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.

Hey, Look! 7 More New Books That I Devoured This Spring

The end of the month has been hectic for me, to say the least. And so, unfortunately, my March TBR took a hit and wasn’t as productive as earlier months this year. Well, those work deadlines have passed and I’ve gotten all settled into my new apartment (including setting up my bookshelves and new book cart!), so I’m ready to dive back into my April reading list. In the meantime, here are a few of the books that drop this spring that I haven’t been able to get out of my head. Welcome back to another installment of Miranda’s Book Nook as I share more 2021 book titles that I can’t get enough of for your TBR lists this year. Happy reading!

You Love Me by Caroline Kepnes

Years ago, I was captivated by the pilot of Lifetime’s drama You (way before Netflix picked it up, in case you were wondering). After just one or two episodes, I immediately hit the library to read the novel the show was based on and was equally captivated. Then, I tried to read her second novel, Hidden Bodies, before Season 2 and after the first season ended on Lifetime, but alas, the library had a long waiting list and then lost the copy that should have been rented to me. So, over time I just forgot about it. Then, I saw a description for this third book on NetGalley recently and instantly recalled how much I loved the first one. Plus, the premise sounded interesting and unique.

Here, Joe has moved away from LA post-Book 2 and has settled in the Pacific Northwest, ready to start over. He intends to volunteer at the local library, where he’s enthralled with single mother and librarian Mary Kay. He intends to woo her over, the right way and not resulting in any of his past tricks. As I read, I’m immediately drawn back into Joe’s world and mind thanks to Kepnes’ fantastically well-written prose. There are many bombshells in this slowly drawn-out novel. It’s chock full of compelling language, and I just wanted to know what would happen next!

Rating: Four Stars

Available: Now


Pride and Premeditation by Tirzah Price

One thing about me: I’m a sucker for a good Pride & Prejudice story, whether it’s the original text, a movie or TV adaptation, or a modern retelling. No matter what format, P&P is a classic in its own right and one I will watch or read any time I can. So, when I saw this book’s description on NetGalley, my eyes went wide. Literally. It’s like P&P, but a murder mystery and thriller. Ooo, yes, please!

Here, Lizzie Bennett is an aspiring lawyer who’s trying to prove innocence for her client and Mr. Darcy is the opposing counsel and the heir to the prestigious Pemberley Associates firm. It’s a teen mystery novel, full of compelling language and juicy dialogue. It’s a thrilling twist on a story we know and love, and that twist changes everything you thought you knew about the ending. A quick, engaging YA Regency mystery novel.

Rating: Four Stars

Available: Now


Second First Impressions by Sally Thorne

Ever since I first found and devoured Sally Thorne’s The Hating Game, I was hooked on her compelling writing style and language with its delicious trope, witty banter, and fun dialogue. Then, I ordered a copy of 99 Percent Mine as soon as I hit the last page and soon devoured that one too. Upon hearing her latest release was coming out this April, I was instantly excited to read this next story.

The wealthy yet eccentric Parloni sisters are back searching for an assistant to help them with various errands throughout the days. The job seems easy yet, somehow, most male employees can barely make it through a week. Ruthie Midona works at the front desk at the retirement home and is forever at the sisters’ beck and call. She is yearning for a managerial promotion, so she’s focused on proving to her boss she can handle running the place on her own without any hijinks or hiccups. And perhaps she can easily keep her happy little place safe from the new owner, Prescott Development. And even find a nice boy to date, if there’s time. One day, someone dazzling rolls into town on a motorcycle, covered in tattoos, and he spins Ruthie’s world upside-down. Enter Teddy Prescott, who’s dedicated his life to sleeping, tattoos, and avoiding seriousness. Looking for a place to crash, he makes a deal with his developer father to stay in one of the villa’s on-site maintenance cottages (right next door to Ruthie) if he agrees to work there and start to grow up. Ruthie has just the job opening to satisfy the elder Prescott, keep this selfish rich boy out of her hair, and only around for about a week.

