Review: Opposite of Always

Review: Opposite of Always

Rating: ★★★★☆ (4/5)

*I received a copy via the publisher via NetGalley in return for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book.*

Jack meets Kate. They bond over their love for cereals and films. Jack falls in love, and it should be happily ever after. That is until Kate dies, and Jack returns to moments just before he meets Kate, again. Here, Jack faces multiple choices as he’s continuously thrown back to the past when Kate dies. He aims to stop Kate from dying, but that doesn’t come without consequences. And the choices he makes turns deadly elsewhere, and he has to figure out what he’s willing to let go to save everyone he loves.

Opposite of Always took a while to grow on me. I knew it was going to become a bit repetitive, considering the plot, but Reynold’s debut was a sweet coming-of-age story with a fun time travelling twist.

After meeting Kate at a party, Jack embarks on an adorable romance which is cut short and restarts itself when Kate dies. He sees this as a second chance, another chance to save Kate, but every time he changes something to help Kate, some even more drastic happens in the result of it.  Each return to the past has devastating impacts if Jack’s not careful. And because of this, the plot builds very slowly, but I found that Opposite of Always was more charming than I had expected.

The dialogue is witty and fun, especially with Jack and his peers. His relationship with his family was dynamic and nuanced. Jack is very loveable, and a well-rounded character. His voice is genuine and real. As well as Kate, something new is revealed about her with every loop. The plot mainly revolves around Jack’s choices and the consequences to said choices, and it was interesting to see how drastic the decisions ended up and how they differed from previous times based on small choices that seem insignificant.

Overall, an exciting novel about choices and living. Opposite of Always is charming, witty and fun. Contemporary isn’t really up my alley, but I definitely recommend.


Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository | Author

Latest posts 

Review: Geekerella

Review: Geekerella

Rating: ★★★★☆ (4/5)

Elle lives, breathes and blogs Starfield. But her step-mother and sisters think otherwise. So, when the opportunity to enter a cosplaying competition comes up, she takes it, she just needs to find a way to get there. Darien Freeman is an up and coming actor and playing Starfield’s Carmindor is a dream come true. He just needs to prove it. But it isn’t easy when the fandom has already shrugged off the teen actor, and a cruel blogger aims to undermine his every move. One wrong number leads to a connection none of them would’ve expected.

I was very surprised by this book, and mainly because I actually enjoyed it more than I had anticipated. I always hold “fandom” books at a distance, mostly, because I often find them cringey, outdated, and never really that representative of fandom. The title alone already had me on edge, but I adored Geekerella.

Elle was a sweet lead, who blogs about Starfield and isn’t exactly happy about Darien being cast. And like a blogger, she takes to the internet to voice her opinions. I absolutely loved how Elle experiences fandom, and it was quite real and actually relatable. As a teen, I was in Elle’s position too, but instead Starfield it was multi-fandom Tumblr. (Imagine 2013 circa Tumblr) And this is where the book shined. It was a fantastic experience that felt like my own personal ode to my own personal fangirl experience. It was incredibly relatable, the conventions, the speech. The book really encompasses the general gist of positive fandom, while also addressing negative aspects quite well.

Darien was a pure sweetheart, who really wanted to do well by Starfield, but couldn’t do so due to contractual obligations and an overdemanding dad-manager who only sees this as a career boost. I was sort of more leaning towards him parts of the story because it discusses whitewashing in film and his experiences of being a non-white actor.

Geekerella is a light romance. I really enjoyed how the story of Cinderella is retold within the context of a big movie adaptation. The romance can get little too much, but honestly, it isn’t as bad as people make it out to be in more negative reviews. A lot of people are calling it unbelievable because they interact with each other through texts. In the context of Geekerella, it’s understandable because neither make an attempt to actually see the other, not even via web calls or anything. But to say every relationship made via online media is inauthentic is a pretty shitty take, and that seems to come up a lot in reviews for this book.

Overall, it’s a pretty decent book. An adorable modern update of Cinderella set in fandom and reboots. I really enjoyed the accurate depiction of contemporary day fandom. Though mostly predictable, it’s somewhat entertaining, and I enjoyed it a lot more than I had expected.


Goodreads | Amazon | Book depository | Author

Latest posts 

Review: Girls of Paper and Fire

Review: Girls of Paper and Fire

Rating: ★★★★☆ (4/5)

* I received a copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley. This in no way affected my opinion of the book.

The Girls is set in a world where there are three castes, Moon (reigning and demons), Paper (lower and human) and then Steel, a mix of the first two. Every year, eight girls are chosen as Paper Girls to serve the king. Lei is girl number nine. She’s forced back into the very place her mother was forced into years ago. Slowly, she learns the way of the palace, honing her skills to benefit the king’s comfort only. Until she falls in love.

Girls of Paper and Fire was surprising. I really enjoyed it a lot. Ngan’s storytelling skills are beyond amazing. It was so tense, and her writing is so elegant and smooth. The stakes are high in this, and I was quickly hooked from the first page. The vivid worldbuilding where Ngan creates this devastating but beautiful world and created characters that weave so well into it, and in all makes it an enchanting but compelling read.

I think the most powerful thing of this book is its message of self-empowerment and discovering one’s self while discussing classism and the objectification of women. Girls show the subtle way of how Ikhara, the fictional society, allows misogyny to flourish and aides its abuser by only viewing women as nothing but lesser beings. The Moon King is a disgusting man who uses his position of power to act out violence towards anyone around him. These girls groomed to believe they’re doing something good slowly come together and unravel the trauma they’re facing. Not everyone is exactly happy to be here. The strength of the friendship between all the Paper girls is beautiful – they grow into even stronger women and reclaim themselves and decide what they’re capable of.

