6 Books That Have Given Me All the Feels This Month

As the summer’s gone on and on and we’re still hunkered down at home, I’ve spent most of my time buying books, scouting new books, reading more books, and even building a new bookshelf to house my new additions. With each new book I’ve completed, I’ve fallen deeper into each story’s world and the emotional complexities of each story and character.

So, welcome back to Miranda’s Book Nook with some more of my latest book recommendations. I hope you find these books as engaging, fun, and comforting as I have.

Big Friendship by Aminatou Sow and Ann Friedman*

This five-hour audiobook was honestly like a free therapy session about your friendships, and a much-needed one. The authors and narrators, Aminatou Sow and Ann Friedman, bring the conversational tone of their “Call Your Girlfriend” podcast to the audio recording of their memoir and self-help book. Sow and Friedman get everything right about the importance of meaningful friendships, shine theory, the complicated friend web, and the stretch. It makes you want to reach out or give your friends a hug because friends are truly some of our most important relationships we’ll ever have.

As an audiobook, it doesn’t sound like a traditional book on tape, but rather, these ladies use their podcast experience in a way that feels relatable and authentic. Sow and Friedman read the book themselves, with the subjects they interviewed in the book reading their research or anecdotes that make it feel more reliable and genuine. It totally sounds like a podcast, which makes it super easy and engaging to keep listening, with easy to digest, bite-sized chapters. 

The story starts at a point where their friendship has stalled after years together and working as a team, and how they both wanted to work on it. It’s proof that all friendships may need repair, but if it is worth it, then you work on it, Certain sections, okay fine, the whole dang book, hits deeply to your core about emotional topics, especially hearing about ending toxic friendships. We’ve all ended friendships that didn’t provide what we needed, and it makes you think if that decision was made too hasty or if this could have been a big, meaningful friendship if we tried harder, and all that thinking is making me emotional because I get it.

Available: Now


The Heir Affair by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan

Okay, I’ve been waiting for this book for what seems like forever, or however long since Cocks and Morgan first announced they were writing a sequel. Their first regal read, The Royal We, tells the story of Rebecca (Bex) and her royal love Prince Nicholas (Nick) and ends with a private wedding ceremony the night before the big day and a royal pain of a paparazzi threatening to expose Bex’s past with her new hubby’s little brother. So, already, you know there’s A LOT going on.

This book picks up weeks after their less-than-perfect big day as Nick and Bex are away in Scotland on a self-imposed exile to ride out the scandal. However, when a family crisis forces the newly minted Duke and Duchess back to London, the temporary solutions to their marriage issues threaten to come unglued as they face real shit together and individually.  Okay, summary over and it’s time for my thoughts. First, I swear, If Nick and Bex didn’t end up happy together by the end, I was going to actually kick off. Like Nick made my list of Top Book BFs, so he better not muck that up and make me regret that decision. Then, I kept reading and OH THANK THE HEAVENS, I can breathe. And how he was really, truly there for her when she needed him most after suffering a miscarriage. I knew, I always liked him. Also, my favorite character is hands-down the Queen Mum Marta. I love her as she’s just chilling in the palace, tweeting and clapping back anonymously, and thirsting after celebrities on TV. She’s the best. And then Queen Eleanor once she wakes from her stroke, like that b*tch is feisty and strong, and yasss, I love to see it.

Overall, everything is so juicy yet full of raw, vulnerable emotions. That, and it’s just so fun to get lost in, which I did for the full day that I read and finished it the first time. Then, the ending and epilogue, it’ the absolute perfect conclusion to Nick and Bex’s story. I mean, I’d love a full series for selfish reasons, but that’s because I’ve fallen for Nick and Bex as characters and don’t want to leave their world just yet. Seriously, I just want to find out what’s next for the family and if Georgie and Maggie grow up as besties, have more siblings, or move to Iowa. I’d love any more content that they’d give us, but if not, I feel completely satisfied and content but the ending we got in THA.