I was beyond pumped to start this book and see what this forced proximity and opposites-attract romance had in store. While it was a bit slow to start for me (much like 99 Percent Mine), I did find the writing compelling and engaging that kept me willing to continue on the characters’ journey, true to Thorne’s style of her past works. Seeing how Ruthie and Teddy’s connection grows deeper with time was fun and lovely. While it’s no enemies-to-lovers story and they’re no Joshua & Lucy, it is Ruthie and Teddy; a fun love story that’s all their own! As I got into this slow-burn romance, things eventually start to develop thanks to plenty of rich language and authentic characters that I couldn’t help but get sucked into it. Then, oh baby, it picks up steam about halfway through. While it does get steamy, much like her first novel, but it’s not that raunchy, and I’d call it “tamely sexy” for a romance novel. Then, the ending was absolutely precious in terms of a love story/HEA but also for Ruthie as an individual finding her path. Yay for self-growth storylines!

Rating: Four Stars

Available: April 13


The Break-Up Book Club by Wendy Wax

This was a quick, women’s fiction read that I devoured in just a few days and quite enjoyed. Here, four women have little in common but attending a weekly book club in a vintage Atlanta-based bookshop, which brings them together as they bond over reading and the notion that their lives aren’t turning out how they planned. There’s former tennis star Jazmine who’s a top sports agent who’s balancing work and single motherhood, empty nester Judith questioning her marriage, Erin who’s engaged to her high school sweetheart before he proclaims he has cold feet, and Sarah whose husband works out-of-state which leaves her home alone with just a difficult mother-in-law as a companion.

Through books, laughter, and friendship, these women learn how to navigate new chapters in their lives. From reading, I was equally drawn into each woman’s perspective and voice, all have compelling and relatable sides I enjoyed learning more about. It’s a compelling read, and I didn’t want to put it down as there are some juicy bombshells that I needed answers to, which heightened the raw and emotional drama. It reads quite quickly, and I liked it with all the engaging yet relatable language. I loved seeing how this book club brought them together in this novel about friendship. Then, the ending: While, I liked it to a degree and felt it did wrap things up in an empowering way, I just wanted more and to see where these characters’ journeys continued.

Rating: Four Stars

Available: May 18


Sunny Song Will Never Be Famous by Suzanne Park

I was so excited to start this read based on the cover design, author’s past work, and summary, and reading it totally lived up to the hype! It’s such a fun, cute, yet authentic and diverse YA novel.

Here, Sunny Song is a small influencer based in LA, but when she accidentally goes viral, her parents put their feet down. They send her to a digital detox camp on a local farm in Iowa. She absolutely doesn’t want to go, but instead comes up with ways to grow her social following. While there, she ends up making unexpected friendships and meeting a cute farm boy that teaches her all about the connections she can make while disconnecting.

While reading, I found this novel has so much engaging, relatable language that draws me in, as well as authentic characters that leave me curious. It’s a fun, easy, and light YA adventure set at a summer camp, so like score one for this book. Then, there’s the precious and cute farm boy Theo who makes my heart melt, too. All in all, I couldn’t put this read down and it’s just so adorable.

Rating: Four Stars

Available: June 1


The Marvelous by Claire Kann

I had few expectations of this book before starting, other than the premise sounded interesting. But as I started reading, I soon couldn’t put it down!

Here, an elusive heiress and social media app founder Jewel invites four of her site users to her estate for some “Golden Weekend.” There’s megafan Luna and her best friend Alex (since she’s 15), Nicole the big influencer with thousands of followers, Stella the user no one knows but she has very strict parents, Harlow the last girl invited no one really likes, and Francis who’s the mysterious late arrival with secrets of his own.

These users all get a GW invitation to spend the weekend at Jewel’s mansion, but there’s a catch. They have to play some game full of riddles and challenges for a cash prize. This story is all very mysterious but intriguing, thanks to some dishy and engaging language that has me hooked. While it may be a tad confusing at first to keep up with all the shifting viewpoints that aren’t easily labeled, I still really enjoyed this one. I don’t think I’ve read a single book like this one and I liked it for precisely that reason. All in all, it’s so captivating that made it unputdownable.

