I Wish You All the Best by Mason Deaver

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Ben De Backer tells their parents that they are nonbinary, and is promptly kicked out of the house. Ben calls their older sister, who they haven’t spoken to in years, and she says that Ben can stay with her and her husband.

It’s not easy to be the new kid at school, but it’s even tougher when it’s the second semester of senior year. Ben just wants to keep a low profile and finish school. They don’t expect to make any friends, but a boy named Nathan keeps popping up. He’s everywhere; he even lives next door to Ben’s sister! It’s not clear to Ben whether Nathan is just being friendly, or whether there’s something more.

There are so many poignant moments in this book, like Ben’s mixed feelings about being kicked out of their house. From an outside perspective, this seems like such an unforgiveable act, but Ben’s feelings are more complicated. Naturally, they are scared and angry, but after a while, they have a sense of cautious optimism regarding resolution. My heart just ached for the kid because I didn’t want to see them get hurt again.

While the story might begin with a catastrophic rejection, the tone of this book is very positive. Ben is accepted as who they are by their sister and brother-in-law, and they also have the opportunity to start therapy to help process their feelings about everything. What starts out as survival turns into thriving, and they even find a friend in Nathan.

I would absolutely recommend I Wish You All the Best. This is a beautiful book, and I am looking forward to reading more of Deaver’s books in the future.

 

 

 

Wayward Son by Rainbow Rowell

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Wayward Son came out in September, but I am woefully behind with my book reviews. My middle schooler and I actually had the chance to meet her when she came to the Boston area, and that was an amazing evening.

I was excited when I first heard there was going to be a sequel to Carry On, but I’ll admit to some skepticism when I found out that Simon and Baz and Penny were going on an American road trip. But my fears were unfounded; it turns out that the United States was exactly where the gang needed to go.

Readers should start with Carry On in order to understand the plot, but needless to say, everyone is trying to move on from the events of Carry On, and this is something Simon has been struggling with. What does the Chosen One do once the job is done? Penny decides that they all need to go visit Agatha in San Diego, and what starts out as a visit turns into a rescue mission. Along the way, they encounter a variety of personalities: some are friendly, and some are hostile—but the fate of the world is at stake again. Read more

In the Middle of Somewhere by Roan Parrish

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I don’t remember who recommended Roan Parrish to me, but this book seemed like a good place to start since it’s the first in a series.

Dan has always felt like an outsider: he is too cultured for his father and brothers, and he was not cultured enough for his college classmates. But when he receives an opportunity to teach at a small college in Michigan, he sees an opportunity for a fresh start.

Dan meets Rex after his job interview, and there’s clearly some chemistry between them, but nothing happens because there’s an injured dog that needs to go to the vet (long story). Read more

Jackdaw by KJ Charles

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Jackdaw takes place in Charles’ Charm of Magpies universe series of Victorian-era queer paranormal romance novels. It isn’t a strict perquisite to read the first three books in the series, but readers will benefit from a better understanding of the larger story arc.

Jonah Pastern played a supporting role in Flight of Magpies, the third Charm of Magpies book. I don’t want to reveal too much, but I will say that Jonah appeared as one of the villains of the piece, so right away, it’s interesting to see him as the protagonist in a romance.

Once upon a time, Jonah met Ben, and they were very happy together.

Until they weren’t. Read more

Shadows & Dreams by Alexis Hall

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This is the second book in Hall’s Kate Kane: Paranormal Investigator series. The Kate series first appeared a few years ago, but has been republished by Carina Press.

Readers should start with the first book—Iron & Velvet—which introduces Kate and her world, but I’ll offer a brief spoiler-free TLDR for readers who want to read this review. Kate lives in contemporary London, all the fictional supernatural entities are real, and just like ordinary people, they require the services of a private investigator.

Shadows picks up three months after Iron, and concerns the fallout from the end of Iron, as well as a new threat. What starts as a search for an almost-hookup’s missing brother escalates into something bigger, and once again Kate is forced to deal with vampires, werewolves, faeries, and more— when all she really wants to do is relax at home and spend time with Julian, her girlfriend.

I should mention that Julian used to be a nun… and that she’s an 800-year-old vampire… Read more

Gilded Cage by KJ Charles

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Gilded Cage is the second book in KJ Charles’ Lilywhite Boys series of queer Victorian-era mystery/romance novels. If you haven’t read Any Old Diamonds, the first book in the series, I suggest you stop reading because I’m going to be unable to discuss Gilded Cage without revealing spoilers for Any Old Diamonds.

It’s really good- you’ll love it. Read more

Iron & Velvet (Kate Kane #1) by Alexis Hall

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Iron & Velvet is the first book in Alexis Hall’s Kate Kane: Paranormal Investigator series of contemporary queer fantasy novels. I was very excited about the opportunity to read this book because I adore Hall’s books, and this was a series I hadn’t had a chance to explore yet. Speaking of which, it should be noted that the Kate Kane books are from Hall’s back catalog, but they are being republished by Carina Press.

As the series title suggests, Kate investigates paranormal crimes, like the death of a werewolf outside of a vampire-owned nightclub. Over the course of the book, Kate encounters a wide variety of otherworldly creatures; some help her, and some hinder her, and then things get all twisty before a huge confrontation with the source of the trouble. Read more

How to Belong with a Billionaire by Alexis Hall

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How to Belong with a Billionaire is the third book in Alexis Hall’s Arden St. Ives series of queer romance novels. I tore through the first two books in a matter of days last December, so I was extremely grateful that I was able to read this book a little early.

Quite a few of the books I read/review are part of a series, and I will blithely say that the book functions well enough as a standalone, etc.

That is NOT the case with this book. Readers really ought to read the first two books in this series before tackling this one. I would imagine it would be very difficult for a reader to appreciate the narrative as a whole if they jump in at the last third.

So, if you haven’t read this series, but your interest is piqued by a queer response to Fifty Shades of Grey that is loads better than the original, AND manages to be both cheeky and introspective, then I suggest you start with How to Bang a Billionaire.    Read more