The 20 Best Books I’ve Read in 2020

This crazy, insane, bizarre year is finally almost over. And as you well know by now, I’ve coped with that time and everything I was dealing with by reading more and more books. Between purchasing books I was looking forward to or reviewing new ARCs (courtesy of NetGalley), I read so many new books that I can barely fit them on my bookshelves and much less count how many of them I completed during lockdown. While it’d be way too long of a post to recap each new book I read, I narrowed it down to the top 20 (get it, 20 in 20??). So, keep reading for the best books I’ve read in this freaking insane year, and hopefully, at least one of them gives you TBR inspiration when you need it.

One to Watch by Kate Stayman-London

Ever since I read this ARC and then purchased a print edition after its pub day, I’ve been hooked. It may be my penchant, err fine, obsession for all things Bachelor Nation and reality TV, but this book was so intriguing about the behind the scenes of such a production. It also stars a plus-size, body-positive lead, which is such a new change for adult fiction, and a long time coming one at that. This book was so refreshing, endearing, honest, authentic, sweeping, and fun. Hey, it was even a five-star read from me! I just couldn’t put it down and absolutely adored it. 

The book followed plus-size fashion blogger Bea Schumacher, who becomes the new show lead of the hit Main Squeeze reality show after her tweets and blog post about the show’s lack of diversity goes viral. And after a major breakup that left her reeling, this is the perfect chance to get over that and up her brand all at once. While she claims she’s only here to promote better beauty messages and not to fall in love, things get complicated when she meets some dashing, charming suitors who may help her find the real-life HEA she didn’t know she was missing. This book is funny and witty; equal parts empowering, glamorous, and indulgent. It’s very juicy, and was I just so intrigued and hooked.

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Beach Read by Emily Henry

Everyone was talking about this book this summer, and for good reason, because it’s so darn cute and impactful that I just devoured it in mere days. Here, romance writer January Andrews and acclaimed literary fiction author Augustus Everett are living in neighboring beach houses for the summer, both broke and suffering from writer’s block. One evening, the two opposites place a bet that they can each write something different: Augustus will pen a story with a happily ever after, while January must take a stab at the next Great American Novel. The plan is for each of them to finish their book and for no one to fall in love. She takes him on inspirational field trips worthy of a rom-com, and he takes her to investigate some backwoods death cult. While embarking on these field trips and sending inspirational ‘beat that writer’s block’ notes from their respective windows, it’s obvious that the only place they want to be is with one another.

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You Have a Match by Emma Lord

This was another five-star read that I just couldn’t get enough of, and just made me positively sob. It’s set at a summer camp, and I adored all of the different 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. 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, I can’t imagine not having read You Have a Match, and in a way, it’s made me feel closer to my late 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. So, the DNA test revealed that Abby has a secret full sister, Savannah, who’s 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. Then, there’s also a precious slow-burn romance between Abby and her best friend and neighbor, Leo. 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.

Read the Book starting January 12


The Hating Game by Sally Thorne

So, in all honesty, I had seen this contemporary romance on bookstore shelves for a while now but had no real pull to pick it up. Then, I saw something on Instagram about the movie starring Lucy Hale, who side note is the perfect casting for main character Lucy. Seeing that inspired me to check out the summary for this enemies-to-lovers romance, which had me hooked. I pretty much immediately Amazon’d a copy to my front door. And boy, am I glad because I couldn’t put this fun, engaging read down. Here, Lucy Hutton and Joshua Templeman are rival executive assistants to co-CEOs of a publishing company. When news of a promotion is on the table, their hating game ramps up a notch as their daily battles hit a fever pitch. However, all this tension between the two has reached its fever pitch too and they discover maybe they don’t hate each other after all. It’s such a fun E2L romance read that I cannot wait to see play out on the big screen.

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Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares by David Levithan and Rachel Cohn

After devouring the Netflix adaptation, I knew I had to check out the book. And guess what, it definitely lives up to the holiday and bookish goodness of the TV series. This is definitely the best of all three of the books in the D&L series, but they are all great with such a fun, dreamy meet-cute premise and gah, it’s beyond adorable. Here, when Lily is all alone for the holiday, her brother helps to create a scavenger puzzle in a red Moleskine, to be left at The Strand. Which, side note, this is like all I want in my serious lack of a love life, just saying. So, a surly teen Dash finds the book and accepts its dares. Soon, they start trading dares, hopes, dreams, and desires all over New York City, oh and feelings too. It’s beyond cute, every bit as adorable as the show, and gives me all the fun butterflies while reading.

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Heiress Apparently by Diana Ma

This was an unexpected five-star read that I still can’t stop thinking about because I just want to read it again. It’s like Crazy Rich Asians meets American Royals, and since I loved both books, this was obviously a must. And every part of this lives up to that hype. It’s a coming-home story and one of pursuing her dreams. Once aspiring actress Gemma meets her doppelganger cousin when she arrives in China to film her first movie, she discovers a long-held family secret. The book is full of drama, secrets, dreams coming true, and it’s so captivating and engaging. It’s more than just a YA story, it is so rich and wow, I loved it. Every single page, chapter, and character. 