Rating: Four Stars

Available: June 8


We Can’t Keep Meeting Like This by Rachel Lynn Solomon

After recently finishing her adult romance, The Ex Talk, I was definitely excited to read Solomon’s latest New Adult/Young Adult book, made more exciting by the premise. Here, Quinn is a teenaged wedding harpist who’s disillusioned with love and helps out with her folks’ wedding planning business, while hopeless romantic and king of the grand gesture Tarek works for his family’s catering company. So, naturally, their paths keep crossing.

Last summer, Quinn confessed her crush for her longtime pal in an email but never heard back before he went off to college. When they see each other again, they clash for sure. After they keep getting thrown together at wedding after wedding to save the day from potential disaster, Quinn realizes her feelings might not be over him just yet. It’s such a quick, fun, and cute read that gives off Sarah Dessen vibes to me. It was a tad predictable at the end only, to get the HEA, but other than that, it wasn’t too much for a teen romance, and I did quite enjoy it.

Rating: Four Stars

Available: June 8


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

Get Ready for Summer With These 7 New 2021 Romance Reads

Readers of this blog should know well by now that I love a good romance book. In terms of pure escapism, no genre does it better. In a world where sh*t unfortunately does hit the fan and fairytale happily-ever-afters are unlikely, these books are my go-to when I want to feel the warm-fuzzies and just all-around better about life in that moment. So, I pick up a romance novel (or many of them, over and over again) and get so engrossed and enthralled with the magical, happy stories. And like, well, magic, I always feel better by the time I reach those final pages. So, in this installment of Miranda’s Book Nook, I’ll be sharing new summer 2021 romance book titles that I can’t get enough of that should be on your radar this summer. Hello, beach reads, anyone??

Happy Endings by Thien-Kim Lam

I was very excited about this book premise because I think the romance genre in total is still strongly lacking in terms of sex positivity, representation, and diversity books, and this read delivers on those fronts. It’s a sexy second-chance romance about two exes with unfinished business together. Trixie just moved to DC and is determined to make her sex toy business a hit to prove to her traditional Vietnamese parents that she can succeed. Her first pop-up shop goes well, until, while at the restaurant where it’s being hosted, the owner strolls in. It’s none other than her ex, Andre, who broke up with her via a note, all Sex and the City-style.

Andre needs to save his family’s soul restaurant, and so the two of them agree to a merger of sorts, hosting her pop-up series at his business which will save his and help launch hers. But, their chemistry is still smoldering and they soon get engaged in a FWB situation. Yes, old flames are reignited and deep feelings re-emerge. Told in dual perspectives, this book is very spicy and has lots of backstory. Yet, the writing is very captivating to keep my attention. It should be noted that there is a massive content warning for grief if that’s triggering. Also, I don’t know why but these characters just felt a little cringe to me. But all in all, this was still a fun romance romp (albeit a bit of a smutty one) when you need to indulge.

Rating: Three Stars

Available: May 15


The Road Trip by Beth O’Leary

The acclaimed author of The Flatshare and The Switch is back once again with a delightful and impactful romance read! Here, we follow two exes who are road-tripping together to their mutual friend’s wedding, so you know things are bound to get awkward. The main characters of Dylan and Addie are total opposites, but fell in love years ago on holiday.

Now, two years since their breakup, they are forced to reunite at their friend Cherry’s wedding. But first, they have to get there, along with his best friend, her sister, and another random guest, all in one car. It’s forced proximity at its finest. The book is told in back-and-forth perspectives of both Addie and Dylan, in present and past timelines. There is a content warning for sexual assault that I think definitely should be addressed here, too, so heads up if that’s triggering for you.

Both Addie and Dylan have interesting and engaging sides that compel me to keep reading because I’m just so invested in this journey. These characters are well-written, authentic, and vulnerable. However, this read does feel quite long, but is way better than The Switch in my eyes. All in all, I just wish it didn’t have to end because I just wanted more to their story!

