The 21 Best Books I’ve Read in 2021: Year in Review

And another year has come to an end! So, you know what that means, my loyal blog readers: Another TBR log and reading goal has been met (and then some, let’s be real) and so, I’m back to recount the 21 best books I’ve polished off this year. Ones that earned an impressive (and coveted) five whole stars upon a first read, a sweet re-read that I couldn’t get out of my head all year long, and so much more. So, keep reading for my favorite books that I’ve completed this year, and hopefully, at least one of them gives you TBR inspiration when you need it.

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab

You may remember how I gushed over this read back in January, and truly, I don’t think out of the 150+ books I managed this year that any topped this one. Sorry not sorry.

This book is like a  mix of genres between historical fiction, contemporary, fantasy, romance, and literary fiction. There’s so much vulnerability about life, love, and being remembered. Here, we start in a small town in France in 1714, and we meet a young girl named Adeline. She dreams of a life and real love. She soon meets a mysterious stranger who offers her a Faustian deal for immortality. In doing so, she’s cursed where no one can remember her after they first meet. We travel with her from century to century and continent to continent, through various historical and artistic moments. Then, some three hundred years later, everything changed. When, in New York City, Addie meets Henry in a hidden bookstore and he remembers her name. We follow her relationship with Henry and with Luc, the devil she made a deal with, all as she struggles to make her mark on the world when she’s destined to be invisible. This book is just so so so so special, a five f**king star read in all its glory, no doubt about that.

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You Have a Match by Emma Lord

Well, I technically read this last year (and included it in that’s wrap-up post), I had to order a finished copy after its pub date and have since re-read it a few times.

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.

This book is so much 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.

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The End of Men by Christina Sweeney-Baird

After literally devouring this ARC, I knew I wouldn’t be forgetting about this fan-freaking-tastic novel any time soon.

In this work of fiction, a virus circulating around the UK sweeps the world and takes out most of the male population, leaving women to pick up the pieces of society as Sweeney-Baird posits what would happen to the world without men. The book starts in 2025 when a mysterious virus shows up at a hospital in Scotland. Only men are carriers and are affected, and as the virus grows into a global pandemic, it’s up to women to save the future of humanity while also dealing with their own loss and grief. This book is the immersive first-person account of the women rebuilding the world, including Amanda the doctor who treated Patient Zero, Catherine a social historian documenting everything, scientist Elizabeth working on a vaccine, and others around the world. It aims to chart how the absence of men changed society both personally and politically in this prolific and prescient novel.

I just poured over the text, the language, the story, the vulnerability, and the heart. This gripping modern thriller slash literary fiction read is so poignant and timely about the world’s new normal. It’s so relevant, raw, and vulnerable, and just like, wow. The language just enthralled me, captivated me, and drew me in. I loved the ending about how these women found the strength and power in this new world, while also dealing with what they lost. In the end, this had to be a five-star read for me, it’s just so poignant, well-written, and prolific.

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Instructions for Dancing by Nicola Yoon

Nicola Yoon’s a master at creating contemporary YA novels and this latest read fits in perfectly with what she does best.

It starts with the main character Evie, who doesn’t believe in love anymore after her parents’ divorce. The girl who once devoured romance novels now can only see how couples’ love stories end instead of the actual loved-up parts. After some fated encounters, she ends up at La Brea Dance Studio and finds herself learning to dance with the spontaneous, adventurous X. Xavier (who goes by the nickname X) is the total opposite of Evie, but the two of them are thrown together as a pair for a local ballroom dance competition. As they practice together and get to know each other, Evie has to confront if love is worth the risk.

It’s a beautifully written book and so authentic because, hey, not everything lasts forever except that feeling and association of love sometimes can. This book is romantic, fantastical, authentic, vulnerable, bittersweet, and heartfelt. I loved it so darn much. Yoon effortlessly blends the contemporary with the fantasy in this sweet YA read about the power of first love. This book is just so flipping good, she’s done it again.

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This Close to Okay by Leesa Cross-Smith

This book took me completely by surprise but in the absolute best way as its told in alternating perspectives over the course of one weekend.

