I wish you all the best, by Mason Deaver

This book…. was a beautiful read. I got really attached to Ben and their story. Even though I am not part of the LGBTQ+ community myself, I am by association and it is something I want to learn more about because I feel like everyone should feel safe being themselves.
I wish you all the best is the story of Ben, who lives with their parents after their sister left ten years ago. After finally gather the courage to come out to them as non-binary, they are faced with an unexpected reaction: they are kicked out of their home. Their estranged sister (and husband) take them in, and they start a new life at a new school. But trauma is still there, with a lot of other repressed emotions. Ben meets Nathan, who wants to become instant friends…
This book celebrates being different, family trying to do their best, acceptance. I love the passages with the therapist, too.
Cheers to book focusing on characters that are diverse. I really wish books like this one existed when I was a teenager…

About the author

Mason Deaver is a non-binary author and librarian in a small town in North Carolina where the word ‘y’all’ is used in abundance.
When they aren’t writing or working, they’re typically found in their kitchen baking something that’s bad for them, or out in their garden complaining about the toad that likes to dig holes around their hydrangeas.

https://www.masondeaverwrites.com/

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Chapters Indigo

I Wish You All the Best Book Cover I Wish You All the Best
Mason Deaver
Juvenile Fiction
PUSH
14 May 2019
336

When Ben De Backer comes out to their parents as nonbinary, they're thrown out of their house and forced to move in with their estranged older sister, Hannah, and her husband, Thomas, whom Ben has never even met. Struggling with an anxiety disorder compounded by their parents' rejection, they come out only to Hannah, Thomas, and their therapist and try to keep a low profile in a new school.

But Ben's attempts to survive the last half of senior year unnoticed are thwarted when Nathan Allan, a funny and charismatic student, decides to take Ben under his wing. As Ben and Nathan's friendship grows, their feelings for each other begin to change, and what started as a disastrous turn of events looks like it might just be a chance to start a happier new life.

The bookish life of Nina Hill, by Abbi Waxman

I picked this book for the prompt “Book with a book on the cover“.
This year, I am trying to participate in the famous Popsugar Reading Challenge (if you have not heard about it, please visit their website)
Plus, any book with the main character battling anxiety while loving being surrounded by books more than by people tends to pick my interest *wink wink*

I related A LOT with the character of Nina. I just wish I had as much general knowledge as she does. My father is not dead but I did learn, when in my 20s, that instead of a sister and a brother, I actually had four brothers and a sister on his side (from 2 different women). I love them all but it was a shock, to be honest. I was raised as an only child: I was kind of unexpected. I suffer from anxiety, that can be crippling when it attacks. Coping with it is a struggle and admitting that this is something happening is very hard.
I really enjoyed reading this book 🙂

About the author

Abbi Waxman was born in England in 1970. Her mother began a highly successful career writing crime fiction. Abbi went into advertising, working as a copywriter and then a creative director at various advertising agencies in London and New York. Eventually, she quit advertising, had three kids and started writing books, TV shows and screenplays, largely in order to get a moment’s peace.

The Bookish Life of Nina Hill Book Cover The Bookish Life of Nina Hill
Abbi Waxman
Fiction
Berkley Books
2019
352

"Nina Hill's life may not seem like much, but for a person battling anxiety, it's more than enough. She enjoys her job at a bookstore and her small circle of friends. Until a visit from a lawyer changes everything... The father that Nina never knew existed has died, leaving behind an enormous extended family. Nina now has innumerable sisters, brothers, nieces, nephews, and cousins all living within a twenty-mile radius--some welcoming and some not so welcoming, but all demanding her attention. If that's not enough, Nina's talent for worrying is taking the thrill out of falling in love. Tom, a fellow trivia nerd--who's totally into her--is obviously too good to be true. Everything is moving too fast for Nina. Caught in a whirlwind of new people, emotions and experiences, she feels the need to protect herself. But maybe opening her world--and her heart--is a risk worth taking"--

God-shaped hole, by Tiffanie DeBartolo

I don’t think I would have picked up this book if it hadn’t been so strongly recommended by Tarryn Fisher and her readers on social media. The cover is stunning, but the title is a little… off-putting, to me. It totally makes sense once you are reading it, though.

The book begins with a flashback to when the main character, Beatrice (“Trixie”) is twelve and is told by a fortune teller that the love of her life will die and leave her alone. So we KNOW from the first chapter that something bad will happen. I think this is one of the big page-turning factor: how will this terrible thing come to be?
Something I loved about this story is also the family dynamics we are witnessing. Both on Trixie’s side and on Jacob’s side. My own father issues were reflecting on how I felt about theirs.
The characters were all flawed in their own ways but that made them more realistic, too.