Available: Now


Here to Stay by Adriana Herrera*

Here’s a fun, indulgent, slow-burn romance read that follows protagonist Julia as she moves to a new city for her boyfriend and a dream job. Soon after the big move, the boyfriend dumps her, and then her dream job is in jeopardy of being cut by management. To figure out the company’s next steps, management hires consultant Rocco Quinn to suss out the essentialness of the company programs. And side note, that name. I mean, Rocco Quinn? Individually, they are both quite “hot guy” names, and like this dude has two of them, so he must be like mega-hot, for sure.

Rocco and Julia have a bit of back and forth banter, and naturally, he’s gorgeous to look at, so things get flirty in true romance book fashion. Julia’s tasked with showing him around the nonprofit program she runs to illustrate that they should keep it going. However, since his job is likely to cut it, she’s poised to dislike him. This is made even more difficult because she fancies the pants off him, and vice versa. With back and forth perspectives, readers see both sides of the story and how they both feel this strong connection and pull even though they shouldn’t, and we get a delish enemies to lovers trope. (It’s my favorite!) Rocco has a promotion on the line, which could help his family and so he must figure out if Julia’s a distraction getting in his way or if she’s The One. It’s a fun romance read, sure, and it’s sort of a slow burn because they are terrible at hiding their flirtation and it picks up steam very fast along the way. Then, what was supposed to be a fling with a shelf life soon gets complicated because they both catch feels in this predictable romance novel. Yet, it was very sweeping and indulgent. That ending was so damn cute, I can’t ignore that. Gotta love a sweet, adorable HEA where everything works out.

Available: August 25


Love Your Life by Sophie Kinsella*

We’ve got a five-star read, y’all! In this lighthearted, fun novel, we follow protagonist Ava as she prepares for an Italian writing retreat to finish writing a book following a disastrous string of bad dates and relationships. She’s going there to strictly focus, however, all that goes out the window as soon as “Dutch” saunters into the retreat.

This book has such an engaging tone and perspective that keeps me reading into the wee hours, because she’s such a relatable lead and I need to find out what happens next. During her anonymous (no personal information given) romance writing retreat, Ava as “Aria” is so taken with this “Dutch” guy who isn’t good at writing or his words but is willing to learn. They can’t reveal any personal details about their real lives, yet these two keep flirting and it’s getting precious. It’s a cute, steamy, fun, and indulgent holiday romance, that’s so fun and enjoyable to read that I finished in a single setting.

Aria and Dutch have such an undeniable pull and connection, which makes for a sweeping romance. The holiday part only lasts for the beginning, and most of the story sees them attempt to bring their holiday fling back to their vastly different real-world lives in London — dogs, jobs, exes, family, and all. Outside the retreat bubble, Ava and Matt (his real name) try to meld their lives and figure out if their vacation love is enough to last. The rose-colored glasses of their holiday romance wears off quickly, but neither of them want to split because they believe they are meant to be and this is real, despite being polar opposites in nearly every sense. Together, they’ve managed to expand each other’s views, and that’s real love: That you can accept that what you think isn’t the end-all-be-all that you think it might be, but rather that they could try something new and still accept one another. It’s like more than just a romance between Ava and Matt, but as they make each other better as individuals and it’s just cute as hell. But side note, I nearly screamed out of sadness if anything tragic was about to happen to precious pooch Harold at the end. That was the most emotionally traumatizing part.

It’s not an easy love story, because, hey, life isn’t easy, and I think that’s why I loved it so much. It’s honest, vulnerable, and authentic. It’s funny, witty, romantic, emotional, and heartfelt. So many emotions in one book and that’s why I fell hard for this book. Wow, just incredible. It’s not just a happy, sugary-sweet romance, but we see raw emotions and growth from both sides, and that’s what makes it special. I didn’t want the story to end, I wanted more and just to see where else their love story and journey goes whether together or apart, well, hopefully together, because that ending was precious. This book gives me all the inspiration to write more, finish more, and move past my own seemingly crippling case of writer’s block, so double win.

