8 Fall Book Releases I Couldn’t Put Down

Will we have a summer? Will we have a fall, even? Will the world go back to normal and will our country actually enact change so equality is a given? As much as I wish I had the answers or that everything would be answered affirmatively and in a timely manner, we just don’t know anything. You know, a good book can help you cope, and that’s a fact. (I’m proof as I’ve gotten lost in many a book since the stay-at-home orders were enacted.)

So, welcome back to Miranda’s Book Nook with my latest recommendations perfect to keep you busy and engaged during this crazy, anxious, and uncertain time.

Kiss My Cupcake by Helena Hunting

This novel focuses on two neighboring bars competing for business in a college town, and immediately I spy a delicious enemies-to-lovers trope brewing, chock full of sparks and chemistry. The dual perspectives of Ronan and Blaire help show there’s more to each side. Let’s just say this book is as sweet as … cupcakes! But, I like it, it’s fun and indulgent and sometimes that’s exactly what you need.

It’s a super quick read, and damn now I just want a cupcake myself! Once the duo gets to know each other and even team up, it gets a heck of a lot cuter and they are so in sync, it’s adorable. All that perfection and cuteness finally comes crumbling down in the final acts, and all that rawness and vulnerability is selling this book as more than just a cutesy romance. It has a predictable, sugary sweet ending, but yea, I enjoyed it. It was a very quick romance read and it was fun, definitely.

The story follows business owners Blaire Calloway and Ronan Knight who find themselves competing for customers and publicity. But, like any good romance, with every disagreement, more chemistry and sparks develop. Then, when a bigger business threat could take both their shops down, they must team up and well, I think you know where that is headed.

Available: August 11


Not Your #LoveStory by Sonia Hartl

This a quick, fun, and easy YA romance read. At first, you’re following aspiring YouTuber Macy in what looks like a love triangle of sorts between one complete jerk and two of her coworkers/friends, so it’s a little unclear who the main characters are and the story is definitely slow to start.

It reminds me of a teen, YA version of Girl Gone Viral with the context of a bystander live tweets a supposed meet-cute, even if it turns out to be faked. But, of course, the truth isn’t what it seems online. Eric is a cocky, slimy jerk who wants to capitalize on the attention. And, there we get the classic fake dating trope, so the duo can get more exposure and website revenue. Then, there’s a love triangle trope with Paxton, the sweetheart she’s big-time crushing on. Macy is caught between ethics and money and if she should play into this Twitter narrative or not. But, she and Paxton together are just so raw, vulnerable, and super cute. It’s a quick, fun YA read.

Available: September 1


Older by Pamela Redmond

I’ve been so so so excited for this sequel to Younger since I first found out about it, because I loved the original book and the popular TVLand series based on it. Here, we pick up some five years after Liza’s big lie and wow, so much as happened for her. The writing style and language are just so descriptive and captivating, I just can’t put it down. Oh, what a laugh, with the Sutton Foster and TV show references: It’s so brilliant to tie-in the show for the fans. Okay, like holy sh*t, I’m actually OBSESSED with everything in this book by just chapter one alone.

So, Hugo Fielding is the perfect choice for any Team Charles fans from the show, don’t you worry. He’ll bring the romance, and so will Josh for quite the love triangle (erm, square?). A romantic connection for Team Hugo is a bit of a slow burn, and then it comes in hot, hot, hot, wowza.

Hugo even says a line that implies that he finished this book at 3 in the morning, and hey, that tracks so well, because, SAME. I’m absolutely in love with this book and Pamela Redmond does the world of Liza and her perspective so much justice, and I just need to keep reading. It has to be a five-star read for me, like I’m actively clapping, squealing, and I’m just obsessed. I really liked the script parts and the show connections are fun, especially as a fan of the TV show myself. There’s so much drama, and I’m living for it!  Seriously it’s so descriptive, I can’t stop reading: it feels like a movie in my head, I can see it all so clearly. Also, it may seem silly, but I really appreciate the non-flowery, non-cutesy *ahem* monikers that you’d typically find in other romance novels, and thank goodness; this makes the book feel so much more realistic. In the end, everyone does get their HEAs, but in a way that feels authentic and justified, and about damn time. In the end, it comes full circle to the show and it’s a nice way to pay tribute to that world and fans.

This book has frothy romance and melodrama, core friendship bonds, odes to both LA and NYC, plenty of heart and vulnerability, independence, and so many meta ties to the show and its actors. I loved it as a sequel and on its own, though it does help if you know the story already whether, from the first book or TV series, it certainly helps you connect to the world right off the bat.

Available: September 8


White Coat Diaries by Madi Sinha

It’s definitely an eye-opening look at the life of an idealistic young doctor, just as she begins her residency at a prestigious hospital. We first meet Norah who’s having a tough time transitioning into her new role and her chief resident Ethan, whom she obviously falls for despite him not being interested.

