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.

10 Romance Books to Pick Up While At Home Social Distancing

What a crazy time we live in. Everyone’s home more working, studying, or chilling on the couch with no makeup and leggings 24/7 (um, guilty). However, there’s only so many Gilmore Girls episodes you can re-watch on Netflix each day. What else to do? Well, considering it’s me, I’ll always suggest reading. Being stuck at home is no excuse not to read, and so Miranda’s Book Nook is back to suggest a new crop of books that I’m obsessed with (and soon you’ll be too).

I love a good romance book; it’s so comforting and enjoyable to know you will definitely get an HEA (happily ever after) by the book’s end. And in these challenging times, isn’t that what we all need?

And the best part? These books are all available now (or in a few days or weeks), which are perfect to pick up right now while you’re WFH or OOO for the time being.

Girl Gone Viral by Alisha Rai*

You guys. Seriously. This is hands-down one of the most adorable romance stories I’ve read in awhile. Well, devoured, is more like it because I finished it in a matter of three days. I just couldn’t put it down, it was that intriguing and fun, and um, squeal-worthy. Within 37 pages, I was already hooked and dying to know what happened after Kat’s viral brush with Internet fame. And without Jas and Kat even professing their feelings yet, I was already hardcore shipping them together. OMG, I’m hooked and I love. I’d totally buy an epilogue or sequel starring these two lovebirds. Seriously, Kat has all the zings and so do I reading. Very enjoyable, and I don’t think a smile left my face once while reading.

In Alisha Rai’s second love in her Modern Love series, reclusive investor Katrina (Kat) suddenly goes viral. To hide, her bodyguard Jas (who she’s been pining for for years) whisks her away to his family farm for refuge. Alone with her crush (who also is crushing back), you know things are about to get steamy and romantic. And I loved every bit of it. I swear, I was legit squealing before they even kissed or admitted their feelings or anything. I was hooked from the get-go.

Available: April 21


Four Days of You and Me by Miranda Kenneally*

I’ve been reading different books by Miranda Kenneally for years, drawn in by the strong characterizations, friendships, and of course HEA and love stories. So, upon seeing she had a new book coming out this May, I knew I had to read. Her books are my ultimate guilty pleasure YA romance reads. And this book did not disappoint, so much so, that I finished it in two days (even staying up until 2am to do so!).

It’s so juicy yet grounded, I absolutely love it. From the very beginning, I just want to know all the gossip and I couldn’t stop reading; I needed to find out what happened next. The book takes place across Lulu’s four years of high school, based around the class trips at the end of the year, which somehow always brought her and Alex closer and closer. Of course, not all was revealed during the present time line, the book seamlessly wove in flashbacks to fill in the missing gaps of Alex and Lu’s love story. And seriously, I need an epilogue or a sequel like right now. Like, I cannot stop squealing, it’s absolutely adorable and so easy to get sucked into.

A bit of backstory: every May 7, the students at Coffee County High School in Tennessee take a class trip. And every year, Lulu and Alex’s relationship or feelings get more intense as their undeniable connection heats up no matter where they end up.

Available: May 5


The Honey-Don’t List by Christina Lauren*

Take a little Chip & Jo’s Magnolia home-reno magic, a behind-the-scenes crew romance, and a Christina Lauren novel and you are sure to get a winner. And that’s exactly what this new book is, trust me.

By 16 pages in, readers are already hooked: What happened to the home improvement crew that fated night the police are asking about? Christina Lauren takes it back to the beginning of the team’s fame as you realize what happened along the way to end up where things are now. The writing is so captivating, you just want to find out what happens next!

For fans of renovation and interior design shows, this story is for anyone who’s wondered what life is like behind the scenes. After seeing something that could deter their bosses’ sugary-sweet PR image, longtime assistant Carey and newbie hire, nerdy James, tag along on their book tour to keep everything going smoothly for their brand. It’s a quick, engaging read and Carey and James have such a strong enemies-to-lovers spark from to get-go.

Available: Now!


My Best Friend’s Royal Wedding by Romy Summer*

As much as it was predictable and cheesy, I couldn’t help but grin from ear to ear by the final scene. This romance book features everything desired for a quick contemporary romantic novel: fast-paced dialogue, intriguing dual perspectives, a fish-out-of-water scenario in a regal environment, an enemies to lovers trope, and of course, a HEA. The book features very detailed language that you feel like you are there, living out your own inner royal fantasies alongside Khara and Phoenix.

