Review: Opposite of Always

Opposite of Always by Justin A. Reynolds

Genres: Young Adult, Science Fiction/Fantasy
Maturity Level: 4
(Content Warnings: Chronic Illness, Sycle Cell Anemia)
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Rating: ⋆⋆⋆⋆

When Jack and Kate meet at a party, bonding until sunrise over their mutual love of Froot Loops and their favorite flicks, Jack knows he’s falling—hard. Soon she’s meeting his best friends, Jillian and Franny, and Kate wins them over as easily as she did Jack.

But then Kate dies. And their story should end there.

Yet Kate’s death sends Jack back to the beginning, the moment they first meet, and Kate’s there again. Healthy, happy, and charming as ever. Jack isn’t sure if he’s losing his mind.

Still, if he has a chance to prevent Kate’s death, he’ll take it. Even if that means believing in time travel. However, Jack will learn that his actions are not without consequences. And when one choice turns deadly for someone else close to him, he has to figure out what he’s willing to do to save the people he loves.


I added this book to my tbr like, two and a half years ago, but quickly forgot EVERYTHING about it except that I was really excited for it. And then I … never read it, because book blogger life, right? So I had no idea what it was about and was really stoked to read the word “time travel” on the first page. Then disappointed to discover it wasn’t really about time travel, but more of a Groundhog Day thing. Which, you know, is awesome, I love Groundhog Day. Except I just watched Palm Springs like, two weeks ago, so the time loop was a lot less exciting than it should have been. All that to say, I would probably have loved this book WAY more if I’d read it when it was first published. Oops.

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Middle Grade Review: Where the Mountain Meets the Moon

Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin

Genres: Middle Grade, Fantasy
Maturity Level: 1
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Rating: ⋆⋆⋆⋆⋆

In the valley of Fruitless Mountain, a young girl named Minli spends her days working hard in the fields and her nights listening to her father spin fantastic tales about the Jade Dragon and the Old Man of the Moon. Minli’s mother, tired of their poor life, chides him for filling her head with nonsense. But Minli believes these enchanting stories and embarks on an extraordinary journey to find the Old Man of the Moon and ask him how her family can change their fortune. She encounters an assorted cast of characters and magical creatures along the way, including a dragon who accompanies her on her quest.


Wow. I don’t even know what else to say about this book other than that it’s amazing and perfect and should be in every classroom, school, and child’s library. I mean, just, WOW.

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Review: Prime Deceptions

Prime Deceptions by Valerie Valdes

Series: Chilling Effect
Genre: Science Ficion
Maturity Level: 5
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Rating: ⋆⋆⋆⋆

Captain Eva Innocente and the crew of La Sirena Negra find themselves once again on the fringe of populated space—and at the center of a raging covert war. When Eva’s sister asks for help locating a missing scientist, promises of a big paycheck and a noble cause convince Eva to take the job despite lingering trust issues.

With reluctant assistance from her estranged mother, Eva and her crew follow the missing scientist’s trail across the universe, from the costume-filled halls of a never-ending convention to a dangerous bot-fighting arena. They ultimately find themselves at the last place Eva wants to see again—Garilia—where she experienced her most shameful and haunting failure.

To complete her mission and get paid, Eva must navigate a paradise embroiled in a rebellion, where massive forests and pristine beaches hide psychic creatures and pervasive surveillance technology. Can she find her quarry while avoiding the oppressive local regime, or will she be doomed to repeat past mistakes when her dark deeds come to light?


This series is such a blast to read! Chilling Effect was one of my favorite books of 2019, and Prime Deceptions was just as good. Both books are as smart as they are funny, and as thoughtful as they are exciting.

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Middle Grade Review: The Strangers

The Strangers by Margaret Peterson Haddix

Series: The Greystone Secrets
Genre: Middle Grade, Science Fiction-ish
Maturity Level: 2
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Rating: ⋆⋆

The Greystone kids thought they knew. Chess has always been the protector over his younger siblings, Emma loves math, and Finn does what Finn does best—acting silly and being adored. They’ve been a happy family, just the three of them and their mom.

But everything changes when reports of three kidnapped children—who share the same first and middle names, ages, and exact birth dates as the Greystone kids—reach the Greystone family. This bizarre coincidence makes them wonder: Who exactly are these strangers? Before Chess, Emma, and Finn can question their mom about it, she takes off on a mysterious work trip. But puzzling clues left behind lead to complex codes, hidden rooms, and a dangerous secret that will turn their world upside down.


I don’t know that I enjoyed this book at all, and I’m not really even sure why? It’s a really difficult book to talk about or explain, so sorry if this review is vague.

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Review: Queenie

Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams

Genres: Fiction, Chick-Lit?
Maturity Level: 5
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Rating: ⋆⋆⋆

Queenie Jenkins is a 25-year-old Jamaican British woman living in London, straddling two cultures and slotting neatly into neither. She works at a national newspaper, where she’s constantly forced to compare herself to her white middle class peers. After a messy break up from her long-term white boyfriend, Queenie seeks comfort in all the wrong places…including several hazardous men who do a good job of occupying brain space and a bad job of affirming self-worth.

As Queenie careens from one questionable decision to another, she finds herself wondering, “What are you doing? Why are you doing it? Who do you want to be?”—all of the questions today’s woman must face in a world trying to answer them for her.


