7 New Books I Can’t Get Out of My Head This Fall

Holy cow, it’s almost autumn already?? Where has the time gone so quickly? Like, holy crap. Speedy indoor summer, ugh. Well, I’ve kept busy by reading, reading, and oh yea, more reading. I mean, is anyone surprised? And these books are sure to keep you all busy as you stay home and socially distanced from others.

So, welcome back to Miranda’s Book Nook with more of my latest book recommendations that’ll keep you company all autumn long. I hope you find these books as engaging, fun, and comforting as I have.

Sex and Vanity by Kevin Kwan

The second I first learned that Kevin Kwan was coming out with his first new book since the worldwide phenomenon that is the Crazy Rich Asians trilogy, I was stoked. Here, we get a brand-new tale of a young woman torn between two men: her influential WASPy fiancé and George Zao, the man her family’s tried to keep away from her since she was a teenager. Y’all, let me just say that this book was so indulging and deliciously decadent that I just couldn’t put it down and had to devour it in a single setting. Sorry not sorry, it’s so juicy, dramatic, and engaging.

Available: Now


Midnight Sun by Stephenie Meyer

Yes, I used to be a Twihard, and yes, I read this new Twilight book within days of its initial publication release. Duh. I mean, was that ever a question? If 2020 has taught me anything, it’s that fandom never really goes away (thanks Hunger Games, Jonas Brothers, and One Direction); it just lays dormant for a bit — and can come back with a vengeance, just as strong as ever.

In case you’ve been living under a rock, Stephenie Meyer went back and rewrote the first book in her bestselling saga from Edward’s angsty teen boy slash vampire perspective. After the first draft was leaked and posted online years back, now, she’s finally finished it and it is here! So, what’s it about? It’s the same time frame, plot points, and characters first seen in Twilight, just flipped around and told from Edward’s side aka the lion’s instead of the lamb’s. This companion novel takes on a darker side as vampire Edward attempts to stay away from Bella or if he’s meant to kill her and drink her blood rather than fall in love. It’s definitely a lot darker and angstier than the original, and I definitely was intrigued by this darker version.

Reading this book seriously felt like I was back in middle school, in the heyday of my Twilight obsession, staying up way too late each night just to finish another chapter. Because, that’s been me for the week it first was out. Now, it’s nearly 700 pages, which like what a chunker, and I could barely hold it, LOL. But, it’s so much fun to go back to this beloved franchise and see it from a different perspective. I liked that it was Edward’s, one because he was the other main character besides Bella, and two because as a mind reader, that means we also get to see the viewpoints of the other Cullens (and their backgrounds!) and Forks students. That part was super fun. Plus, Edward had some zingers, like when he retorts “no blood, no foul” about himself in response to a question about being hurt. Literally made me chuckle out loud.

Available: Now


CLUELESS: A Totally Classic Picture Book by G.M. Berrow, Illustrated by Heather Burns

Yes, you read that correctly. Amy Heckerling’s totally tubular, iconic ’90s cult classic has been reworked into a children’s picture book, and I’m totally buggin’ out about it. Like, obviously the movie is a classic that I can still quote every line and then I had to see the original musical years back because I love this 90s-style world so much. A book about it, like yes, please! The book, out just in time for the movie’s 25th anniversary, reimagines the Bronson Alcott students as pint-sized fashionistas living their best lives in elementary school. This is an awesome way to share your love of this tubular flick with your little ones and introduce them to a good teen movie.

This illustrated children’s book features all the classic nostalgia, Easter eggs, characters, fashion-forward ensembles, but all kid-friendly, obviously. Here, we follow precious tots Cher and Dionne who meet newbie Tai at Bronson Alcott Elementary. Tai, much like her film counterpart, is a fan of skateboarding and baggy clothes. Cher and Dionne are determined to help make their new bestie fit in with the stylish Beverly Hills crowd as these popular kiddos try to tell her how to dress or what hobbies she should like. But in the end, they realize that everyone’s different and that what makes them so flipping awesome!

We have Cher’s classic home, the same like way-classic language from the film, her computer program to match outfits (which I’m still waiting on IRL, plaid matching outfits (!!), all her rad friends, epic fashion looks that are exactly as we remember from the movie, and a sweet story about fitting in, standing out, and friendship. Just the romances are missing, after all, it is a book for kids. It’s precious and you’d like totally be missing out if this wasn’t added to any young kiddo’s reading list. Missing this picture book? OMG, as if! Thanks to a physical advance copy, courtesy of Hachette Book Group, I’ll definitely be reading this to my young cousins every time I see them. Sorry, but they need to be educated about the iconic world that is Clueless.

