7 Early 2022 Books I’ve Been Loving

Another year has come and gone, and I’ve already been hyper-focused on 2022’s book releases because there are just, like, SO many good ones coming (and SOON)! While these reads drop throughout this winter and early spring, consider this book blog a must-need teaser when it comes to building out your January/February TBR lists and starting off your annual reading goals on just the right foot.

So, without further ado, I’d like to welcome y’all back to the first Miranda’s Book Nook of the new year and take a peek at some of the early 2022 book titles that I truly can’t get enough of and should totally be on your radar this upcoming year. Happy reading!

When You Get The Chance by Emma Lord

After devouring Emma Lord’s first two novels, I was instantly excited about her next one, and to learn it was centered around a theater kid? Needless to say, I was pumped to start reading.

Here, Millie Price is an NYC teen who dreams of being a Broadway star, and no one can get in her way — not her lovable but dorky single dad, drama club rival Oliver or the overbearing flood of emotions she refers to as “Millie Moods.” She’s on her way and headstrong to make it. After finding her dad’s old LiveJournal (I know, I know, feel old yet??), she decides to track down her birth mother from three possible choices.

From the first chapter, I was immersed into MC Millie’s head in this fun, upbeat read. It’s like an IRL Mamma Mia, which I’m into, and the concept itself is totally original to me. It’s so compelling, and I’m hooked by the storytelling premise and just needed to keep reading. In the end, it’s just so cute, well-written, indulgent, and fun! Like, it made me want to smile the whole darn time; it’s that cute and precious.

While I don’t think this was as good as You Have a Match, in my own opinion, I did enjoy it all the same and think it was compelling, fresh, contemporary, and so absolutely precious. I loved the cute romance storylines too, but even more that they were just side stories to the main journey of coming of age and finding yourself.

Rating: Four Stars

Available: January 4, 2022


One True Loves by Elise Bryant

After devouring Elise Bryant’s Happily Ever Afters, I was instantly so stoked to learn that she was writing a follow-up to Tessa’s story about her bestie Lenore. Oh, and it takes place while traveling the world. Um, yes, please!

Lenore’s family is set for a high-seas adventure on a Mediterranean cruise to celebrate her high school graduation which gave me all the wanderlust feels, and as they do, they met their dining companions: Fellow high school graduate Alex and his parents. While Tessa (eep, she’s back!), ever the romantic optimist, is sure her bestie’s trip will include love in her future, Lenore’s not so sure. And then, she meets Alex. He’s a golden boy with the ten-year plan and she’s, well, the exact opposite. But, as their parents start to bond, they are stuck together for the duration of the cruise. So, what else? They get to know one another.

Alex and Lenore couldn’t be more different and yet, they find themselves drawn to one another in this absolutely adorable YA rom-com. The language is so witty and relatable that I was drawn into the story from the get-go and couldn’t put this quick read down. Absolutely precious and that HEA/conclusion left me grinning from ear to ear.

Rating: Four Stars

Available: January 4, 2022


How to Win the Bachelor by Chad Kultgen, Lizzy Pace

This nonfiction read is a funny, witty look at The Bachelor that ends up like a parody account of how to win this reality TV juggernaut. I call it a parody because the writers lay out instructions and numerical odds of winning the show as if this search for love is nothing more than a game, which, I guess, isn’t technically wrong.

It’s described as a nonfiction deep dive into this popular franchise and what it takes to find love, or more accurately fame, as written by a pair of fans and journalists.

The writing is casual, fun and witty and there’s a couple fun graphics throughout, too. Plus, the final chapter does rightfully address the show’s racial injustice problem and its lack of action. If only the ABC show could actually as well…

Rating: Four Stars

Available: January 18, 2022


Good Girl Complex by Elle Kennedy

After reading Elle Kennedy’s full Off-Campus series (well, thank you #booktok), I was intrigued to see NetGalley that had an ARC of her newest read available for review. And you know what? Color me interested…

Here, we follow Mac, who’s a chronic people pleaser and reluctantly starts college at a prestigious school in the South. Alongside Mac, we meet Cooper, the bad boy townie that she finds herself drawn to. While Mac seemingly has it all — the prep school friends, the well-off life, parents who give her everything, and a devoted longtime boyfriend — something seems off. All she wants to do is grow her internet business but her folks have insisted she get a degree first. So, she enrolls at Garnet College in the beachfront town of Avalon Bay. While she’s used to repressing her wild impulses, something about local Cooper inspires her to let go and be free. Cooper, then, for his part makes a She’s All That-inspired bet with his friends to make Mac, the girlfriend of the boy who humiliated him, fall for him and subsequently break up with that jerk as revenge. What he didn’t expect was to actually fall for her, realizing she’s not like the rest of the snobby Garnet students.

