Get Ready: 2021 is Here With These 8 New Book Releases

Have you already set your reading goals, found a challenge, or made a tracking spreadsheet to chart your bookish endeavors for the new year? I just made mine last weekend too! After completing around 140+ books for the entire year, I’ve decided to up the ante for 2021. I made a Google Doc spreadsheet, where I’ve listed out all the books on my TBR with its title, author, pub date, whether it’s an ARC or a purchased copy, and my rating. Then, I have additional tabs for books to buy and any reading challenge prompts to partake in. And of course, I’ve set a goal book amount that seems totally obtainable to my bookish soul. Now that I’m ready to roll on my bookish challenge for 2021, I want to help y’all finish yours.

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

Be Dazzled by Ryan La Sala

I read this upcoming read in an audiobook format, and GAH, it was so cute and the audio format just totally immersed me in the characters. This audiobook, narrated by Pete Cross, is so entertaining and I’m obsessed by the first chapter alone. This book reminds me of Red, White & Royal Blue meets Ashley Polston’s geeky fangirl slash cosplay YA romances, and that’s what has my heart before I even started. It’s described as Project Runway meets Comic-Con to make an epic queer love story, and that is one thousand percent an accurate description.

Here, we follow Raffy who has a passion for fashion and design and yearns to make his mark at this big cosplay competition to help jumpstart his future in the business. In the present timeline, his main competition is his ex-boyfriend Luca. As seen in different flashback chapters, they were the perfect team until Luca’s insecurities and Raffy’s perfectionism imploded everything. Back to the present, they are forced to team up once more on the most impressive cosplay comp yet, juggling unresolved romantic feelings, self-doubt, and working to build their most ambitious build yet. This book is chock full of funny, witty, and relatable language that reads as so authentic and engaging. This language is just so witty and rich, and I’m obsessed. Then, the narrator really nails each emotion and tone of every character. This audio version brings listeners the perfect way to envision every scene and feel every single emotion and vulnerability. The narrator brings so much personality to each character’s dialogue to differentiate and sells everything to me. Each character is so distinctive, rich, complex, and dynamic, and this audio version truly shows that. We jump back and forth between the present day competition and different flashbacks to demonstrate these boys’ journey to the current timeline. This couple, boy, are they absolutely adorable! Even from the beginning where they were hiding their relationship because Luca’s not out or the beginning of their feelings and craft sessions, or even openly pining present day at the competition, just, GAH, precious. These two just have such a precious banter and are just so dang cute, like totally squeal-worthy. This book’s pacing feels just right and authentic, which keeps me engaged and wanting to read more.

Available: January 5


A Pho Love Story by Loan Le

Here, Linh and Bao are both Vietnamese American teens who’ll fall in love amidst their families longstanding feud and competing pho restaurants. Bao is described as a quite average, yet handsome teen, whilst Linh, well, she’s quite the firecracker and an aspiring artist. To me, this already feels quite When Dimple Met Rishi-esque.

The teens both work part-time in the parents’ neighboring pho restaurants, who are age-old competitors of one another. So much so, in fact, that these two are barred from speaking ever since the age of 5 or so. A chance encounter, aka a moment of chivalry, brings these two together and despite their and their families’ best efforts, there are sparks amuck. It sounded like such an engaging premise and a fun YA read based on the summary, plus it is always lovely to see diversity in the genre more. It’s told in back-and-forth dual viewpoints as their slow-burn love story develops. It was a fine read, just fine, especially after its lengthy exposition. In my opinion, Bao’s sides were far more captivating and engaging to follow. He seemed to be a more fully formed character with more quippy, witty lines. It was definitely more of a challenge for me to get interested and invested in, but once further details about a family secret and history develop, there’s such a compelling storytelling aspect that I just demanded to know what was to happen next.

Available: February 9


Honey Girl by Morgan Rogers

This women’s fiction novel was captivating and compelling for a one-sitting read. Here, Grace has just completed her doctorate in astronomy and heads to Vegas to celebrate with her friends. She’s the typical high achieving, good girl who always follows the rules.

