7 Late 2021 Books I’ve Been Obsessing Over

With my new work normal finally settling in, I’ve also been able to get a new reading schedule in place so I continue to read for fun daily or weekly, because the last year, it bummed me out that I had zero time to actually read my overflowing TBR. Now, that the latter half of 2021 is fast approaching, I’ve been able to make a sizable dent in my ARC reading list on NetGalley — many of which have become Instant Must-Reads to share with you all.

So, without further ado, welcome back to another installment of Miranda’s Book Nook because I have even more 2021 book recommendations for you! These reads I just couldn’t get enough of and, subsequently, be on your bookish radar later this year. Happy reading!

The Sweetest Remedy by Jane Igharo

I thoroughly enjoyed this women’s fiction slash romance novel, so much so that I barely wanted to put it down between reading sessions! Here, Hannah travels to Lagos, Nigeria for the funeral of the father she only met once briefly. In this fish-out-of-water tale, she meets her long-lost and extravagant family for the first time, a new love interest, and even unearthed new parts about herself and her culture/identity she didn’t know was missing. The book follows the chaotic days leading up to the funeral as she is accepted by some members of her new family and scorned by others, learns about this other side of herself and her father’s culture, and unexpectedly falls for a local man during the few days she’s in town.

This Berkley book intrigued me from the summary and author Jane Igharo’s previous bestselling novel, so I was so excited to try this out. As I read, I discovered the story is told through multiple points of view, including Hannah and her various siblings. The chapters are quick and engaging that pulled me in from Chapter One. The language’s compelling, the perspectives’ intriguing, and the characters are authentic yet complex.

It was super difficult to stop reading this read, which ended up being a sweet romance mixed with an endearing coming-of-age type of story. And while, yes, there’s a romance here, this story was more than just a romance which is why I gravitated towards it so much. It’s also a family tale, a story of identity and finding yourself, too. It was a very good, engaging, and compelling read. Would definitely recommend.

Rating: Four Stars

Available: October 12


The Party Crasher by Sophie Kinsella

Honestly, I requested this ARC on a whim the moment I saw the author was Sophie Kinsella without even reading the synopsis because that was, like, an instant-read for me. Then, 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.

I don’t often give out 5/5 stars, but this book earned it because it’s so well-written and captivating, and I just loved it. Truly devoured it. Like, wow, there aren’t a ton of books like this one, and, yeah, I just wanted to root for the whole family so much. Each character is so authentic, realistic, and vulnerable like real-life people. Bravo, Bravo.

Rating: Five Stars

Available: October 12


All the Feels by Olivia Dade

For anyone who is a fan of Spoiler Alert or spicy romance novels in general, you are sure to enjoy this novel. Written as a follow-up to Marcus and April’s story, now it’s Alex’s turn. Alex, Marcus’ friend from God of the Gates who also enjoys writing fanfiction, knows his star is failing after a recent arrest and public altercation becomes tabloid fodder. While he’s needed to finish filming the show, the showrunners hire a minder to watch out for him. So, they enlist one of their cousins: Lauren. Lauren is a former ER therapist between jobs, trying to figure out her next step. And she does need the cash, so she agrees to help out her cousin and watch over this incredibly good-looking superstar. But, the more she gets to know him and spend time with him, the more she realizes there’s more to him than meets the eye.

After devouring Spoiler Alert, I was instantly excited about this one, and boy, did it deliver! Told in dual perspectives, the language just drew me in and captivated me until the very last page of the epilogue. Yes, there is some ~spice~ here, and it does get, um, ahem, hot, so fair warning if that’s not your thing or is, no judgment either way. Plus, that ending was beyond adorable yet still felt completely justified.

