Oh, we’re still stuck at home? Ha ha ha, It’s July already. Well, I’ve still been reading and just powering through my spring-summer TBR, and finding even more new reads to add to it. And out of my latest reading list, I’ve discovered so many more new authors and books that I’ve loved that have provided some much-needed comfort during this weird time.
So, welcome back to Miranda’s Book Nook with more of my latest book recommendations. I hope you find these books as engaging, fun, impactful, and comforting as I have.
Just a Boy and a Girl in a Little Canoe by Sarah Mlynowski
Honestly, I immediately preordered this on Amazon as soon as I saw the title alone, because that happens to be one of my all-time favorite camp songs, “A Boy and a Girl in a Little Canoe,” so yea, it was a definite. Then, I read the description, and it was a YA romance set at sleepaway camp. Though, I went to an all-girls camp and never had a camp fling because we had no boys on the premises, it still remains one of my favorite teen romance tropes.
We follow Sam who’s summer isn’t off to a great start when her boyfriend Eli heads out on a European backpacking trip and she’s back at the summer camp she hated as a kid and now a counselor. There, she meets good-looking sailing counselor Gavin who also spends his free periods with his girlfriend who is also in Europe this summer. Cue the inevitable friendship, which of course, turns into a bona fide summer fling. While Eli is away and Gavin is right there, Sam learns exactly what she’s really looking for and what she isn’t. This book is sectioned off by the different camp weeks, from staff training, the first week, and the last week, which is how chapters are divided. It’s a fun, summertime YA read for all of us who are missing camp because they’re either too old or COVID ruined the fun.
Most Likely by Sarah Watson
Another book I knew I had to get immediately, but this time, based solely on the author. Sure, it’s her debut novel, but Sarah Watson created one of my all-time favorite TV series, The Bold Type, and that was enough to tell me I needed this book for my collection. Here, we follow for best friends throughout their senior year of high school, and one of whom will eventually be President of the United States — except you have no clue who it is.
BFFs Ava, CJ, Jordan, and Martha have been a foursome for their entire lives. By senior year, these vastly different personalities face their faces about growing up and what they want to do. The prologue indicates one girl is about to be sworn in as the first female president. But of course, we never see the name. This way, as you read the book, you can see each of the girls equalling taking on the gig. The prologue did set aside some hints that could potentially help you figure out which girl is the prez. Well, I had my predictions (which, of course, was right LOL), but even I kept second-guessing myself because it could have been anyone’s future story. They are all interesting, smart, and engaging characters on their own. And together? They are a powerful force to be reckoned with in this tale of four best friends who have each other’s back through all the highs and lows of high school and beyond.
The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins
Yep, of course I read the new Hunger Games book, no surprise there. Now, I don’t want to give too much away to avoid spoilers before other HG fans have a chance to power through all 500+ pages or the movie adaptation comes out. But, I do have to say that I didn’t hate it. And Snow as the protagonist, well, I didn’t hate him, but I certainly didn’t like him. That being said, it was interesting to see how Snow got to the dictator-like position he has the original book.
Here, we go back 60-something years to the morning of the tenth annual Games. For the first time, Capital teens at the prestigious Academy will serve as mentors to the tributes to jumpstart their adult societal statuses. Eighteen-year-old orphan Coriolanus Snow is assigned to mentor the female tribute from District 12, Lucy Gray Baird. You see, Snow needs this victory to restore his family’s position and wealth in society to what it once was. The Games are totally different early on, from the treatment of the tributes, the arena, and how the Games are watched/ how mentors are involved.
The book goes past an account of the Games because it’s a love story of sorts. I mean, whatever happens in the movie, we better get that Lucy-Snow compact scene, because I NEED IT. So adorable. We then see Snow and Lucy Gray navigate post-Games life, together and apart. And wowza, I did not see that twist ending coming with Snow’s ultimate fate and the master plan. I mean, mind blown.
You Had Me at Hola by Alexis Daria*
This was the ultimate, perfect summer beach rom-com read and I enjoyed devouring every morsel of Jasmine’s and Ashton’s stories. Here, readers are thrust into soap star Jasmine’s fast-paced Hollywood world immediately, and I’m captivated and just want to keep reading. Both telenovela star Ashton and Jasmine have their own complex backstories, which makes them so much more vulnerable, intriguing, and dynamic as characters. It’s a quick, indulgent telenovela-inspired romance read and gives me Jane the Virgin vibes.