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The Duke and I by Julia Quinn

From the first moment I heard Shonda Rhimes was producing a TV series based on this juicy AF book series, I knew it was something I needed. But naturally, I had to read the books first. So, I started with this first one and was so hooked that I had to quickly order Anthony’s and Colin’s sequels soon after. If this Netflix is every bit as witty, indulgent, fun, and romantic as this book then it’s sure to be a winner. Here, we start with Simon and Daphne’s story. Daff is hoping to secure a suitable prospect by the end of this Season, someone who isn’t as horrendous as Nigel Berbrooke. Meanwhile, Simon, the Duke of Hastings, wants to avoid all the marriage-minded society mothers parading their daughters around him. So, they hatch a scheme to enter a fake courtship to boost her profile slash eligibility, and lower his. But, of course, fake dating only opens the door to real feelings. This quick read got me more into the historical genre and this series, and it’s just so fun, grandiose, salacious, and romantic.

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Meet You in the Middle by Devon Daniels

I’ve actually read my digital ARC some four times in completion already, and then just its sweeping HEA an additional 2-3 times when I want to feel that level of comfort all over again. This romance novel is just that cute yet grounded. A slow-burn can be hard to feel connected to, but Kate and Ben’s quick-witted, feisty, and playful banter makes it delicious. That, and you can’t keep me from a good enemies-to-lovers book starring these two congressional aides from opposite sides of the aisle and the office building; that makes the inevitable romance so much more earned and justified by the time the HEA does happen. I just can’t wait to order a physical copy, so I can read this story an additional ten more times.

Read the Book starting February 2

 


Pretending by Holly Bourne

From page one, narrator April is snarky, relatable, witty, and I just love this tone and language. It’s so relatable and fun that I just want to keep reading because April feels so honest and real. She’s vulnerable and genuine, making a stellar protagonist and I’m so invested in her journey and story. Now, April, at the beginning, hasn’t exactly had the best luck with dating, and she’d fed up with that. So, she’s after revenge on any guy that’s hurt any girl and made them worthless. She sets out to make a new dating profile and date (or catfish) men as Gretel, the girl in her head that she thinks men want and is the complete opposite of the real her. This way she can break their hearts like they so often do to her. She matches with Joshua, and their first date is super cute, except that she’s pretending to be someone else. But, this experiment is helping the real her because April is becoming more confident and not overanalyzing every little detail, but of course, she starts to see they are quite compatible even though she’s admitted that he’s not good-looking, not bad-looking, and not a good kisser.

All in all, this book is witty and captivating, and I can’t put it down; I have to keep reading.  I loved this read because I get it, everything April feels, and it’s real, authentic yet still frothy, light, and fun that keeps you turning the pages. So many women’s fiction nowadays revolve around a man or romance, and getting a man to fall in love with a girl, her needing or wanting love. And it’s refreshing to see that this book isn’t that because love and relationships are real, raw, and messy, just like life really is. 

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Shine by Jessica Jung

I’d heard a lot about this next read before I even picked it up off the YA shelf. Sure, the summary was intriguing: All about a teenaged K-pop trainee eager to live her dream and make it into a band. Oh, and the shiny love story with a fellow K-pop star didn’t hurt. But, in all honesty, I didn’t know what to expect when I’d actually start reading it, and OMG, this YA debut novel delivers! It was absolutely precious and a book I just couldn’t put down.

Here, seventeen-year-old Korean-American Rachel Kim loves K-pop and would do just about anything to be chosen for a group and live her dreams. Six years ago, she’s recruited by Korean label DB Entertainment as a trainee where the rules are clear. Train and practice all the time. Be perfect. Don’t date. At first, the rules seem like no-brainers, but soon enough, Rachel realizes all the dark scandals of the controlling industry and the pressure to constantly be perfect, and she questions everything and if she has what it takes to shine and be the star. Plus, once she captures the attention of DB golden boy, K-pop superstar, Jason Lee, the rules get increasingly difficult to mindlessly follow. He’s the label’s big star, has the voice of an angel that blends in perfect harmony with hers, is flirty and charming, and only seems to have eyes for her. This book pulls the veil back on the glamorous, picture-perfect world of K-pop and K-pop girl groups, which is so interesting to get this behind-the-scenes viewpoint, plus an empowering protagonist, amazing sets, and a sweet-as-doughnuts teen romance.

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Sex and Vanity by Kevin Kwan

The second I first learned that Kevin Kwan was coming out with his first new book since the worldwide phenomenon that is the Crazy Rich Asians trilogy, I was stoked. Here, we get a brand-new tale of a young woman torn between two men: her influential WASPy fiancé and George Zao, the man her family’s tried to keep away from her since she was a teenager. This book was so indulging and deliciously decadent that I just couldn’t put it down and had to devour it in a single setting.