Yet, one night in Vegas and she drunkenly marries a woman whose name she doesn’t even know and who leaves bright and early the next morning. That all happens in the first chapter, so most of the book she’s dealing with grad school burnout, a rough job market, and parental expectations. To avoid all that, she flees her home in Portland to live in New York City for the summer with her stranger wife, Yuki, a late-night DJ, who discusses all things mythological and supernatural on air. Of course, this period brings them closer, enough to fall in love, but summer can’t last forever and so she’ll flee again in order to discover her own inner truths and desires. This book is full of authentic language that leaves me so curious to find out what happens next. However, this book is quite slow to start with a lot of exposition up top, but once you get like five chapters in, you finally want to start rooting for these complex characters, who are trying to figure out their own journeys.

Available: February 23


Kisses and Croissants by Anne-Sophie Jouhanneau

This book already had my attention from the jump. Just by reading the summary, we know it’s a romantic novel, set in Paris, starring an American ballet student and a charming French boy, and it’s ideal for fans of American Royals and To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before. Well, that’s like 100 percent my brand, so welcome, dear book, to my TBR shelf right now.

To start, it’s a book about an aspiring ballerina living in Paris for the first time, plus with an adorable love story peppered in. What isn’t there to love, because I’m like obsessed already. It reminds me of Bunheads by Sophie Flack in a way, as it shows a BTS look at the real, authentic life of a ballerina-in-training who wants an apprentice contract so badly and is willing to sacrifice everything to get it. Here, Mia is an aspiring ballerina from New York, about to spend her summer in Paris training at an exclusive ballet intensive summer program. Soon, she discovers there’s more to the city when she meets a charming French boy Louis in an adorable meet-cute moment. He wants to be her tour guide as he takes her on all sorts of adventures in the city together. In a first-person account, we see Mia’s a dreamer who works her butt off to dance and wants this as a career so badly. As a former dancer, I can totally understand that, it’s part of what makes her such a relatable narrator and character. The book is chock full of rich language that makes me feel like I’m there too, right there with these characters. Her relationship with Louis gets complicated due to his father being her ballet instructor and mentor, plus she’s battling with roommate Audrey to be the best in the class and earn the main role in the end-of-program production of Swan Lake, and she’s desperate to meet her great-aunt and discover if a story from her grandma about an ancestor and the artist Degas is true because that’s part of her reason for dancing. There’s so much going on, and it’s just so interesting and fun. This one-sitting read makes me want to be in France right now so badly and have my own journey like Mia’s. Also, OMG, that HEA and epilogue was darn adorable and precious. It’s a super cute YA romance book for fans of dance, Paris, and love stories.

Available: April 6


Kate in Waiting by Becky Albertalli

Becky Albertalli is like YA royalty, and upon hearing her new book would be published by one of my new favorite YA imprints, Balzer + Bray, I’m getting super excited to actually read this. Plus, the summary sounds so intriguing and fun on its own! Also, because as a former theater kid and current theater nerd slash fangirl, this plot seemed right up my alley.

Here, best friends Kate and Anderson do literally everything together, even share communal crushes that don’t go anywhere. But when they both have huge, deep crushes on their theatre camp friend Matt, who just so happens to be new in school, everything goes crazy. Like, think Naomi and Ely’s No Kiss List because we get sort of a similar situation. From the prologue, I was already so intrigued and desperate to find out the whole story. It’s full of relatable and authentic language and characters that I’m so into it. This quick, one-sitting read is so easy to get sucked into from seeing Kate’s confidence grow, watching things with her brother’s best friend Noah blossom, and seeing her relationship with Anderson evolve as they all get older. It’s so much fun, and so cute for a YA novel, and like, eep, I definitely, actually, audibly squealed at one part. Bravo, Ms. Albertalli, you’ve done it again.

Available: April 20


The Happiest Girl in the World by Alena Dillon

This was a poignant, sharp, witty, and well-written fictional look at the world of competitive and elite gymnastics. Here, Sera is training to be an Olympic gymnast in part to her work ethic and skills, but also to appease her mom Charlene, who’s hungry for her daughter to have the glory she never got.

When Sera hears the USA Gymnastics team doctor is reported to the authorities about his so-called treatments, laced with abuse, she denies anything happened as a way to salvage her chance at success and all she’s dreamed of. This book has such compelling language that really draws me in from the prologue and makes me just want to learn more. This book is Sera’s truth in a firsthand look at the world of elite gymnastics and truly eye-opening if you’re on the outside. The book also switches to her mom’s perspective too and shows off her sacrifices and side of this journey. The writing is so sharp, witty, compelling, and well-written.