It reads quickly with engaging language, it and does remind me of Grey’s Anatomy (I do love my medical dramas!), but I like that it is more about her career than just romance and finding a man. It’s the story of her residency, friendships, and family. Norah is definitely idealistic which I’d rather see her more realistic and wanting to do this job well and not fawn all over a man. It’s engaging and I couldn’t put it down. The ending did feel out of character for her, and I do wish there was no implied romantic interest because the book didn’t need it, that part all felt like filler. Other than that, it was a quick read about the medical field.

Available: September 15


Tools of Engagement by Tessa Bailey

This enemies-to-lovers romance is set in the house flipping world, much like the author’s previous books in the Just Us League. With this one, Wes and Bethany have so much banter together, which is what I love, so it won me over. In the book, house stager Bethany teams up with construction worker Wes to flip a house on a tight deadline.

It does awkwardly flip between the two point-of-views, but the voices are drastically different, so it’s not that confusing. It’s very cute, but does escalate very fast, which is good because a slow burn wouldn’t have worked as well between these two characters with their chemistry and attraction.

It does feel like just another cutesy, steamy romance and that’s about it. There’s some very detailed language and lots of steamy scenes, so if that’s not your style, FYI. It’s a romance, nothing more or nothing less, it is what it is and just what you’d expect in the genre. It’s a fine, easy romance read. That being said, the HEA at the end is sweet and adorable, I can’t ignore or brush over that. Since it is the third book in the series, it definitely is meant for an audience that knows the other two books since it has the same characters. Having not read the others first, it’s just fine, but had I read the others, I’m sure I’d like even more.

Available: September 22


The Code for Love and Heartbreak by Jillian Cantor

It starts off cute enough, back in high school. The book feels original with the story and characters and from the beginning, I’m very intrigued to see where things will go.

This retelling of Jane Austen’s Emma follows coding rockstar Emma and co-club president and friend George as they must develop a brand-new coding project for competition. Her idea is to create “The Code for Love,” a dating algorithm slash matchmaking app. At first, he disapproves of her idea, but it actually works and for the first time, she becomes popular across the whole school.

It’s a fast and fun contemporary YA read and very enjoyable. I’ve gotten so invested in the story because Emma is so oblivious to what’s right in front of her and I just want to shake her like, ‘Girl, what is right in front of you!’ And then, George, gah, this boy, this boy is indecisive and is messing with my head because it all seemed so obvious, but I don’t know what to think anymore. But that being said, I couldn’t put it down and ended up devouring it in one night. That ending is beyond is cute, like heart-melting, earth-shattering, grand romance, and all that stuff. It’s so cute and that ending/epilogue is precious. It’s a love story for all us nerd types out there, and proof that you can’t rationalize everything. For a YA romance, it’s just what I want.

Available: October 6


Cobble Hill by Cecily von Ziegesar

I was so excited about this book just being the latest from the mind of the woman who created Gossip Girl, which was a series I devoured back in the day. That, and the premise had me intrigued. The story follows a year-in-the-life of parents and kids in the well-off neighborhood of Cobble Hill, Brooklyn, and how they all connect and relate with each other.

There’s so much descriptive language that it really does play out like a movie in your head, but there’s a lot of point-of-views; almost too many at times, which is hard to keep up. While some of the adult characters are providing all the chaos, little nerdy teen Liam is the shiny and adorable bright spot with his schoolboy crush on the shy new girl Shy. There are so many secrets, which obviously causes all of the drama. There were a few continuity problems: like how on Earth did Editorial Assistant Manfred somehow, magically get promoted straight away to Senior Editor??? It doesn’t make sense. However, the book is very well-written, I can’t deny that. (Also, side note, are babysitters in Cobble Hill really making $20 per hour? If so, I may need a new side gig!)

The book starts to pick up by the second part after an extremely long exposition, but there’s still no singular or central story, it’s sort of all over the place. It is interesting to see all these different perspectives because it’s all so incredibly weird, like what is happening?? The plot is so odd, so odd, but yet, I couldn’t stop reading. The plot is so bizarre, it feels strange for it to be written by the same author who created Gossip Girl. But, I’m addicted and just have to keep reading because of the captivating, descriptive writing and storytelling devices; it really draws you in. Everything in this book is so off-the-walls-bonkers with the characters, I had no clue what was going on, but perhaps that’s what the author was going for. Then, there’s sort of a mystery going on, but just sort of as a device to show time passing? Then, there’s some resolution at the end, but it’s mostly a jumble, mish-mosh of a year in the life of eclectic, wealthy Brooklyn families. While the plot was strange and different, I was so intrigued and just couldn’t put it down.

