huge Little Women fan ever since childhood, and when I heard Virginia Kantra wrote a modern retelling of it in Meg & Jo, I knew I’d like it just as much, which I did. Now, that I’ve finished her follow-up, I’m even more besotted with the lives of the March sisters than ever before, and here it’s Beth’s and Amy’s turns in the spotlight to share their stories.

After I devoured and loved Meg & Jo, I was stocked to read this follow-up, which I can now report that I loved even more. This book is all about Beth’s and Amy’s coming-of-age stories. Amy’s an ambitious up-and-coming handbag designer in New York, whereas good girl Beth is a singer-songwriter working to overcome her anxiety and stage fright on tour with country superstar Colt (from the previous book). When they both return home for Jo’s wedding, they must confront their lives and what they actually want it to be.

As a reader who’s enthralled with the March sisters, while we all adore Meg and Jo, who doesn’t secretly love Beth and Amy? So, it’s exciting to see their perspectives and get inside their heads as they grow up, especially since in the original novel, they were children. This story alternates between the point of view of the two sisters, much like Meg & Jo, but also includes chapters focus on Marmee/Momma/Abby’s sides too, which is another intriguing perspective to understand. True to form, Kantra’s novel features rich storytelling and language to draw you in. Set three years after Meg & Jo, I loved seeing Beth and Amy shine, expressing vulnerability and complexity in both past and present timelines. As expected, I really dug this book and just didn’t (and couldn’t) want to put it down.

All in all, I think I did like this more than Meg & Jo because it’s partially a new story with previously hidden depths and vulnerabilities of these former minor characters that I loved so fiercely. Thank you so much Berkeley for this ARC, I was absolutely thrilled to once again rejoin the March sisters on their journeys.

Rating: Four Stars

Available: May 25


Sixteen Scandals by Sophie Jordan

This is a fun Regency romp of a read that I just couldn’t put down! Here, Primrose Ainsworth is the fourth daughter of a modest upper-class family who’s approaching her sixteenth birthday without debut plans in sight. Always tired of being a child and stuck at home she concocts a ruse with her best friend to sneak out on her birthday to London’s Vauxhall Gardens for a night of masqueraded fun. When she gets separated from her friend, a mysterious hero is here to help her escape when her cover is nearly blown. This stranger is 19-year-old Jacob, who becomes her partner in crime all evening long as they dodge all sorts of hijinks and antics.

It’s described as having “Austen-type flirtation” and “Shakespearan hijinks,” which is already giving me Bridgerton meets the happy Romeo & Juliet vibes, and I’m here for it. The language is curious, engaging, frothy, and fun. Plus, the banter between Prim and Jacob is just on fire and explodes off the page. It’s captivating and fun that I just don’t want to put this book down!

To me, it did end super, super quickly because we were just getting started with their love story, and I want more. But overall, it was very cute as is. It just flew by, and just as I was finally starting to get the characters and their story, boom it ended, and I just want more content. This is a quick Regency romp of a YA romance novel that you can polish off in haste, but nevertheless, still engaging to indulge in their banter and hijinks as Prim makes her own rules in this restrictive society for women.

Rating: Four Stars

Available: May 25


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