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Rodham by Curtis Sittenfeld

Sittenfeld’s 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! 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, feisty, and fierce at the same time, I honestly couldn’t stop reading. Sittenfeld’s portrayal of Hillary is everything a young Miranda wanted to be and to see that woman can be strong and powerful without the help of a man was inspiring. 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.

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Act Like a Lady by the Ladygang

The hosts and besties behind the “LadyGang” podcast wrote this advice-filled, self-help, and humorous guidebook about what it means to be a woman in the twenty-first century. It’s a fun yet relatable book of essays that’ll inspire just about any girl to rise up and be a powerful force to be reckoned with. From taking on lessons with dating, friendship, career, self-confidence, and more, it’s all the message we all need to hear more. It’s empowering as heck and something most women should have in their arsenal to remember. These pearls of wisdom make a perfect coffee table book for any millennial apartment. 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. 

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Kate in Waiting by Becky Albertalli

A close runner-up is her cowritten Yes No Maybe So novel, but this ARC just bewitched my soul as a reader. The summary sounded so intriguing and fun on its own when I first saw it. Also,  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. 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.

Read the Book starting April 20


Four Days of You and Me by Miranda Kenneally

As I’ve previously mentioned, I’ve been reading other books by Miranda Kenneally for years, so drawn to the strong characterizations, friendships, and of course HEA and love stories. And her latest YA novel has not disappointed me. It’s teeming with dramatics, yet feels grounded and relatable, and I love it no matter how many times I restart it.

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

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The Fangirl’s Guide to the Universe by Sam Maggs

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. 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. Fangirls unite, it’s time to suit up and change the universe!

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Together, Apart by Erin A. Craig

This was everything I’ve needed to stay sane and happy during lockdown. Nine acclaimed, witty, and popular YA authors did what they do best and wrote short stories starring diverse and complex teens facing the pandemic, lockdown, and adorable first love stories. Each story was equally compelling and told a complete story with an interesting protagonist who learns that love always finds its way. The characters and storylines are all relatable, endearing, and engaging which makes the story so much fun, authentic, and beyond precious.

There’s one about a cute pizza delivery boy who gives the new girl in town a free book and cake; one where a girl is desperate to impress her crush on TikTok; two dog walkers getting closer; a new boy in town who can’t stop thinking about the girl next door; an enemies-to-lovers sitch from across apartment balconies; an unexpected romance that stems from a fortune reading and a take-out order; a flirty exchange that begins over two balcony herb gardens, a roommate enemies-to-lovers journey; and a mask-making entrepreneur and her famous crush. There’s something for every romance fan, and it’s just absolutely adorable and heart-melting. They are all so freaking cute in their own way between the love stories and the HEAs. It was something to make me smile during such a freaking hard time.

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Dearly by Margaret Atwood

In this brand-new book of poetry from acclaimed author Margaret Atwood, there’s an assortment of compelling and impactful poems, each that tells a story full of compelling language. These poems aim to make you think, feel, dream, desire, yearn — basically all of the feels.

Each poem effortlessly flows from one to the next and the book is impeccably organized, where I can see how poems and stories are related to each other with its seamless, well-positioned transitions. The tones and points of view are very realistic to the modern world, and while most are less doe-eyed optimistic, it skews on the darker side. There’s definitely a motif of sisterhood and women sticking together in their fight for survival, forgiveness, love, and strength. The poems have such rich language and captivating word choice that tells complex stories that capture the readers due to strong symbols and metaphors.

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The Trouble With Hating You by Sajni Patel

Seriously, re-reading this gave me all of the zings and goosebumps, even more than the first time. Like, every time I read this, and Jay and Liya realize their feelings, I swear, I can feel my heart beating so loud. This romance read is sweeping, romantic, and adorable. It’s hard to resist.

This novel lives up to that and is 100 percent adorable and 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. 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.

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The Boys’ Club by Erica Katz

I was intrigued from the get-go while reading thanks to its relatable language that feels like you are in the main character’s head. It reads very quickly and is really intriguing. In this women’s fiction novel, 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.

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14 Books I Could Re-Read Over and Over Again

Sure, I have a long TBR and a completely full bookshelf (so full that I just had to purchase another shelf because I have too many books), but sometimes you just want to read something comforting. Something that you loved so much and connected to so much, that you just have to re-read it. Hey, it happens.

So, here’s a list of some of the books from my bookshelf to yours that I could just read again and again and never tire of the story.

Four Days of You And Me by Miranda Kenneally

As I’ve previously mentioned, I’ve been reading other books by Miranda Kenneally for years, so drawn to the strong characterizations, friendships, and of course HEA and love stories. And her latest YA novel has not disappointed me. It’s teeming with dramatics, yet feels grounded and relatable, and I love it no matter how many times I restart it.

