7 New Books I Can’t Get Out of My Head This Fall

Holy cow, it’s almost autumn already?? Where has the time gone so quickly? Like, holy crap. Speedy indoor summer, ugh. Well, I’ve kept busy by reading, reading, and oh yea, more reading. I mean, is anyone surprised? And these books are sure to keep you all busy as you stay home and socially distanced from others.

So, welcome back to Miranda’s Book Nook with more of my latest book recommendations that’ll keep you company all autumn long. I hope you find these books as engaging, fun, and comforting as I have.

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. Y’all, let me just say that 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. Sorry not sorry, it’s so juicy, dramatic, and engaging.

Available: Now


Midnight Sun by Stephenie Meyer

Yes, I used to be a Twihard, and yes, I read this new Twilight book within days of its initial publication release. Duh. I mean, was that ever a question? If 2020 has taught me anything, it’s that fandom never really goes away (thanks Hunger Games, Jonas Brothers, and One Direction); it just lays dormant for a bit — and can come back with a vengeance, just as strong as ever.

In case you’ve been living under a rock, Stephenie Meyer went back and rewrote the first book in her bestselling saga from Edward’s angsty teen boy slash vampire perspective. After the first draft was leaked and posted online years back, now, she’s finally finished it and it is here! So, what’s it about? It’s the same time frame, plot points, and characters first seen in Twilight, just flipped around and told from Edward’s side aka the lion’s instead of the lamb’s. This companion novel takes on a darker side as vampire Edward attempts to stay away from Bella or if he’s meant to kill her and drink her blood rather than fall in love. It’s definitely a lot darker and angstier than the original, and I definitely was intrigued by this darker version.

Reading this book seriously felt like I was back in middle school, in the heyday of my Twilight obsession, staying up way too late each night just to finish another chapter. Because, that’s been me for the week it first was out. Now, it’s nearly 700 pages, which like what a chunker, and I could barely hold it, LOL. But, it’s so much fun to go back to this beloved franchise and see it from a different perspective. I liked that it was Edward’s, one because he was the other main character besides Bella, and two because as a mind reader, that means we also get to see the viewpoints of the other Cullens (and their backgrounds!) and Forks students. That part was super fun. Plus, Edward had some zingers, like when he retorts “no blood, no foul” about himself in response to a question about being hurt. Literally made me chuckle out loud.

Available: Now


CLUELESS: A Totally Classic Picture Book by G.M. Berrow, Illustrated by Heather Burns

Yes, you read that correctly. Amy Heckerling’s totally tubular, iconic ’90s cult classic has been reworked into a children’s picture book, and I’m totally buggin’ out about it. Like, obviously the movie is a classic that I can still quote every line and then I had to see the original musical years back because I love this 90s-style world so much. A book about it, like yes, please! The book, out just in time for the movie’s 25th anniversary, reimagines the Bronson Alcott students as pint-sized fashionistas living their best lives in elementary school. This is an awesome way to share your love of this tubular flick with your little ones and introduce them to a good teen movie.

This illustrated children’s book features all the classic nostalgia, Easter eggs, characters, fashion-forward ensembles, but all kid-friendly, obviously. Here, we follow precious tots Cher and Dionne who meet newbie Tai at Bronson Alcott Elementary. Tai, much like her film counterpart, is a fan of skateboarding and baggy clothes. Cher and Dionne are determined to help make their new bestie fit in with the stylish Beverly Hills crowd as these popular kiddos try to tell her how to dress or what hobbies she should like. But in the end, they realize that everyone’s different and that what makes them so flipping awesome!

We have Cher’s classic home, the same like way-classic language from the film, her computer program to match outfits (which I’m still waiting on IRL, plaid matching outfits (!!), all her rad friends, epic fashion looks that are exactly as we remember from the movie, and a sweet story about fitting in, standing out, and friendship. Just the romances are missing, after all, it is a book for kids. It’s precious and you’d like totally be missing out if this wasn’t added to any young kiddo’s reading list. Missing this picture book? OMG, as if! Thanks to a physical advance copy, courtesy of Hachette Book Group, I’ll definitely be reading this to my young cousins every time I see them. Sorry, but they need to be educated about the iconic world that is Clueless.

Available: September 1

Image Courtesy: Clueless TM & © 2020 Paramount Pictures. All Rights Reserved.