Rating: Four Stars

Available: October 26


A Certain Appeal by Vanessa King

I’m a sucker for a good Pride & Prejudice retelling, and that’s what drew me to this read. Imagine: Austen’s classic story in a contemporary setting at a burlesque club in New York City because that’s what we get here/

After a stinging betrayal at work, Liz Bennet found a fresh start in NYC as an assistant slash burlesque club “stage kitten” at night. The prospect of love isn’t on her radar right now until Mr. William Darcy struts into her club one night. They look eyes before he refers to her as merely “tolerable.” Oh, how I’ve heard this tale before… She plans to write him off until her bestie Jane ends up falling for his, Charles Bingley, and they are continuously thrown together into the same orbit more often than she’d like. And, true to fashion, with time, she soon discovers her prejudices slipping as she gets to know the real Darcy.

So, it can best be described as Pride & Prejudice mixed with found family and the world of burlesque, which takes a classic and spins it on its head. For a retelling, it does feel original and fresh. There have been plenty of Austenian adaptations, but none have been exactly like this one. It’s a fairly quick read, chock full of engaging language and more representative/diverse characters, oh, and spice. Yes, plenty of spice.

Rating: Three Stars

Available: November 2


The Wedding Ringer by Kerry Rea

Knowing how much I’ve enjoyed other Berkley romances and the premise of this one, I was instantly excited about this one from the start. And my thoughts continued to live up to that hype after I finished it, too.

Here, we follow Willa, who was a successful Ohio-based blogger with a loving fiance until she caught him cheating on her with her very best friend. Now, she works as a dress-up princess for children’s birthday parties but dreams of starting over somewhere new and escaping her life. But to do so, she needs money. Randomly, she meets Maisie who needs to hire a last-minute replacement bridesmaid is willing to shell out big bucks for that to open, and since Willa needs the money, it seems like a simple enough gig. Willa is thrust into Maisie’s high-energy world of wedding planning into the path of the best man: the handsome and successful doctor Liam, who has sort of has a not-so-nice history with when she meets up at Maisie’s engagement party.

OK, so, this book! Author Kerry Rea writes such engaging storytelling that puts you right into the moment and in her head with first-person narration in this fun, indulgent rom-com. TBH, it’s such a quick type of read that I don’t want to put down at all thanks to its witty language and fun premise. Towards the end, there is a big surprise twist that showcases the vulnerability and authenticity of the characters, which I liked to see. And, of course, that HEA was beyond precious and had me grinning so darn wide. Also, just want to put it out there: Liam is the perfect book boyfriend candidate, calling it now.

Rating: Four Stars

Available: November 9


If This Gets Out by Sophie Gonzales and Cale Dietrich

This book has been on my “To Read Upon Its Release” TBR list after reading a summary and seeing a cover photo via Instagram, and so the moment I saw this ARC available on NetGalley, I jumped at the chance to request an early copy because 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. It’s a fun read that takes place BTS of their European tour. I’d categorize this book more as New Adult than a true-form Young Adult because there’s a tad bit of *spicy* content here, which I was totally on board with. It’s a quick read, and both the characters together and the book are just so darn cute. In terms of tropes, we’ve got friends-to-lovers and secret love, so what could go wrong?

By the end of this book, I wanted to make one thing clear: I officially stan Saturday and Zach+Ruben as a couple. This novel is completely and wholeheartedly precious and squeal-worthy. It was so difficult to put down this book because I just needed to know what would happen next.

Rating: Four Stars

Available: December 7


Smile and Look Pretty by Amanda Pellegrino

I was instantly intrigued by this book, because like many other employees in the workforce, I have survived life as an underpaid assistant and intern, and I was so curious to see how this book would tackle such a complicated and seldomly spoken about topic. And this author did so seamlessly and authentically in a way that still told a compelling story. This book was described as a 9 to 5 for the Instagram generation, which instantly intrigued me because I understand where they’re coming from all too well.

Here, we follow four best friends (Cate, Lauren, Max, and Olivia) who all have had enough of their grueling assistant gigs in the entertainment industry and dealing with their powerful bosses taking advantage of their labor and desire to get ahead in their careers. These four overworked and underpaid assistants realize that, like the assistants who came before them, know they have to pay their dues to get to the top yet they are continually passed over for promotions and fed up with the work environment’s toxicity and reach their collective breaking points. So, they start a secret and anonymous blog where they can share their assistant woes and experience. The blog’s a hit, and soon more and more assistants start sharing their stories too, which launches them into viral fame.