Available: April 20


The Bookshop of Second Chances by Jackie Fraser

I’m always down for a good bookish tale and a UK setting, so I was intrigued by this right away. Here, Thea is on the precipice of change when she’s fired and her husband leaves her. She then discovers her long-lost ancestor has left her a house in Scotland and an expansive book collection. So, she leaves Sussex for the coastal Scottish town. There she meets and butts heads with the gruff bookshop owner Edward.

The book is chock full of relatable characters and language, plus very descriptive wording that helps sell the second-chance story. The book has quite long chapters and is quite slow to start and dive into the action. It’s a fine read, but the ending is absolutely very, very, very cute and I cannot deny that.

Available: May 4


A Special Place for Women by Laura Hankin

After I thoroughly enjoyed the witty and insightful Happy and You Know It by this author, I instantly knew I wanted to read her next book. Here, it’s set in an exclusive women’s-only social club in Manhattan that’s presumably focused on smashing the glass ceiling, however, the secretive members are caught up in a dark business that no one outside the group knows.

Enter down-on-her-luck journalist Jillian, who needs a big scoop to pivot her career after getting laid off. So, after meeting the group’s head at her friend Raf’s restaurant, she decides she wants to write an expose of the club from the inside. It turns out she also has a vested personal interest in taking this group down, and the more she learns, it turns out there are more consequences for speaking out against these insanely influential and powerful women. This book has such descriptive language and relatable contemporary characters. Like, it’s just so juicy with plenty of secrets as the book chronicles Jillian experiencing this club with fresh eyes as a newbie. Then, holy heck, what a freaking bombshell! I didn’t see any of that coming, and like OMG! These bombshells were so unique, and nothing was truly predictable or tropey aside from her romantic relationship drama, but that was mostly a side plotline. Wow, just so engaging and enthralling.

Available: May 11


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

9 New Books I Can’t Stop Thinking About

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

The Fangirl’s Guide to the Universe by Sam Maggs

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

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

Available: Now


A Royal Disaster by Jennifer Bonds

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

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

Available: Now


Survival of the Thickest by Michelle Buteau

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

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

Available: Now

 


Mr Right Across The Street by Kathryn Freeman

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

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

Available: January 22


You Were Made For Me by Jenna Guillaume

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

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

Available: April 1


Accidentally Engaged by Farah Heron

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

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

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

Available: March 2


The Girls Are All So Nice Here by Laurie Elizabeth Flynn

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

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

Available: March 9


The Flipside of Perfect by Liz Reinhardt

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

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

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

Available: April 6


To Love and to Loathe by Martha Waters

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

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

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

Available: April 6


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

Get Ready for 2021 With These 8 Hot New Winter Book Releases

With the dumpster fire that is 2020 almost in our rearview mirror, it brings all the hope and promise of a new year. One reason I love a new year is thinking of all the new books that will be released that I can read! Ahh, sounds heavenly, doesn’t it?

I’ve started on my 2021 TBR list a bit early (thanks a million, NetGalley!), and I can already tell my little personal library is going to be overflowing with new titles this upcoming winter. Settle in for another installment of Miranda’s Book Nook as I share some of the 2021 book titles coming out this winter and just I can’t get enough. Happy reading, y’all!

You Have a Match by Emma Lord

It’s time to start off with a five-star read, y’all! After the adorable cheesy teen romance that was Tweet Cute, I’m already looking forward to Lord’s follow-up novel. Oh, and this one is set at a SLEEPAWAY CAMP. Instant interest from me. (#CampGirl 4 Life!) Like, I loved all the camp activities and friendships (Savvy, Mickey, Finn, and Leo know there’s nothing like camp besties, and now I just wanna call my BW sisters!) because it reminded me of my best days as a BW girl and how those days at camp with my fellow camp sisters were some of my all-time favorite memories.

