Monday, March 11, 2019

#AmReading: YA Edition

Opposite of Always
Justin A. Reynolds
Age/Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary/Fantasy, Romance
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Goodreads
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.
What lengths would you go to, to save the ones you love? That was the challenge Jack accepted, over and over again, in Opposite of Always, and the results were always the same for me - laughter and tears.

This book had SO many strengths! I am just going to pinpoint some of my favorite things.
  • Reynolds created a full cast of multidimensional characters, who I loved. Both Jack and Kate were stupendous, and I grew to care for them deeply, but he also gave us Jack's parents,  and his best friends, Franny and Jillian too. Each of these characters were wonderful and integral to my enjoyment of this story. 
  • The time loop was done so well. These Groundhog Day style books seem to be popping up a lot lately, but this has been one of the most successful for me since I read Before I Fall. Reynolds used the time loop judiciously, and didn't allow the story to become repetitive. It never dragged or got old for me, and I kept looking forward to the seeing what adjustments he would make. I also loved the chapter entitled, "What Would Bill Murray Do?". Nice. 
  • Kate's illness was treated quite thoughtfully. I appreciated the genetic disease that was selected for her, because it's one you don't hear about enough. I also liked that she didn't suddenly become ill, but rather she had been dealing with it her whole life. It brought a different sort of feel to the story and point of view from Kate, then a sudden illness would. 
  • Can we just talk about my emotions? I was crying, I was laughing, I was "craughing" (crying + laughing). It was quite a roller coaster, and because we were in a time loop, I was forced to relive a lot of painful things over and over again. BUT,  I also had the pleasure of watching Jack and Kate fall in love over and over again, and that made it worth each and every tear. 
  • Reynolds expertly navigated all the relationships in this book. Those between Jack and his parents, between Jack and his best friends, and between Jack and Kate were all done brilliantly.  The love, the affection, the emotions were all communicated beautifully. 
Given this stellar debut, I am looking forward reading more from Justin A. Reynolds. He gifted me with a lovely story about love, family, friendship, second chances, learning from your mistakes, as well as living in the moment, and it was perfection. 


Cold Day in the Sun
Sara Biren
Age/Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Publisher: Amulet Books
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Goodreads
Holland Delviss wants to be known for her talent as a hockey player, not a hockey player who happens to be a girl. But when her school team is selected to be featured and televised as part of HockeyFest, her status as the only girl on the boys’ team makes her the lead story. Not everyone is thrilled with Holland’s new fame, but there’s one person who fiercely supports her, and it’s the last person she expects (and definitely the last person she should be falling for): her bossy team captain, Wes.
You know what I love? I love when I cannot stop smiling while reading a book, and that was EXACTLY what happened to me as I read Cold Day in the Sun.

Holland had spent her whole life as one of the boys, and when it came time to try out for her high school's hockey team, she opted to stick with the boys' team, since they already had a well established dynamic in place. Needless to say, she was constantly dealing with naysayers and those, outside of the team, who believed she didn't belong playing with the guys. She had to constantly prove herself, because she felt like they were all just waiting for her to fail. Suddenly, she seemed to be noticing, that her team captain, Wes, has been noticing her, and Holland was forced to mediate a battle between her head and her heart.

I love sports romances, and this one featured so many amazing components, which sum totaled to an incredible reading experience for me.

Holland was such an easy character to root for. She was driven and focused, and had to wear some armor being the lone woman on a men's team, but she was also sensitive to other people's needs and had a vulnerability, which she was hesitant to reveal, but was still authentic. I empathized with her feeling some pressure and the weight of all eyes always being on her, and it pained me that these people made her doubt herself, but she was so lucky to have such wonderful friends and family. They believed in her and supported her. They gave her that little lift, when she needed it, and it all really warmed my heart.

Wes made me smile, A LOT. My initial impression of him was the same as Holland's - not great, but I started seeing these bits and pieces of him, which made my love for him grow exponentially. He was a good captain, who deftly walked that line between tough and encouraging. He was a fantastic brother, who doted on his little sister. He was a good friend, who listened when you needed him to, and he made an effort to see things from your point of view. It was really all the little things he did, which won my heart, and made me believe that he was perfect for Holland.

And, OH, what a sweet and lovely romance these two had. I had so much fun spending time with them, and kept hoping Holland would give in to her feelings. Seriously, the tension between these two was palpable, and their interactions ranged from too adorable to swoony. The date at the a-frame, the popcorn, the sharing of hot sauce, the fence, those phone conversations, and even the blog interactions just made me ship them more. Yeah, I was totally onboard with these two.