Here, we follow Tallie and Bridge/Emmett who meet when she finds him about to jump off of a bridge when she drives past. As a therapist, she can’t just let him do this and so, she gets out of her car and starts talking to him. This book has such compelling language that pulls you in from the very first page. It reads quite quickly and features impactful writing, touching on important subjects like grief, suicide, race, and mental health. It’s so captivating and the plot twists were truly unexpected, which I loved that I didn’t see it coming. This book, wow, just so mesmerizing.

 

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If The Shoe Fits by Julie Murphy

Julie Murphy, who’s killed the YA game with her Dumplin, Puddin, and Pumpkin novels, kicked off a new “Meant to Be” series, which reimagines a bunch of Disney fairytales with modern romances featuring body-positive leads.

This book was so juicy, engaging, unputdownable just by the first couple of chapters! Here, Cindy’s just graduated with a degree in shoe design and trying to get her career off the ground. So, she takes a job working for her stepmother, the executive producer on the popular reality show “Before Midnight.” When a spot on the show opens at the last minute, Cindy volunteers hoping it could help jumpstart her fashion career or give her something to do while her classmates land high-fashion jobs. But being the only plus-size competitor on a dating competition show makes a big splash and her a body positivity icon. The only thing she didn’t expect was to find inspiration and love in this crazy process. 

Next up, romance legend Jasmine Guillory is set to tackle a freaking Beauty and the Beast adaptation and you know it’s already on my 2022 TBR list.

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The Hill We Climb by Amanda Gorman

For a dash of something different, I wanted to include some other genres on here, like poetry. I read a copy of this young poet’s Inauguration Day poem and it was just so, like, poignant and electric to talk about her dreams for the country moving forward and what the country is now.

This was a printed version of the monumental poem that she read at the POTUS’ inauguration ceremony back in January and it was so hopeful and captivating whenever you need a dash of motivation, which, let’s face it: We all could use at some point in our daily lives.

 

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It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover

So after seeing my fellow #bookstagram and #booktok people rave over Colleen Hoover books pretty much all year, I had to check them out for myself, including November 9 and Ugly Love, though nothing could compare to this read, my first foray into CoHo books. I literally devoured and sobbed my way through this emotionally charged contemporary romance novel.

After a challenging upbringing and past heartbreaks, Lily has moved from her Maine hometown to Boston and even started her own business. Soon, she meets gorgeous neurosurgeon Ryle and it seems like her life is almost too good to be true. But, then she somehow can’t get her ex Atlas and their troubled past out of her head when he comes spinning back into her orbit. This book was so poignant, vulnerable and heartbreaking. Plus, it’s literally like the book personification of Taylor Swift’s “All Too Well (10 Minute Version) (Taylor’s Version).” It tracks.

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Live Your Life by Amanda Kloots

After following Amanda Kloots’ and Nick Cordero’s heartwrenching coronavirus story and her inspiring positivity last year, I was so interested in reading her memoir about the ordeal. She reflects on love, loss, and life with her husband, Broadway star Nick Cordero.

It’s the story of their life together and his fight against COVID-19. It’s a beautiful, heartfelt, and emotional story of her entire journey with Nick, from the first time they met, their wedding, the birth of their son Elvis, through COVID and her unimaginable loss. It’s such a poignant and honest first-person account that makes your heart break even more than it did while reading the news stories. You can feel all her raw, vulnerable emotions from this period come through while reading. With Kloots’ positive spirit, her memoir shares an unplugged look at this awful period along with her strength, support from loved ones, and it provides a tribute/lasting memory for Cordero to assist with her grief.

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Blackout by Dhonielle Clayton; Tiffany D. Jackson; Nic Stone; Angie Thomas; Ashley Woodfolk; Nicola Yoon

These authors individually are some of my favorites and together they created a masterpiece. By the first few chapters, I already loved every page and each character’s story! It’s so full of heart, authenticity, representation, and adorable teen love stories.