Available: October 20


Stories from Suffragette City by M. J. Rose and Fiona Davis; introduction by Kristin Hannah

This collection of short stories honors the struggle for women’s suffrage and several perspectives of a variety of women across New York and the country at this time across the essays. Written by an assortment of bestselling authors, each story is set on the same day: October 23, 1915, during the march for women’s suffrage in New York City.

Each story uses impactful, captivating language to draw the reader in. With everything that’s happening in the world, this book is more important than ever to show why we need to stand up and fight for justice and equality. The stories are all about such strong, curious women and their male allies, who all turn up for the same suffragette parade in NYC. Some of these stories do end quite abruptly and ambiguously, while others feel completed and whole. But its overarching lesson about standing up and remaining strong at protests still rings true. Then, the little Grace character bounds from one story to the next, and as she weaves through the parade, multiple stories are tied together and show off a symbol of hope for the next generation.

It’s an eye-opening and important read, chock full of compelling language. It shares a message that women are not invisible and can/will/need to make their own destiny. The stories do highlight diverse voices, with two WOC protagonists, however, I wish that had a higher proportion instead of making it seem like a “white woman issue,” I would have loved more of a diverse perspective in a more even split overall.

Available: October 27


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

10 of the Best Moments from TVLand’s “Younger” Before You Catch Up on the Season 5 Premiere

I’ve been hooked on TVLand’s “Younger” since Day 1. I mean, Broadway legend (and star of ABC Family’s short-lived “Bunheads” series, RIP) Sutton Foster stars alongside former child star Hilary Duff in a fun comedy brought to life by legendary “Sex and the City” creator Darren Star? What isn’t there to love?

TV Land

And while I’m clearly not part of TVLand’s target demographic (especially at the time of the show’s season 1 premiere), the show’s witty dialogue, showcase of female friendships, and a killer storyline had me hooked from the pilot. (I even loved the book that the series was based on!) Whether you’re #TeamJosh or #TeamCharles, we can all totally agree to being #TeamYounger because it’s relevant, funny, and charming. It’s no wonder the season five premiere, that debuted on June 5, came one day after news of a season 6 renewal and coincided with the actual release of the “Marriage Vacation” book, and fans went crazy. (I mean, OMG that ending! Gobsmacked. What’s going to happen next?!?!) To celebrate the season five debut of our favorite summer series, let’s relive our favorite memories of the past four seasons of the Empirical gang (and friends) before following along with all the antics and adventures of season 5 this summer.

1. Diana’s Breakthrough and Realizing “I Deserve Better”

In Season 4, Diana, after falling for and cohabiting with her boyfriend Richard, she finally realizes how she doesn’t need him and is strong without him. It’s perhaps one of the character’s best shining moments where we see her humanity, vulnerability, and her strength. Where she realizes how much she’s grown and doesn’t need to put up with anyone that manipulates her and that she deserves better. Standing O for Diana (portrayed beautifully here by Miriam Shor). And ending with her staring into the mirror, tying off her gigantic flower necklace. Truly moving and empowering.

2. Maggie Continuing to Be a Badass

Early in Season 4, Josh dates Maggie’s former apprentice “Montana” who then appropriates Maggie’s work for her own gallery show. Naturally, the strong and confident Maggie doesn’t take it well. Hence, her and Liza crashing the art show, switchblade in hand. Bam. And then uses it to pick up a slice of pepperoni as she walks out. Could Maggie (Debi Mazar, accompanied by her own switchblade brought to set for this) be any more of a badass, no-nonsense woman? We could all use a bit a Maggie’s confidence to walk into any room and just own it.

3. Liza Wants Josh to “Have Everything”

Following Maggie’s Switchblade Escapade, we get such a sweet, tender moment between exes Josh (Nico Tortorella) and Liza (Sutton Foster) about why she kissed Charles in the Hamptons and her wanting to be the fun, bookish “Aunt Liza” to Josh’s future kids. While #TeamJosh may have been crushed, it’s a sweet moment of friendship because these two people really did—do— care about each other. It was a nice moment to cap the episode off with.

4. Season 4, Episode 4 “In the Pink”

This episode had some great female friendship moments, such as the four girls sitting on the couch, supporting each other. Another beautiful moment was the fight between Kelsey (Hilary Duff) and Liza (for Liza withholding her secret) concluded with Kelsey understanding how everything her friend did was for her daughter, and that was a sweet empathetic moment for the two friends to become closer. This episode seemed to be the epitome of what the show is really about and focuses on: female friendships. And what a nice sentiment, and one that’s not often seen as the central storyline on TV.