Told via multiple perspectives, you get an in-depth look at how each girl got to this decision to chronicle their Me Too-era work experiences via the blog in a poignant and authentic way. After a slow start, the book ramps up into a compelling, relatable, and unputdownable read, chock-full of captivating language.

Rating: Four Stars

Available: December 28


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

7 New September Book Releases That Belong on Your Fall TBR

The latter half of July hasn’t been the most productive for me as a reader either. I believe my final monthly total was just 11 books, which is significantly down from what I was managing at the top half of the year. But, that being said, I did manage to complete some extraordinary novels (one even got a five-star review from little ole me!)

So, settle back in for another installment of Miranda’s Book Nook as I reveal seven September book releases that I couldn’t get enough of this summer! As always: Happy reading, my lovely followers!

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.

Rating: Four Stars

Available: September 7


The Charm Offensive by Allison Cochrun

This book is pitched as Red, White, & Royal Blue meets One to Watch rom-com, and as a fan of both of those books, I was excited to see 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!).

Told in dual perspectives of both Charlie and Dev, this book is broken down in a logical way by the weekly production and episode. Okay, as I read I really did love this book. It brought a similar narrative as Red, White, & Royal Blue if it were set in the world of The Bachelor, and its language was so well-done. It was engaging, funny, and enjoyable from the start, which made it difficult for me to put this book down at all. It’s so darn precious and cute, plus was a quick, unputdownable read. This book and these characters were so authentic and relatable as the author touched on mental health, therapy, and LGBT+ representation in poignant, realistic ways.

Rating: Four Stars

Available: September 7


The Pick-Up by Miranda Kenneally

After reading several of her YA novels, Miranda Kenneally is fast becoming an auto-purchase YA author for my bookshelf, and so I was so excited to learn about her latest book. Told in dual perspectives, it’s a fun and light romance read about two teens, Mari and TJ, that meet in a ride-share en route to Lollapalooza.
Here, Mari doesn’t believe in dating and only plans to be at her Dad’s house in Chicago for the weekend only for the festival. Meanwhile, TJ wants to study art in college but struggles how to tell his family, especially as he visits his overachieving brother in Chi-town for the summer. After they meet and fate brings them together more than once, they both realize the spark between them is burning way too bright to ignore. The pair starts out at the festival, but quickly get separated. It’s up to fate and a viral Twitter hashtag to bring them back together. Once they reunite, they contemplate if this thing is a weekend fling or something more.
Reading this book, I found it to be a quick, fun, and light New Adult read. The language is fun, relatable, and witty that just pulls me in and I don’t want to put it down. Plus, it’s a beyond cute story. Then, I loved the post-HEA tie-in to her characters from Four Days of You and Me since that was one of my top YA books of last year.

Rating: Four Stars

Available: September 7


A Lot Like Adios by Alexis Daria

I was so excited to learn about Alexis Daria’s most recent novel after I devoured her You Had Me at Hola romance book. A Lot Like Adiós is an equally fun, spicy, and engaging beach read with heart! Set in the same universe as Hola, we follow Jasmine’s cousin Michelle (the second Prima of Power, FYI) on her own love journey, and it’s a second-chance romance with her childhood best friend Gabriel (Gabe).

Michelle is described as a commitment-phobic Latina who’s built a successful freelance graphic design business after corporate burnout. Meanwhile, Gabe owns the hottest celebrity gym in LA and his investor urges him to open an NYC branch. New York aka the place he fled after high school graduation, disappearing from his best friend and longtime hidden crush Michelle’s life. The story starts as Gabe is about to go to New York to open this branch and work with the already-hired Michelle to tackle the brand’s marketing. She’s itching for closure so she agrees to have him stay with her for the days he’s in town. But soon enough, they pick up exactly where they left off 13 years ago. As the duo works together, they find their old feelings resurface and SERIOUS SPICE ALERT.