I highly recommend God-shaped hole, but keep a box of tissues nearby…

About the author

Tiffanie DeBartolo (born November 27, 1970) is an American novelist, filmmaker, co-founder of the independent record label Bright Antenna, and co-founder of The ShineMaker Foundation. Tiffanie has written three novels: God-Shaped Hole, How To Kill a Rock Star, and the upcoming Sorrow, scheduled for release in October 2020. She wrote and directed the film Dream for an Insomniac, featuring Jennifer Aniston, released in 1996. She also penned the text to the graphic novel GRACE: The Jeff Buckley Story, which was released in April 2019.

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Amazon.ca

God-Shaped Hole Book Cover God-Shaped Hole
Tiffanie DeBartolo
Fiction
Sourcebooks, Inc.
16 May 2017
416

"God-Shaped Hole will change you as a reader, writer and human. It is rare books like this one that remind me why I fell in love with the written word." — Colleen Hoover

When I was twelve, a fortune teller told me that my one true love would die young and leave me all alone...

When Beatrice Jordan meets the unpredictable Jacob Grace, the two wild souls become instant allies. Together they discover an escape in each other's creativity and insecurities, while running from secrets they cannot seem to shake — or a fate that could throw them to the ground . . .

This 15th Anniversary reissue of Tiffanie DeBartolo's classic love story introduces a new audience of dreamers to a quintessentially real and raw vision of spirit, and inspires everyone to live — and love — as vividly as possible.

Confess, Colleen Hoover

It’s hard for me to currently pick a favourite book from Colleen Hoover. I was skeptical about Confess at first, maybe because of the title. I was afraid it would be a classical and cliché chic-lit book. But I should have known this is not Colleen’s style 😉

This is the story of Auburn, who experienced a tragedy when she was 16 years old. We meet her again five years later. Her heart is broken, but she’s doing her best day-to-day. And then she meets Owen while looking for a job. Owen has an art Studio where he sells his paintings once a month.
Their attraction is strong and undeniable but both are hiding secrets that could completely tear them apart.

This book was totally unexpected to me. I loved that we got to read both sides of the story, thanks to alternating chapters. We don’t know the full secrets until pretty far in the book, which I appreciated. The reader does not have to ALWAYS be omniscient 😉

The artwork

In the book, the artwork plays a big role. I was so pleased that some actual art was included in the book.
The artist is Danny O’Connor and the art is breathtaking.

“hands”
‘Auburn”
“Callahan Gentry”

You can buy prints of the book’s artwork on Colleen’s website: right here.

About the author

Colleen Hoover is the #1 New York Times and International bestselling author of multiple novels and novellas. She lives in Texas with her husband and their three boys. She is the founder of The Bookworm Box, a non-profit book subscription service and bookstore in Sulphur Springs, Texas.

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Confess Book Cover Confess
Colleen Hoover
Fiction
Thorndike Press Large Print
9 September 2015
450

Auburn Reed is determined to rebuild her shattered life and she has no room for mistakes. But when she walks into a Dallas art studio in search of a job, she doesn’t expect to become deeply attracted to the studio’s enigmatic artist, Owen Gentry.
For once, Auburn takes a chance and puts her heart in control, only to discover that Owen is hiding a huge secret. The magnitude of his past threatens to destroy everything Auburn loves most, and the only way to get her life back on track is to cut Owen out of it—but can she do it?

The meaning of birds, by Jaye Robin Brown

Sometimes, I read books back-to-back that have a common theme without knowing it in advance. Does it happen to you as well? Most of the books I read come from the banQ in Montréal. I see a book I think I’d like and borrow it, or I put a reservation until it’s available. This is how I sometimes end up with books like this.
This is my second book by this author, the first one was Georgia Peaches & Other Forbidden Fruits. She is queer herself, so I know that she writes about subjects she actually understands. It’s important to me.

In The meaning of birds, Jessica is our main protagonist. She’s in high school and has been dealing with anger issues for years. They are probably the result of unexpressed grief from her father’s death. Then, enters Vivi. She is passionate about birds, about going to college and lifts Jessica up. Plus, she encourages her to take the doodles Jess’ therapist encouraged her to do to an other level.
The book is created with alternating chapters: Now and Then. This is how we get to understand Jessica’s story better. Because in the Now, she is spiralling out of control, lost in her newest grief. How to continue living when the love of your life just died, even though you’re still a teenager?
This was very beautifully written and I felt for the characters in general, not only Jess. It’s the kind of story that sticks with you, even when you’re done reading the book.