Okay, to be quite honest, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to read this book at first because I thought the author’s first book, Tweet Cute, was just alright and not *totally* my type of read. But, now I can’t imagine not having read You Have a Match, and in a way, it’s made me feel closer to my grandfather, who’s my own version of the character Poppy. And after every single page, it’s clear this book rightfully deserves this five-star rating and a coveted place on my must-buy TBR list once it’s published. Here, we follow 16-year-old Abby, who in a bet with best friend Connie, takes a DNA test to find out her ancestries along with their other best pal, Leo. This book brings an engaging point of view that feels both authentic and current for a teen girl with really fun and relatable language. So, the DNA test revealed that Abby has a secret full sister, Savannah, an 18-year-old Instagram star. The two are polar opposites to their cores, but want to get to know each other. To figure things out and get to know each other, Savvy invites her new sister to attend the camp where she’ll be a junior counselor. It’s seriously like a modern-day version of The Parent Trap, and I’m here for it.

Then, there’s also a precious slow-burn romance between Abby and her best friend and neighbor, Leo. At the opening of the book, she’s still mortified about her almost-kiss with him months ago because it turned out, he didn’t feel the same and she was crushed. Then, it turns out, he’s working in the kitchen at the same camp and seems very excited they’ll be spending the time together, like in a certain eyes-twinkling, heart-fluttering way?? But because boys are stupid, Leo makes my head spin as it’s evident he does like her but is either pretending or hiding it really well, and gah, I don’t know what’s going on here. Then, also at camp, we meet Finn, the bad-boy camper Abby’s age who has a Hot Boy Name, so love triangle, here we go.

This book is just so much fun and I actually cannot put it down, staying up way too late in two nights just to finish it. Then, we get so much juicy drama and a big family secret that overshadows romance for a bit, and things escalate that make me actually want to ship Abby and Leo at screaming and squealing levels, because that definitely happened. Things get super heartwrenching, and gut-punching emotional that I’m legitimately in tears when it’s revealed all their grandfather did for the girls. It actually makes tear up because Poppy really resonates with me to my core about my late grandfather. I just want to say that books typically do not make me cry, but this 100 percent did because of Poppy and my own life. But enough about me, back to this read. That ending was absolutely precious and so darn cute that my cheeks still hurt from smiling so much. Like, Leo’s big monologue at the end had me literally squealing at 2 in the morning over its sheer adorableness! I wasn’t sure about Leo as a love interest and a book boyfriend to start, but by the end, we got to see inside his heart and he won me over and proved to be good enough for Abby. So, I approve. And gah, that epilogue was so damn cute.

Overall, I’m not quite sure how to put this book into words. It’s more than a teen romance, more than a summer camp adventure, more than a familial drama, more than a story of friendship and sisterhood, more than a comedy, and more than a deep emotional novel. It’s a book in a class all its own and had me captivated until I read that very last word on the final page. Seriously, it’s totally worth those five stars because now I have to buy and I just can’t imagine a world where I haven’t read this, and it also made me feel closer to my grandfather who’s passed away, my own Poppy, which I needed now more than ever. Like, with all that, this has to be five stars and I have to buy it once it’s released this January, I have to.

Available: January 5


Happily Ever Afters by Elise Bryant

Here was another YA romance that I was looking forward to prior to reading, and boy, did this read deliver! I mean, I still can’t stop smiling now that I reached the ending. The book follows Tessa, a diverse romance writer whose family just moved to Long Beach with her parents, and her older brother who has disabilities. One day, just after the move, her brother Miles intends to prank their neighbor, but when she has to clean up the mess, she meets the dorky, not fashion-savvy Sam wearing a Hawaiian shirt, and it turns out they’ll both be starting at the same art school, and he cooks! (Which, side note, I want those lavender donuts he made for her SO SO SO bad. My stomach is growling right now.) So, it’s clear he’s the dream guy right, because he cooks, huh? Hm, or am I projecting a bit? Oh, well.

It’s such a fun and engaging YA novel that I enjoyed and really got sucked into. I also loved all the YA callouts to classic works from the genre, such as TATBILB, The Hate U Give, and mentioning Sarah Dessen as a queen, like yes, I love my bookish references! Then, there’s the ridiculously handsome Nico in her writing class that is exactly how she pictured her latest manuscript’s love interest. So, love triangle trope time, please! She starts school and with all the anxiety of being the new kid, not knowing anyone, and not feeling like she’s a good enough writer, as the deadlines for her novel writing class pile up, it’s a terrible time for writer’s block, but of course that happens and leaves her feeling like a fraud. Her best friend Caroline, back in Sacramento, helps Tessa devise a plan to get her groove back by having her experience her first love and get a boyfriend, so she can get back to writing her romances.