Available: October 27


Rent a Boyfriend by Gloria Chao*

This was an adorable and fun YA romantic fiction read. Here, Chloe is home from college over the holidays and hires a fake boyfriend to impress her folks, and oh, I can tell we’re going to get a delicious fake dating trope. Oh, how I do love them in romances.  Both her and Drew (her hired fake BF for the weekend) have notable points of view that are both interesting and sharp to follow. The two couldn’t be more different, yet somehow, opposites attract and they end up seeing each other for real and not just as hired, naturally. Then, their text conversations are like typical YA-level cute. When real Drew and Chloe start dating, it’s precious, although there’s that classic secret dating trope. Sure, they have a cute love story by the end, but the real love is Chloe accepting, loving, and owning herself first. It’s cute and great to see an in-depth look at Chinese-American culture, especially for potentially unfamiliar readers. It’s always interesting to learn about other cultures, and this was an intricate immersion into seeing that.

Available: November 10


Love & Olives by Jenna Evans Welch*

Many YA fans will instantly recognize the author’s name, her now-famous book title style, and cover illustrations, and she’s back with another heartfelt story. This one takes us all the way to Santorini, Greece. I was obviously intrigued by the cover alone: After all, I am a massive fan of Mamma Mia and dream of traveling to Greece. Then, with its 500-page length, that was definitely daunting at the start. But, it was such a quick read full of adventure, romance, and heart.

Here, Olive AKA Liv is sent to Greece for the summer to reconnect with her estranged father and help him with a mysterious project. Instead of her dad, Greek teen Theo is there to pick her up. Even though she has a boyfriend back home in the US, these two have such chemistry and banter that I smell a love triangle brewing. Also, the book is partially set in a bookstore, so it already had a small piece of my heart by the earlier chapters alone. It’s a precious and cute YA read, and that’s just about it. Though the title says “love,” it’s more about the love of family, self-love, and acceptance. But, it’s giving me all of the wanderlust feels and like I just want to go to Greece now, like right now. (Ugh lockdown, boo.)

The intro of each chapter focuses on a different item from her list of “things her dad left behind” a brief flashback of the time before he split. And honestly, that sort of loses the flow between each present-day chapter and all its action. Then, in the last 100 pages or so, you see her open up and be vulnerable, as well as how this list actually makes sense, so just give this book time because it’ll get to that enjoyable stage, eventually.

Available: November 10


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

8 New Book Releases to Keep You Busy This Summer

Since clearly we’ll be spending our summers cooped up inside during this whole extended pandemic, we need to have an arsenal of activities at the ready to keep us busy. My solution is obviously to read a lot. Think, even if you can’t go or travel anywhere, then at least you can travel inside your books to imaginative lands and places.

Miranda’s Book Nook is back just in time for summer fun with a slate of new, original reads that are sure to keep you entertained no matter what.

Camp Girls by Iris Krasnow

This is the right memoir for any former sleepaway camper. Camp Girls captures the magic of sleepaway camp that any former camper or counselor will know all too well. As a former camper who spent eight summers in the Minnesota wilderness at a small all-girls sleepaway camp, I couldn’t stop grinning at the biography’s authenticity and Krasnow’s reasons why camp is so special to so many of us.

The memoir is told through the author’s own biographical memories, camper testimonials, and plenty of research, and Krasnow told a compelling tale about why camp matters to so many of us. I swear, with every chapter and new story introduced, I kept thinking back to my own wacky camp stories and friends! I just couldn’t stop smiling, laughing, or even crying. The book itself did feel quite short in terms of page length: I wanted more. I wanted it to trigger even more memories because camp was such a special place for me, and this book made me yearn to remember how far I’ve come and how camp has made me, well, me.

Available: Now!


The Trouble with Hating You by Sajni Patel

Enemies-to-lovers is my favorite romance trope because the romance feels justified and earned by the time the leads realize their feelings. This novel lives up to that and is 100 percent adorable. Totally squeal-worthy. I love how independent our protagonist Liya is and how cute Jay is as he’s head over heels in love with her, even when she tried to push him away. Seriously, I could feel my heart beating so loud during this sweeping, romantic, and cute story! In fact, I couldn’t stop reading this story even way past midnight; I just had to find out what happened next because their love story feels so real, authentic, and earned as these two people break past their boundaries to eventually find love and acceptance.

The book starts where headstrong engineer Liya walks out the door of a dinner party set up with an eligible bachelor whom her folks are trying to marry her off to. It’s a shock to both of them when Liya keeps spotting her one-time suitor around town, and it’s Jay. Jay has everything right on paper, but after Liya’s behavior during that first meeting he’s embarrassed and infuriated to see her. Although, that tension is too much to resist in this second chance love story.