Charming as a Verb by Ben Philippe*

First off, nearly every single Netgalley review for this new YA novel gives it either four or five stars (out of five), which to me indicates that it has to be something special. And after reading the first few pages alone, I can confirm it most definitely is. After only a couple pages, I desperately want and need to keep reading because the narrator Henri’s point of view is just so relatable, authentic, engaging, and completely captivating.

This diverse teen romance (yes, this is what we need more of in the genre!!) is whip-smart, fun, and relatable for many readers. Henri “Halti” is a NYC native, the first-generation son of Haitian immigrants, and who is the epitome of a charming, well-liked teenage boy. He’s smart, a good kid, an entrepreneurial dog walker. He started his own part-time dog walking site/brand as a way to help pay for college tuition for next year, and his eyes are set on Columbia University. At first, he doesn’t notice Corinne Troy as anything but the hyper-smart, annoying girl from school. She’s sort of his school rival as they push one another’s buttons. She’s a very Type A student and seems perfect to him. After she moves into his building on the Upper West Side and her mom hires Halti to walk her new pooch Palm Tree, she soon discovers his scheme and blackmails him to help her become popular with their school peers (and seem less intense about academics) in exchange for her silence about the truth of his business. (Side note: I love Corinne, hahaha she’s a gem and quite a fun character!)

It’s a quick, fun YA read that I have a hard time setting down because it’s just so enjoyable, even so early in the book. Philippe’s tone of voice for Henri is so witty and genuine, which makes this book even more captivating. There’s such a precious, innocent slow burn romance that’s perfectly timed with the book’s pace which was absolutely adorable and I can’t stop smiling, it’s that cute. By the ending, Henri did a stupid, stupid, dumb thing because he was so desperate to get into Columbia, and it made me so so pissed. But, in the end, that’s a good thing for this book because I could feel his emotions and it made me feel things as any good novel should. In the end, wow, it’s so raw and vulnerable, but then the epilogue delivers the cute HEA we all craved and that made me Smile.

Available: September 8


The Key to Love by Betsy St. Amant*

This was a sugary-sweet romance, and honestly, that’s really all I could say. It’s wholesome and pleasant, but sometimes you just need that. Here, pastry chef Bri hails from a small town in Kansas and she’s ever the romantic, willing to wait however long it takes for her own HEA and prince to show up. In contrast, gruff travel writer Gerard is anything but, and a past relationship has made him jaded to the ideas of love. He’s assigned to cover the bakery where she works, which has gone viral thanks to a love lock wall in the backyard, the owners’ matchmaking schemes, a European theme, and a “cute blonde who works there.” And by the first page, I’m already dreaming of macarons.

It’s clearly set up to be a cutesy, wholesome opposites-attract trope, and it doesn’t get off to the best start for this reader. It’s told in back and forth perspectives and it’s a super slowww slow-burn and enemies-to-lovers romance with banter. Like OMG, them quoting Pride and Prejudice to each other in French is so adorable and funny. It’s fun, sweet, and cute. That’s about it. Then, it gets very emotionally charged by the end with a reveal about her parents and a big bombshell, however, all that feels like an at-the-buzzer revelation that could have been teased or started earlier.

The writing is good and captivating, but there’s no extra oomph to make this book shine, and it ends up as another cutesy baking romance story. Then, each chapter ends with a cliffhanger that’s barely addressed in the next section or from the other point of view and it feels abrupt and catches you off guard because there are so many lingering questions left as a new time frame, event, or something is revealed. Then, the ending gets super religious, which almost comes out of left field because religious beliefs and God-talk wasn’t even addressed until the tail end. It caught me off guard because religion wasn’t really mentioned as a guiding factor at any point beforehand. Then, the end of the book didn’t address her final actions before they got their HEA, and to me, it feels like part of their, and her, journey is incomplete as individuals and as a pair. 

Available: October 13


The Transatlantic Book Club by Felicity Hayes-McCoy*

First off, the Irish setting gives me so much wanderlust and the bookish storyline makes me happy! In this multicultural Irish family fictional story, the story follows communities across both a small Irish town and an American town chock full of Irish immigrants.