Rating: Four Stars

Available: June 1


Instructions for Dancing by Nicola Yoon

I initially had a different plan for my TBR order this past February, but as soon as I got approval for a galley of this brand-new Nicola Yoon book, all that went out the window! Yoon is a master at what she does, creating compelling contemporary YA (and I loved both of her previous books), so I knew this would deliver and totally be worth deviating from my monthly, scheduled TBR plan. And guess what, that paid off because it’s totally five-star worthy.

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

Reading this one, I found it’s full of engaging language where I can truly get inside bookish Evie’s head. There is a magical, fantastical element of sorts that explain how some things occur and connect. The subplot with her powers reminds me of Instant Karma by Marissa Meyer in that way. Overall, this doesn’t feel quite like her other books, but rather something completely new, and I dig it! I do equally love this one as much as her previous ones, even with its differences. The characters are relatable and authentic, too. Also, Evie+X has such a squeal-worthy, precious connection and romance. Then, there’s a big bombshell reveal in the second act that took me by complete surprise and hit me right in the feels. And I do mean, all of the feels. This book’s so vulnerable and surprisingly profound. And that ending: I just want more! Additionally, this one made me cry so, so hard by the end. Seriously. Bring me all the tissues right now because I need them.

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

Rating: Five Stars

Available: June 2


To Sir, With Love by Lauren Layne

Immediately based on the summary, I was drawn to this romance read. Being hailed as Love is Blind meets You’ve Got Mail, two thirty-somethings meet and connect via a blind dating app with no names or pictures, only to discover their online chemistry is just as strong as their IRL workplace rivalry.

We follow aspiring artist Grace, who runs her late father’s boutique champagne shop in Manhattan. She’s cheerful and oft dreaming of her prince, who she believes is this guy from the app even though he has a girlfriend and they are just virtual pen pals. Then, her store is in trouble but she’s hesitant to give up her dad’s dream, and the man from the company who owns her building wants to buy her out. It turns out that owner is none other than the attractive and arrogant Sebastian. Overwhelmed with what path to take next, Gracie seeks solace and comfort in Sir, her faceless pen pal who she initially matched with based on common interests. While she’s falling deeper and deeper for Sir online, she doesn’t realize that he’s actually the man she cannot stand ala You’ve Got Mail.

These two have such banter from the jump that’s just so delicious and fun as a reader, where I just want to keep reading more of this fun enemies to lovers tale. It’s told partially in the present day, but then each chapter begins with a snippet of their anonymous texts, giving us more of the juicy details. In the end, it’s definitely cute, I’ll give it that, but it’s also quite expected and, all in all, just fine. But, you know, sometimes that predicably sweet rom-com is just what you need at a time. Except for that epilogue, I need more like right now.

Rating: Three Stars

Available: June 29


Incense and Sensibility by Sonali Dev

After reading Sonali Dev’s Recipe for Persuasion, I was excited to check out her next book in this series, which was an Indian-American twist on Sense and Sensibility, as evidenced by this clever and punny title. Here, eldest Raje sibling Yash is the first Indian gubernatorial candidate in California, who always knows what he wants and how to use his privileged background to get it by controlling his feelings.

After a hate-fueled incident at one of his rallies critically injures his friend/bodyguard, Yash’s life starts to spiral. To keep his anxiety attacks from leaking to the press, his family sends him to his sisters’ best friend India Dashwood, a popular stress management coach and yoga instructor. Oh, and these two once shared a mystical, magical night over ten years ago that didn’t lead anywhere, but that neither of them ever forgot. From the get-go, it’s also always fun to see previous characters pop up and still have their HEAs from earlier novels.

This read starts with plenty of action, so you get in Yash’s head and just want to keep reading. This book, told in dual perspectives, features compelling and relatable storytelling that just drew me in. While obviously this is an adaptation, it still feels current, new, and fresh. And, yes, it’s plenty cute too with a few squeal-worthy occurrences and monologues.

Rating: Three Stars

Available: July 6


It Happened One Summer by Tessa Bailey

Just by the title and summary, I was already so pumped to check out this new Tessa Bailey read because she does her niche so well that’ll always have me hooked. Here, Piper is a socialite and Hollywood “It” Girl who’s been cut off from her family after she gets arrested. Not only that, but her millionaire stepfather cuts her off and exiles her to a small fishing-centric beach town in the Pacific Northwest.

