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.

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Available: June 2


Head Over Heels by Hannah Orenstein

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

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

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

Available: June 23


Boyfriend Material by Alexis Hall

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

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

Available: July 7


Louisiana Lucky by Julie Pennell

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

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

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

Available: August 4


The Boys’ Club by Erica Katz

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

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

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

Available: August 4


No Offense by Meg Cabot

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

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

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

Available: August 11


Live in Love by Lauren Akins with Mark Dagostino

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

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

Available: August 18


The Wrong Mr. Darcy by Evelyn Lozada and Holly Lorincz

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

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

Available: August 25


Meet You in the Middle by Devon Daniels

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

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

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

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

Available: May 4, 2021


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