5. Diana and Kelsey Let Loose and Bond at a NYC Bar

I don’t think we’d ever seen these two characters have a social conversation prior to this scene. Diana, who has sort of become this mentor for her assistant Liza, only really had a professional relationship with coworker Kelsey. It was nice of Diana to recognize something she herself went through in Kelsey and then take on the role of mentor to her as well. And I mean, seriously, she’s right: “you can’t be sad or lonely surrounded by a drunken mob of gay men singing show tunes.” I’ve been to Marie’s Crisis, the New York bar they visit, and it’s exactly how they portray it, and it’s another aspect of female friendship and mentorship that makes this show special.

6. Bridging Liza’s Two Worlds… aka Fusing Millennial Culture With Her Real Life

One thing that I think engages Millennials to watch the show is definitely the use of modern cultural slang, terms, and Internet culture. (Some of which I barely even know before the episodes air!) One funny scene is Liza reading an old-school type definition of meme, where Kelsey points out examples (i.e. Salt Bae), and then the “real grown-ups” come up with “analog” versions to compare it to. This concept has been done on the show since the beginning, where in preparation for Liza’s first interview as a “26-year-old,” Maggie asks her to name the members of One Direction and choose her favorite one. A humorous part of the show that never fails to make me laugh.

7. The Importance of Female Friendships and Liza Being There for Kelsey When’s She Down

One of my favorite parts of the show is the focus on strong female friendships, such as this scene at the Millennial Imprint launch, where Liza physically is there to pick Kelsey up off the floor and cut her out of her dress, but also is there emotionally for her friend having a panic attack. It’s one of Liza’s strengths: how much she cares for people, especially her friends. It’s a nice moment to see, aside from the workplace comedy, Millennial slang and inside jokes, and love triangles and romantic interests, the focus on friendship is a nice central theme that keeps me engaging with the show season after season.

8. When Liza Meets Josh… And Her Double Life Is Officially Born

Upon meeting Josh for the first time, you start to see how this divorced mother could actually pass for 26 amongst other 26-year-olds in the city. Not only that, it’s the beginning of a silly gag of Liza doesn’t know this or that Millennial term, here it’s Lena Dunham. It’s a sweet exchange that establishes their chemistry as well as some funny moments adding some comedy to the show. This scene in the pilot, as well of the rest of the episode, had me hooked to keep watching, especially in the witty dialogue the writers create for each episode. Well done.

9. The Beginning of a Beautiful Friendship Between Liza and Kelsey

As previously established, the show does well at portraying and focusing on female friendships. Here in early season one, they found a way to show these two friends growing closer without losing a sense of comedy, like retrieving your friend’s stuck feminine “accoutrement.” These two women are comedy gold. Here for friends supporting and helping each other in need, always, no questions asked.

10. “You Pretty Woman’d Me!”

http://www.tvland.com/episodes/wgholb/younger-girl-code-season-1-ep-105

As Liza’s apology to Maggie for ditching her and her art show for her new twentysomething crew, she makes a big Pretty Woman-sized gesture to make up for it: showing up in a limo with roses to Maggie on their Williamsburg fire escapes. I loved this moment of female friendship on the show, especially between Maggie and Liza because it’s probably the one place where Liza is free of all the secrets and lies and Maggie still accepts her. It’s a beautiful friendship, and I love that they found a way to incorporate a moment from one of my favorite rom-coms so seamlessly and effortlessly into the plot.

Cheers to many more humorous, charming, and vulnerable moments in store for season five! And try not to audibly gasp when you get to that scene in the season 5 premiere: speaking from experience on that one. 😳

‘Younger’ is the latest TV comedy masterpiece

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Have you heard of Sutton Foster and Hilary Duff’s new show “Younger?” Well, it’s perfect.

I know what you’re thinking: but, it’s TVLand. Yes, but it’s also Darren Star (you know, who created Sex and the City). And he brought along wardrobe maven Patricia Field to assist in this new show. So, the fashion will be spectacular: check out the Pinterest here.th

Younger stars Tony-award winner SUTTON FOSTER as a 40-year-old single mother trying to pass as a twenty-something, in order to land a job in the Manhattan publishing industry. She jokes of hashtags, twitter, tattoos, “junk shots,” and 1D all in the pilot.

Hilary Duff stars as Kelsey, an editor at the firm where Foster’s Liza is hired, a twenty-something woman who befriends Liza and gives her tips about “only being in your twenties once!” If only she knew.

Nico Tortorella is set up to be the love interest for Liza at 26, to which he thinks they are the same age. But, great job, casting agents. 😉

The reviews are great, from Self, NY Daily News, The Hollywood Reporter, and more. Here’s a great review of the show here.

While the review above mentions how the audience of TVLand is perfect for Younger, I disagree, because I’m a twenty-something and I adored the pilot. I can’t wait to watch the second episode. And you should too. It’s that good. Comedic gold.