Here, these authors came together to write an interlinked novel about Black teen love through heartwarming and charming coming-of-age stories. Each author writes a short story, focusing on one of six different love stories that all take place in New York City during a heatwave and blackout, on the same day. Each tale reads like a short story that’s compelling and adorable on its own (plus is well-written, obviously) with interconnected settings and characters to tie it all together. These are seriously adorable and cute teen love stories, plus I love to see all the representation done so accurately and relatably. Each chapter introduces a side character or background that effortlessly leads into the next story and chapter. It’s a YA novel and a romance read, unlike anything I’ve read before, which is what made it so great. Plus, the Obamas are set to adapt it for Netflix and I cannot wait.

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No Words by Meg Cabot

Meg Cabot has continued to prove her status as the queen of romance with her third “Little Bridge Island” book and it is equally adorable and engaging watching a new pair of characters fall in love.

Our main characters are Jo Wright, who is an acclaimed children’s book author with serious writer’s block, and Will Price, an arrogant novelist of literary fiction who lives in LBI. The duo are both set to attend and speak out the island’s first-ever book festival, yet they have an intense history and rivalry between them and so Jo doesn’t want to associate with the British-accented, good-looking author whatsoever. Yet, he desperately wants to prove to her that he’s changed and hopes to make amends during the course of the weekend festival. From the summary alone, I can tell we’re going to get a delicious enemies-to-lovers trope and a fun vacation romance from Cabot, which instantly excited me about this book — and it totally delivered on all fronts. Loved loved loved it!

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The Party Crasher by Sophie Kinsella

I requested and started this ARC on a complete whim because of the author, a clear instant-read for me. Once I started, I just couldn’t stop because it was so captivating and fun as a novel and as a women’s fiction novel specifically.

Here, it’s been two years since Effie’s parents divorced which has completely destroyed her idea of a happy, perfect family and relationship. Since then, she’s been estranged from her dad, in a feud with his much-younger girlfriend Krista, and learned her childhood estate has been sold. When Krista hosts a “house-cooling” party before they hand over the keys, Effie is left off the guest list, leaving her fuming. At first, she isn’t bothered about skipping the festivities until she remembers a childhood treasure is left at the house that she wants, and so she plans to sneak in during the party, grab her trinkets, and get out sight-unseen. But, as she does, she catches her siblings and dads in their hidden secrets and figures out all aren’t as she suspected. Then, there’s her ex and first love, Joe. While he broke her heart years ago, he’s finagled an invitation to the gathering, and when she sees him, it’s honestly as if nothing has changed.

This book, honestly, feels different from her other straight-up romance books, as this is more about familial drama and individual growth. Despite its differences, Kinsella stays true to her style and delivers compelling language that has me hooked and curious from the jump. So much so that I really didn’t want to put this book down and ended up devouring it in a single sitting. This book reads quickly and the hijinks of hiding/not getting caught juxtaposed with the vulnerable, heartfelt family dynamics and adorable first love/second chance trope makes a completely unputdownable novel. Plus, that epilogue was so darn adorable and precious that I’m still smiling just thinking about it.

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The Soulmate Equation by Christina Lauren

This Christina Lauren novel is another delightful romcom read from these two authors.

Here, single mom Jess is barely holding it all together to make ends meet. She lives with her grandparents, who helped raise her, and who helps raise her seven-year-old daughter Juno. She’s a statistician who loves data and crunching numbers but hesitates to get back in the dating game. As a statistician, when she and her best friend discover GeneticAlly, a DNA-based matchmaking service, she’s skeptical but intrigued. On a whim, she signs up and spits into a tube. Soon, she’s discovered that her results have matched her with Dr. River Pena at a freaking 98 percent compatibility, a nearly unheard of score. Oh, but she already knows River and doesn’t really like him after some initial, unfriendly meetings. The company has a proposition for her. To pretend to date, or actually just get to know, River and they’ll pay her a handsome sum that could really help her day-to-day. Since she needs the cash, she reluctantly agrees. They’re trotted out at all sorts of public events as the rare, elusive Diamond Match in order to help his company succeed, but eventually, they realize there might be something to each other than they initially thought.

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Meg & Jo by Virginia Kantra

I’ve always been a huge Little Women fan ever since childhood, and when I heard Virginia Kantra wrote a modern retelling of itI knew I’d like it just as much, which I did. Now, I’m even more besotted with the lives of the March sisters than ever before.