Available: September 1

Image Courtesy: Clueless TM & © 2020 Paramount Pictures. All Rights Reserved.


Charming as a Verb by Ben Philippe*

First off, nearly every single Netgalley review for this new YA novel gives it either four or five stars (out of five), which to me indicates that it has to be something special. And after reading the first few pages alone, I can confirm it most definitely is. After only a couple pages, I desperately want and need to keep reading because the narrator Henri’s point of view is just so relatable, authentic, engaging, and completely captivating.

This diverse teen romance (yes, this is what we need more of in the genre!!) is whip-smart, fun, and relatable for many readers. Henri “Halti” is a NYC native, the first-generation son of Haitian immigrants, and who is the epitome of a charming, well-liked teenage boy. He’s smart, a good kid, an entrepreneurial dog walker. He started his own part-time dog walking site/brand as a way to help pay for college tuition for next year, and his eyes are set on Columbia University. At first, he doesn’t notice Corinne Troy as anything but the hyper-smart, annoying girl from school. She’s sort of his school rival as they push one another’s buttons. She’s a very Type A student and seems perfect to him. After she moves into his building on the Upper West Side and her mom hires Halti to walk her new pooch Palm Tree, she soon discovers his scheme and blackmails him to help her become popular with their school peers (and seem less intense about academics) in exchange for her silence about the truth of his business. (Side note: I love Corinne, hahaha she’s a gem and quite a fun character!)

It’s a quick, fun YA read that I have a hard time setting down because it’s just so enjoyable, even so early in the book. Philippe’s tone of voice for Henri is so witty and genuine, which makes this book even more captivating. There’s such a precious, innocent slow burn romance that’s perfectly timed with the book’s pace which was absolutely adorable and I can’t stop smiling, it’s that cute. By the ending, Henri did a stupid, stupid, dumb thing because he was so desperate to get into Columbia, and it made me so so pissed. But, in the end, that’s a good thing for this book because I could feel his emotions and it made me feel things as any good novel should. In the end, wow, it’s so raw and vulnerable, but then the epilogue delivers the cute HEA we all craved and that made me Smile.

Available: September 8


The Key to Love by Betsy St. Amant*

This was a sugary-sweet romance, and honestly, that’s really all I could say. It’s wholesome and pleasant, but sometimes you just need that. Here, pastry chef Bri hails from a small town in Kansas and she’s ever the romantic, willing to wait however long it takes for her own HEA and prince to show up. In contrast, gruff travel writer Gerard is anything but, and a past relationship has made him jaded to the ideas of love. He’s assigned to cover the bakery where she works, which has gone viral thanks to a love lock wall in the backyard, the owners’ matchmaking schemes, a European theme, and a “cute blonde who works there.” And by the first page, I’m already dreaming of macarons.

It’s clearly set up to be a cutesy, wholesome opposites-attract trope, and it doesn’t get off to the best start for this reader. It’s told in back and forth perspectives and it’s a super slowww slow-burn and enemies-to-lovers romance with banter. Like OMG, them quoting Pride and Prejudice to each other in French is so adorable and funny. It’s fun, sweet, and cute. That’s about it. Then, it gets very emotionally charged by the end with a reveal about her parents and a big bombshell, however, all that feels like an at-the-buzzer revelation that could have been teased or started earlier.

The writing is good and captivating, but there’s no extra oomph to make this book shine, and it ends up as another cutesy baking romance story. Then, each chapter ends with a cliffhanger that’s barely addressed in the next section or from the other point of view and it feels abrupt and catches you off guard because there are so many lingering questions left as a new time frame, event, or something is revealed. Then, the ending gets super religious, which almost comes out of left field because religious beliefs and God-talk wasn’t even addressed until the tail end. It caught me off guard because religion wasn’t really mentioned as a guiding factor at any point beforehand. Then, the end of the book didn’t address her final actions before they got their HEA, and to me, it feels like part of their, and her, journey is incomplete as individuals and as a pair. 

Available: October 13


The Transatlantic Book Club by Felicity Hayes-McCoy*

First off, the Irish setting gives me so much wanderlust and the bookish storyline makes me happy! In this multicultural Irish family fictional story, the story follows communities across both a small Irish town and an American town chock full of Irish immigrants.