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Meet You in the Middle by Devon Daniels

I’ve legit read my digital ARC some 3-4 times in completion by now, and then just the HEA an additional 2-3 times when I want to feel that level of comfort all over again. This romance novel is just that cute, yet grounded. A slow-burn can be hard to feel connected to, but Kate and Ben’s quick-witted, feisty, and playful banter makes it delicious. That, and you can’t keep me from a good enemies-to-lovers book; that makes the inevitable romance so much more earned and justified by the time the HEA does happen. I just can’t wait to order a physical copy, so I can read this story an additional ten more times.

Read The Book: Available beginning May 4, 2021

 


The Royal We by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan

Gimme a royal romance book any day of the week and I’ll devour it. This book and its sequel have everything I love: regal characters, a sweeping romcom-worthy love story, and London as a setting. It’s basically Prince William and Kate Middleton’s love story but fictionalized, as if she was American. And I love it — every single time I pick it up off my shelf for a reread. Both books are so full of drama and emotion, which like, it has everything I want in a book.

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Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld

This book is a modern-day retelling of Pride and Prejudice, so right off the bat, it’s already intriguing. There’s a slew of interesting characters, and it still feels new and current, even if many of the stories are based on a classic. Plus, Liz and Darcy eventually discover they have feisty back-and-forth banter that’ll translate very well into crazy, unexplainable chemistry. Even though the page count may seem daunting, I’ve still managed to polish off a reread in a single day.

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The Trouble With Hating You by Sajni Patel

Seriously, re-reading this gave me all of the zings and goosebumps, even more than the first time. Like, every time I read this, and Jay and Liya realize their feelings, I swear, I can feel my heart beating so loud. This romance read is sweeping, romantic, and adorable. It’s hard to resist.

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Act Like a Lady by the LadyGang

The hosts and besties behind the “LadyGang” podcast wrote this advice-filled, self-help, and humorous guidebook about what it means to be a woman in the twenty-first century. It’s a fun yet relatable book essays that’ll inspire just about any girl to rise up and be a powerful force to be reckoned with. From taking on lessons with dating, friendship, career, self-confidence, and more, it’s all the message we all need to hear more. It’s empowering as heck and something most women should have in their arsenal to remember. These pearls of wisdom make a perfect coffee table book for any millennial apartment. 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. 

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One to Watch by Kate Stayman-London

I loved this ARC so much, I had to preorder the hardcopy in advance of its pub day. It’s the exact type of women’s fiction novels that I love. It’s so refreshing, endearing, authentic, sweeping, and just tons of fun. It tackles the world of The Bachelor if they’d cast more body positive and diverse contestants, and that’s all we want, ABC; it’s real life. All. We. Want. Anyway, this book is funny and witty; equal parts empowering, glamorous, and indulgent and I was so drawn in by the entire premise and plot twists.

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No Offense by Meg Cabot

It’s such a fun read, and one I couldn’t put down while I devoured each chapter of my ARC. Now, that it’s officially out to the world, I can’t wait to get my hands on a hard copy and fall in love with this bookish romance. Leads John and Molly have such a bright spark between the two of them, and like, wowza, I’m obsessed and just have stars in my eyes. There’s romance, friendship, small-town gossip, and a big mystery full of intrigue; it has everything!

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By the Book by Julia Sonneborn

I’ve re-read this bookish romance countless times since I first grabbed it off of a Barnes & Noble shelf years ago. It’s just completely precious and enduring. This novel isn’t too cheesy-romantic, but feels honest, realistic, and current. Like, for any book nerds out there, there’s one of the most sweeping romantic scenes in this book — and it happens twice! Plus, Adam builds Anne her dream library, which makes me melt even more.

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You Deserve Each Other by Sarah Hogle

The second I finished this ARC, on a one-way plane ride, I knew I had to order a hardcopy. To which, I re-read in a single day when it arrived. It’s not any ordinary romance, because it starts out just the opposite. But, with time and pages, you get to see firsthand how Nick and Naomi slowly warm to each other again as accomplices, teammates, best friends, and lovers to become even stronger. It’s not a romance where you expect the lead couple to be together without any problems, but Nicholas and Naomi have to work for love and to open up, discovering who they are as individuals in the process. By the time they reclaim their love, it feels earned and justified. It’s well-written and intriguing and had me hanging onto every last word.

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Girl Gone Viral by Alisha Rai

As soon as I read this contemporary romance ARC, I was hooked. So, much so, that I had to preorder a physical copy the moment I finished it. I couldn’t put it down, any time I’ve re-started, it’s just so intriguing, fun, and squeal-worthy. Like, Kat has all the zings between her and Jas, and just from reading, so do I. I couldn’t stop smiling for one moment while reading; I was hooked from the very first page.