In the book, these two scene partners have a lack of chemistry after a mortifying first encounter. To build up their chemistry, the duo starts rehearsing on their own in private, and of course, they both have all the feels that they are desperately trying to ignore, because professionalism. All that tension and passion is brewing and is bound to explode. So, of course, the pair stars kissing and making out, even though they know its a bad idea. They just can’t quit each other, so we get the whole secret romance trope. Things do get, um, very steamy and descriptive, as a heads up if that’s not your thing, just a warning. But aside from that, these characters are vulnerable, emotional, and raw, and that’s why they make such endearing leads, and an eventual romance so interesting and sweet.
I love seeing more representation in the romance industry, and I love to see these romance stories are so reflective of today’s world and reality. The cute romance, the drama of telenovela, and the representation will have this all over romance readers’ radars this summer. Trust me on that one.
Available: August 4
Smash It! by Francina Simone*
This was an impactful and intriguing YA work with such a vibrant point of view, as I briefly referenced in my last post. The book features a fun, authentic tone to represent the protagonist Liv and I was so so so thrilled to see more diversity (race and body) representation in contemporary YA, I love that.
It’s the story of a shy girl who has an unrequited crush on one of her best friends. She’s ready to move and start living life, and be open to new possibilities, including finally trying out for the school musical. So, Liv makes a “F*ck It” list to inspire her to be bolder and free, and I want to make a list of my own.
The book is like a love square of romance and feelings and Liv is just so awkward and relatable, which is endearing as a reader. It’s realistic and engaging, and I love Liv’s growing sense of confidence. Like Othello, which is the school musical, there’s a lot going on with all the characters, and I just want to keep reading and get all the juicy details. Then, in the end, Eli and his letter to her is just so vulnerable and raw and I saw both of their whole hearts explode, and I felt all that emotion. As a good book should.
I’m so here for all these strong and empowered AF women that are owning their lives! Love to see it. Liv as a character finds her voice and confidence, which is so raw and honest and impactful. It made me smile to see her grow because that’s inspiring. If she can smash it, so can all of us.
Available: September 22
Spoiler Alert by Olivia Dade*
First off, I love a good geeky love story. So, I was instantly intrigued by this. This story reminds me of Ashley Polston’s YA geek romances, but obviously with adults. Here, we follow two anonymous virtual pen pals that chat through a fanfiction site about their favorite TV show characters and OTP. Both Marcus and April have descriptive point-of-views that make it exciting to read on. He’s the actual star of the show they’re writing fanfic about and she’s a massive fan of the show. Also, I love to see a body-positive lead in general, and also it brings more diversity to the cosplay community. That’s always great to see. April is so proud of herself and confident, and I love to see that; even though she’s not stick-thin, she still knows her value and deserves the world.
Within a few chapters, it’s already super cute. It’s sort of like the old musical She Loves Me, where he learns they are pen pals but keeps her in the dark instead of filling her in. It’s fun to read the actual fanfics and their DMs throughout the novel, as a nod to the backstory of the characters and how they met. It’s definitely a cute romance and plenty enjoyable.
Available: October 6
Come On In: 15 Stories about Immigration and Finding Home by Adi Alsaid*
This a compelling, touching anthology of short stories about immigration and the perspectives of teens who’ve dealt with it. It tells the stories of different teens all dealing with immigration (past and present) struggles and their own racial identities, as they find a sense of belonging. With everything that’s going on in the world right now and the important fight for social justice, it’s eye-opening to see so many different worldly perspectives through these essays. Obviously, as it is a collection, some essays were more engaging than others, but they all had a unique point of view.
We see the highs and lows of immigration through these stories written by so many acclaimed YA authors. These teen characters deal with being stopped on the street, TSA detention, customs anxiety, and the terrifying journey to new places. We see fifteen different parts of the immigrant experience on these characters’ (and authors) journey to find a home.
Available: October 13
*Advance reader copies of several of the books listed were provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.