Despite the moments of slowness, I would advise you to watch out for this new YA fantasy birthed from Asian mythology and Ngan’s own experiences from growing up in Malaysia. It’s a dazzling and immersive read with a pulse-racing conclusion that will leave you wanting more.


Goodreads | Amazon | Author

Content and warnings for rape, sexual assault, slavery, sex trafficking, loss of a loved one, murder, captivity, torture, branding, violence, physical abuse, graphic animal death, and war themes. (More to be added.)

Review: How She Likes It

Review: How She Likes It

Rating: ★★★★☆ (4/5)

* I received an ARC of this book from the author. This in no way affected my opinion of the book.

Isabel Alfonso is next in line to be CEO of her family-owned company. But she’s also risking her own business to take it. There are a hundred things that need to be done before the deal is sealed and Isabel is in dire need of an assistant. It’s not her fault the first person in the door happens to be the same man she had a one night stand with the very night before. Single dad Adam Sevilla is just going by, raising his daughter while also allowing her to reconnect with her distant mother. 

There’s a lot to this book that I really liked. Isabel is a cool and unapologetic career-focused woman who doesn’t want to risk falling in love because of how it will affect her career. There are mentions of the double standards women face when they’re in the place of a CEO versus a man in the same position. “They were expected to have it all, but just enough that their partners didn’t feel intimidated.” Despite being raised to those closest to her as the enemy, her best relations are with them. She’s very quick-thinking and witty. I would definitely read more of her story if we’re ever given a chance.

Adam is a pretty interesting love interest, a single dad who adores his daughter. He’s continuously facing belittling comments from his ex, who questions his ability to raise their daughter. He really tries to do well by his daughter and is a sickly romantic at heart – with a penchant to quote one too many Star Wars related things. What else do you expect from a man who names his daughter Leia?

Isabel and Adam are two very different people, but they work well together. And so does this story. It’s pacing was well, and it was a relatively fun and enjoyable read that’s body-posi and tackles working against cultural norms. It gets pretty steamy in some moments, not really my thing, but I understand other readers will definitely have a different experience.

I think #romanceclass is something I’ve seen floating around Twitter for ages and Carla mentions it in her acknowledgements, and I finally had the good sense to find out what it means. The good thing is I’ve got a new list of people to read from, bad news for my TBR but we won’t mention that. 


 

GOODREADS | AMAZON | AUTHOR

Review: Circe

Review: Circe

Rating: ★★★★☆ (4/5)

Madeline Miller creates a new voice in her second novel which follows the life of Circe, daughter of Helios, a goddess born with a human voice. Mocked for her lack of power in a world of Gods, Circe accidentally uncovers a skill that sees her banished forever to the island of Aiaia. She is upset, outcasted forever and alone, Circe turns to take revenge on those who wish to exploit her by transforming any ship of men who enter her island into a herd of pigs. But as time goes by, Circe finds that she can’t escape the world forever.

Miller clearly has a talent in giving a voice to characters not usually heard. I really loved how she reinterpreted the role of Cire. While making nods to other parts of Greek Mythology, Circe is clearly a story of its own, unpeeling the layers of Circe that make her a more substantial person than we see in The Odyssey.

The story of Circe explores the use of power and how it can be easily abused and while Circe’s transmutation power play an essential part so does her transformation as a character as she goes through independence, love and motherhood and how, despite it all, she still had hope. Like in The Song of Achilles, other key figures from Greek mythology are mentioned and also take centre stage without overpowering Circe’s story, including the well-known arrival of Odysseus and how their lives are changed from then on.

This book is thrilling with extreme drama Circe, and despite the constant presence of well-known characters like Zeus and Athena, Circe stands strong and finds her real place in a world where she’s told she’s nothing.

Overall, Miller’s ability to re-present the classics never fails to amaze me. Seven years since TSOA was first published, four years since I had read it, and I can definitely say that Circe was definitely worth the wait.


GOODREADS | AMAZON | BOOK DEPOSITORY

Review: The Wrath & the Dawn

Review: The Wrath & the Dawn

Rating: ★★★★☆ (3.5/5)

Some things exist in our lives for but a brief moment. And we must let them go on to light another sky.

Every night the bride of the Caliph of Khorasan is killed. Until Shazi volunteers to outwit and kill the king in revenge for the death of her best friend. In the vein of the original 1001 nights, she holds off her death by telling a story every night the extends onto another.

I think The Wrath and the Dawn started off really well for me. It’s plot really grabbed from the very beginning, and it did exceed my expectations. Ahdieh has a gorgeous writing style that suits this novel’s intriguing plot. There’s a lot of quote-worthy lines that I really liked, but it was a shame I didn’t really feel the connection between them for it to really hit deep. There’s a magic system that I enjoyed but isn’t really introduced fully yet which I hope gets developed in the sequel.

Shahrzad is a great female lead. Her charismatic behaviour and sharp wit was amusing and her bravery had me rooting for her from the very beginning. But that very much drops very soon once you realise she has no idea what she’s going despite the story setting her up as this character that knows what she’s doing. How she managed to fall in love with him was questionable considering her aims. Khalid wasn’t even that great anyway. His mysterious persona wasn’t that interesting enough to want to care for him, I just wanted to know why he killed those girls, not really caring for his character. The background characters were actually my favourites of the plot I feel like we should’ve gotten a bit more background information and set up at the beginning of the novel before we get pushed straight into the story. I find it strange that enjoyed the plot of this book but didn’t enjoy its characters.

The Wrath and the Dawn have its obvious appeal to romance and retelling lovers. Despite its flaws, I did actually quite enjoy reading this book. It’s vibrant setting, and secondary characters are its most significant highlights. With a cliff-hanger like that, I do intend to read the sequel.


GOODREADS | THE BOOK DEPOSITORY | AUTHOR SITE