Here, we follow modern and grown-up versions of the March girls, here focused on Meg and Jp. While Jo has moved to NYC to become a journalist, things haven’t gone as planned, and Meg, for her part, has lived her so-called dream life as a wife and mother. However, “getting everything you’ve ever wanted isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.” After a family emergency forces the girls to return to North Carolina for the holidays, they rediscover what really matters.

 

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Beth & Amy by Virginia Kantra

After writing Meg & Jo, author Virginia Kantra put a fresh spin on the modern versions of sisters Beth and Amy as they get their chance in the spotlight.

This book is all about Beth’s and Amy’s coming-of-age stories: Amy’s an ambitious up-and-coming handbag designer in New York, whereas good girl Beth is a singer-songwriter working to overcome her anxiety and stage fright on tour with country superstar Colt. When they both return home for Jo’s wedding, they must confront their lives and what they actually want it to be.

As a reader who’s enthralled with the March sisters, while we all adore Meg and Jo, who doesn’t secretly love Beth and Amy, so, it’s exciting to see their perspectives and get inside their heads as they grow up, especially since in the original novel, they were children. This story alternates between the point of view of the two sisters, much like Meg & Jo, but also includes chapters focus on Marmee/Momma/Abby’s sides too, which is another intriguing perspective to understand. True to form, Kantra’s novel features rich storytelling and language to draw you in. Set three years after Meg & Jo, I loved seeing Beth and Amy shine, expressing vulnerability and complexity in both past and present timelines. As expected, I really dug this book and just didn’t (and couldn’t) want to put it down.

All in all, I think I did like this more than Meg & Jo because it’s partially a new story with previously hidden depths and vulnerabilities of these former minor characters that I loved so fiercely.

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The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

As the faithful #bookstagram and #booktok member I am, I had to give this read a spin after seeing y’all rave about it. And rave is right on the money.

Here, Greece in the age of Heroes as young prince Patroclus has been exiled to the kingdom of Phthia. As a nobody, he’s living in the shadow of King Peleus and his memorable son, Achilles. After he takes Patroclus under his wing, the boys develop a strong connection and bond into something quite strong and beautiful, however heartbreaking that means for me as a reader of this Greek mythology adaptation.

 

 

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Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

As you’ve probably guess, I spent my far time this year obsessing over this entire franchise and its Netflix adaptation, even figuring out how to adapt the character’s look into modern-day outfit ideas. While all the books have been great, I included this one because Book One is where it all begins.

We follow the orphaned Alina Starkov, an ordinary soldier in the Ravkan Army who takes her first-ever harrowing trek across the Shadow Fold. After her regiment is attacked, it turns out some dormant magic may be the key to saving them all. As a newly discovered magical entity, Alina is thrust into the luxe world of the Grisha as she starts her training with General Kirigan AKA The Darkling. And once you finish Alina’s three books, check out the Six of Crows and King of Scars duologies. You won’t be disappointed, trust me.

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The Charm Offensive by Alison Cochrun

This book is pitched as a Red, White, & Royal Blue meets One to Watch rom-com, and as a fan of both of those books, I was excited about that juxtaposition come to life in this totally original romance novel.

The story follows awkward tech wunderkind, Charlie, as he’s set to become the next lead on a reality TV dating show, called “Ever After.” Then, there’s his handler, producer Dev, who wholeheartedly believes in fairy tales though hasn’t had luck with his own. Charlie, who only agreed to go on the show to rehab his image to get a new job after the show airs, isn’t the typical show lead and is very awkward and anxious. It’s up to his producer Dev to jumpstart a massive “charm offensive” to get Charlie to open up, be a likable lead, and fall in love on the TV show. Along the way, Charlie starts opening up to Dev and vice versa, and the two realize they have the most chemistry with one another. But, reality TV shows have scripts to follow and unfortunately, a queer love story with a show producer isn’t what the executive producer had in mind for the season (though, I’d watch it!).

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In Every Mirror She’s Black by Lolá Ákínmádé Åkerström

This novel shares insight into what it means to be a black woman today, following three distinct POCs who are in some way linked to the same influential Swedish white man in Stockholm.