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Love York Life by Sophie Kinsella

The minute I finished this ARC, I was hooked. It’s a lighthearted, fun holiday romance slash opposites-attract love story. This book has such an engaging tone and perspective that keeps me reading into the wee hours of the morning, because Ava’s such a relatable lead and I need to find out what happens next. 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. Once the rose-colored glasses of their holiday romance wears off, 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 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.

Read The Book: Available beginning October 27


Heiress Apparently (Daughters of the Dynasty) by Diana Ma

This was an unexpected five-star read that I still can’t stop thinking about, because I just want to start over and read again. It’s like Crazy Rich Asians meets American Royals, and since I loved both books, this was obviously a must. And every part of the text lives up to that. It’s a coming-home story and one of pursuing her dreams. Once Gemma meets her doppelganger cousin, she begins to discover a long-held family secret. This book is so intriguing, and if a full series is actually coming, then I CANNOT WAIT! The book is full of drama, secrets, dreams coming true, and it’s so captivating and engaging. It’s a meaningful story about a family’s bond. It’s more than just a YA story, it is so rich and wow, I loved it. Every single page, chapter, and character. 

Read The Book: Available beginning December 1


You Had Me at Hola by Alexis Daria

This is the absolute perfect summer beach read of the year, and I enjoyed devouring every single morsel of Jasmine and Ashton’s journey to love in my ARC. Readers are thrust into soap star Jasmine’s fast-paced Hollywood world immediately, and I’m captivated and just want to keep reading. Both telenovela star Ashton and Jasmine have their own complex backstories, which makes them so much more vulnerable, intriguing, and dynamic as characters. It’s a quick, indulgent telenovela-inspired romance read and I’m obsessed.

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10 Adorable New Reads That I’m Obsessing Over Right Now

It’s a crazy, scary, fearful time we live in and sometimes it feels hard to move forward. One way I cope is obviously through reading, and um yea, I’ve been reading a lot. Like, one book every day or every other day. (Hey, it’s the only way to get through my 15+ TBR!) In between devouring the new Hunger Games book, The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, (which I don’t dislike teen Snow, but I don’t exactly like him), about 12 more new ARCs (thanks a million, Netgalley!), and keeping up with my daily responsibilities, I’ve certainly found ways to stay busy. And now, I want to share that knowledge with all you, my lovely readers. And so, welcome back to Miranda’s Book Nook with a handful of my latest book recommendations that are perfect to keep you busy and engaged during this crazy, anxious, and uncertain time. I hope you pick ’em up and fall in love with these rich stories just as I have.

Times Like These by Laura Carter

It’s the story of four different yet close friends, almost like sisters: Hannah, Rosalie, Andrea, and Sofia. They are each at different points in their lives both professionally and personally, and the book does a good job of getting into each character’s mindset.

Each chapter is about a different girl and all are very descriptive in its language. There’s quite a bit of British slang/terms, which sure, makes sense considering the author and publisher, however, the characters are American, which makes these terms all the more confusing and feel out of place. Other than that, I couldn’t stop reading once I was in the depths of it. Sure each character has problems, but they are written with such vulnerability and emotions. Seeing this bond between the girls and the enduring power of friendship is heartwarming to read as these pals must figure out how they fit into each other’s different lives and if their bond is strong enough to survive their different and changing worlds.

Available: June 29


One to Watch by Kate Stayman-London

FIVE-STAR READ ALERT! OK, I don’t know if I can fit into words everything I thought about this book because it was refreshing, endearing, honest, authentic, sweeping, and fun. I couldn’t put it down and absolutely adored it, hence my rating. Before I started reading, I was initially intrigued about seeing a plus-size, body positive lead of a romance/women’s fiction book coupled with the setting of a dating TV show ala The Bachelor. All in all, it was set to perfectly align with my reading habits. And boy, did this book deliver. 

The book followed plus-size fashion blogger Bea Schumacher, who becomes the new show lead of the hit Main Squeeze reality show after her tweets and blog post about the show’s lack of diversity goes viral. And after a major breakup that left her reeling, this is the perfect chance to get over that and up her brand all at once. While she claims she’s only here to promote better beauty messages and not to fall in love, things get complicated when she meets some dashing, charming suitors who may help her find the real-life HEA she didn’t know she was missing.

Think: The Bachelor with a lead who was body positive and proud, because hey that’s reality, darling. This book is funny and witty; equal parts empowering, glamorous, and indulgent. It’s very juicy, like I just kept exclaiming ‘OMG’ out loud, sorry not sorry; I’m so intrigued and hooked. Then, the “show” ending is bold yet confident, because hey, a woman doesn’t need a man and shouldn’t settle for anything. The actual book ending was absolutely precious and so darn cute, and besides, now I need a Bea+Asher follow-up like right now. This book should be required reading for any dating reality show producer, because this is what we want and need. The book’s language is so fun and relatable; I just wanted to keep reading and couldn’t put it down! It’s chock full of dramatic twists and turns, and I loved every page of it. The book is told through tweets, blogs, contracts, articles, scripts, Slack messages, and texts which help move the time frame along from episode-to-episode.