About the author

Jaye Robin Brown, or JRo to her friends, has been many things in her life– jeweller, mediator, high school art teacher–but is now living the full-time writer life. She lives with her wife, dogs, and horses in a sweet house in the NC woods where she hopes to live happily ever after.

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The Meaning of Birds Book Cover The Meaning of Birds
Jaye Robin Brown
Young Adult Fiction
HarperTeen
16 April 2019
368

“An evocative story of the thrills of first love and the anguish of first loss. This will break you and heal you.”—Julie Murphy, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Dumplin’ Not to be missed by fans of Nina LaCour and Becky Albertalli, this powerful novel—from the acclaimed author of Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit—paints a poignant portrait of love in the past, grief in the now, and the healing power of art. Before: Jess has always struggled with the fire inside her. But when she meets Vivi, everything changes. As they fall for each other, Vivi helps Jess deal with her anger and pain and encourages her to embrace her artistic talent. And suddenly Jess’s future is a blank canvas, filled with possibilities. After: When Vivi unexpectedly dies, Jess’s perfect world is erased. As she spirals out of control, Jess pushes away everyone around her and throws out her plans for art school. Because art is Vivi and Vivi is gone forever. Right when Jess feels at her lowest, she makes a surprising friend who just might be able to show her a new way to channel her rage, passion, and creativity. But will Jess ever be able to forge a new path for herself without Vivi? A beautiful exploration of first love and first loss, this novel effortlessly weaves together past and present to tell a profound story about how you can become whole again when it seems like you’ve lost the most important part of yourself.

What you left behind, Jessica Verdi

“What you left behind” is the story of Ryden, who became a single father at 17. His girlfriend, Meg, died the day she gave birth to their daughter, Hope.
Ryden was not ready to become a Dad, but his Mom (I love her!) is very supportive and does her best to make him connect with his daughter.
Ryden dreams of becoming a professional soccer player and to attend UCLA on a soccer scholarship. Juggling being a parent, school, work and practice is a lot. We follow him as he navigates his relationship with his co-worker, the quirky Joni. She does not know anything about his situation and feels like a breath of fresh air in his shattered universe.
Ryden is in search of answers: finding his father, who he does not know. Finding diaries that maybe Meg left behind for him to find and that would explain a lot of things.
This book was heartbreaking. I felt for Ryden and his difficulties to bond with his daughter. His life took a turn he absolutely did not ask for or saw coming and it’s really hard for him to accept it and to become the father he needs to be. His mother is amazing, by the way.

About the author

Jessica Verdi is an author of young adult novels and children’s books about identity, family, acceptance, and love.
After nearly ten years in the NYC theatre world, she got an idea for a novel. That novel was an adult magical realism story, and while it will never see the light of day—nope, don’t ask—it was the book that started her love affair with writing. Now she can’t imagine doing anything else.
She lives in Brooklyn, NY with her partner Paul and dogs Billie and Gloria.

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What You Left Behind Book Cover What You Left Behind
Jessica Verdi
Juvenile Fiction
Sourcebooks Fire
1 August 2015
368

Seventeen-year-old Ryden's life was changed forever when his girlfriend discovered she was pregnant and stopped chemotherapy, and now, raising Hope with his mother's help and longing for the father he never knew, he meets smart and sexy Jodi and gains a new perspective.

The field guide to the North American teenager, Ben Philippe

There were so many things I LOVED about this book!
I was first drawn towards the cover while we were in Palm Springs last January. I did not buy the book at the time though but added it to me “Want to read” list on Goodreads (don’t hesitate to add me there, by the way).



The main character, Norris (and not “Morris”) is a Black teenager (in Junior High) who lived in Québec all his life before his Mom moves both of them to Austin, Texas (which is like the other end of the weather spectrum). His Dad and his new family live in Vancouver, BC. My family and I moved from France (=me, my Husband and our two daughters who were then a baby and a toddler); we are immigrants even though we now are Canadians as well. We lived in BC for 7+ years before moving to Québec 3 years ago, so both cities are dear to us. And for 9 years, my Husband travelled to Austin on a regular basis. So it was too strange of a coincidence not to be intrigued by the book’s setting.
I told my Husband some of Norris’ thoughts on Texas, from a Canadian point of view and was met with plenty “oh gosh, this is so true!”.
The story is told from Norris point of view so we progress in the story at his pace, and discover the other characters as he does. He is witty and snarky, and the idea of the notebook to jot down his thoughts or whatever he wanted when he arrived in his new school was a great idea. It truly feels like a field guide 😉 Norris has a strong opinion on everything and well… everyone. It was meant to go wrong at some point, this point being prom.
I have to say that once again, I loved the Mom in the book.
This book taught me that everything is a matter of perspective and that we can change our mind once we learn that there are two sides to every coin.
I got a plot scare when the story goes in a direction that I did not really see coming but that I firmly did not like. The ending was… bleh. However, I enjoyed two-thirds of the book very much and it makes up for it.