Kemi is a workaholic marketing executive who moves to Sweden to head up diversity for CEO Jonny’s company after a tone-deaf incident and partially looking to reclaim her social life in the process. Meanwhile, Brittany-Rae is a flight attendant who meets Jonny on a flight and is suddenly thrust into his luxury world. Then, there’s Mena, a refuge struggling to establish residency in a new country while working as a janitor for his company.

The book aims to tackle racism, classism, sexism, tokenism, and fetishization as these three women come to terms with what it means to be a black woman in a white-dominated society. Told in three point-of-views, this book reads quite quickly and is well-written, engaging, and difficult to put down with many complex characters sharing their stories and journeys.

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If This Gets Out by Cale Dietrich & Sophie Gonzales

Everything about this story intrigued me so much. Besides, as a massive boy band fan, I was super excited about this concept and a behind-the-scenes look at what that recording and touring lifestyle is really like.

Here, 18-year-olds Ruben Montez and Zach Knight are two of the four members of the hit boy band, Saturday, which is one of the biggest acts in America. Onstage, the four boys are teen heartbreakers, and offstage they are just four normal best friends. However, cracks are starting to form under the pressures of fame. Ruben even confides in Zach that he’s feeling smothered by their management’s pressure to stay in the closet. During a whirlwind European trip, while dealing with a busy schedule and minimal supervision, Ruben and Zach rely on each other more and more as their close friendship soon evolves into romance. Though the guys decide they are ready to tell their fans and live freely, they realize that their management will never support the plan. They question how to hold on tight to what they have when the entire world seemingly wants to come between them.

I would describe this book as Red, White & Royal Blue meets One Direction, which means it’s pretty darn close to perfect for my interests. Co-authors Sophie Gonzales and Cale Dietrich, who are masters of their craft, have created such a compelling narrative that’s chock full of engaging language that draws me in from the very first page. Told in dual points-of-view, readers have the chance to get inside the mindsets of both leading men, who are equally vulnerable and authentic. Plus, they as a couple are 1000% precious and adorable, and I ship them. Facts are facts.

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Lease on Love by Falon Ballard

I was enthralled and captivated by this romance novel from the very first page until the very last. It wasn’t just a sweeping romance that totally had my heart from the get-go but it also shared insight into a pair of flawed, vulnerable individuals who find their own identity and dreams along the way.

This book picks up when Sadie gets passed over for a long-overdue promotion in the finance sector of Manhattan, so she does what any millennial in the midst of a quarter-life crisis does: She gets drunk and tries to seek a date. However, when she accidentally mixes up a dating app and a roommate-finding app, she stumbles upon Jack, the owner of the most beautiful Brooklyn brownstone she’s ever seen. Knowing she’s not interested in Jack romantically in any way but rather lusting over his gorgeous apartment, she rents a room in his place for a tiny sum. After losing her job, she decides to start a new career as a BK-based florist. Then, there’s the mysterious Jack, who’s been grieving the death of his parents and unexpectedly finds himself drawn to the vivacious gardening enthusiast who brings him out of his shell.

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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.

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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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11 New Fall and Winter Book Releases That’ll Inspire You When You’re Stuck at Home

Fall can often be dreary. Cold, isolating, and boring — plus a global pandemic and an unknown government situation can only add to those feelings. So, I like to curl up with a blanket and a book and shut out the world by escaping to my array of fictional worlds from my personal library. Anyone surprised?

So, settle in for another installment of Miranda’s Book Nook as I share even more new book titles that coming out this fall and winter that just I can’t get enough of. Happy reading, y’all!

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.

There are some wanderlust motifs inside that make me just want to be able to travel again. Plus, messages about being remembered, which from story to story, we will definitely remember everything that Atwood has shown us long after we’ve closed the book’s pages.

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 are rhyme schemes that just flow so well when you read these poems aloud. There’s definitely a motif of sisterhood and women sticking together in their fight for survival, forgiveness, love, and strength. Would you expect anything less from Atwood’s work? Because she does feminist writings very well and with covering such meaningful themes. The poems have such rich language and captivating word choice that tells complex stories that capture the readers due to strong symbols and metaphors. This is definitely a poetry collection I need to add to my personal library as soon as I can.