It starts off with Cassie, who moves back to Ireland to be with her grandma after her grandfather passes away, and soon after that, the duo heads to this small US town where her Gran Pat had once visited her cousin as a teen. Once back in Ireland after the trip, Cassie takes a part-time job at the local library, which like, yay, I love bookish themes in my novels! Immediately, there are several narrators between Cassie, Pat, librarian Hannah and her mom Mary, all of whom can be a bit difficult to discern who’s who with so much happening all at once; The novel’s very ambitious in that way. Plus, in the beginning, several chapters are purely exposition and intros, and it’s very, very slow to get into the main story. The main idea is that Cassie sets up a transatlantic book club for the both the towns of Lissberg and Resolve, where they’ll chat weekly, at one time, via Skype about a book, or just a social call. This book features so much descriptive language that plays out like a movie in my head, but having too many points of view is making things difficult to keep track of, along with barely any transition between flashbacks and the present-day setting. That part feels abrupt and confusing as a reader. However, something clearly happened in the past and I’m very curious to find out what. There’s not a ton of action throughout and it wasn’t easy to get into.  I wanted to love it so badly because books and travel are my weakness, however, I just couldn’t get into this one, unfortunately. It was fine, but nothing more than that.

Available: November 10


Pretending by Holly Bourne*

OK, this latest ARC! I loved it, now I don’t think it’s five-star worthy because one, that’d hard to achieve and two, it’s something I’d go to reread actively. But, I did thoroughly enjoy this women’s fiction (which should just be fiction in general, but I digress) novel. From page one,  narrator April is snarky, relatable, witty, and I just love this tone and language. It’s so relatable and fun that I just want to keep reading. Then, it’s set in London, which is my ultimate guilty pleasure as an Anglophile, so yay, score one. I’m like super into this novel from so early on, mainly because April feels so honest and real. She’s vulnerable and genuine, making a stellar protagonist and I’m so invested in her journey and story.

Now, April, at the beginning, hasn’t exactly had the best luck with men (join the club, girl, join the club), and she’d fed up with that shit. So, she’s after revenge on any guy that’s hurt any girl and made them worthless. She sets out to make a new dating profile and date (or catfish) men as Gretel, the girl in her head that she thinks men want and is the complete opposite of the real her. This way she can break their hearts like they so often do to her. She matches with Joshua, who just seems so endearing and sweet, like I keep saying ‘aww precious’ about everything he does, that, and their first date is super cute, except that she’s pretending to be someone else. But, this experiment is helping the real her because April is becoming more confident and not overanalyzing every little detail, but of course, she starts to see they are quite compatible even though she’s admitted that he’s not good-looking, not bad-looking, and not a good kisser, like eesh. DM conversations help show the passage of time and recount different days and dates to move things along. It’s just so vulnerable and open, which makes everything feel so real and raw. Josh is so endearing yet a bit clueless, so I’m not sure if they really have this connection and he’s The Guy because he is falling for the fake her and he’s super clingy.

All in all, this book is witty and captivating, and I can’t put it down; I have to keep reading.  I loved this read because I get it, everything April feels, and it’s real, authentic, yet still frothy, light, and fun that keeps you turning the pages. So many women’s fiction nowadays revolve around a man or romance, and getting a man to fall in love with a girl, her needing or wanting love. And it’s refreshing to see that this book isn’t that because love and relationships are real, raw, and messy, just like life really is. I just want more content, and have so many lingering questions about where her story goes from here. There’s an epilogue that is quite ambiguous, so you can’t help but wonder who is that man at the end she speaks of, like is it Josh or someone else? I have so many questions left and I just want to know and keep reading more!

Also, the book definitely needs a trigger warning as April discusses and deals with her past sexual assault. But, I think it’s brave that she’s acknowledging and searching for a way to move forward, but it could definitely be triggering depending on your past.

Available: November 17


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

6 Books That Have Given Me All the Feels This Month

As the summer’s gone on and on and we’re still hunkered down at home, I’ve spent most of my time buying books, scouting new books, reading more books, and even building a new bookshelf to house my new additions. With each new book I’ve completed, I’ve fallen deeper into each story’s world and the emotional complexities of each story and character.

So, welcome back to Miranda’s Book Nook with some more of my latest book recommendations. I hope you find these books as engaging, fun, and comforting as I have.

Big Friendship by Aminatou Sow and Ann Friedman*

This five-hour audiobook was honestly like a free therapy session about your friendships, and a much-needed one. The authors and narrators, Aminatou Sow and Ann Friedman, bring the conversational tone of their “Call Your Girlfriend” podcast to the audio recording of their memoir and self-help book. Sow and Friedman get everything right about the importance of meaningful friendships, shine theory, the complicated friend web, and the stretch. It makes you want to reach out or give your friends a hug because friends are truly some of our most important relationships we’ll ever have.

