Thanks a Lot, Universe by Chad Lucas

Book Description

Brian has always been anxious, whether at home, or in class, or on the basketball court. His dad tries to get him to stand up for himself and his mom helps as much as she can, but after he and his brother are placed in foster care, Brian starts having panic attacks. And he doesn’t know if things will ever be “normal” again . . . Ezra’s always been popular. He’s friends with most of the kids on his basketball team–even Brian, who usually keeps to himself. But now, some of his friends have been acting differently, and Brian seems to be pulling away. Ezra wants to help, but he worries if he’s too nice to Brian, his friends will realize that he has a crush on him . . .


But when Brian and his brother run away, Ezra has no choice but to take the leap and reach out. Both boys have to decide if they’re willing to risk sharing parts of themselves they’d rather hide. But if they can be brave, they might just find the best in themselves–and each other.

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It Had to Be You by Georgia Clark 

Book Description 

For the past twenty years, Liv and Eliot Goldenhorn have run In Love In New York, Brooklyn’s top wedding planning business. That is, until Eliot dies while visiting his younger, blonder girlfriend, Savannah Shipley, an events intern from Kentucky. In a twist no one sees coming, Eliot leaves his half of the business to Savannah, who had no idea Eliot was still married.

To Liv’s horror, Savannah won’t sell: she wants to help Liv build the now-failing business into the thriving company it used to be. Liv finds herself widowed and shackled to the inexperienced if optimistic Savannah, her polar opposite in every way. But what starts as a personal and professional nightmare transforms into something even savvy, cynical Liv Goldenhorn couldn’t begin to imagine.

Sexy, tender, and utterly charming, It Had to Be You cleverly tells multiple modern love stories, featuring Liv, Savannah, and the various florists, caterers, musicians, and other vendors of the business, in a joyous Love Actually-style braided narrative. Second chances, secret romances, and steamy soul mates are front and center in this smart, emotional, laugh-out-loud rom com that’ll renew your faith in love and have you swooning on every page. 

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Slingshot by Mercedes Helnwein

Book Description

Mercedes Helnwein’s Slingshot is an exciting debut contemporary young adult novel perfect for fans of Rainbow Rowell and Mary H. K. Choi

“I didn’t think it was going to be anything like this when I finally fell in love. I thought it was going to be pretty simple. Like, I’d love someone and they’d love me. I thought that’s the way it worked.”

Grace Welles is stuck at a third-tier boarding school in the swamps of Florida, where her method of survival is a strict, self-imposed loneliness. And it works. Her crap attitude keeps people away because without friends, there are fewer to lose.

But when she accidentally saves the new kid, Wade Scholfield, from being beaten up, everything about her precariously balanced loner world collapses and, in order to find her footing again, she has no choice but to discover a completely new way to exist.

Because with Wade around, school rules are optional, weird is okay, and conversations about wormholes can lead to make-out sessions that disrupt any logical stream of thought. Nothing’s perfect, but that’s not the point. When they’re together everything seems uncomplicated in a way that Grace knows is not possible.

Except it is.

So why does Grace crush Wade’s heart into a million pieces?

Acidly funny and compulsive readable, this debut is a story about two people finding each other and then screwing it all up. See also: soulmate, stupidity, sex, friendship, bad poetry, very bad decisions and all the indignities of being in love for the first time.

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Meet Cute Diary by Emery Lee

Book Description

Felix Ever After meets Becky Albertalli in this swoon-worthy, heartfelt rom-com about how a transgender teen’s first love challenges his ideas about perfect relationships.

Noah Ramirez thinks he’s an expert on romance. He has to be for his popular blog, the Meet Cute Diary, a collection of trans happily ever afters. There’s just one problem—all the stories are fake. What started as the fantasies of a trans boy afraid to step out of the closet has grown into a beacon of hope for trans readers across the globe.

When a troll exposes the blog as fiction, Noah’s world unravels. The only way to save the Diary is to convince everyone that the stories are true, but he doesn’t have any proof. Then Drew walks into Noah’s life, and the pieces fall into place: Drew is willing to fake-date Noah to save the Diary. But when Noah’s feelings grow beyond their staged romance, he realizes that dating in real life isn’t quite the same as finding love on the page.

In this charming novel by Emery Lee, Noah will have to choose between following his own rules for love or discovering that the most romantic endings are the ones that go off script.