Told in dual perspectives, it’s chock full of juicy, compelling, and fun language that completely drew me in because, let me tell you, I was hooked. And sure, while there is some *spice* here (much like the Off-Campus books), this New Adult read seems more grounded and story-driven with vulnerable characters who have heart, dreams, and goals. Then, gah, that ending! While I appreciate a good HEA in my romance reads, I just wanted more to the story because it seemed to abruptly wrap up and I desperately wanted to see where Mac and Cooper were headed next!

Rating: Four Stars

Available: February 1, 2022


Lockdown on London Lane by Beth Reekles

Beth Reekles, who’s known for her Kissing Booth books, has seamlessly stepped into the adult/women’s fiction game with this novel. Here, various residents in the London Lane apartment building get a note from building management that they are expected to quarantine for a week amidst the beginning of the pandemic. With nowhere else to go, these various characters end up confronting their current lives and situations. We get a variety of leading players, from longtime couples confronting the future of their relationship, newly dating couples diving into that next stage very quickly, a bridal party who cannot stop fighting while prepping for upcoming nuptials, and a one-night stand that unexpectedly lasts a whole week.

So, there’s longtime couple Ethan/Charlotte who are quarantining apart but FaceTiming daily, Zach/Serena who embark on a no-holds-barred fight about their future after a seemingly mundane debate, Liv who’s hosting her fellow bridesmaids after an off-the-rails bachelorette party, Isla/Danny who’ve been dating for one month and put their relationship to the test, and Imogen/Nate who only met the night before after matching on a dating app. Told in multiple perspectives, we see how their different friendships and romances are tested in a series of quick novellas.

While reading, I absolutely couldn’t put this book down thanks to its catchy language that’s just so much fun and draws me in. Not only that, but this quick read features an array of equally lovable yet authentic characters that I’m invested in each of their journeys. It did read like mini-vignettes or something since each story was quite separate until one cute scene towards the end that really brings everyone together as a community. Plus, that ending (minus one heartsick twist) had me grinning so wide at this adorable and fun read.

Rating: Four Stars

Available: February 2, 2022


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. These two are complete polar opposites stuck in the same orbit, which gives me The Roommate by Rose Danan vibes, with opposites attract and forced proximity tropes at work. And side note, dang, Jack is one great Book Boyfriend, like, um, good work there because I’m melting. Oh, hot damn, oh boy, oh boy.

It’s such a quick read that I could not put down, nor did I want to. I was that desperate to know what would happen next in this story of a relatable millennial trying to find her way. These characters are so vulnerable, authentic and just have so much heart that I truly feel for them and want them to grow as individuals and in love. Also, yes, there’s some *spice* content in here, but the passion is almost described with an air of love to it rather than being a completely smutty/raunchy type of scene.

Rating: Four Stars

Available: February 2, 2022


One Night on the Island by Josie Silver

After One Day in December came out, I loved it. End of story. So, the moment I learned the author had written a new book that was set in Ireland, a tale of forced proximity and finding oneself, I was all-in.

Here, we follow Cleo, who’s a London-based dating columnist who heads to the remote island “Salvation” for her 30th birthday at the insistence of her magazine editor. When she arrives at the luxury cabin for her solo retreat, a mixup sends Boston-bred Mack into her orbit, who came to the town to explore his roots while staying in the exact same cabin. Thanks to the booking mishap and the lack of a boat to the mainland, the pair are stuck sharing the one-room space together for a while. Instantly at odds, the pair try to ignore one another, however that plan soon goes out the window. As expected.

Told in dual perspectives, this women’s fiction novel combines forced proximity and enemies to lovers/opposites attract tropes with a tale of finding oneself. This book reads quite quickly, full of compelling language that just draws me in. For nearly the first half of this read, it was more of a women’s fiction slash slow burn type of story and then we get into the frothy, indulgent holiday romance cuteness that had me smiling wide. It’s a cute, compelling novel, end of story.