As an audiobook, it doesn’t sound like a traditional book on tape, but rather, these ladies use their podcast experience in a way that feels relatable and authentic. Sow and Friedman read the book themselves, with the subjects they interviewed in the book reading their research or anecdotes that make it feel more reliable and genuine. It totally sounds like a podcast, which makes it super easy and engaging to keep listening, with easy to digest, bite-sized chapters. 

The story starts at a point where their friendship has stalled after years together and working as a team, and how they both wanted to work on it. It’s proof that all friendships may need repair, but if it is worth it, then you work on it, Certain sections, okay fine, the whole dang book, hits deeply to your core about emotional topics, especially hearing about ending toxic friendships. We’ve all ended friendships that didn’t provide what we needed, and it makes you think if that decision was made too hasty or if this could have been a big, meaningful friendship if we tried harder, and all that thinking is making me emotional because I get it.

Available: Now


The Heir Affair by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan

Okay, I’ve been waiting for this book for what seems like forever, or however long since Cocks and Morgan first announced they were writing a sequel. Their first regal read, The Royal We, tells the story of Rebecca (Bex) and her royal love Prince Nicholas (Nick) and ends with a private wedding ceremony the night before the big day and a royal pain of a paparazzi threatening to expose Bex’s past with her new hubby’s little brother. So, already, you know there’s A LOT going on.

This book picks up weeks after their less-than-perfect big day as Nick and Bex are away in Scotland on a self-imposed exile to ride out the scandal. However, when a family crisis forces the newly minted Duke and Duchess back to London, the temporary solutions to their marriage issues threaten to come unglued as they face real shit together and individually.  Okay, summary over and it’s time for my thoughts. First, I swear, If Nick and Bex didn’t end up happy together by the end, I was going to actually kick off. Like Nick made my list of Top Book BFs, so he better not muck that up and make me regret that decision. Then, I kept reading and OH THANK THE HEAVENS, I can breathe. And how he was really, truly there for her when she needed him most after suffering a miscarriage. I knew, I always liked him. Also, my favorite character is hands-down the Queen Mum Marta. I love her as she’s just chilling in the palace, tweeting and clapping back anonymously, and thirsting after celebrities on TV. She’s the best. And then Queen Eleanor once she wakes from her stroke, like that b*tch is feisty and strong, and yasss, I love to see it.

Overall, everything is so juicy yet full of raw, vulnerable emotions. That, and it’s just so fun to get lost in, which I did for the full day that I read and finished it the first time. Then, the ending and epilogue, it’ the absolute perfect conclusion to Nick and Bex’s story. I mean, I’d love a full series for selfish reasons, but that’s because I’ve fallen for Nick and Bex as characters and don’t want to leave their world just yet. Seriously, I just want to find out what’s next for the family and if Georgie and Maggie grow up as besties, have more siblings, or move to Iowa. I’d love any more content that they’d give us, but if not, I feel completely satisfied and content but the ending we got in THA.

Available: Now


Here to Stay by Adriana Herrera*

Here’s a fun, indulgent, slow-burn romance read that follows protagonist Julia as she moves to a new city for her boyfriend and a dream job. Soon after the big move, the boyfriend dumps her, and then her dream job is in jeopardy of being cut by management. To figure out the company’s next steps, management hires consultant Rocco Quinn to suss out the essentialness of the company programs. And side note, that name. I mean, Rocco Quinn? Individually, they are both quite “hot guy” names, and like this dude has two of them, so he must be like mega-hot, for sure.

Rocco and Julia have a bit of back and forth banter, and naturally, he’s gorgeous to look at, so things get flirty in true romance book fashion. Julia’s tasked with showing him around the nonprofit program she runs to illustrate that they should keep it going. However, since his job is likely to cut it, she’s poised to dislike him. This is made even more difficult because she fancies the pants off him, and vice versa. With back and forth perspectives, readers see both sides of the story and how they both feel this strong connection and pull even though they shouldn’t, and we get a delish enemies to lovers trope. (It’s my favorite!) Rocco has a promotion on the line, which could help his family and so he must figure out if Julia’s a distraction getting in his way or if she’s The One. It’s a fun romance read, sure, and it’s sort of a slow burn because they are terrible at hiding their flirtation and it picks up steam very fast along the way. Then, what was supposed to be a fling with a shelf life soon gets complicated because they both catch feels in this predictable romance novel. Yet, it was very sweeping and indulgent. That ending was so damn cute, I can’t ignore that. Gotta love a sweet, adorable HEA where everything works out.

Available: August 25


Love Your Life by Sophie Kinsella*

We’ve got a five-star read, y’all! In this lighthearted, fun novel, we follow protagonist Ava as she prepares for an Italian writing retreat to finish writing a book following a disastrous string of bad dates and relationships. She’s going there to strictly focus, however, all that goes out the window as soon as “Dutch” saunters into the retreat.