Liya is realistic and a character that you can relate to, from seeing her break down and let him into her world and her heart, which was so moving to read. Also telling this story using diverse characters is a huge step for the genre in terms of representation and what we need more of: more perspectives and different people’s stories. The book is beyond cute by the end and I just need a sequel right now to see where their love story went. Completely precious.

Available: Now!


Rodham by Curtis Sittenfeld

No one should be surprised that a Sittenfeld novel earns five stars from me. After all, I still re-read Eligible a few times a year. Her newest novel reimagines Hillary Clinton’s life and political career stemming from one question, “What if she hadn’t married Bill Clinton?”

The fact that this compelling novel was based upon one of my feminist heroes and was authored by one of my favorite authors, I was initially drawn to this book. Then once I started it, I just couldn’t put it down until I finished it! The beginning feels a bit like Hillary Clinton’s biography, but that just proves how well researched it was on Sittenfeld’s part. Then, you get into her fictionalized portrayal of relationships, career What Ifs, and more.

It’s so cute, interesting, and feisty and fierce at the same time, I honestly couldn’t stop reading. Sittenfeld’s portrayal of Hillary is everything a young Miranda emulated and to see that woman can be strong and powerful without the help of a man was inspiring and just everything. Much like Eligible, I couldn’t put it down and yearned to finish it in a single sitting. (Mission accomplished on that front!) This book is like the empowering twist of history we’ve needed and yearned for since 2016 and I’m so glad to have read it.

Available: May 19


Troop 6000 by Nikita Stewart

As a Girl Scout alumna, I was touched to pick up this true story about how the first Girl Scout troop out of a New York homeless shelter was started, as well as both the leaders’ and girls’ commitment to the core values of Scouts that made my heart swell. The nonfiction read also provided an in-depth look at the homelessness crisis in New York, amongst other cities, and shined a light on these kids and their lives and hopes. The book shows that despite all our differences, at the end of the day, everyone is an equal Girl Scout sister and it’s such an inspiring story that makes you as a reader want to do more to help.

The book depicts the growth and eventual popularity of this new troop as readers get an inside look at troop leader and founder Giselle Burgess, her family of five kids, and other Scouts and their families from the troop. New York Times journalist Nikita Stewart accurately told the life stories and dreams of these Scouts and their families for an authentic portrayal. It’s a remarkable story and I’m glad it was shared with the world.

Available: May 19


Happy and You Know It by Laura Hankin

While it takes a minute to figure out the different chapter perspectives and get into the root of the story in the witty read, it soon evolves into a very interesting and compelling read. The chapters are quite lengthy, however, it reads quickly thanks to an engaging storytelling that you just want to keep reading to find out what happens next.

The book starts when a struggling Manhattan musician is hired to play music for a mommy-and-me playgroup amongst NYC’s elite residents. Musician Claire is soon pulled into these women’s oh-so-glamorous lives and dangerous secrets. They make up an Instagram-perfect clique: hostess with the most-ess Whitney is an aspiring influencer, recent SAHM Amara is struggling to adapt to her new role, and old-money Gwen is quick to dole out Mommy advice as a mom of two. Soon, spending time with these moms, Claire is thrust into their glamorous world and discovers unsettling truths that could tear the group apart for good.

In the book, the twist at the end in regards to one of the characters is wow, just so unexpected, like, huh she’s truly an evil genius with chutzpah. Doing all of the *this* for her babies and her families. The book keeps getting juicier with every secret out, which there is plenty, and I couldn’t stop reading until it was way past midnight and I finished the book.

Available: May 19


Recipe for Persuasion by Sonali Dev

It’s a sweet women’s fiction novel, with clear callbacks to Jane Austen’s Persuasion. However, the three different perspectives came out of nowhere from the start, especially our protagonist Ashna’s mom’s POV. In contrast, The two characters of Ashna and Rico, you expect to be the different perspectives but not her mom, Shobi. It does help add to the story to make it way more than just a romance between a man and a woman, but also a relationship between mother and daughter. Shobi’s storyline is very, very different from Ashna and Rico’s the one who got away trope. It just caught me off guard at first. The different points of view are quite drastic flipping between one another, and without any chapter headers to help guide readers, and different timelines all over the place, it’s confusing when reading.