This book is shaping up to one super cute slow-burn romance, and I’m digging it. We definitely get a fun love triangle, and as she gets closer to the previously unavailable Nico, Sam gets a little makeover moment where Tessa sees him in a whole new light. She and Sam just have such an effortless connection, while Nico is more of a suave, smooth operator who flirts with her, so obviously I’m team Sam, bad Hawaiian shirts, zip-off cargo shorts, and all. After a few introductory chapters, the plot finally picks up and moves faster. Like once I’m into this book, I’m so obsessed and just can’t stop reading until I finish it thanks to its captivating, authentic language. The real romance at the end is just so cute and dear, sweet Sam is just so pure and precious. I mean that homemade ice cream, I swooned. Then, yes there’s a HEA, because of course, but what I loved was that it was more than a romantic love HEA, but also her own self-love and growth, her becoming the best writer she can be, and ahhhh, then she makes her own grand gesture which was just so adorable. But that ending, gah I just wanted more!! The cover’s cute and dreamy, and I love how the ending was more about her self-love and confidence, finding her own voice.

Available: January 5


Love Songs for Skeptics by Christina Pishiris

When I first requested this NetGalley ARC, I suppose I hadn’t thought too much of it, and thought it’d be just a fun, indulgent, and a bit basic for a romance read. But, it definitely wasn’t and I surprised myself with how into this book I was, to like can’t-put-it-down until the wee hours of the morning, it was that surprising, fun, humorous, engaging, cute, and enjoyable.

Here, Zoë is a music journalist and editor for a struggling music magazine in London, which, my surprise over its British setting and UK slang already nudged this read up one star. Hence the title and her bad luck in the dating department, she doesn’t quite believe in love, especially after she fell in her love with her bestie and neighbor Simon in her teen years, but didn’t get a chance to share her feelings before he left the country.

Ever since that moment, she’s definitely bitter towards the whole concept of love, however, one day in the present storyline, some twenty years later, Simon has officially moved back to London, newly divorced, handsome and charming and ever, and it seems he may have some feelings for our girl Zoë? Between this new relationship on the horizon, Simon’s once-famous ex-girlfriend popping up in their lives, a cocky music publicist blackmailing and flirting with Zoë, and her brother’s upcoming big Greek wedding; man, there’s a lot happening at once. (I would just like to point out that Zoë first describes Nick as “sexy AF,” so obviously there’s gotta be something there to that potential romance story.) Despite all this happening in the story, I still enjoyed this read. It was fun, relatable, engaging, made me laugh and cringe, and also want to scream out ‘what the heck is happening??,’ much like dating IRL. And seriously, boys like Simon are why I have trust issues and they just do my f***ing head in, geez! There are so many funny, relatable quips that keep me wanting to read more. I just got so wrapped up and invested in this story, so captivated by all the characters and the drama.

This book had a compelling and relatable point of view. We also get plenty of tropes between two love triangles, enemies to lovers, and falling in love at a wedding. It was just so hard for me to put it down because I just wanted to continue it until I finished this fun romp of a romance book. It’s all good fun, until about a hundred pages from the end where things unexpectedly get super heavy and dramatic, adding turns that were anything but predictable, but I was captivated by everything. It’s also clever how the chapter names are all applicable song titles, which make sense in a full-circle moment at the end. It’s not just a romantic love story, but a self-love story as Zoë figures who she is and what she really wants. Like, she may be a skeptic when it comes to love, but within an hourlong scene, she’ll have two men dropping L-bombs at her. Then, by the end, things it super soapy and messy, but it was plain, good fun. In her HEA, once she figures out her own desires, we do get that grandiose, sweeping romantic moment that was so darn cute, I couldn’t stop smiling. It’s more than a romance book and that’s what I was drawn to about this read. Also, she and Nick definitely have so much freaking chemistry and banter that I love to see in a romance and it is so dang amusing as a reader. In the end, it was just so entertaining and fun to read.

