Book Review: Opposite of Always by Justin A. Reynolds

Opposite of Always by Justin A. Reynolds
Rating: ★☆☆☆☆
Links: Amazon • TBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: March 5, 2019
Source: Borrowed

Jack Ellison King. King of Almost.

He almost made valedictorian.

He almost made varsity.

He almost got the girl . . .

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. Jack’s curse of almost is finally over.

But this love story is . . . complicated. It is an almost happily ever after. Because 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. Beautiful, radiant Kate. 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—and let go—to save the people he loves.

I’d been interested in reading Opposite of Always ever since I saw it on a list of 2019 debuts, and I was pretty excited when I saw that the audiobook was available through my library. After reading it, you could say I’m angry angry, because this book was some nonsense.

Look, I understand that you need to suspend some disbelief in a lot of novels. I also understand that you need to suspend a lot of disbelief when it comes to time travel novels. But this book? There is not enough disbelief in the entire world for me to suspend and have this book make any sense.

But I’ll get there.

First I want to talk about everything else.

I guess I’m going to start with what seems to be a trend in YA literature these days — romantic relationships between high school and college students. I know that it happens all the time, both in real life and in fiction, but for me, there’s no way around it. It’s creepy. Even if it’s just a one-year difference in age, there is a huge difference in maturity between someone who lives with their parents and someone who is in college, living in a dorm, away from home.

The second thing I want to talk about is the pacing. This book is 464 pages. That is insanely long for a YA contemporary. It’s also about twice as long as it needs to be since so much of the book is repetitive. And I was bored the entire way through. It’s just one irrelevant thing after another happening, and even when relevant things happen, they don’t make sense.

And now we get to my third point — the blatant medical inaccuracies in this book.So, you really expect me to believe that a doctor has the cure for sickle cell anemia just hidden away in his office and the FDA hasn’t come looking for it? You really expect me to believe that a doctor would violate HIPAA just because he feels bad for some random kid who has an emotional investment in a college student’s case? You really expect me to believe that this doctor happily takes calls from this random kid to discuss the specifics of his super secret super expensive sickle cell treatment? That’s not how medicine works, and the way that Kate describes the financial piece of her treatments? That’s not how insurance works. As the former billing manager of a medical office and someone who now literally works for a major insurance company, I think I’d know. I just read the author’s bio and saw that he’s actually a registered nurse and I am even more upset, because he should know better.

So back to what I said at the beginning about suspending disbelief.

I’m not sure what’s going on with the random time travel in YA books recently, but I, for one, am sick of it. What was the point of it in this book? Jack repeats the same three months over and over again so that he, the high school student, can try to save Kate’s life. Because, yes, the high school student is clearly going to save Kate when a bunch of trained physicians could not.

I feel like, if you want to write a book like this, with the love interest being very sick and on the verge of dying, you have to be very careful to not come across as a rip-off of hundreds of similar books that have come before you. Personally, when I see the words “because Kate dies” in a synopsis, I’m already rolling my eyes. This particular plot has been done so many times that it’s going to be hard to make it unique. Similarly, the “living the same day over and over until you get it right” thing has been done to death. There was nothing particularly new or interesting about the time loops in this book, so it really just came across like the author knew that books about sick kids, books about time travel, and YA contemporary romance are selling well, so he decided to combine them all together to make a surefire hit.

Also…When Kate’s dad lectures Jack that he needs to break up with Kate because she’s dying, I did two things. First, I rolled my eyes, because how many times has a YA dad told his daughter’s boyfriend to break up with her because he just didn’t like their relationship? But, second, it kind of came across like, “Yeah, Kate’s dying. Let’s take away this one piece of happiness she has while she’s still on this planet.” Like, honestly. Where is the logic here?

All in all, I felt that this book played out very stereotypically. Everything that happened was predictable, even the twists. The fantastical time-travel aspect kind of comes out of nowhere and isn’t particularly well-done. The book is overly long and I just couldn’t bring myself to care about the characters or what happened to them. There was a ton of odd dialogue and weird choices, like Jack’s best friend’s father being referred to as “the coupon.” (What??)

I was excited about this one, but now I’m just disappointed.


Have you read Opposite of Always? Do you know of any books that did these tropes well?
Let’s talk in the comments!

