Opposite of Always by Justin A. Reynolds – A Movie-Ready John Green-esque Novel

Text: Opposite of Always, Justin A Reynolds. Image: A black male teen (left), sits across the stairs from a black female teen with natural hair. Above the stairs are the same teens, their legs pressed against each other, the image cut off above their knees.

Blurb:

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.

Joce’s Review:

OPPOSITE OF ALWAYS presents the burning questions of many time travel loop novels: If you had the power to change the past, would you, and how? Jack King took me along his journey through time, revisiting the same incidents again and again, beginning at a party where he meets Kate on the stairs and they share a bowl of cereal. From there, he wrestles with friendships, family relationships, and self-care, and the time loop ends and rewinds upon Kate’s death, totaling a six month span each round.

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The Proposal by Jasmine Guillory – Slow Burn Romance Done Right

Text: The Proposal, Jasmine Guillory. Background images: An illustration of the profile of a dark-skinned woman with natural hair, wearing glasses facing the right, and the profile of a brown-skinned man wearing a blue cap, facing the left.
Blurb:

When freelance writer Nikole Paterson goes to a Dodgers game with her actor boyfriend, his man bun, and his bros, the last thing she expects is a scoreboard proposal. Saying no isn’t the hard part—they’ve only been dating for five months, and he can’t even spell her name correctly. The hard part is having to face a stadium full of disappointed fans…

At the game with his sister, Carlos Ibarra comes to Nik’s rescue and rushes her away from a camera crew. He’s even there for her when the video goes viral and Nik’s social media blows up—in a bad way. Nik knows that in the wilds of LA, a handsome doctor like Carlos can’t be looking for anything serious, so she embarks on an epic rebound with him, filled with food, fun, and fantastic sex. But when their glorified hookups start breaking the rules, one of them has to be smart enough to put on the brakes…

Joce’s review:

I have always loved reading romance novels, and in early 2018, I read THE WEDDING DATE by Jasmine Guillory and instantly fell in love. However, I am notoriously bad at only reading the first book in a series and then completely abandoning the rest of the series (or in this case, I guess the companion novels), so I made a conscious effort to forge on. So here I am, reading THE PROPOSAL five months after it was published! (Oy.)

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A River of Stars by Vanessa Hua – On Reading the Right Book at the Right Time

Text: A River of Stars by Vanessa Hua.
Blurb:

Holed up with other mothers-to-be in a secret maternity home in Los Angeles, Scarlett Chen is far from her native China, where she worked in a factory and fell in love with the married owner, Boss Yeung. Now she’s carrying his baby. To ensure that his child—his first son—has every advantage, Boss Yeung has shipped Scarlett off to give birth on American soil. As Scarlett awaits the baby’s arrival, she spars with her imperious housemates. The only one who fits in even less is Daisy, a spirited, pregnant teenager who is being kept apart from her American boyfriend.

Then a new sonogram of Scarlett’s baby reveals the unexpected. Panicked, she goes on the run by hijacking a van—only to discover that she has a stowaway: Daisy, who intends to track down the father of her child. The two flee to San Francisco’s bustling Chinatown, where Scarlett will join countless immigrants desperately trying to seize their piece of the American dream. What Scarlett doesn’t know is that her baby’s father is not far behind her.

Joce’s review:

As a new mother and a first-generation Chinese immigrant living in the United States, I knew A River of Stars would strike a chord, but I could not have prepared myself for how deeply. I met Scarlett and Daisy, our two main characters, when they were pregnant. They suddenly go on the lam, desperately trying to piece together a full life for themselves and their babies. As they both have very little to no family in the USA, they create a found family, and I am honored to have witnessed it as a reader.

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Check Please! Book 1: #Hockey by Ngozi Ukazu – Skating, Strong Soft Boys, and Social Media

“Come quick, the Pond has frozen over!” cried Cuddle, waving her friends over enthusiastically. The Pond’s inhabitants quickly scampered, slithered, and strode over to the area where Cuddle had set up two hockey nets on opposite ends and gathered sticks and a puck. They divided into two teams: Cuddle and Amina versus Xiaolong and Varian, with Gen as referee and scorekeeper. Tweet! The game began.

Cuddle the Otter, wearing her pajama cap, holding a hockey stick and wearing magical ice skates.“This kinda reminds me of that scene in Frozen when Anna and Elsa are little kids. They’re skating around and Elsa makes Olaf. He likes warm hugs!” exclaimed Xiaolong, after the game had ended. They sat together in a circle at the side of the pond, sharing a plate of cookies and hot chocolate with marshmallows.

“You know,” said Cuddle, “there’s a book I read recently that’s got all the things we’ve done today. It’s about a boy named Eric Bittle who goes off to college and gets recruited to play on their hockey team. He even makes cookies and pies. It’s soft and lovely and reminds me of a warm hug!” Varian, Xiaolong, Gen, and Amina gather around her as she continues to tell them more…

Text: Check Please, Book 1: #Hockey. Ngozi Ukazu. Image is a illustration of a boy with short blonde hair, smiling, wearing red ice hockey gear and holding a pie. Behind him are other boys in red hockey gear.

Blurb:

Eric Bittle may be a former junior figure skating champion, vlogger extraordinaire, and very talented amateur pâtissier, but being a freshman on the Samwell University hockey team is a whole new challenge. It is nothing like co-ed club hockey back in Georgia! First of all? There’s checking (anything that hinders the player with possession of the puck, ranging from a stick check all the way to a physical sweep). And then, there is Jackhis very attractive but moody captain.

Joce’s Review:

Check Please! Book 1: #Hockey by Ngozi Ukazu has been on my graphic novel TBR for awhile. I first heard about it when I was reading Fence by C.S. Pacat, which is another sports-centered graphic novel series featuring an M/M relationship, with a mostly male cast of characters.

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