Available: Now


I Want to Be Where the Normal People Are by Rachel Bloom

This book of essays is by Rachel Bloom, who’s the creator and star of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, a show that I was a huge fan of. Her TV series was full of witty dialogue, which prompted my initial interest in this nonfiction read. First off, the cover gives me throwback The Babysitter’s Club book cover vibes, which is so much fun in itself.

Then, inside, the text is composed of relatable, conversational language that’s both funny and impactful. It’s focused on a bunch of different stories chronicling everything from childhood, selling the CXG series, falling in love, and more. Sure, these stories may be full of funny language and jokes, but they all have deeper meanings with plenty of heart. The read is told through first-person accounts, make-believe stories, original scripts, her actual childhood diary entries, and even Harry Potter fanfiction! Bloom’s tone of voice in this book of essays is very relatable, which makes me laugh out loud because, like, I GET IT. After reading, it makes you realize, ‘Oh, hey I wasn’t normal either and who cares because being me is much more rewarding and fun.’ It gives hope to all us theatre kids out there about our futures and that things will get better. It’s a one-sitting read because it was enjoyable, funny, relatable, honest, and authentic.

Available: November 17


It Only Happens in the Movies by Holly Bourne

I had loved Holly Bourne’s novel Pretending earlier this year and her compelling characterizations and perspectives. So I was instantly excited to read this new book and its fun premise. Here, British teen Audrey is currently dealing with the aftermath of her parents’ divorce, her own breakup, and her changing friend dynamics, all of which have made her cynical about the concept of love and romance. However, she soon finds herself falling for the ever-charming playboy Harry from her part-time job at the local cinema, even though she knows she shouldn’t.

From the prologue alone, I was hooked. Full of compelling and relatable language and a fresh perspective, I just couldn’t put it down. I had to keep reading. Then, the first chapter dives right into the action rather than pages upon pages of exposition and background, which I appreciated. So, Audrey’s working on a school project about the unrealistic behaviors in romance movies and is starring in Harry’s own movie as the love interest character, where she’s facing whether or not she still believes love is hopeless. This book is just so easy to get sucked into and I just didn’t want to put it down. It’s a quick, fun, and engaging YA read. The lead character of Audrey, by the ending, is so vulnerable and full of heart that reads as authentic. By the end, I just couldn’t stop reading, it had me enthralled and hooked to find out the rest of her story and what she actually wants.

Sure, the ending was cheesy and cute, but I’m glad that it didn’t just end on a romantic HEA, but rather a self-love HEA, which I find even more impactful and empowering. It made me happy to see her realizing her worth and becoming stronger because, hey, real life isn’t the perfectly curated movies, and I admire this book bringing that realism.

Available: December 1


Teddy Spenser Isn’t Looking for Love by Kim Fielding

This quick, fast-paced romance read was absolutely adorable, chock full of enemies-to-lovers, business trips with a shared hotel room, and opposites-attract tropes that made it just delightful to complete.

Here, Teddy Spenser and his work rival Romeo Blue are assigned to collaborate on a big work project that could save the fate of the company, a tech startup in Chicago. Teddy is quite cynical about love at first, but cannot deny that Romeo is very dapper. This book is full of funny, relatable language that makes Teddy such an authentic, engaging protagonist. The men are complete opposites, yet both seem to have been pining for the other a bit. But, it isn’t until their work trip in Seattle where they discover each other’s true selves: mind, body, and soul. This read is so quick and engaging, which makes it so easy to get sucked into. The writing is witty and sharp in this slow-burn love story. It’s just so freaking adorable, like audibly squeal-worthy.

Available: December 29


West End Girls by Jenny Colgan

I was really excited to read Jenny Colgan’s newest book, however, this seems to have fallen a bit flat and wasn’t my exact cup of tea. Not that it was terrible, it just wasn’t my favorite.