In the story, Vegas cocktail waitress Khara heads to a small European country where she’s the maid of honor in her best friend and co-worker’s royal wedding. The snooty, regal best man Adam offers to show Khara the ropes. But after spending time together, she she realizes he’s more than just the playboy she first assumed. And who knows, maybe she’ll find her own fairytale along the way.

Available: Now!


We Met in December by Rosie Curtis*

What an adorable and fun rom-com read! The dual perspectives keep it intriguing as you see what’s going on in both characters’ heads. It’s a super fun, indulgent holiday read. Beyond adorable, that is for sure. 

Twenty-something Jess moves to London to follow her dreams and finds a room in a Notting Hill house-share. One of her new roommates is Alex and while nothing happens between them, there’s a vibe. Within a year, a lot can happen and change before the timing is right where they are both single and ready to give ~this~ a go.

Available: Now!

 


First Comes Love by Camilla Isley*

A very fun, indulging set of romance stories. While they are predictable stories, each short story is told in a fresh way that was so darn cute, I couldn’t put it down. Can’t stop smiling; that was adorable.

In Isley’s box set of three romantic comedies, readers can follow three separate yet interconnected romances across time zones and cities. But while they are all different, each features a fun HEA that is the perfect solution to the many days cooped up inside your house.

Available: Now!

 

 


Headliners by Lucy Parker*

We’ve got enemies to lovers, London as a setting, a Christmas miracle and deadline, and an HEA. All signs to point to a perfect romance read. For a romance with traditional tropes, the story feels original. From beginning to end, it’s enchanting, fun, and so damn cute.

Sparks are a flyin’ when two rival TV presenters are thrown together to host a live morning show and boost ratings over the competition. Sabrina Carlton and Nick Davenport have the witty banter down to a tee, plus killer chemistry, as they must team up to save the failing morning show and their jobs.

Available: Now!

 


Tweet Cute by Emma Lord*

It’s super cute, full of cheesy goodness — pun intended. Featuring back and forth banter and perspectives, two tech-savvy teens, a dash of baking fun, and teen romance so adorable, it’s not just cute, it’s tweet cute. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist that one.) Very enjoyable and super easy to get sucked into the story through the very last page.

She’s an overachiever and he’s a class clown. They are polar opposites, but strike up an anonymous online friendship. But what they don’t know, their parents own rival dining establishments and as the social media managers, they find themselves competing in a Twitter war.

Available: Now!


American Royals by Katharine McGee

I love a good book about modern royalty. And this new YA book absolutely delivers. Seriously I couldn’t put down the 437-page novel and finished it in a single day during my winter vacation. It’s that juicy, engaging, and I’m obsessed.

This novel ponders what modern society would be if America adopted a monarchy after the Revolutionary War win. The book follows the three Washington siblings of royals: Princess Beatrice the twenty-something heiress to throne, high school twins Princess Samantha and Prince Jefferson, along with Samantha’s BFF Nina and Daphne both of who are vying for Jefferson’s affections. The kicker? Nina is Sam’s closest friend and not as much of a society match for the prince like blue-blooded Daphne. Oh, and Sam meets the handsome and sweet Teddy butttt he’s more of a match for her big sister. But, Bea only has eyes for one man: her bodyguard Connor. Messy and dramatic? Oh yes, and don’t forget romantic and cute as hell.

And don’t you worry, a sequel, Majesty, is already in the works for this fall. I can’t wait: I need more Bea+Connor swoon-worthy content already.

Available: Now!


Royal Holiday by Jasmine Guillory

In keeping with the regal theme, acclaimed romance writer Jasmine Guillory is back with yet another hit. After we saw Maddie’s own love story play out in The Wedding Party at Alexa’s wedding to Drew (from The Wedding Date!), now it’s her mom’s turn. When Maddie gets the once-in-a-lifetime job offer as a royal stylist in London, she brings her single mom along for the ultimate trip, and a fun holiday romance in the process.

While on the trip, Vivian Forest meets private secretary to the queen Malcolm and they are instantly feeling the sparks. Their adorable banter turns into a holiday romance to a cross-country relationship and it’s cute as all hell, per Guillory’s signature style. Another book I polished off in a day, such a quick and easy ready that’ll have you grinning from ear-to-ear.

Available: Now!


What’s next up on my TBR? I’m very excited to begin Most Likely by Sarah Watson (she created my fave show The Bold Type!) and Meg & Jo by Virginia Kantra. Keep your eyes peeled here for the next installment of Miranda’s Book Nook, and in the meantime, keep on reading!

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