It’s for sure a five-star read from me because when I can’t put a book down and need to know more, it’s because I’m so invested and captivated by the storytelling. While the title is One to Watch, you know who is the real one to watch? Author Kate Stayman-London. If this book is any indication, then I can’t wait to see what future works she could deliver that are just as witty, unique, and fun.

Available: July 7


Hello, Again by Isabelle Broom

If you prefer a romance where everything ends neatly in a sugary sweet HEA, then this is not the book for you. It’s more of a women’s fiction novel with its ambiguous, open-ended conclusion. But that shouldn’t take away from this book’s merits, because everything about this feels authentic, realistic, and genuine. This book starts on the anniversary of Pepper’s sister’s death, which hits her and her mom hard every year. When her friend, local widow Josephine, asks her to come along on her European trip as a companion, it’s the perfect chance for Pepper to try something new and do something her sister always wanted. So, in a quite predictable yet adorable meet-cute, Pepper runs into the German-accented dreamboat Finn on her first day, and immediately he only has eyes for our colorfully dressed protagonist. She definitely believes in fate and true love at her core, and I can already tell it’ll be a fun holiday fling/romance from those early chapters.

The book follows their relationship across various cities and countries as they pursue a fast-paced relationship, the highs and the lows included. Finn is the perfect, sweet, admiring, and all-in love interest and while it’s charming, it feels a bit too perfect because there’s a big truth bomb on the horizon that’ll shake Pepper to her core. Once he reveals what’s going on, he immediately wants nothing to change and them to be okay, but it’s not just about them anymore, so that made me dislike him a tad, because I was starting to root for him.

So, obviously, there is some romance, but that part moves so quickly, and there’s a possibility that they won’t end up together by the time he drops his truth. Sure, he taught her to open up and be herself, but they do love each other and that’s all that should matter. Boo, that ending makes me sad because I wanted to invest in them together. Then, there’s an epilogue, but the two of them aren’t really addressed as the two of them, and like, I just want to know what happened to them. I mean, I hope hope hope that they found their way back to each other because his “first piece of love” title of her work may indicate that or if they both move on or if they never do. I just want more, more answers, more of the captivating story.

Available: July 9


A Sweet Mess by Jayci Lee

Within a few pages, I can already tell this book is shaping up to be a sugary-sweet romance, and it didn’t let me down. One thing is that the book switches perspective between Landon and Aubrey abruptly at a new paragraph, which is confusing at first. Also, the timeline abruptly jumps in places, which this swap is too sudden and out of nowhere mid-chapter. But, all in all, it’s a fun and indulgent romance read and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It gets juicy and dramatic, and I’m loving it!

In the book, Aubrey Choi is happy running her successful bakery Comfort Zone and doesn’t need dating to fill her days. She has her business and baked goods to keep her busy. Then, enter the gorgeous stranger Landon Kim. After a one-night-stand, maybe it’s time for Aubrey to reevaluate her priorities? Well, it turns Landon is a celebrity food critic and he published a scathing review of her bakery that may just ruin her business and the thoughtful memories of their night together. Once Landon realizes, ‘Oh crap, I just panned the girl I like’s business and the order I had was actually a custom cake for a child and not meant for me,’ he seeks a way to clean up his mess without mucking up his reputation. So, he offers her a spot on a new celeb cooking show that he’s producing. She agrees for the positive press, but soon the two of them are all alone in a California villa in wine country for three whole week. And yes, all that chemistry is certainly a recipe for something.

The two protagonists have such an undeniable chemistry that it made the read so engaging in this slow-burn, friends-to-lovers book. I couldn’t put this book down; It’s just an enjoyable, indulgent, and cute love story. The character of Aubrey is so raw and vulnerable, it’s real and makes it more appealing and authentic as a reader. It’s chock full of twists and turns, yet turns out to be pretty darn cute; absolutely precious. Then, when Landon has realized he’s been a total idiot at the end, it’s such a sweeping and swoon-worthy HEA. This story was so emotional, it just had my entire heart. All that raw, real emotion makes the HEA earned, justified, better, and cuter.

Since the book’s release, it was announced that actor Daniel Dae Kim will produce and star in a film adaptation. While we don’t have further details, now I really, really, really need to see him as Landon eating and choking on that PB, Chocolate, and Gummy Worm custom cake. I need that scene, and I will laugh.

Available: July 14


More Than Maybe by Erin Hahn

First off, I love a good British love interest, so this book got started on the right foot with all the slang. The book’s casual language feels authentic and relatable, even through its dual perspectives.  Luke and Vada are cut from the same cloth and a perfect match in this slow burn, cute Young Adult romance.