About the author

Ben Philippe was born in Haiti, raised in Montreal, Qc, Canada, and now resides in New York.
He is a graduate of the Michener Center for Writers and holds a BA in Sociology from Columbia University. He won the 2013 Tennessee Williams Fiction Contest and his writing has appeared in Observer, Vanity Fair, Thrillist, and others.
He still doesn’t have a valid driver’s license.


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The Field Guide to the North American Teenager Book Cover The Field Guide to the North American Teenager
Ben Philippe
Young Adult Fiction
Balzer + Bray
8 January 2019
384

Norris Kaplan is clever, cynical, and quite possibly too smart for his own good. A Black French Canadian, he knows from watching American sitcoms that those three things don’t bode well when you are moving to Austin, Texas. Plunked into a new high school and sweating a ridiculous amount from the oppressive Texas heat, Norris finds himself cataloging everyone he meets: the Cheerleaders, the Jocks, the Loners, and even the Manic Pixie Dream Girl. Making a ton of friends has never been a priority for him, and this way he can at least amuse himself until it’s time to go back to Canada, where he belongs. Yet against all odds, those labels soon become actual people to Norris…like loner Liam, who makes it his mission to befriend Norris, or Madison the beta cheerleader, who is so nice that it has to be a trap. Not to mention Aarti the Manic Pixie Dream Girl, who might, in fact, be a real love interest in the making. But the night of the prom, Norris screws everything up royally. As he tries to pick up the pieces, he realizes it might be time to stop hiding behind his snarky opinions and start living his life—along with the people who have found their way into his heart.
-- A hilarious contemporary realistic YA debut novel about a rather cynical Black French Canadian teen who moves to Austin, Texas, and experiences the clichés and joys of the American high school experience—including falling in love. Perfect for fans of Nicola Yoon and When Dimple Met Rishi.

Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit, by Jaye Robin Brown

I have to admit that I have a thing for books tackling young adult LGBTQ+ characters.
I am not a Christian anymore, however reading about Faith is something I am still very interested in. Especially when coupled with matters like sexuality or more broadly, someone’s identity.
In Georgia peaches & other forbidden fruit, Jaye Robin Brown asks us: is it okay to put aside the core of who you are to fit in a new environment? To please your family wishes.
The main character, Joanna has been openly gay for years now. Her best friend is very exuberant and queer as well. It has never been an issue with her father, who is a Pastor. She’s both gay and a Christian teenage girl and lives with it perfectly…. until her father remarries and they move from Atlanta to a very traditional Christian town in Georgia.
Some parts of the storyline felt wonky to me, but it was not to the point of making me want to walk away from it and overall, I really enjoyed reading about Jo’s journey.

About the author

Jaye Robin Brown, or JRo to her friends, has been many things in her life– jeweller, mediator, high school art teacher–but is now living the full-time writer life. She lives with her wife, dogs, and horses in a sweet house in the NC woods where she hopes to live happily ever after.

Amazon.com | https://amzn.to/2VqRQ9G
Chapters Indigo |Georgia peaches and other forbidden fruits

Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit Book Cover Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit
Jaye Robin Brown
Young Adult Fiction
HarperTeen
30 August 2016
432

Joanna Gordon has been out and proud for years, but when her popular radio evangelist father remarries and decides to move all three of them from Atlanta to the more conservative Rome, Georgia, he asks Jo to do the impossible: to lie low for the rest of her senior year. And Jo reluctantly agrees.

Although it is (mostly) much easier for Jo to fit in as a straight girl, things get complicated when she meets Mary Carlson, the oh-so-tempting sister of her new friend at school. But Jo couldn’t possibly think of breaking her promise to her dad. Even if she’s starting to fall for the girl. Even if there’s a chance Mary Carlson might be interested in her, too. Right?