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Weekly Update

In case you missed it, here are this week’s blog posts:

I’ve been reading:

Recently acquired:

  • nothing other than library books!

1 thing this week:

  • I went to a magic show last Sunday and it was so much fun! I would highly recommend that you go see An R-Rated Magic Show if you get the chance!

Song of the week:

I found a playlist of mine from high school and this song was on there. I forgot how much I used to love this song!


How was your week? What’s the best thing you read or listened to? Anything interesting happening in your life? Let’s talk in the comments!

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Tag: Remember November Book Tag

It’s been a little while since I did a tag, but I couldn’t resist doing this Remember November tag! Thank you to Mandy & Sha for tagging me! ❤


Rules:

.x. pingback to the creator of the tag, @bookprincessreviews .x.
.x. tag the person who tagged you .x.
.x. find an answer to match each prompt .x.
.x. have fun! .x.


sadie hawkins day: first saturday

a female character who takes her fate in her own hands

Ileana in The Story That Cannot Be Told is not going to let anyone decide her life for her. She takes charge of what’s happening, finds her voice, and does her best to keep herself and those around her safe.

guy fawkes night: november 5

a plot that was stopped at the last minute

Pretty much every plot in Neverworld Wake?

saxophone day: november 6

a character with an uncommon hobby

The Anatomical Shape of a Heart! Beatrix loves drawing cadavers and actually sneaks into a hospital to see them.

world kindness day: november 13

a villain who is changed by kindness

I had to no idea who to choose for this prompt, so I asked my boyfriend. I can’t really argue with Scrooge from A Christmas Carol.

use less stuff day: november 18

a character who gives up something in their life (i.e. a dream, a possession)

In Sourdough, Lois has been working tirelessly toward a high-paying tech career. Then she gets some sourdough starter and her goals change!

start your own country day: november 22

a book with its own land / world

I wanted to go with something a little unusual, so I figured I’d go with The Backstagers! I love the fictional world backstage in these graphic novels.


Please consider yourself tagged if you think this sounds like fun! Which characters have you read about that have unusual hobbies? What’s your favorite fictional land? Let’s talk in the comments!

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Theme Thursday: Artsy Characters

It’s time for another Theme Thursday! This month’s theme is artsy characters. I love that this theme is so open-ended! I had fun thinking back on the books I’ve read to remember characters who were artsy types. For the purposes of today’s post, I’m defining “artsy” as any character who’s into the arts, whether that be drawing, painting, sculpting, writing, singing, or acting. I’m pretty sure I’ve forgotten a ton of them (especially TBR books), but that’s okay!

Theme Thursday is a new monthly feature created by Sophie @ Blame Chocolate where bloggers can share recs and newly found books featuring that month’s theme.

  • There will be a different theme (genre, trope, etc) every month. You can check the theme calendar here.
  • Those participating have to list titles that feature that theme in some way (doesn’t have to be the main theme of the book).
  • You can choose one of the four (or five) Thursdays of every month to post.
  • You can use the three main categories: Books I’ve Read/I’m Reading, Books I Want to Read, and Other Books That Fit The Theme but this isn’t mandatory.
  • You can repeat books in different themes, if they apply, and choose as many as you want.
  • You don’t have to take part every month! Just when you feel like it.
  • You can use #BlameThemeThursday on Twitter and other social media to make TT posts easier to find.
  • Finally, use this boxed text (or similar) in your post, as it doubles as a pingback.

If you have any theme suggestions, please leave them in the comments or email them to me!

Books I’ve Read

Books I Want to Read


Did you do your own Theme Thursday post this month? Feel free to leave your link in the comments and I’ll check it out! Have you read any of these books? What are your favorite books with artsy characters? Let’s talk in the comments!

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WWW Wednesday

It’s time for another WWW Wednesday post! WWW Wednesday is hosted over at Taking on a World of Words and just involves answering the 3 Ws!


What are you currently reading?

  • Bad Blood by John Carreyrou
    • I’m about halfway done and this is crazy! This book has been recommended to me so many times and I don’t know why I waited so long!
  • Roommates by M.E. Parker
    • I’ve had this one on my Kindle forever and it’s been a very long time since I read straight-up erotica, so here we go…
    • reading challenge: firestation (romanceopoly)

What did you recently finish reading?