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All Kinds of Other by James Sie

Book Description

In this tender, nuanced coming-of-age love story, two boys—one who is cis, and one who is trans—have been guarding their hearts, until their feelings for each other give them a reason to stand up to their fears.

Two boys are starting over at a new high school.

Jules is still figuring out what it means to be gay…and just how out he wants to be.

Jack is reeling from a fall-out with his best friend…and isn’t ready to let anyone else in just yet.

When Jules and Jack meet, the sparks are undeniable. But when a video linking Jack to a pair of popular trans vloggers is leaked to the school, the revelations thrust both boys into the spotlight they’d tried to avoid.

Suddenly Jack and Jules must face a choice: to play it safe and stay under the radar, or claim their own space in the world—together.

My Review

I loved the way in which the narrative unfolds in this book. It begins with Jules’ first person perspective as he first sees Jack from a distance at a friend’s house and then meets him again at school. We get to know him and his family life—parents are divorced, and he’s starting public school for the first time in his life. He’s getting to know Jack better and then there’s an incident at school.

From there, the perspective switches to Jack, and we go back to the end of the summer when he first arrives in Los Angeles with his would-be actor father. They’re both here for a fresh start, and Jack will have the opportunity to start school as himself for the first time. As was the case with Jules’ portion, Jack’s part of the book leads up to the same incident.

The final part of the book consists of alternating chapters as both boys—and their families—deal with the incident.

Interspersed throughout the narrative are references to people named Adam and Evie. At first these interludes don’t make much sense, but eventually they do. I can’t say much more, but they add another layer of depth to the big picture.

Jack and Jules find each other at a time in which they both needed someone the most. Their initial misgivings give way to a mutual understanding, as they bond over the gulab jamun that Jack’s mom taught him to make.

I would absolutely recommend All Kinds of Other. I had a hard time putting it down because I had to find out what was going to happen next. This is a heavy story at times, but there’s always an undercurrent of hope, and that’s what kept me riveted. I’m looking forward to reading more from Sie in the future.

I received an ARC of this book from Quill Tree Books/NetGalley

I Think I Love You by Auriane Desombre

When NYC high schooler Emma learns about a film competition, she sees an opportunity to make her dreams come true. She enlists her friend group to help her, including Sophia, who has recently moved back after spending a year in France. To make a long plot summary short, creative differences lead to Sophia deciding to make her own movie, which means that now she and Emma are competing against each other for the same prize.

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Hot British Boyfriend by Kristy Boyce

After high school student Ellie goes viral in a mortifying moment, she doesn’t think that she can possibly go back to school.

So she doesn’t!

She accepts an opportunity to attend a semester abroad in England. The other kids on the trip also go to her school, but they’ve never really crossed paths before because they take all honors and AP classes, and Ellie is more of an average student. This disparity makes her feel a bit awkward, but she’s determined to make it work.

But instead of focusing on school, Ellie’s thoughts drift to hot local boy Will, who is spending his gap year taking a break from school. They hit it off, and it seems like Ellie’s dreams are finally coming true, but then of course, she realizes what’s really important.

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Perfect on Paper by Sophie Gonzales

Darcy has been giving anonymous advice to her fellow private school students for awhile, and it’s a great source of income for her since she’s a scholarship student whose mother works at the school. But when she agrees to help Alexander Brougham, it sets off a series of event that changes everything.  

Darcy specializes in relationships, and her advice is actually useful, focusing on setting boundaries and different attachment styles. But she ends up breaking her own rules in several different ways—this affects her relationships with her friends and loved ones, including her best friend Brooke, who Darcy has been pining over for years.

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All Girls by Emily Layden

Books that take place at a boarding school are my favorite, so needless to say, I was very excited about the opportunity to read All Girls.

As the prestigious Atwater School prepares to welcome its students back for a new school year, they encounter an unexpected surprise: signboards along the local roads, except instead of presenting a jovial message like the Burma Shave ads of almost a century ago, they announce that the school is harboring a rapist.

Naturally, this sends shockwaves through the entire Atwater community. Rather than presenting one girl’s experience at school like Sittenfeld’s Prep, this book presents a cohesive narrative of the school year through the eyes of a series of girls. While the scandal—a student from 25 years ago has accused an unnamed male faculty member of coercing her into a sexual relationship when she was a senior—is always in the background, the main themes are much more about American girlhood than this particular scandal. The students are from different cultural and socio-economic backgrounds; they also have different interests, presenting the breadth of the student body at a place like Atwater.

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