Emergency contact, by Mary H.K. Choi

Emergency Contact has been on my “To Be Read Pile” for a very long time. But I had to wait for it to be available at the public library to be able to read it.
Do you know how sometimes you have high hopes about a book but fear of being disappointed? That’s how I was feeling about this one. I found out that either people loved it, or hated it…
I am part of the “I really enjoy reading this story” group, though. The two main characters, Penny and Sam, were relatable in some ways and I grew attached to them. I can totally understand how easier it can feel to be yourself through texts than in-person, as an introvert woman. The characters are quirky and even the secondary ones, like Jude and her best friends, become quite likeable.
I usually enjoy Young Adult books where the parents still have a part in the story, and this is the case in Emergency Contact.
It was a book I enjoyed reading, and the characters were in my thoughts even during my day. That’s usually a good sign of how much I get into a story 🙂

About the author

Mary H.K. Choi is a Korean-American author, editor, television and print journalist.
She is the author of young adult novel Emergency Contact (2018).
She is the culture correspondent on Vice News Tonight on HBO and was previously a columnist at Wired and Allure magazines as well as a freelance writer.

Amazon.com | https://amzn.to/2Wlc8h0
Indigo Chapters | Emergency Contact

Emergency contact Book Cover Emergency contact
Mary H.K. Choi
Young Adult
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
March 27th 2018
Hardcover
394

For Penny Lee high school was a total non-event. Her friends were okay, her grades were fine, and while she somehow managed to land a boyfriend, he doesn’t actually know anything about her. When Penny heads to college in Austin, Texas, to learn how to become a writer, it’s seventy-nine miles and a zillion light years away from everything she can’t wait to leave behind.

Sam’s stuck. Literally, figuratively, emotionally, financially. He works at a café and sleeps there too, on a mattress on the floor of an empty storage room upstairs. He knows that this is the god-awful chapter of his life that will serve as inspiration for when he’s a famous movie director but right this second the seventeen bucks in his checking account and his dying laptop are really testing him. 

When Sam and Penny cross paths it’s less meet-cute and more a collision of unbearable awkwardness. Still, they swap numbers and stay in touch—via text—and soon become digitally inseparable, sharing their deepest anxieties and secret dreams without the humiliating weirdness of having to see each other.

The “Slammed” trilogy, by Colleen Hoover

I have a confession to make: I try to only read book series once all the titles have been released. I HATE having to wait for a sequel and LOVE reading them back-to-back so I stay inside the story until its end.
Luckily, as a person living in Québec, I have access to our wonderful banQ and can borrow a ton of books for free (!).. I borrowed all the Colleen Hoover’s books I could find, that were available; I borrowed Point Of Retreat, not knowing it was the middle book of a trilogy. So I had to wait another week to go grab Slammed. It happens quite frequently in my bibliophile life 😉

Slammed is about Layken, an 18yo young adult who moves with her Mom and younger brother after the sudden death of her Dad. She is not pleased to be uprooted while she is still grieving. Luckily, she is closed with her Mom and her sibling. Layken is pretty independent and knows she needs to grow up in order to help her Mom in this difficult new situation.
On moving day, she meets her neighbor: the handsome Will, and his younger brother. Will is a few years older, and there’s an undeniable connection happening between them. He brings her into his universe: slam poetry.
However, there would not be a story if it was that easy, right?
We follow them as they navigate their relationship.

I also loved the secondary characters: Eddie, Layken’s instant new best friend; her boyfriend Gavin. The two younger brothers are hilarious, as well. And suffice to say that as a Mom myself, I was really touched by Julia.
This book made me mad, sad, it made me laugh out loud and I could not put it down. It was infuriating at times but that’s the point: it made me feel. And sometimes, that’s all that you need from a book…

The other books in this trilogy:

Point of retreat
The second book takes place after the end of Slammed. A lot of changes happened between the two books but we meet again the characters we got attached to in Slammed. Something about Will’s past will resurface… will Lake & Will fight for a future together?

This Girl
Happens right after Point of Retreat. Now that Layken & Will are happy, Lake wants to know as much as possible about Will. This book is told in his point of view and has two timelines: the one happening in Slammed (but this first book is from Layken’s POV)

About the author

Colleen Hoover is the #1 New York Times and International bestselling author of multiple novels and novellas. She lives in Texas with her husband and their three boys. She is the founder of The Bookworm Box, a non-profit book subscription service and bookstore in Sulphur Springs, Texas.

Indigo | Slammed book
Amazon.ca | https://amzn.to/2JuKvAe
Amazon.com | https://amzn.to/2Fi4ddc

Slammed Book Cover Slammed
Slammed
Colleen Hoover
Fiction
Simon and Schuster
18 September 2012
Hardbook
317

Eighteen-year-old Layken struggles with holding her family together after her father dies, until she develops a relationship with her new neighbor, Will, who has a passion for poetry slams and gives her a new sense of hope.