Our two protagonists of this book are podcaster and shy songwriter Luke and ambitious music blogger Vada. Luke’s been living in the shadow of his punk rocker dad’s spotlight, his outgoing twin brother Cullen. But he has a major secret: he’s been big-time crushing on Vada and always finds a way to stalk her blog, and just yearns for a way to chat with her. Meanwhile, Vada’s the girl with the big dreams to get into an amazing college program for music journalism, manage her mom’s boyfriend’s local music venue/bar, and get a dream internship. Falling for Luke was certainly not part of her plan, but hey, we are where we are. They have so much in common and when Cullen releases a new track of his brother singing a love song about a mystery girl, maybe she wishes it was about her. And perhaps, Luke feels the same???

It’s a quick, fun, and engaging read that you can polish off in a single setting. It’s a sugary-sweet, slow-burn romance that I couldn’t put down. By the end, it’s so darn cute and very enjoyable to read. Just like her first book, You’d Be Mine, author Erin Hahn perfectly melds the music world with teen romance for such an adorable YA read. Awww. But, I definitely think I preferred this book over You’d Be Mine. Everything just felt so authentic and genuine.

Available: July 21


The Switch by Beth O’Leary

This was a super-sweet, comforting novel for such a weird, strange, and scary time in this world. It focuses on the two Eileens, a grandmother and a granddaughter and their special bond. During a time where each woman is at during this crossroads in their life, both need a break and plan to swap lives and cities, just like the movie The Holiday. Before the swap, the book moves very slowly and every action is long and drawn out with each chapter feeling way too long. But soon enough, the pacing quickens and I got wrapped up in the storyline.

We follow overachiever Leena Cotton who takes a two-month sabbatical at her grandma Eileen’s cozy cottage in Yorkshire after she blows a massive presentation at work. Meanwhile, her 80-year-old grandma is looking for a second chance at love after her husband left her. Since there are more options in London, her granddaughter suggests a switch. While Eileen wines and dines across London and experiences casual dating, Leena heads off to the country to look after her grandmother’s local neighborhood projects and her cottage.

So, my issues with Leena start almost instantly. How can Leena be so insistent to help Betsy with her abusive S.O., yet she’ll believe her cheating boyfriend over her beloved grandma?? Like, no girl, you need to cut him loose: he doesn’t deserve you. Thank god for the ending, phew. 

Eileen’s parts read as far more engaging, she’s so vibrant and fun, and I loved it. Plus, there’s not really a conflict for most of the book, things sort of just happened. Leena wasn’t exactly my favorite protagonist because she didn’t exactly know who she was or saw that nothing wrong with her always-working life or cheating boyfriend. Eileen’s spirit, free and kind, was much more engaging and interesting. Also, Rachel Brosnahan is slated to star in the film adaptation and IDK, but like, surely she’ll be Leena, which isn’t as an interesting part, so I guess we’ll have to wait and see how that’ll shake out. But, in the end, it was an adorable, comforting read.

Available: August 18


Far From Normal by Becky Wallace

It’s the story of a new intern at a posh Chicago sports marketing agency, and a classic fish-out-of-water tale. Maddie is the typical YA protagonist of a normal, All-American, awkward girl but she’s very driven to succeed and follow her passions.

The book uses captivating language, that you really feel for Maddie’s point of view and it’s easy to get sucked in. Soon, intern Maddie is tasked with managing Italian, bad boy soccer star Gabe’s social media, a guy who she’s already had an embarrassing (for her) yet flirty exchange with days prior. He’s the bad boy and it’s up to her to keep him on the straight and narrow path. As we go on, fellow intern Mara is the vindictive office nemesis, which I’m not a fan of this storyline because women need to champion other women. (How in the heck can we shatter glass ceilings if we are too busy fighting and being catty and petty for one seat at the preexisting table?? No, we should be working together to make more space.) So, that characterization irked me.

Overall, I couldn’t stop reading this fun, slow-burn YA romance between a regular girl and a superstar yet misunderstood athlete. Then, once Gabe starts to open up because he honestly likes her, you can see his walls tumble down and his raw, real self emerges just like any ordinary crush, and that’s the love interest I want to root for. It’s a quick read that you get so wrapped up in that you cannot put it down! By the ending, the story is very raw and vulnerable for Maddie, who realizes she can blaze her own trail and not follow anyone else’s.

I was hesitant to read based on the summary, but I took a chance on this book, which completely won me over with its authentic language, sweeping romance, and the vulnerable moment at the end where she’s forged her own path ahead without knowing the end result.