In the novel, chef Ashna Raje is desperately looking for a new way to save her family restaurant. Her plan becomes to win the “Cooking with the Stars,” a cooking show competition inspired by Dancing with the Stars. However, she certainly didn’t plan on hopeless cook and soccer star Rico Silva to be her partner, especially considering he was her [secret] first love. But, the viewers are obsessed with their flame-worthy chemistry and ok, fine, so am I.

The story is a complete slow burn, and by more than halfway,  you’re still wondering where is the *big* moment or something. I feel like I’m just waiting and waiting for the big climax and something to happen. But the book is well written and intriguing and certainly drew me in, but maybe that’s because I just wanted more. The time jumps are unclear and abrupt, there needs to be a header or a different font or italics to signify a flashback from the present day. As is, without something, there’s an element of confusion. All in all, the story does put a diverse spin on a Jane Austen classic, which is great to see in today’s world. It’s cute that’s for sure, but that’s about it. I’d give it a modest three stars.

Available: May 26


Ghosting: A Love Story by Tash Skilton

This book feels just like the movie You’ve Got Mail, but with a modern twist using the realm of dating apps. This enemies-to-lovers tale follows two rival dating app ghostwriters (which I was shocked to learn is a real job!) in a completely predictable yet sugary-sweet romance. From the beginning, I could immediately tell where the plot and characters were headed, and it took forever to build and get there;  almost too long. It’s a super cute read, but honestly, it’s nothing groundbreaking. Everything is expected.

In a Cyrano-type scenario, dating app ghostwriters Zoey and Miles (in back-and-forth perspectives) first only see each other as the jerk who hogs the best table at the coffee shop that they are both trying to work in. Soon, unbeknownst to the two them, they help ghostwrite and manage the dating app profiles of two clients interested in one another. Soon, Zoey and Miles (as their clients) find themselves bantering back and forth at all hours and turns out, they themselves have a bit of a love connection on their hands.

The sugary-sweet love story is a bit boring, and one I’ve seen play out again and again. I just wanted something new and more. But that being said, the end was equal parts adorable, steamy, and romantic. Hey, you gotta love a good enemies to lovers trope.

Available: May 26


500 Miles From You by Jenny Colgan

This was an engaging, quick read from the get-go and one that gave me so much wanderlust to return to London and visit Scotland. At first, the dual viewpoints switching back and forth is a bit confusing without chapter headings, but other than that, their perspectives are quite obvious. Both Lissa and Cormac make compelling protagonists in their own right and I liked following their stories, quite compelling. Think “The Holiday” but with medicine, because that’s basically the setup here as we follow two simultaneous fish-out-of-water stories and slowly, very slowly, a friendship builds. But, the pacing and timing of everything feels completely honest and genuine and it worked.

After an on-the-job traumatic event, nurse practitioner Lissa is sent from her bustling London hospital into the small town of Kirrinfief in Scotland for a change of pace. She swaps jobs and houses with army veteran and fellow nurse practitioner Cormac as they adapt to new roles and cities. But, they have each other to confide in, well, through email. But once their work emails turn to daily, constant texts (and even exchanging drawings), it’s clear they both feel something different is on the horizon. 

The novel is a love letter to small country life more than anything and I couldn’t stop smiling, for the most part. The end does feel quite abrupt like after finally meeting, after several near misses, they just jump into a kiss and a relationship. And for a relationship that was so slow, authentic, and cautious, this just feels a bit forced to make sure we cram a HEA in before the book ends. Also, I wasn’t the biggest fan of the epilogue and I’m not sure it was totally necessary in the first place. Sure, the part with the transplant family was so sweet, but other than that, nothing between Cormac and Lissa was resolved really, and that’s where I wanted to see the romance unfold in the epilogue, based on the book’s timing. Other than that, it was a very cute book that makes me want to head to the UK, like, right now.