This book has such an engaging tone and perspective that keeps me reading into the wee hours, because she’s such a relatable lead and I need to find out what happens next. During her anonymous (no personal information given) romance writing retreat, Ava as “Aria” is so taken with this “Dutch” guy who isn’t good at writing or his words but is willing to learn. They can’t reveal any personal details about their real lives, yet these two keep flirting and it’s getting precious. It’s a cute, steamy, fun, and indulgent holiday romance, that’s so fun and enjoyable to read that I finished in a single setting.

Aria and Dutch have such an undeniable pull and connection, which makes for a sweeping romance. The holiday part only lasts for the beginning, and most of the story sees them attempt to bring their holiday fling back to their vastly different real-world lives in London — dogs, jobs, exes, family, and all. Outside the retreat bubble, Ava and Matt (his real name) try to meld their lives and figure out if their vacation love is enough to last. The rose-colored glasses of their holiday romance wears off quickly, but neither of them want to split because they believe they are meant to be and this is real, despite being polar opposites in nearly every sense. Together, they’ve managed to expand each other’s views, and that’s real love: That you can accept that what you think isn’t the end-all-be-all that you think it might be, but rather that they could try something new and still accept one another. It’s like more than just a romance between Ava and Matt, but as they make each other better as individuals and it’s just cute as hell. But side note, I nearly screamed out of sadness if anything tragic was about to happen to precious pooch Harold at the end. That was the most emotionally traumatizing part.

It’s not an easy love story, because, hey, life isn’t easy, and I think that’s why I loved it so much. It’s honest, vulnerable, and authentic. It’s funny, witty, romantic, emotional, and heartfelt. So many emotions in one book and that’s why I fell hard for this book. Wow, just incredible. It’s not just a happy, sugary-sweet romance, but we see raw emotions and growth from both sides, and that’s what makes it special. I didn’t want the story to end, I wanted more and just to see where else their love story and journey goes whether together or apart, well, hopefully together, because that ending was precious. This book gives me all the inspiration to write more, finish more, and move past my own seemingly crippling case of writer’s block, so double win.

Available: October 27


Rent a Boyfriend by Gloria Chao*

This was an adorable and fun YA romantic fiction read. Here, Chloe is home from college over the holidays and hires a fake boyfriend to impress her folks, and oh, I can tell we’re going to get a delicious fake dating trope. Oh, how I do love them in romances.  Both her and Drew (her hired fake BF for the weekend) have notable points of view that are both interesting and sharp to follow. The two couldn’t be more different, yet somehow, opposites attract and they end up seeing each other for real and not just as hired, naturally. Then, their text conversations are like typical YA-level cute. When real Drew and Chloe start dating, it’s precious, although there’s that classic secret dating trope. Sure, they have a cute love story by the end, but the real love is Chloe accepting, loving, and owning herself first. It’s cute and great to see an in-depth look at Chinese-American culture, especially for potentially unfamiliar readers. It’s always interesting to learn about other cultures, and this was an intricate immersion into seeing that.

Available: November 10


Love & Olives by Jenna Evans Welch*

Many YA fans will instantly recognize the author’s name, her now-famous book title style, and cover illustrations, and she’s back with another heartfelt story. This one takes us all the way to Santorini, Greece. I was obviously intrigued by the cover alone: After all, I am a massive fan of Mamma Mia and dream of traveling to Greece. Then, with its 500-page length, that was definitely daunting at the start. But, it was such a quick read full of adventure, romance, and heart.

Here, Olive AKA Liv is sent to Greece for the summer to reconnect with her estranged father and help him with a mysterious project. Instead of her dad, Greek teen Theo is there to pick her up. Even though she has a boyfriend back home in the US, these two have such chemistry and banter that I smell a love triangle brewing. Also, the book is partially set in a bookstore, so it already had a small piece of my heart by the earlier chapters alone. It’s a precious and cute YA read, and that’s just about it. Though the title says “love,” it’s more about the love of family, self-love, and acceptance. But, it’s giving me all of the wanderlust feels and like I just want to go to Greece now, like right now. (Ugh lockdown, boo.)

The intro of each chapter focuses on a different item from her list of “things her dad left behind” a brief flashback of the time before he split. And honestly, that sort of loses the flow between each present-day chapter and all its action. Then, in the last 100 pages or so, you see her open up and be vulnerable, as well as how this list actually makes sense, so just give this book time because it’ll get to that enjoyable stage, eventually.

Available: November 10


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