Available: January 19


Make Up Break Up by Lily Menon

In this steamy romance novel set in LA, Annika and Hudson (which, hello Hot Boy Name alert) are work rivals after they both develop dating-centric apps, and just by that core detail, it’s evident we’re about to get a delicious enemies to lovers romance here. Menon’s novel features witty language and smart female protagonists, which like yes, please! So, Annika is the CEO of her app “Make Up,” which specializes in helping couples stay together, while Hudson is the CEO of his already-more-successful app “Break Up,” which hires terminators to break up with your partner on your behalf. With her business on the verge of failing, Annika’s last hope is to win a pitch competition for a major influx of capital. Which, surprise, he needs that money to continue growing his firm. Also, it turns out these rivals already met, when they spent the week at a conference the year prior, hanging out and hooking up. The plot thickens as she believes Hudson stole and tweaked her app idea after the Vegas conference, and then rented the office down the hall from hers on purpose to drive her out of business.

In the workplace, the pair starts to play silly pranks on one another, but you can’t ignore how freaking flirty this dude is to Annika, like come on, this boy’s got a massive crush and then, on the flip side, she can’t stop thinking about that night in Vegas. It turns out Hudson’s just a good guy that likes the girl and less of an enemy, which like, it’s so predictably cute. He’s basically a lost puppy dog following her around, just blindly in love. And this book is Annika attempting to catch up to him.

The book’s slow-burn and banter are paced exactly right that’s teasing, but still intriguing that you want to keep reading. Speaking of their love story, man, Annika and Hudson have so much fiery chemistry and that massive spark, even when she goes on another date, it’s clear what these two have together. That spark’s on fire and it’s electric. It might be predictable in terms of plot and tropes, but I loved it all the same, in part to these dynamic characters. It’s a quick, all-consuming, can’t-put-it-down romance read that I finished in one sitting.

Towards the end, this book does get super emotional and vulnerable, and full of heart. But in the end, I don’t know why, but I was literally laughing out loud at the real reasons they both made their apps. But yeah, that was such an engaging, witty romance that I definitely, very much enjoyed. The HEA was just adorable, but I just wanted more. A flash-forward, an epilogue, something more.

Available: February 2


Love in English by Maria E. Andreu

First off, Balzer + Bray is fast becoming one of my favorite new publishing imprints for telling witty, compelling, and diverse YA stories about complex teen protagonists with adorable first love tales, so I’m already excited about this read from the get-go.

Here, Ana and her mom just moved to the US from Argentina to join her dad who had already gotten settles. The book picks up on the 16-year-old’s first day of school, and she’s nervous and homesick. Ana is a poet who just hasn’t found the right words in English since immigrating. Immediately, we meet Harrison, a cute boy from her math class who’s like “Netflix series cute,” she’s smitten because of his dashing looks, and of course, he’s in a band. Also, he needs a math tutor and she excels in math, so it’s a perfect fit. Then, she meets Neo from Cyprus in her ESL class. who also knows very little English, even less than she does, and he’s mysterious but slowly they bond over first-time viewings of classic American teen movies and New York City. So, it’s clear there’s a love triangle brewing.

This book is slow to start, but I just want to know more because it does have such an intriguing point of view that we seldom think about as native-born Americans. Ana’s inner thoughts about the English language are amusing and relatable because English is a weird, funny, and complicated language. It’s neat how the author used repeating pound signs in the middle of sentences to show what Ana’s perspective is like and how she knows some words but not all the words we often say in a conversation. As Ana gets to know both boys, she and Neo are just so pure and beyond precious, like it’s adorable. Now, things may get lost in translation with him, but they have a lot in common. This book is not just her love story with a boy or two, but her love story with America, trying new things, and embracing a new culture. It’s absolutely precious and adorable.

Available: February 2


Hot British Boyfriend by Kristy Boyce

NetGalley didn’t have a summary for this book listed when I first requested this ARC, and I didn’t need one to know I had to read this. The title is Hot British Boyfriend, which, like, that’s easily one of my all-time favorite types of love interests, so, um, yes, please. Being such a massive Anglophile and a fan of British love interests, this book immediately had my attention.

And boy, was this quick YA read just as adorable as I could have imagined. Here, Ellie is new to DC after she and her mom just moved to town. The high schooler has an extremely embarrassing, viral moment at a party and her only way to escape that memory for the duration of her senior year is to take the last-minute, open slot on the school’s study abroad trip to England.