Available: June 9


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

March/April 2018 Reading List

After quickly completing my January and February reading lists, once again I was on the hunt for some new reads. And so, what naturally follows? Heading to Barnes & Noble to browse through every single fiction aisle and shelf and see what strikes my fancy, naturally. And boy, did I find enough. Armed with a heavy bag of new books, I left the store ready to begin these new reading adventures.

“Bachelor Nation: Inside the World of America’s Favorite Guilty Pleasure” by Amy Kaufman

This nonfiction debut book from L.A. Times writer and self-proclaimed “Bachelor” fan, Amy Kaufman. Kaufman researched and interviewed experts to find out what really goes down in the Bachelor mansion while filming the hit reality franchise, and exploring why we all turn in week to week to watch it all unfold.

As an avid watcher of the franchise (lol could you tell from this blog??) and its fictional counterpart “UnREAL,” I was definitely as intrigued as I read the revelations from Kaufman’s original New York Post excerpt. I was curious, and so: reading list, here we go!

It wasn’t until Lifetime debuted “UnREAL,” that I even truly comprehended that something like “The Bachelor” or other reality shows were so produced. (I always knew they were scripted ala “Kardashians” but the dirty deeds of production? I was completely in the dark like most members of Bachelor Nation.) This book truly opened my eyes to how one of my ultimate guilty pleasures, so from now on (like Becca K’s ex showing up on this recent season? Come on.), in the name of media literacy, I can now comprehend what is actually going on and take the show as it is (a pleasure-filled dramatic television series) with a grain of salt. An interesting look at the psychology of a popular television franchise, how it gets made, and why we continue to enjoy watching such a trainwreck of drama.

“The Recipe Box” by Viola Shipman

The recently released novel explores the life of Sam, a busy sous chef for a hot New York bakery. Her life isn’t going as she planned, so she returns home to her small Michigan town to take inventory of her family’s orchard and pie shop. There, she discovers secrets and memories of her family, one recipe at a time in the heirloom recipe box. The inside cover continues, “As Sam discovers what matters most in her life, she opens her heart to a man she left behind but who now might be the key to her happiness.”

It seems intriguing, with a hint of cheesy romance often found in corny Hallmark romance movies. I’m in.

 

 

“Young Jane Young” by Gabrielle Zevin

The new novel by “The Storied Life of AJ Fikry” author illustrates the world of protagonist Aviva, a former congressional intern who was once the center of a political scandal that now may threaten her own bid for political office years later. The inside summary reads that this novel is a “smart, funny, serious, and moving novel about the myriad of ways in which roles are still circumscribed for women, whether they are young, ambitious interns; mothers attempting to steer their daughters through a male-dominated world; political wives facing an age-old knowledge that fidelity isn’t always honored; or young girls feeling bold about their many choices before they release the gender restrictions all around them.”

Seems interesting, especially as it tackles important issues that women still face everyday. Andddd… to page one we go.

“Hot Mess” by Emily Belden

In this installment of Miranda Reads Cheesy Millennial-Type Novels, Emily Belden’s “Hot Mess” seemed to intrigue me in such a way. The story centers around Allie, a twentysomething who is so infatuated by her love for sought-after, culinary genius Benji, despite storied past struggling with addiction and living an often-reckless lifestyle. When he is offered the job of a lifetime in creating a hot New York restaurant, Allie follows her love and takes a giant leap: investing her life savings in the establishment. What happens when Benji takes off on a relapse, leaving Allie alone with “nothing but a massive withdrawal slip” and an approaching opening day. She is suddenly thrust into the “world of luxury and greed, cutthroat business and sensory delight. Lost in the mess of it all, she can either crumble completely or fight like hell for the life she wants and the love she deserves.”

Seems promising and interesting to say the least, in a typical Millennial-centric novel, but let’s give it a shot.

“Needles and Pearls” by Gil McNeil

I was fascinated by Gil McNeil’s “Needles and Pearls” novel, which focuses on widow Jo, a year after her husband’s death, where she is finally getting used to being a single parent to her sons and her yarn shop is doing quite well to boot. But then, a man from her past arrives as well as a new romance with a local carpenter develops to “make life a whole lot more interesting.” The book tackles if Jo can “cope when things get complicated.”

Hm, tell me more… Guess I better read to find out?

 

 

 

Keep on reading! 💖