Told in dual perspectives, it’s chock full of engaging storytelling that just pulls you in, and as expected, yes you’ll get *some* spice. Also, I really like the insight of the pair’s high school IM chats; it makes a fun flashback scene peppered throughout for insight into where they once were. It has such engaging, quick language that drew me in. Also, while it did have LGBT+ representation, which is great and I love to see more diversity in romance novels, it was only just a piece of their backstory and something that’s flitted over quickly. But all in all, A Lot Like Adiós will be an ideal beach read to toss in your bag during a vacation!

Rating: Four Stars

Available: September 14


First Love, Take Two by Sajni Patel

I absolutely adored the author’s previous novel, The Trouble With Hating You, and so the moment I learned of her upcoming sequel, I knew I had to read it. And it was a good one. After wanting to be a part of Liya’s badass girl gang from the get-go in TTWHY, I’m so glad we get to see her best friend Preeti find (or re-find) love. This read picks up pretty soon after the last ended, but from Preeti’s side. She’s been finishing up her residency, overly stressed with work and job hunting, and managing her traditional family and community. She’s desperate to find a new place to live, and the only option she has is with her ex. Her ex-boyfriend is none other than her first love Daniel, who’s good-looking, confident, supportive, a good cook, and basically perfect. Or he would be if their families approved of the couple.

We’ve got a second chance romance and a forced proximity trope and ooh boy, was I so excited for that. Much like her last book, this read has such quick and witty language that pulls me in from the first chapter, Preeti is such a vulnerable and authentic main character, and this book is a quick read yet plenty swoon-worthy. Their relationship in this slow-burn story is basically the premise of Olivia Rodrigo’s “1 step forward, 3 steps back,” which is all I will say for now. And that ending is completely, absolutely, and squeal-worthy precious.

Rating: Four Stars

Available: September 21


No Words by Meg Cabot

Meg Cabot has done it again! Cabot is back with her third installment in the “Little Bridge Island” series, and it is equally adorable and engaging watching a new pair of [bookish, which, yes please] 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!

Once I started reading, I was pulled in from the get-go and chapters told via IMs, emails, and interstitials of Will’s latest novel further, which help put you into the character’s heads. Plus, by chapter one, we see that Molly (from No Offense) is back and readers are clued into what’s going on with her post-HEA. Like the rest of the LBI books, No Words is a good and engaging standalone yet the side characters and setting weave in the beloved, established community that Cabot previously and masterfully created. Enthralling language pulls me in and I just have to know more thanks to its endearing and authentic characters. Like seriously, I’m devouring this book just like Jo devoured The Moment in it! As a romantic couple, Will and Jo are so adorable and have banter up the wazoo: totally precious and cute. The epilogue is equally adorable yet I would have liked more to their HEA and journey as a fan, just saying, but as is, it is quite satisfying as a romance read.

Rating: Five Stars

Available: September 28


The Matzah Ball by Jean Meltzer

I love a good holiday rom-com and to see a rare one about Hanukkah and Judaism immediately piqued my interest. Here, Rachel is a Nice Jewish Girl (and daughter of an acclaimed rabbi) who secretly loves Christmas, who even authors several popular Christmas romance books. After her publisher insists she writes a Hanukkah romance next, she faces a bout of writer’s block until she comes up with the brilliant plan to attend the glamorous Matzah Ball in the city. Except it’s sold out. And run by her former summer camp nemesis, Jacob, who she hasn’t seen since he broke her heart that one summer.

Told in dual perspectives, it’s a quick read and a cute-enough romance that gives off wholesome yet pretty religious vibes. Like think of a Hallmark holiday movie and it is a clean, precious romance: It’s like that. It’s easy to follow along as a reader and was enjoyable and fun.

Rating: Three Stars

Available: September 28


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

17 Books to Read Based on Your Favorite Songs From Taylor Swift’s ‘folklore’

As I previously mentioned, I’ve basically been listening to Taylor Swift’s “folklore” and “evermore” on repeat all lockdown long. There’s something so special about these albums from its pretty melodies, lyrics that really tell a story, and the catchiness of literally every single song. And since each song tells such specific stories, I couldn’t help but think that many of the “folklore” songs remind me of some of my favorite books, just as “evermore” did. So, just like Mamma Mia, here we go again! Keep reading for all sorts of my personal book recommendations based on each track off of “folklore.”