Here, 27-year-old twins, Lizzie and Penny are complete opposites from Essex, yet are tasked with moving to London together to watch their paternal grandmother’s flat in Chelsea who was just moved into a nursing home. It’s confusing how the chapters abruptly change from the perspective of Lizzie, Penny, or artist Will who likes Penny. It took me a while to get into with all the perspective jumping, and because of that, it took longer for me to really dig these characters, which is a shame because typically Colgan does such a great job at characterization. Both girls want to find where they belong and their purpose, so this book follows their journey living in Chelsea, with jobs, love, family, and friends. It’s fun and cute, but just kind of like, eh, here’s a few months of their lives living in the West End. That’s all.

Available: January 5


The MeetCute Project by Rhiannon Richardson

This YA romance was utterly delightful and adorable, the perfect one-sitting read to get sucked into on a cozy Sunday, because, guilty, that definitely happened.

Here, teenager Mia has a jam-packed schedule between classes, friends, and her growing extracurriculars. Thanks to all of that and how nervous she gets around boys, she’s single. For her older sister Sam’s upcoming wedding, Mia is instructed to bring a date to help balance out the wedding photos since she’s the only one sans a partner. To do so, her three best friends play matchmaker and arrange a series of meet-cutes to help Mia meet a prospective date.

It’s such a cute premise and the characters and language are so authentic and relatable, I can’t help but get sucked into this book. In addition to the blind dates, there’s the jerkish Ben who she has a crush on but her besties don’t approve of, and also Gavin who works at the community garden she starts to volunteer at, so this love triangle gets a bit bigger. She and Gavin have a completely organic meet-cute all on their own and made me scream out, several times, to just tell each other how they feel because it was so painfully obvious and I just wanted that be endgame here. As all of her friends’ setups go awry in different ways, she turns to Gavin like a Cyrano-type to ask for advice from a boy’s perspective. This book was so captivating that I just couldn’t put it down and ended up finishing it in a single sitting. This quick read is absolutely and positively cute, and that ending, however predictable, was just adorable.

Available: January 12


Everybody (Else) Is Perfect by Gabrielle Korn

This memoir slash collection of essays from the former EIC of Nylon Magazine shares her own experience escaping the hamster world of the corporate world and success, especially as a journalist. She notes how, since resigning, she’s been able to focus on her personal wellbeing, which isn’t tied to work success.

Through a series of essays, Korn shares memories about her place in life at work and covering articles she believed in, and her personal identity journey. This book handles such raw, vulnerable topics in a way that’s well-written, compelling, and authentic. There’s definitely some very empowering scenes that encourage us readers to remember that while we all may be insecure, we shouldn’t be and instead embrace our authentic selves fully. She reveals her internal struggles, personal identity journey and growth, and how she got where she is today both personally and professionally. Now, as a journalist and lifestyle writer/editor myself, I came for the professional advice and guides to help further my own career goals, but I ended up reading something that was way more, with lessons about embracing my entire self with confidence and not just sacrificing my personal life for the sake of the job of my dreams.

Available: January 26


Love is a Revolution by Renée Watson

First, I always love to see both racial and body diversity in a book, especially with YA and a romance, which historically doesn’t have the best reputation for it. But seeing that change is so great to see. This book takes place the summer before senior year, where Nala loves making lists and dreams of changing her hair, hanging with friends and family, and falling in love on this school break. Then, she meets a new boy in town, Tye, and she has a big crush on him. He’s very involved with the same community organization as her cousin, and so Nala tries whatever it takes to keep his attention even if it involves little fibs about also being a vegetarian and a volunteer because now he’s interested in this fake version of her. These lies pile up and get bigger and bigger as they start to date and she keeps pretending, and it’s almost like he tries to get her to be what’s she’s not and so, while there is a romantic love story, the main focus is on a self-love journey.

There’s such an authentic teen point of view and compelling language that makes me want to keep reading right off the bat. It’s a quick read that I could polish off in a single sitting because I just couldn’t put it down in the middle, and I was just so invested. In the end, it was just so adorable and I loved how it was more than just a romantic love story, but rather a focus on her journey to self-acceptance and confidence.