HO-LY SMOKES, what a book!

The writing, especially the characterization, is just incredible. Queenie is so readable that I finished it in nearly one day, but still has so much depth. Everyone feels like a real person you could actually meet, each with their own personality and complexity. Even the dialog was written in such a way that you could tell who was who because everyone had such a unique voice. And Carty-Williams is so successful at making you feel what Queenie feels.

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Review: Beach Read

Beach Read by Emily Henry

Genre: Romance
Maturity Level: 5
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Rating: ⋆⋆⋆⋆

Augustus Everett is an acclaimed author of literary fiction. January Andrews writes bestselling romance. When she pens a happily ever after, he kills off his entire cast.

They’re polar opposites.

In fact, the only thing they have in common is that for the next three months, they’re living in neighboring beach houses, broke, and bogged down with writer’s block.

Until, one hazy evening, one thing leads to another and they strike a deal designed to force them out of their creative ruts: Augustus will spend the summer writing something happy, and January will pen the next Great American Novel. She’ll take him on field trips worthy of any rom-com montage, and he’ll take her to interview surviving members of a backwoods death cult (obviously). Everyone will finish a book and no one will fall in love. Really.


Whew, what a book! Half romance, half “women’s fiction” about grief, half a writer’s book for writers, all spectacular reading.

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Middle Grade Review: Stay

Stay by Bobbie Pyron

Genres: Middle Grade, Fiction
Maturity Level: 3-
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Rating: ⋆⋆⋆⋆

Piper’s life is turned upside down when her family moves into a shelter in a whole new city. She misses her house, her friends, and her privacy—and she hates being labeled the homeless girl at her new school. But while the shelter, Hope House, offers her new challenges, it also brings new friendships, like the girls in Firefly Girls Troop 423 and a sweet street dog named Baby. So when Baby’s person goes missing, Piper knows she has to help. But helping means finding the courage to trust herself and her new friends, no matter what anyone says about them—before Baby gets taken away for good.


Wow, talk about a book that was designed with every possible mechanism to make adult readers cry. Poverty and homelessness, mental illness, a dog, girls working together for the better of people other than themselves, seeing the best in life. It would be a bald-faced lie to say I didn’t boo-hoo my way through this book.

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Review: Deacon King Kong

Genre: Historical Fiction
Maturity Level: 5
(Content Warning: alcohol and drug addiction)
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Rating: ⋆⋆⋆

In September 1969, a fumbling, cranky old church deacon known as Sportcoat shuffles into the courtyard of the Cause Houses housing project in south Brooklyn, pulls a .38 from his pocket, and in front of everybody shoots the project’s drug dealer at point-blank range.

In Deacon King Kong, McBride brings to vivid life the people affected by the shooting: the victim, the African-American and Latinx residents who witnessed it, the white neighbors, the local cops assigned to investigate, the members of the Five Ends Baptist Church where Sportcoat was deacon, the neighborhood’s Italian mobsters, and Sportcoat himself.

As the story deepens, it becomes clear that the lives of the characters–caught in the tumultuous swirl of 1960s New York–overlap in unexpected ways. When the truth does emerge, McBride shows us that not all secrets are meant to be hidden, that the best way to grow is to face change without fear, and that the seeds of love lie in hope and compassion.


I’m not going to attempt to write a detailed review, because it’s clear that when reading Deacon King Kong I was in WAY over my head. I struggle with literary fiction even in the best of times, but I think with all the stress I’m currently under regarding unknowns at work and Covid I had an especially hard time just concentrating on what I was reading. So at times I LOVED this book, and at other times felt bored out of my mind.

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Middle Grade Review: Rocket to the Moon!

Rocket to the Moon! by Don Brown

Series: Big Ideas that Changed the World
Genres: Middle Grade, Non-fiction, Graphic Novel
Maturity Level: 1
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Rating: ⋆⋆⋆

On July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong took “one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind” when the Apollo 11 landed on the moon. But it wasn’t just one man who got us to the moon. Rocket to the Moon! explores the people and technology that made the moon landing possible. Instead of examining one person’s life, it focuses on the moon landing itself, showing the events leading up to it and how it changed the world. The book takes readers through the history of rocket building: from ancient Chinese rockets, to “bombs bursting in air” during the War of 1812, to Russia’s Sputnik program, to the moon landing.


For kids who enjoyed learning about science from The Magic School Bus, learning about history from Big Ideas might be a great fit. But ultimately I found that graphic novel was maybe not the best medium for a non-fiction title.

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Review: The Angel of the Crows

The Angel of the Crows by Katherine Addison

Genre: Fantasy
Maturity Level: 4- (non-graphic disembowelment)
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Rating: ⋆⋆⋆⋆

In an alternate 1880s London, angels inhabit every public building, and vampires and werewolves walk the streets with human beings under a well-regulated truce. A fantastic utopia, except for a few things: Angels can Fall, and that Fall is like a nuclear bomb in both the physical and metaphysical worlds. And human beings remain human, with all their kindness and greed and passions and murderous intent.

Jack the Ripper stalks the streets of this London too. But this London has an Angel. The Angel of the Crows.


I loved this book! Sherlock fan-fiction set in a London with every supernatural creature you’ve ever thought of (and some you haven’t) and a vaugly steampunk vibe, plus Jack the Ripper. What’s not to love?

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