Writer’s Note: In case you were wondering how on earth I put this, and its sister post together, I was meticulous in my choices. I listened to each track while simultaneously studying the lyrics. From there, I went to my digital and physical bookshelves, plus my Goodreads read list, and aimed to search for at least one book I’ve read that at least somewhat fits the song’s lyrics or stories. Now, not all are perfect matches, of course, since they are both original works. But, I tried to pull books with a similar plotline, character, love story. Something quite similar to one another. And that’s what we have here.

If You Like: “the 1”

Try: The Code for Love and Heartbreak by Jillian Cantor

If this song was set in high school, it would perfectly describe how I envisioned this YA read. Where, in the song, the main character is pining for their crush who doesn’t notice them, hell, that’s basically George about Emma. Then, Emma’s coding club project is a matchmaking app that goes awry because none of the couples last, which reminded me of the part of the song about wishing for love and their crush to fall for them despite the real couples not having a chance. Also, Emma just wants to do “cool shit” AKA make a rockstar app and find her niche in life and at school. The parallels just fit so well.

Read the Book | Listen To the Song


If You Like: “cardigan”

Try: Hot Mess by Emily Belden

Now, this one took a bit of imagination to put together. The song is all about looking back on an old, messy relationship. So, as I looked back at my bookshelf to find a comparative option, my eyes flitted over Emily Belden’s debut novel. I imagine this song would be representative of main character Allie some five-ten years in the future looking back at that messy AF relationship with reckless Benji and the hell she put herself through to open his restaurant she invested in, while he ran off in a drunken haze with another woman.

Read the Book | Listen To the Song

 


If You Like: “the last great american dynasty”

Try: Heiress Apparently by Diana Ma

OK, this was an easy one considering it’s all about an outrageous, fabulously wealthy family’s life and their crazy shit. I went with this first book in the “Daughters of the Dynasty” series, because, technically this family is something like that. Plus, the song starts with Rebecca arriving into town on the train and the book picks up with Gemma arriving in Beijing via plane to film a movie despite getting mistaken for massive influencer and her newly found cousin Alyssa. There are so many family secrets and drama, and it just fits this song so very well.

Read the Book | Listen To the Song

 


If You Like: “exile”

Try: Once And For All by Sarah Dessen

The whole “I think I’ve seen this film before and I didn’t like the ending” part was my main inspiration. With that line, I think of someone looking at someone and knowing what’s going to happen, understanding fully it won’t be good. That reminded me of Louna at her part-time job at her mom’s wedding planning business in the latest Sarah Dessen book. She’s so cynical about romance that it affects her perspective in front of clients after watching years of poorly behaved weddings. Then, the “I can see you starin’, honey” line reminds me of how new hire Ambrose would always show up at her side at each event, like he’s always there and around, and she “didn’t even see the signs.”

Read the Book | Listen To the Song


If You Like: “my tears ricochet”

Try: The Night We Met by Zoë Folbigg

For one of the most emotional songs, I knew I needed one of the books that left me reeling. For a song that speaks about ashes, how the lover will love ’em till their dying day, and how the day they leave is the worst day of their life, yea that reminded me of this ARC I recently finished. Here, this vulnerable women’s fiction novel follows young mum Olivia on hospice, dying of cancer, as her husband (who’s been so scared to give up) writes the story of their romance to tell their young daughters. Even though it predictably ends tragically for her, the epilogue aims to put a meaningful, optimistic spin on this unexplainably sad moment and show how they’ll always love Olivia as they move forward because she accomplished so much she loved in her short life. And that reminds me of this song.

Read the Book starting February 11 | Listen To the Song


If You Like: “mirrorball”

Try: Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

The chorus of this song says “When no one is around, my dear, you’ll find me on my tallest tiptoes. Spinning in my highest heels, love, shining just for you.” And, I swear, if that doesn’t directly relate to HRH Prince Henry and Alex then I give up!! It tracks so well since most of their relationship is in secret and in private. But, also it fits since Henry really helps Alex learn who he is because they see each other like they are looking through a crystal ball.