Available: February 2


How to Date Your Wardrobe by Heather Newberger

In this short guidebook, stylist Heather Newberger aims to help you reinvent your wardrobe and learn tricks to become more confident in your own skin. It’s all about inspiring your self-confidence, and less about what clothes to specifically wear through her helpful strategies and processes honed through her years as a stylist.

The quick book has an informative, yet conversational tone that feels approachable, realistic, and yet is still seen as an expert here to help. It’s a book for those readers who are seeking a way to upgrade your style and closet with pieces that speak to you and make you feel like a million bucks. She offers handy pop-up pro tips throughout with specific examples of how to put her strategies into action to really focus on how to figure out your own personal style and harnessing that. She brings further tips about shopping, including where to go, mixing things up, and how to navigate the online marketplace. Want to know what this book is really like? It’s like Marie Kondo or The Home Edit or other types of similar organization shows where I immediately get super inspired to redo everything I own right away. It’s like that. All in all, it’s mostly about inspiring you to think critically about clothes so that you only have and wear what you love, need, and make you feel like a star.

Available: February 9


First Comes Like by Alisha Rai

I’ve been waiting to read and review this book for so long, like you don’t understand how excited I am to actually have this baby in my hands right now. As you know well by now, I devoured Alisha Rai’s first two books in her “Modern Love” series: The Right Swipe and Girl Gone Viral. In both swoon-worthy contemporary romances, we were briefly introduced to Rhi and Kat’s third roomie, Jia, who’s a mega-popular beauty influencer. Now, it’s Jia’s turn for some love, and hopefully, get a quick update on how our fave HEAs are doing up in Santa Monica after their books.

We start off with a nervous Jia about to crash a Hollywood party to meet her crush Dev, an international actor, whom she thinks slid into her DMs a year ago and continued to chat with her. However, he doesn’t recognize her and she realizes that she was catfished. Like the previous two books in the series, we see back-and-forth perspectives to get insight into both Dev and Jia’s inner thoughts. While he doesn’t recognize her, Dev is quite mesmerized by her beauty and confidence from the moment he saw her at that party. Also, it was great to see that Rhi and Kat both still have their HEAs with their love interests. That made me squeal, once again, because I love to see that.

This book was a tad slow to start, especially in comparison to The Right Swipe and Girl Gone Viral, and I was just waiting for more than one hundred pages for that heat and action to pick up. And honestly, I’m just not as invested or feeling the butterflies as I was reading the first two books, this feels a lot slower. Back to the story, Dev wants to make up for the catfishing and agrees to her terms to fake date each other to appease her parents, but at the same time, they keep getting to know each other and the feelings deepen. There’s a lot of build-up, but then during the road trip scene, that’s the turning point for them and the book because that’s where things start to pick up.

The POVs flip midchapter in some parts, which can be a bit abrupt at times. However, this book is still cute and true to Rai’s style. Yes, it’s less steamy and more romantic compared to her other books in the “Modern Love” series, but once again, I couldn’t put it down. This book makes such a sweet addition to the series with a cute HEA and a similar style to the other books — as soon as the pacing picked up halfway through.

Available: February 16


Jew-ish: A Cookbook by Jake Cohen

Think: A recipe book for all the modern millennial Jews because that’s pretty much what we have here.

In this cookbook full of “reinvented recipes from a modern mensch,” it’s the perfect way for modern millennials to up their cooking game and put their own spin on the classic Jewish dishes they were raised on. The cookbook features loads of helpful tricks and tips told through first-person experiences from the author. Cohen includes recipes for everyday dining and meals to serve for the big holidays too, organized by meal, holiday, and beverages. Each category has such a variety of items included too. Each recipe gives you detailed instructions so that even the most basic of cooks, and non-cooks like me, can follow along and execute the steps. Each page features conversational language, that’s relatable and authentic to the reader. Then, each recipe has a little intro about the dish’s origin and history, plus the author’s tricks to modernize it and make it taste delicious with its step-by-step detailed instructions.

The book features some of the most gorgeous food photography I’ve ever seen, and I swear my mouth is watering already. Seriously, I’m not much of a cook or baker, but there’s a whole host of recipes that even I cannot wait to try.

Available: March 9


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