It starts off with Cassie, who moves back to Ireland to be with her grandma after her grandfather passes away, and soon after that, the duo heads to this small US town where her Gran Pat had once visited her cousin as a teen. Once back in Ireland after the trip, Cassie takes a part-time job at the local library, which like, yay, I love bookish themes in my novels! Immediately, there are several narrators between Cassie, Pat, librarian Hannah and her mom Mary, all of whom can be a bit difficult to discern who’s who with so much happening all at once; The novel’s very ambitious in that way. Plus, in the beginning, several chapters are purely exposition and intros, and it’s very, very slow to get into the main story. The main idea is that Cassie sets up a transatlantic book club for the both the towns of Lissberg and Resolve, where they’ll chat weekly, at one time, via Skype about a book, or just a social call. This book features so much descriptive language that plays out like a movie in my head, but having too many points of view is making things difficult to keep track of, along with barely any transition between flashbacks and the present-day setting. That part feels abrupt and confusing as a reader. However, something clearly happened in the past and I’m very curious to find out what. There’s not a ton of action throughout and it wasn’t easy to get into.  I wanted to love it so badly because books and travel are my weakness, however, I just couldn’t get into this one, unfortunately. It was fine, but nothing more than that.

Available: November 10


Pretending by Holly Bourne*

OK, this latest ARC! I loved it, now I don’t think it’s five-star worthy because one, that’d hard to achieve and two, it’s something I’d go to reread actively. But, I did thoroughly enjoy this women’s fiction (which should just be fiction in general, but I digress) novel. 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. Then, it’s set in London, which is my ultimate guilty pleasure as an Anglophile, so yay, score one. I’m like super into this novel from so early on, mainly 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 men (join the club, girl, join the club), and she’d fed up with that shit. 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, who just seems so endearing and sweet, like I keep saying ‘aww precious’ about everything he does, that, 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, like eesh. DM conversations help show the passage of time and recount different days and dates to move things along. It’s just so vulnerable and open, which makes everything feel so real and raw. Josh is so endearing yet a bit clueless, so I’m not sure if they really have this connection and he’s The Guy because he is falling for the fake her and he’s super clingy.

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. I just want more content, and have so many lingering questions about where her story goes from here. There’s an epilogue that is quite ambiguous, so you can’t help but wonder who is that man at the end she speaks of, like is it Josh or someone else? I have so many questions left and I just want to know and keep reading more!

Also, the book definitely needs a trigger warning as April discusses and deals with her past sexual assault. But, I think it’s brave that she’s acknowledging and searching for a way to move forward, but it could definitely be triggering depending on your past.

Available: November 17


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

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.

Read The Book

 

 

 

 


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.

Read The Book

 

 


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.

Read The Book

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Available: June 2


Head Over Heels by Hannah Orenstein

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

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

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

Available: June 23


Boyfriend Material by Alexis Hall

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

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

Available: July 7


Louisiana Lucky by Julie Pennell

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

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

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

Available: August 4


The Boys’ Club by Erica Katz

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

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

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

Available: August 4


No Offense by Meg Cabot

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

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

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

Available: August 11


Live in Love by Lauren Akins with Mark Dagostino

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

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

Available: August 18


The Wrong Mr. Darcy by Evelyn Lozada and Holly Lorincz

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

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

Available: August 25


Meet You in the Middle by Devon Daniels

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

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

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

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

Available: May 4, 2021


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

What I’ve Been Reading: 2018 Edition

Unfortunately with a post-grad move to a new city and a new job, 2017 didn’t leave much time for recreational reading (well, other than “What Happened” by HRC). And so, with the arrival of the 2018, I knew I wanted to started my favorite pastime up again. That, and a good book can instantly relax me. Here’s a quick peek of my recent reads on my nightstand.

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

Literally as soon as the credits rolled on the final episode of “Big Little Lies” season one (and I blogged my thoughts thereafter, naturally), I went to Amazon and Prime-ordered the original book by Liane Moriarty.

I knew the series had hooked me. I had to keep watching. And since Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman kept discussing how inspired they were by Moriarty’s work to make the HBO show, I knew I needed to read about the Pirriwee Beach mothers and their kindergarteners.

While you may think, “Hey, I watched the series, why should I read?” It’s a gripping, page-turning story and, as with all film and television adaptations: liberties are taken.

 

Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld

Hailed as a “modern retelling of Pride and Prejudice,” I was intrigued by the cast of interesting characters and how despite being a modern version of a classic, it still felt new and current.