Read the Book | Listen To the Song

 


If You Like: “seven”

Try: Eyes On Me by Rachel Harris

To me, this song focused on being scared to try something new, and that’s Lily Bailey to a tee. Here, valedictorian Lily gets so stressed out that her dad forces her to take salsa dance classes for fun. Of course, she needs a partner. So, enter popular jock Stone Torres who steps in to help at his mom’s dance studio. When her dad offers him extra cash to be Lily’s permanent dance partner, he can hardly refuse. They spend more and more time together and create a beautiful love story, err, dance together.

Read the Book | Listen To the Song

 


If You Like: “august”

Try: Just a Boy and a Girl in a Little Canoe by Sarah Mlynowski

This song completes the teenage love triangle story off the album, with Sam becoming the “august” girl in her story, and it just fits so well. So, the “august” girl is the summer fling, who will be nothing more than a good time, hidden from anyone even when real feelings develop on her end. Here, in this book, Sam spends her summer (already perfect timing!) as a camp counselor missing her boyfriend. Meanwhile, Gavin is also missing his girlfriend for the summer. So, the strike up an inevitable friendship bond commiserating, however, that quickly turns into a bona fide summer fling “twisting up in bedsheets” through the duration of camp. Then, when their S.O.’s show up at the camp’s visiting day, she realizes her boyfriend isn’t her future and maybe Gavin is, however, he’s still stuck on his girlfriend because he was never Sam’s. Just like “august.”

Read the Book | Listen To the Song


If You Like: “this is me trying”

Try: Pretending by Holly Bourne

This song definitely fits April very well. In the song, our narrator is tired of her current life and just trying to move forward, feeling regretful about her past and wasting her potential. This reminds me of April in this novel, as she was tired of heartbreak and ghosting, so she wanted to try something new and be someone that people and guys would like because obviously, her real potential isn’t doing her any favors. So, she’s just trying to see if this brings her vengeance or confidence. And the chorus where the narrator reveals her intentions rings familiar to the moment Joshua finds out the truth about “Gretal.”

Read the Book | Listen To the Song


If You Like: “illicit affairs”

Try: Party of Two by Jasmine Guillory

It’s a song about a clandestine romance, so that reminded me of the newest Jasmine Guillory book. Here, lawyer Olivia strikes up a relationship with popular senator, and eligible bachelor, Max. But, since his career is in the public eye, they hide things. It’s quite similar to the song, except he uses a baseball cap and not a hoodie to shield his face! Their chance meeting soon sparks a whirlwind affair and relationship with plenty of heat, passion, and emotions. After concealing everything, like “they don’t even exist,” she realizes this hiding a part of her life isn’t what she wants.

Read the Book | Listen To the Song


If You Like: “invisible string”

Try: The Recipe Box by Viola Shipman

This beautiful track is all about the invisible little things that tie people together, much like these recipes that literally connect Sam’s family ties.  Here, we follow Sam, a busy sous chef for a hot New York bakery, Her life isn’t going as she planned, so she returns home to her small Michigan town to take inventory of her family’s orchard and pie shop. There, she discovers secrets and memories of her family, one recipe at a time in the heirloom recipe box. Through this family heirloom, she realizes hidden truths about her family and feels so much closer to her mom, grandmother, and so on.

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If You Like: “mad woman”

Try: The Boys’ Club by Erica Katz

This song is all about a woman’s twisted life, all about “striking to kill” and “getting more crazy when you call me crazy,” “mouthing f*ck you forever instead of smiling,” and how “no one likes a mad woman, you made her like that.” Much like that haunting tone, I thought of this upcoming, thrilling novel and main character Alex, a woman trying to rise through the male-dominated field of Mergers and Acquisitions and all the misogynistic crap she deals with on the daily, plus how that shapes her career and life. 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, and that reminds me of this track.