It’s been a very good reading week, and I’ve actually finished six books since my last WWW Wednesday!

  • Rayne & Delilah’s Midnite Matinee by Jeff Zentner
    • I really enjoyed this! I haven’t decided yet whether it’s four or five stars, which probably means four… but we’ll see.
  • Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman
    • I also really enjoyed this! I did not expect to like it since I tried three separate times to read American Gods and failed each time, but it was really good!
  • Trinkets by Kirsten Smith
    • This, on the other hand, was not so good.
  • Jealous Revenge by Octavia Singleton
    • Five stars for entertainment, one star for literary merit. A very long review is coming, but in short, this one was a ton of fun.
  • We’ll Fly Away by Bryan Bliss
    • I DNFed this earlier this year and decided to give it another chance. It’s not really my kind of story, but I can still recognize that it was well-written.
  • Because Internet by Gretchen McCulloch
    • I LOVED THIS. I want to read every linguistics book ever now. I have missed having linguistics in my life.

What do you think you’ll read next?

  • Twice in a Blue Moon by Christina Lauren
    • I have had this ARC forever and I need to just do it! I saw the hardcover in B&N over the weekend and felt really bad.
  • To Be Taught, If Fortunate by Becky Chambers
    • I think the worst review I’ve ever seen of a Becky Chambers book has been like… four stars. It’s time to finally read one, and this one is super short.

Have you read any of these books? Are any of them on your TBR? Did you do your own WWW Wednesday post today? Let’s talk in the comments!

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Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite bookmarks

Happy Top Ten Tuesday! Today’s theme is favorite bookmarks… which is honestly not my favorite topic. I’m not sure where all my bookmarks ended up in my move, so here are ten things that I like to use as bookmarks when I don’t have an actual bookmark available.


  1. the dust cover
  2. receipts
  3. appointment cards
  4. envelopes
  5. post-it notes
  6. business cards
  7. a pen or pencil
  8. junk mail
  9. scrap paper
  10. and when all else fails, I save my page number on the Goodreads app

Did you do your own Top Ten Tuesday post today? Feel free to leave your link in the comments and I’ll check it out! What do you like to use for a bookmark? Let’s talk in the comments!

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Book Review: Let’s Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson

Let’s Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson
Rating: ★★★★☆
Links: Amazon • TBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: April 17, 2012
Source: Borrowed

For fans of Tina Fey and David Sedaris—Internet star Jenny Lawson, aka The Bloggess, makes her literary debut.

Jenny Lawson realized that the most mortifying moments of our lives—the ones we’d like to pretend never happened—are in fact the ones that define us. In the #1 New York Times bestseller, Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, Lawson takes readers on a hilarious journey recalling her bizarre upbringing in rural Texas, her devastatingly awkward high school years, and her relationship with her long-suffering husband, Victor. Chapters include: “Stanley the Magical, Talking Squirrel”; “A Series of Angry Post-It Notes to My Husband”; “My Vagina Is Fine. Thanks for Asking”; “And Then I Snuck a Dead Cuban Alligator on an Airplane.” Pictures with captions (no one would believe these things without proof) accompany the text.

It might be odd that I’ve now read not just one, but two, books by a blogger whose website I’ve never even visited. And yet here I am reviewing a second book by Jenny Lawson. In addition to never having read her blog, I also read her memoirs in the wrong order. But that’s not really a problem. Jenny’s life — or at least the way she tells it — is funny, and that’s all that matters.

The thing about Jenny Lawson’s memoirs is that they’re funny. Like, laugh out loud at your desk even when you’re trying to be discreet about the fact that you’re listening to a hilarious audiobook while you work. There are many stories in this book that I enjoyed, but the one that’s stuck in my memory the most is Jenny recounting her days working in HR. I’d like to say that the kinds of conversations she had to have surprised me… but they didn’t.

I enjoyed this book very much. I don’t know if Jenny Lawson is planning to publish any more books, but if she is, I’ll be over here waiting to read them.


Have you read Let’s Pretend This Never Happened? Do you follow Jenny’s blog?
Let’s talk in the comments!

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