Rating: Four Stars

Available: February 15, 2022


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

What Happens When a Natural Makeup-Type Girl Tries a Bold Beauty Look In Real Life

Following up on part one of my blog post about trying a non-traditional, bold lip color for me, a girl that tends to stick to the neutral and natural look, my test continues here: where I wear my new purple MAC “Evening Buzz” matte lipstick out and about, as I go about my day-to-day activities within the city of Manhattan. How will it go? Keep reading to find out how I feel, the potential confidence I’ll need in order to pull it off, and if I get any strange or positive reactions from strangers I pass? Let’s try this and see how it goes…

It is such an edgier look for me, so I needed to make sure I found an edgy or trendy-enough outfit in my closet that would somewhat go with the lip color. (I mean, it was one thing to see how I felt and others reacted to the lip color alone? But if it doesn’t go with my outfit? I’m afraid of looking foolish, clown-like.

Some thoughts before I begin: I think I’ll need to have a lot of confidence to walk outside with *shudder* purple lipstick; and I’m nervous about that, because I normally walk with my head down and with purpose to get to my destination as quickly as possible to avoid drawing any attention to myself. So, this is definitely new for me: not just wearing the purple hue on my lips, but acting like I have complete confidence in myself when trying something new and different.

My nerves are kicking into overdrive as I prepare to apply my new lipstick. But, I’m trying to face more of my fears, one thing at a time, on this blog, so I want to cast those nerves aside; and so, I swipe on the lilac hue and walk out my apartment door.

HERE. WE. GO.

Taking My Test Into The Real World

The first application is always the hardest…

I had to remember to breathe as I walked down the street, my mind couldn’t help my wonder if I could pull off such a look like the throngs of trendy Manhattanites do everyday.

…And here we go.

What It’s Like to Wear a Non-Traditional Bright Lip Color For Someone That Sticks to The Natural Look

A few months ago, it was National Lipstick Day and to celebrate, MAC decided on a free lipstick promotion (no catch, just a free lipstick for anyone that shows up to collect). Naturally, this seemed like a good idea and one I’d definitely take advantage of.

So, story time:

As it turns out, there’s a MAC kiosk inside Grand Central (only a short distance from my apartment), so it seemed to be worth it to check out this promotion. And since there was no earthly rhyme or reason I’d wake up at the crack of dawn to stand in line, I called around noon to ask about availability. Turns out, the Grand Central one had been “shut down” (IDK what that really meant), but I could come by now and get one. Utterly confused but hopeful, I schlepped down to the store and saw a short-ish line forming throughout the tiny store. As I stood in line, a few more people followed, until the number of people reached the door. To which the MAC employees (total troopers BTW for dealing with this craziness!) shut the door behind the last person in line and stood guard so no one else could join the line (OR wait in line outside). Because, apparently the cops/military personnel had already shut down the line earlier that morning at 9:30 a.m., when the line snaked through the terminal and blocked people from getting to their train platforms. Talk about insane. I only had to wait less than 20 minutes, and when I was about second in line: there were only about six colors left (they started with over 300 shades that morning): different hues of gray, blue, and purple.

Now, for someone like me, those colors terrified me. I was thinking this free lipstick deal would allow me to choose a pale pink, deep red, or a nude shade (as I typically stick to), but alas it seems the early bird really did get the worm. But, considering MAC lipsticks typically retail for $17 a tube and this was $0, the deal was too good to pass up and abandon my place in line. So, I inspected my choices, which revealed a pretty lilac color. Now, I’ve never ever worn purple lipstick in my lifetime, but I love the color purple in general and have seen social media trends starring this shade, so why not? Let’s give it a shot?

Now armed with a purple “Evening Buzz” matte lipstick in my makeup bag, I wanted to try it out. Not just snapping a few pics in my apartment to see how it would look on me, but in the real world — wearing *gasp* an edgy makeup look (something I never do), because as you know, I tend it to keep it au natural when I wear makeup at all. So what was it really like to swap my Plain Jane beauty rituals for something a bit more edgy?