As a reader, it is super easy to get insider Ellie’s head and feel deeply for what she’s going through. Now that she’s England-bound, Ellie is dreaming of finding her own British prince charming, which like join the club, girl. Once she arrives at the Manor where the class is studying, she has a meet-cute moment with Dev from her school and he helps her unload her massive suitcases and carry them up the four flights of stairs, and lets her into his inner group of best mates. Then, she meets Will at a flea market in town, and he’s sophisticated, charming, British, and they hit it off and he gets pretty flirty with her. Like, Will is so charming that IDK how, but I really want a British boyfriend now, lol sorry not sorry. So, her friendship with Dev is complicated as she enlists him to tutor her to impress Will, but he doesn’t approve of this snotty boy. It turns out Ellie’s pretending to be a lot of different things to impress Will rather than embrace all her quirks and dorky interests that make her happy. One day, she stumbles upon Dev playing Quidditch and she realizes there’s more to him than just studying, so we get a slow-burn romance with the two of them and a love triangle between the three of them. With the love triangle, both boys like her, however, Dev is the only guy who sees and understands all of her, which makes him too pure for this world.

This read is very captivating and downright adorable, it’s absolutely precious, and I cannot stop smiling. In addition to love, she’s made some very good friends here and had excellent travel adventures, and now I feel all the wanderlust and miss London so freaking much. By the end, once Ellie stops thinking about what she thinks she wants, she realizes what she actually wants and needs, in terms of love, friendships, and her plans. It’s so cute! Also, where do I sign up to get a Hot British Boyfriend now, because I really want one?

Available: February 9


The Night We Met by Zoë Folbigg

This was a sweet, vulnerable, and emotional women’s fiction novel. Set in England, we start in the present when 43-year-old Olivia is in the hospital, on hospice, where she has cancer. While she knows she’s dying, her husband Daniel refuses to give up hope and isn’t ready to lose his wife. Time’s running out for his fashion designer wife and he has been frantically working to find a solution that’ll save her. Knowing she doesn’t have much time left, she asks her journalist hubby to write down their love story so he can tell their two daughters when she’s gone. So, based on that alone, this book starts off super heavy but definitely captivating.

Most of this read is told in flashbacks as we see the story of how they met. In the past, over the course of several years, Daniel kept seeing her around while traveling post-graduation in Australia and New Zealand, when she was in college in London, when he visited her in Milan when she went back home. Over and over again, he was mesmerized every time he saw her in a bunch of near-meetings. We also see Daniel starting off his career after Australia and NZ, plus years earlier when Olivia first got sick and started her treatment. This book features such rich language that plays out like a movie in my head and I can totally see their story unfold. However, all the back-and-forth between 2017, 1996, and 1998 is really abrupt, and it should have been in chronological order rather than just jumping around.

In the book, Daniel was always captivated by this elusive, wild creature that she was and in the present has a deep fear of losing her and will do anything to make sure he doesn’t. The book is written in the third person, but it’s primarily Daniel’s point of view, however, occasionally it switches to Olivia’s or her friend Mimi’s, which comes almost out of nowhere and a bit choppy. Even though it’s a really slow-burn love story, you can tell Daniel always just had eyes for Olivia. Even though, predictably, it ends tragically, the epilogue aims to put a meaningful, optimistic spin on this unexplainably sad moment and show how they’ll always love Olivia as they move forward because she accomplished so much she loved in her short life.

Available: February 11


All Girls by Emily Layden

This is an honest coming-of-age story, full of captivating and descriptive language. This novel is set in the middle-of-nowhere Connecticut at an elite, all-girls boarding school called Atwater. The book starts on the opening day and continues throughout the year, all the way up until graduation and covering all of the school’s important traditions.

Starting on the first day at the school, a former student’s rape allegation starts to get media traction, and it seems like the school is covering things up to save the reputation of a beloved, accomplished teacher by discrediting this alum. The book follows a group of girls starting the school year, from freshman to seniors, and each of their different perspectives and backgrounds as they try to find out the truth that their school’s been hiding for years. We follow various girls from different classes, cliques, who all have different coming-of-age journeys. There, we start with the student newspaper as they try to figure out what happened and how the administration is handling everything. Then, one student hacks into the school newspaper and Instagram pages to post these anti-assault messages that the school tried to censor. Which, like, boo to that school. It’s a captivating mystery trying to deduce what happened and how each girl can relate the alum’s story to their own life and how big of an issue assault and rape is as young women.

Available: February 16


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