Readers meet Liz, a magazine writer (Hey, I knew I liked it already! Lol.), who lives in NYC with her big sis Jane. When the New York-living sisters return home to help their parents and sisters following their father’s health scare, it seems Mama Bennett has other plans: trying to figure out how to marry off her unwed daughters before age 40 arrives. And so, here comes handsome (and quasi-famous) doctor Chip Bingley, who happens to take an immediate interest in Jane, while his surgeon-friend Fitzwilliam Darcy “reveals himself to Liz to be much less charming… and yet, first impressions can be deceiving,” the back cover synopsis explains. Hmm, intrigued? I know I was.

Eight Hundred Grapes by Laura Dave

This novel stuck out to me upon first glance and first read-through of the back cover summary. Dave describes how Georgia Ford returns home to her family vineyard in Sonoma County just one week before her wedding to her seemingly-perfect fiance once she learns an “explosive” secret that could change everything. Upon arriving home, she learns that her fiance is not the only one keeping secrets. Hmm, a twist.

This gripping novel tells the dramatic story of family, love and how secrets can tear or bring people together.

 

 

 

You Had Me at Hello by Mhairi McFarlane

This U.K.-set book seemed like an immediate rom-com type book from first glance. And then I flipped over the back cover. McFarlane tells the story of Rachel and Ben, two university best friends and partners in crime from their first “Hello.” However, a decade later, Rachel’s One Who Got Away comes right back and it seems like “the years melt away.”

The back cover reads, “But life has changed. Ben is married. Rachel is not.yet in that split second, Rachel feels the old friendship return. And along with it, the broken heart she’s never been able to mend.” And just like that, I was willing to follow along their journey.

Sort of spoiler, sort of warning: fans of a Happily Ever After, won’t be disappointed in this one.

 

Single State of Mind by Andi Dorfman

On a lighter note for all my single ladies out there, former Bachelorette Andi Dorfman‘s second memoir-type book chronicles her new life as a Manhattanite and attempting the crazy world of NYC dating. It had me laughing at the sheer reliability (which, should I be laughing? Whoops.) and perhaps wondering if that could be a future blog topic on here? We’ll see on that front…

Dorfman’s book picks up where her last left off (post-TV engagement and heartbreak) as she impulsively books a one-way flight to New York City to start a new chapter. She first must deal with the awful situation that is Manhattan apartment hunting and then beginning her life in the city. And what comes next once you get settled, figuring (or attempting to) out the *shudder* dating and dating app scene. She perfectly captures relatable New Yorker life for the single New York girls. A perfect light read to make fun of this crazy life we’ve chosen from living in the crowded little island of Manhattan.

And a preview of what’s next for me on my bookshelf?

From Notting Hill with Love… Actually by Ali McNamara

One: it’s literally named for some of the biggest (British) rom-coms in existence. So, McNamara has that going for her novel.

Two: it takes place in England. Which is one of my favorite places in the world, so that’s a plus.

Also, while it seems like a quintessential romance-type story, the back cover alludes that romantic story is far from easy, which makes it more realistic and something I can appreciate. Color me intrigued to continue reading!

 

 

Nine Women, One Dress by Jane L. Rosen

The back cover includes quotes such as, “A love letter to New York,” and “Love Actually meets Sex and the City,” and “A story for dreamers, the hopeless in love, or any woman or man in search of a new lease on life.” Sounds like a perfect, easygoing read for this fashion-obsessed Manhattanite.

The Heiresses by Sara Shepara

Hailed as a Pretty Little Liars for adults — I knew this was a must-read for me, especially in a PLL-less TV schedule.

Cut to the Seybrook sisters, a family of heiresses, clocked in mystery in intrigue as they wrestle with their feelings to uncover the truth about the their family before it’s too late. Sounds like the perfect read for all of us that miss the weekly six-season drama of PLL.

 

 

 

 

Seven Days of Us by Francesca Hornak

Because all the rom-com-esque novels can get basic after awhile, this family drama seemed equally enticing, especially considering I can relate (cheers to my crazy family back home in the Midwest– love you all).

The inside cover explains how “only the most extraordinary circumstances can reunite the Birch family for the holidays.” While the large family spends their first full family holiday together in years, they all have their own lives. I want to know all the dramatic details when  they are “locked down, cut off from the rest of humanity – and even decent Wi-Fi- and forced into each other’s orbits.” I can only imagine what secrets and drama will unfold. Time to start reading!

 

 

May 2018 inspire you all to keep on reading! 💖