I was first intrigued in Opposite of Always
because I saw that Angie Thomas, one of my favourite authors, had commented
that she thoroughly enjoyed this book. I can confirm that this book is one of
the best love stories I have ever read. Justin A. Reynolds has done a beautiful
job with this novel. When reading the back of the novel, you might think that
it could come across as a bit “sci-fi,” but I guarantee it isn’t like that at
Opposite of Always
follows the story of two teenagers, Jack and Kate. When Jack and Kate meet at a
party, they are instantly compatible. Jack feels as though he might be falling
hard for this girl. Soon enough, Kate is meeting Jack’s best friends, Jilian
and Franny, who she wins over just as quickly as she did Jack…
But then Kate dies. Typically this is where the story
would end, but no. Kate’s death sends Jack right back to the party where they
met. Jack thinks he might be losing his mind because there is Kate standing
right next time him, breathing, alive and healthy. Jack doesn’t know what is
happening, but if he has the chance to save Kate, he will take it. Will he be
able to save Kate, or will their story end just as abruptly as it did the first
This novel is funny, heartfelt, beautiful and everything in between. I strongly suggest this book to any YA reader or even a young teen who loves unexpected love stories. Justin A. Reynolds had me hooked right from the first sentence all the way to the last. This book is definitely one of my top three favourite books that I have read. I look forward to reading more books by this amazing author.
You Owe Me a Murder, written
by Eileen Cook, tells the story of 17-year-old Kim going on a school trip to
London. However, Kim hasn’t even boarded the plane and she’s having a terrible
time watching her ex-boyfriend Connor and his new girlfriend together. Later
on, Kim meets a fellow passenger Nicki, a charming young woman. Unthinkingly on
the plane, Kim tells Nicki that she wished Connor, her ex-boyfriend was dead,
turning out that Nicki wishes her mother was dead as well — both having
someone miserable in their life. Nicki jokingly suggests a proposal for their
problems, “I kill your ex. You kill my mum. We both get what we want”. Kim
thought it was a joke until a few days later her ex-boyfriend mysteriously had
been announced dead after having fallen under an underground train track in
London. Kim immediately thinks of Nicki but is unsure of guessing right away.
Kim’s assumption is confirmed once Nicki comes back, expecting Kim to return
the favour. Kim’s only option is to come clean to the police about wanting
Connor dead or get blackmailed by Nicki into committing a crime.
You Owe Me a Murder is an enjoyable twisty thriller that makes teens never wanting to take a break from reading. Personally, I thought Kim was an amusing character because she is such an awesome heroine, relatable but at the same time being a whole savage and powerful character.
Telgemeier’s writing continues improving, and this is her greatest novel yet. Her whole body of work has been tremendously successful and multi-award-winning, thanks in part to her infectious joy and energy. Smiles and Sisters were memoirs that I felt were wonderful for pre-teens but that I still read now that I’m older. Cat, our primary heroine in Ghosts, is a tween who must leave her friends to travel to Bahia de Luna to treat her breathing-challenged sister, Maya, who has cystic fibrosis. Bahia de Luna is inspired by foggy Half Moon Bay, coastal California, a magical area, and her narrative is also influenced by Dia de Los Muertos. For the joyful Maya, the possibility of death and ghost hood is ever-present. It’s a good thing to be aware that individuals may die. Ghosts, the spirits of the people we love that Dia de Los Muertos honours, are extremely prevalent in this foggy village in this story.
A local boy named Carlos introduces Maya and Cat to spirits and a Day of the Dead celebration, and from there, we witness how each of the characters gets to know one another on a personal level, as well as how Cat and Carlos develop some romance. Ghosts is a wonderfully vivid, interesting story that celebrates family and tradition while also embracing death as a part of life. Another benefit is that Telgemeier shows an understanding of sister dynamics. I enjoy all of the characters (even the ghosts and silent spirits!). Maya, the character with cystic fibrosis, in particular. She’s spunky, charming, and a lovely younger sibling. And I could really connect to her older sister, Catrina, who is always trying to be the responsible one while still wanting to get along with everyone. Overall, Ghosts is a great escape book for me when I’m stuck for anything to read or simply want to unwind. I definitely suggest it!
Made in Korea is billed as a rom-com, and it delivers with a hilarious and dynamic he-said/she-said dual narrative centred on two Korean American teenagers. Valerie is an ambitious and resourceful young woman with a keen business sense, whereas Wes is less assertive and socially awkward but still astute in his own right. The plot in K-drama is worthy of the top, with twists and turns as the story unfolds. Valerie and Wes are in this stage where they are supposed to want the other person to fail but can help but respect and even be in love. The enemy is borne with grace and humour by the lover’s trope. What gives me great joy in this book is that the lighter rom-com elements are based on a more serious topic. Both Valerie and Wes desperately long for their parent’s approval and support throughout the story. Valerie is always in competition with her older sister, while Wes’ dad demands that he search for a stable field, even if that means him throwing away his dream of becoming a musician.
These conflicts deepen the motivation of the protagonists in their competitors and create common ground for their flourishing friendship and eventual romance. Furthermore, the romance that blossoms between the characters were beautiful. I enjoyed the tenderness of their attraction to one another contrasted with the vulnerability of their relationship and opening themselves up due to their competitiveness. Overall, this was a great book to read, both in terms of premise and character, and it’s one you won’t want to miss!
Ace of Spades is
Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé’s first novel and it is impeccable. This book caught my
attention not only for its beautiful cover but also for its intriguing
Ace of Spades
follows the story of two private school students, Devon Richards and Chiamaka
Adebayo. Devon Richards is a quiet and introverted student who is passionate
about getting into Julliard. Chiamaka Adebayo is a success-driven student who
will stop at nothing to be the best of the best. So, when Devon and Chiamaka
are selected to be part of their senior class prefects, something is off.
Chiamaka isn’t surprised that she has once again been selected. But Devon is
confused. He has never been one for participation or school spirit, but if it
means impressing his ma, he will take it. After this announcement is made,
someone who goes by the name Aces starts sending anonymous and threatening text
messages to the entire school. These messages are directly targeted at Devon
and Chiamaka, the only two black students in the school. Could this be a simple
coincidence, or is there something deeper to uncover?
This book had me on the edge of my seat the whole way through. I was mind-blown, shocked and impressed. I didn’t want to put it down. I strongly recommend this book to both teenagers and young adults who like suspense books. I can guarantee you won’t be able to guess the ending of this novel. Ace of Spades is an incredible debut for Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé, and I hope she has more books in the works.