Available: September 22


In A Holidaze by Christina Lauren

A Groundhog’s Day-type holiday romance from the skilled romance mind of Christina Lauren that’s set in a cozy mountain cabin? Call me intrigued immediately. As I started to read, the background on the characters is unclear and just dives right into the story now. It starts with Mae, who visits a Park City, Utah cabin with her family and longtime family friends. So, immediately a love triangle starts when Mae kisses Theo, while she’s had a longtime crush on his brother Andrew. (Reader’s Note: Initially, the book lacked a clear character backstory, because it seemed like both Theo and Andrew were her cousins. Can confirm that they are not.) After a super embarrassing night and morning (I was legit cringing for her, eesh) and then a massive surprise threatens to change everything.

Soon after her mess of things and a horrific car accident, Mae enters a Groundhog’s Day-type of situation where she gets to relive the whole trip to the cabin and get it right. I don’t know, I don’t get the same vibe and interest as I did while reading The Honey Don’t List, meh there seems to be a lot happening and it’s unclear if it is a dream or she’s in a coma or something else. Everything seems so odd and out of context, but I can’t help but be so curious as to see what happens. The 300+ pages don’t feel so long because you get so entrenched in the story and just can’t put it down. 

With every injury and wrong turn, Mae gets a fresh chance to relive it and get things right. Eventually, she learns that change isn’t necessarily a bad thing and to stay true to herself as her reboots buck tradition and allow her to be her true self. In this new alternate timeline, her flirtmance with longtime crush Andrew is so cute, but like I just want to know more details about this time travel situation. Seriously, Andrew and Mae falling is having me believe in soulmates and fate and aww, it’s just precious. Their relationship (and book) starts off slowly and then, whew, things ramp up hot, hot, hot.  (I mean, that closet scene, ahem.) Oh wow, I’m so darn hooked and I cannot stop reading, I just need to finish the story and get resolution about so many things.

I thought this book would end up predictably with the actual reality being the car crash inspiring her to change her life, but no, her final re-done chance was real because she was true to herself, and ahhh that HEA. I loved that super-duper cute happily ever after, awww it’s everything. All in all, it was such a cute holiday romance read.

Available: October 6


This Time Next Year by Sophie Cousens

This book follows Quinn and Minnie, who meet on New Year’s Day in London, which also happens to be both their birthdays. It turns out while he’s always been lucky, she’s been unlucky, which her family attributes to having their lucky name choice (Quinn) stolen by a baby boy who was born on the same day at the same hospital. The story is told through flashbacks on different New Year’s Eves and New Year’s Days, and somehow Quinn and Minnie always ended up at the same place at the same time; as well as a present-day timeline that chronicles how things go since they officially met in 2019.

It’s such an engaging and fun story, I just want to know what’ll happen next. It’s an easy romance read to get wrapped up in, and I couldn’t put it down and ended up devouring it in one sitting. It even reads quickly for 400+ pages. In the book, it’s all about how fate kept entangling their lives from the beginning, so love seems inevitable. OK, it’s pretty darn cute from beginning to end. It’s just fun, sweet, and cute. Then, the ending is giving me all sorts of sweeping *zings* and feels that I could actually feel fluttering in my belly.

Available: October 15


Heiress Apparently (Daughters of the Dynasty) by Diana Ma

Another five-star read, coming at ya! This was such an unexpected yet thoroughly enjoyable YA read. It’s sort of Crazy Rich Asians meets American Royals, when American aspiring actress Gemma Huang books her first acting gig as the lead in an upcoming rom-com movie. The film, shooting on location in Beijing, is Gemma’s first experience in China and almost instantly, she’s mistaken for big-time influencer and heiress Alyssa Chua. Turns out, there’s more to the story and family secrets galore because Alyssa is her actually cousin and they are both descendants of royalty.

At first, we meet Gemma, who’s busy with auditions for toothpaste commercials and bit parts in a movie as the ex-girlfriend, and doing anything it takes to pay her rent and follow her dreams. She meets a gorgeous Asian-American boy and their romance was like cheesy cute, except he’s totally jealous of her immediate success in the field. (Buh-bye!) Her parents immigrated from China before she was born and haven’t gone back nor allowed her to visit, which adds a curious bit of mystery for Gemma’s backstory and the plot. This book reads quickly with its relatable tone and language. It’s a coming-home story and one of pursuing her dreams. Once Gemma meets her doppelganger cousin, she begins to discover a long-held family secret. This book is so intriguing, and if a full series is actually coming, then I CANNOT WAIT!

Of course, what YA contemporary book wouldn’t be complete with a sweeping romance? Enter Eric Liu, a college graduate who literally rescues Gemma from hoards of screaming fans, and also the grandson of her grandpa’s political rival. The book is full of drama, secrets, dreams coming true, and it’s so captivating and engaging. It’s a meaningful story about a family’s (and specifically that of sisters) bond in this coming-of-age and coming into one’s own story. It’s more than just a YA story, it is so rich and wow, I loved it. Every single page, chapter, and character. Now, where can I get some of Mimi’s fashion collection IRL???

Available: December 1


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