Testing 1, 2, 3

First steps, time to test, to see how it looks on me before I go out in public with such a look. I swipe on the purple shade and inspect my handiwork in the mirror.

It’s definitely edgier than I’ve ever worn before, you can say that again. But, the color is actually really pretty, but will it feel ridiculous out in public? Will I look foolish with bright purple lips? These are the questions that cloud my brain as soon as I swiped on the sample. But the point of this blog is to try something new, so here we go, trying something new…

What’s next? I’m going to attempt to go out in public with my new shade and document it on here.

Disclaimer: I’ve been holding onto this post for awhile because that means I have to ditch my natural makeup routine and try something new and bolder, something that requires more confidence than I’m afraid to admit I don’t yet possess about myself in comparison to others around me. Now, I’m not trying to change who I am, but merely I just don’t want to be afraid to try new things; things that are outside the comfortable bubble that I live my daily life inside. And by posting this article, it’s a way to hold myself accountable to physically try it, and not wuss out at the last minute, as I’ve been doing for months already. And one step into gaining that confidence about myself? Taking a chance, trying new things. And that’s exactly what I want to do more on this page of my blog.

So, here we go, facing my fears– one purple-colored lipstick at a time…

Now read Part II, where I take my test out-and-about as I go about my everyday life.

What’s all the fuss about? Reviewing the Kylie Lip Kit.

So, for almost a year, the beauty and pop culture sphere (which I frequently follow, almost religiously) have been abuzz with news of the mystical Kylie Jenner Lip Kit, how to get it, how it’s amazing– and at last, I was able to purchase one of these now-famous kits, and so, I thought I’d review my first experiences with the kit.

Off the bat, getting my Kylie Lip Kit in the mail, I felt instantly cooler, like all the teens of the world would definitely approve of my newfound coolness.

Color: So, after careful research, I purchased the Koko K lip kit (which comes with a lipliner and matte lipstick). I chose Koko (named for Khloe Kardashian, Kylie’s half-sister) because the nude-pink color would look best on fair/pale skin (aka me).

It’s here! It arrived!

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Within the well-known design of the KLK box, I opened it up to find my lipstick (looking more like a lip gloss) and matching lip liner.

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The application:

Time to try it out!

As Kylie indicated on the box, “for the best result, fill in your lips with the lip liner then top with one coat of Matte Liquid Lipstick.”

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Lips filled in with Koko K liner

The liner is barely visible and appears to lose its sharpness after just one use. So, what happens when it runs low? Is there a mechanism to sharpen it? Or do you just have to buy more?

I go to apply the lipstick, as I open it, I notice how good it smells. It smells like a fruity Lip Smacker (makes me miss my childhood!) and goes on easily and really fast.

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At first, the lipstick is really glossy.

But very quickly, the lipstick becomes more matte-looking and dries just as fast. Woah. Immediately, I really like the color, it’s a cute nude-pink color that pops a bit against my skin, more than a completely nude color would, which I like.

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After some ten minutes, I notice how it doesn’t seem to be coming off at all– let’s see how it holds up when I test how well it lasts going about my regular day.

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Ta Da!

As I looked in the mirror, I noticed how it looks good when my mouth is closed, but not so much when you open your mouth or smile (that’s when you can see cracks). I mean, I don’t think Kylie ever smiles wearing her KLK, so I guess that makes sense…But, it still smells good while I’m wearing it, so there’s that.

And to all my fellow pale girls: Koko K is the perfect shade for my super fair skin tone. (Finally! A shade for us ghostly pale people that looks perfect!

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BEFORE

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AFTER

Wearing it all day:

Side effect of wearing a Kylie Lip Kit: you can’t stop taking selfies, or maybe that’s because I feel so much cooler now (like teens would approve of me now)…

Day 1 wearing the KLK, after eating my salad for lunch, the lipstick almost all came off, but the lipliner remained. Hm, interesting. Everyone on social media has raved about its lasting effects… well, clearly Kylie and her fans that wear her lipsticks, don’t eat food, because it did not hold up at all to me just eating a salad. Point one for the negative column, Kylie. Great message, Kylie: if you don’t eat, your Kylie Lip Kit will last all day! You just have to sacrifice your lipstick for satisfying your hunger, right?!? Nope, sorry Kylie and her loyal followers– that’s not a good thing. (Sorry to burst any bubbles…) Well, let me explain: after eating lunch, almost all of the color is gone, yet a faint stickiness o from the lipstick remains on my lips.