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If You Like: “epiphany”

Try: Instant Karma by Marissa Meyer

This was a trickier prompt to fill, but instead, I focused on a certain stanza. The lyrics are: “But you dream of some epiphany. Just one single glimpse of relief to make some sense of what you’ve seen.” This seemed especially fitting considering Pru’s new superpower “she can’t speak about.” Don’t you think? Here, Quint and Prudence are biology lab partners sophomore year, and she’s been so annoyed with him over his lateness and unwillingness to contribute to their final project. Plus, after a nasty bump on her head at karaoke night, Prudence now has some magical, mystical power to enact karma on random people, both good and bad. She can magically give off “instant karma” when people do something as an immediate reaction, like if someone litters, talks rudely about her twin brother, or helps take care of wounded sea animals.  All this karmic justice gives her such a power trip, juxtaposed with spending more time with Quint at the center to teach her about his world and other perspectives in this book.

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If You Like: “betty”

Try: The Right Swipe by Alisha Rai

The third part of Swift’s “folklore” teen love triangle follows James’ perspective who tries to do everything to win Betty back after breaking her heart and his summer fling in “august.” This seriously reminded me of Samson Lima from Alisha Rai’s first “Modern Love” book, and especially how this book was all about Samson attempting to win back Rhi and give in to her feelings when he always wanted to know more about it because dude was falling deep. Here, we follow empowering and fierce Rhiannon Hunter. She owns and runs a successful Bumble-like dating app, and career is her main, and well only, priority. Occasionally, she engages in brief hookups, like when she matched with the one-photo-only Samson for a night of good fun on the beach. While their dalliance went well and she actually was willing to give him another chance, he ghosted her and she shut off any feelings. The book starts up, months later, when the cynical app founder heads to a tech conference and unexpectedly spots Samson there, on stage, discussing her competitor that he’s now an ambassador for. Turns out, Samson still has eyes for Rhi. A temporary work truce and friendship soon reveals an intimate bond that is too precious to miss. Like seriously, Samson = James and you cannot convince me of anything else.

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If You Like: “peace”

Try: Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins

The following lyrics from this track reminded me so much of Lucy Gray Baird and Coriolanus Snow and their relationship: “Our coming-of-age has come and gone. Suddenly the summer, it’s clear I never had the courage of my convictions as long as danger is near. And it’s just around the corner, darling ’cause it lives in me. No, I could never give you peace.” This section, from Snow’s perspective much like the book, really resonated with me about these two Hunger Games characters and how he couldn’t give her the peace and freedom again once she was chosen as a tribute.

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If You Like: “hoax”

Try: A Spy in the Struggle by Aya de León

This one was one I really struggled to find a recommendation for, pun not intended. I finally went with the concept of a hoax, a mystery, and her leaving “a part of me back in New York” because, hey, that was Yolanda. Here, Yolanda Vance is a junior attorney in Manhattan for a big, fancy corporate law firm, which was under investigation for security fraud, according to the FBI. Instead of shredding papers as her boss asks, she keeps them and becomes a whistleblower for justice. She then joins the FBI as a backup plan because she needs a job after she’s blackballed from corporate law for not shredding the papers. The FBI sends her on an undercover mission with a black extremist activist group in California. As she spends more time with the organization and new friend and college professor Jimmy during the height of the BLM movement, she soon begins to question her values and career, her legality here and ethics, when she realizes she’s on the wrong side of what she wants to be. There’s a bunch of similar aspects to this song, not an exact match, but similar characters and big pictures.

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If You Like: “the lakes”

Try: Beach Read by Emily Henry

This song is all about going to a lake, a romantic and poetic setting, for inspiration. And that’s exactly what lead Augustus and January to their neighboring beach houses. Here, she’s a romance writer who no longer believes in love and he’s an acclaimed novelist who’s stick in a rut. They agree in a summer-long challenge to write what the other does so well to help combat their writer’s block. She takes him on inspirational field trips worthy of a rom-com, and he takes her to investigate some backwoods death cult that’s eerily close to “the lakes where all the poets went to die,” just saying. While embarking on these field trips, sending inspirational ‘beat that writer’s block’ notes from their respective windows, it’s obvious that the only place they want to be is “right here” with one another.

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