In this Schitt’s Creek-inspired rom-com, the wild child twentysomething bumps into the surly yet sexy local fisherman Brendan. They butt heads at first, but after they keep running into each other all over town, it’s clear there’s something between them that is too palpable to ignore. It sounds like so much fun, and this book totally delivers. In her exile, Piper is sent to run her late biological father’s dive bar in town with her younger sister Hannah. Soon after her arrival, she meets sea captain and widower Brendan who doesn’t think this spoiled princess can survive here for even a week. She’s determined to prove she can, and a delicious enemies-to-lovers plot is born. She keeps running into Brendan all over town, only to discover that, while they are polar opposites, he’s also just a nice and friendly guy. They have such an undeniable pull to one another in this indulgent E2L story. It’s chock full of witty, compelling language that completely draws me in.

This book, with its dual perspectives, also explores the hidden depths of each character. Piper is also digging into her dead dad’s (whom she barely remembers) past while Brendan is attempting to finally move on with his life. Once these two figure out who they each are and how that impacts their own futures, it’s such an all-consuming type of love story, and I’m pretty sure I’m obsessed. Holy crap, so this book is so frothy, vulnerable, sexy, intense, and fun! It’s so much and I’m loving it. Like, it’s making my heart burst, I swear, and I’m just so into this read that I cannot put it down and ended up DEVOURING it in a single sitting until freaking four o’clock in the morning. I totally feel all of the zings, and then by the end, it’s just so flipping cute! Gah, I just cannot wait for the sequel to read all about Hannah+Fox’s story, too! I just need to read this one like four more times right now because I just can’t stop thinking about it.

Rating: Four Stars

Available: July 13


Heartbreak for Hire by Sonia Hartl

If you thoroughly enjoyed Sally Thorne’s The Hating Game, like me, then you’ll absolutely love this new romance read. With a similar spiteful enemies to lovers premise and quick, witty banter to boot, this novel delivers for those THG fans.

This book is hailed as a fun romance read for fans of Christina Lauren and Sally Thorne, and so immediately, I knew I’d be interested in this one, especially after I read the summary. Here, twentysomething Brinkley works at “Heartbreak for Hire,” a Chicago-based company that helps women take back their power and get revenge on the men that jilted them. This undercover gig helps her earn enough money to eventually open her own gallery, while still getting her frustrations out on her ex and helping to empower other women. When her boss reveals her plans to hire male employees, she questions whether or not she’s in the right field. Then, we find out one of her former targets Mark, who made quite the impression, is hired to work with her. Mark’s an adjunct professor struggling on the academic ladder, and quite the attentive and attractive nerd. Soon, Brinkley learns people aren’t always what they appear as they start working together and she trains him closely.

They have such delicious snappy banter that pulls me in and yearns to see what will happen next. This book is full of witty and captivating language that had me turning the page and polishing off this read in a single setting in only a few hours. The premise does give me such The Hating Game vibes, and its tone and language are whipsmart, witty, and banter-laden that backs that idea up. With that similar tone, rich and authentic characters, a heck of a plot twist, and more, it’s such a delicious, juicy enemies-to-lovers romance read.

Rating: Four Stars

Available: July 27


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

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

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

Times Like These by Laura Carter

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

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

Available: June 29


One to Watch by Kate Stayman-London

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

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

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

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

Available: July 7


Hello, Again by Isabelle Broom

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

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

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

Available: July 9


A Sweet Mess by Jayci Lee

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

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

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

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

Available: July 14


More Than Maybe by Erin Hahn

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

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

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

Available: July 21


The Switch by Beth O’Leary

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

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

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

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

Available: August 18


Far From Normal by Becky Wallace

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

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

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

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

Available: September 22


In A Holidaze by Christina Lauren

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

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

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

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

Available: October 6


This Time Next Year by Sophie Cousens

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

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

Available: October 15


Heiress Apparently (Daughters of the Dynasty) by Diana Ma

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

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

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

Available: December 1


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