I decided to test the KLK all day at work, to see how well it would hold up when working full-time. That morning, I applied my kit and then some eos lip balm on top because I heard that helps it stay longer? (Could be an urban myth– but it did make it shinier.) Then, at 10:37 am (about forty minutes into my work day), I started noticing little crumblies in the lower corners of my lips. By noon, the kit had officially dried, there was no sticky parts left (color still there).

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Then, by 1:30pm, it was basically all gone after running errands in the heat and drinking a lot of water (NYC life. Fashion intern life.), BUT there was no visible residue on my water bottles (but none left on my lips), so I’m confused about WHERE exactly the color went?!? Then, I put more of my eos balm on, which helped preserve the color a little (I didn’t reapply, as I read you’re not supposed to with the KLK).

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At 3pm (hardly the end of the work day), the lip color was completely gone and my lips were completely bare, except they were stained a little darker than normal. However, the lip liner was still there, just the matte gloss/ lipstick, not really– but I still felt stickiness from it. I wonder how well the lip liner would work with other lipsticks?

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All in all, I LOVE the color (and I instantly feel cooler wearing it, so bonus??), but practically? It’s just not very long-lasting, which I don’t like or want in a lipstick.

Well, I tried it… Will I wear it again? Yes, but not for an extended period of time, because KLK can’t handle it.

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A non-tech girl tries something new… Reviewing the new Pokemon app.

So, unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve heard or been playing the new Pokemon game. Or app? I really have no idea other than that it’s become the fastest/most popular app in the App Store (double the amount of downloads Tinder has) and that you catch virtual Pokemon in the real world. Other than that, I’m clueless. But, in an effort to write more on here– here we go: I’m about to try it. My goal: I just don’t want to lose. (Wait, can you lose this game??)

So, let’s start this adventure. (Disclaimer: I just want to say how I’m probably the least tech-savvy millennial and I haven’t used the phrase ‘Pokemon,’ other than just now, since elementary school. So, yeah, just wanted to throw that out there.)

***

Step 1: Download the app.

While it’s downloading, I go to the page description: two unhelpful, un-explanatory pictures, and it just says how you need to find the Pokemon as you walk around your neighborhood. So, basically not being helpful to the non Pokemon-savvy.

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I did a thing… Will I enjoy it? Will I regret it? Only time will tell…

Step 2: Open the app.

Birthday entered. No clue why. Email logged on. Let’s start this thing, or at least attempt to.

Step 3: Play the game. (Or attempt to)

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I decided to play leisurely, and not play every time I walk anywhere. (I never was the diehard Pokemon or tech fan.)

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When you pull up the app (after staring at the Caution: Be Safe page for a few minutes while it loads), you (or should I say your character as a “Pokemon trainer”) are suddenly thrust into a virtual green landscape surrounded by random blue geometric shapes, with weird pink and green confetti flying out of it. And you wait (or move around) until you find a “wild” Pokemon roaming around– or better put, standing right next to you. When you find something, you must click on it, which brings you to a new screen.

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(Me playing while doing research at work) IMG_1696

So, the new screen uses your camera and GPS apps to project the Pokemon into the real world, where you must throw your ball (Pokeball?) at the little guy. (Note: “throw” is a bad choice of words– it’s just a swipe.) And by luck, your swipe will capture the Pokemon or force you to try again.

After capturing about fifteen Pokemon in total, I never felt any thrill of adding to my PokeCollection, like now what? Now, I never passed Level 4 during my one-week experiment, but apparently, at Level 5 you can join a team and go to the gym? (Which people have told me is not really anything special.) So, my thoughts on this game? Meh. Boring. Not fun. Over it.

So, I’ve been playing the new Pokemon game for about a week, and I can honestly say, it’s never been fun whenever I open the app to play.

Come Friday evening, I open the app once I get home, and find Pokemon has logged me out and deleted my progress. So, instead of starting over from a mediocre game (in my opinion), I chose to delete the app and I’ll live in the moment instead of looking for virtual fictional characters through my phone.

I did it– I tried something new, it didn’t go well.

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