There were so many other fun and wonderful things in this story, such as:
  • Holland's brothers and her present and supportive family
  • The inclusion of actual hockey
  • Hair bands! This really brought me back
  • Holland's blog
  • The playlists 
  • Food references, especially Holland's mom's food
  • An ending that put a perma-smile on my face
I wish I had photographic evidence of myself reading this book, because I wore an expression of genuine bliss, and another testament to the happy-inducing power of this book, is the grin I am sporting as I write this review. 

Overall: Cold Day in the Sun delivered that feel-good vibe I expect from sports books, but I also got an adorable romance, a strong and determined heroine, a swoony hero, and a wonderful and supportive family.


Go Figure was mentioned in this book. It is one of my daughter's favorite DCOMs, but Hockey Night is the penultimate girl playing on a boys' hockey team movie for me. And, yes, that is Megan Follows.


**ARCs received in exchange for honest reviews.

Do you like hockey?
Let us know in the comments!

38 comments:

  1. Cute books!

    Lotte | www.lottelauv.blogspot.co.uk

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  2. I *just* found Opposite of Always and oh my gosh everything about it sounds brilliant! *flails* WANTS

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    1. I loved that book so much. I was shocked at how fast I read it too, but I could not bring myself to stop, because I was enjoying it so immensely.

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  3. Opposite of Always sounds perfect! I ordered my very first subscription box this month and that's the book in it so now I'm even more excited to read it.

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    1. I hope you like it. I can't wait to see what you think.

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  4. The Reynolds book sounds so good! I think I need to request it from the library. Sounds like the author handles the story really well.

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    1. I am really excited about him. I don't read that many male writers, but Reynolds and Philippe have both impressed me with their debuts.

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  5. I love hockey. I played my flute in the pep band in college just to watch the hockey games for free.

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    1. My town was a football town, and I joined color guard so I could see the out of town games.

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  6. sound like a couple of good ones. thanks for sharing.
    sherry @ fundinmental

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  7. I loved Before I Fall, so Opposite of Always sounds like one I would enjoy!

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    1. Those two books just did the time loop so well, in my opinion, and Opposite was funny and touching to boot.

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  8. These both sound wonderful and I'm happy you enjoyed them so much. I've come across some other positive reviews for these too.

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    1. I already knew I would enjoy Biren's book, because I liked her debut, but Reynolds blew my expectations out of the water.

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  9. Time loops can be tricky for sure- glad to see The Opposite of Everything handled it well! And it's a debut as well. Sounds like a wonderful book, and an emotional one as well. Glad it was awesome. :)

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    1. I have read books where parts of the time loop went well and other didn't, but Reynolds just did it 100% right for me.

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  10. Holland is such a unique name for a main character and I really love that you were able to read that one with a huge smile on your face. Sometimes you need books like that. I love a good time loop but I am always worried it will get repetitive but it doesn't sound that way at all in The Opposite of Everything. Oh, and I love that you were able to feel all the feelings when reading it :D

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    1. YA authors always find the interesting names for their characters. I think it's a requirement. It was cute though, because the love interest nicknamed her Dutch and when he explained why, I couldn't help by "awwww".

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  11. Ahhh I loved Opposite of Always just as well, such a good book and Jack, ugh such a great main character <3
    I now can't wait to read Cold Day In The Sun, you make it sound exactly like the kind of contemporary I'd love :D
    Wonderful reviews! :)

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    1. Can we get Justin Reynolds to hurry up with his next book, because I definitely want to read more of his work. So good.

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  12. I am still kicking myself for not requesting Opposite of Always BUT guess what, the author is coming HERE in like a week and a half so I will just buy it and that's a win-win because I will be supporting him too! (So is Mindy McGinnis and that has nothing to do with your post but I am such a die-hard fan and no author has EVER come here and I am dying because FOUR are gahhh!)

    The other one sounds good too. I am not really a hockey fan per se, but I DID love The Mighty Ducks movies, like a LOT. I am still waiting for the reboot tbh haha. Glad these were both so good for you!

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    1. I have nothing but good things to say about Reynolds' book. I think he did a thing at Books of Wonder, but those events are always during the week, and I could never make them unless I didn't go to work. It's also far from Penn Station, which makes it unattractive to me. I hope you have a lot of fun at your book events!!!

      I almost did a list of Girls in Hockey movies, because there are quite a few great ones out there, and the Mighty Ducks would have definitely made my list.

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  13. These both sound *so* good. Opposite of Always has an interesting concept. And Cold Day in the Sun... I have read several great reviews already and yours just tips the scale right on over. I'm going to check my library for this one. It sounds right up my alley. :)

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    1. I thought I would enjoy Opposite of Always, but I didn't expect to love it so much. It was really special and well done. Cold Day were so good. My daughter felt I should rate it lower, because they talk about having a DVD of her favorite DCOM movie, Go Figure, which was actually never released on DVD (I know, I wrote the company trying to get it for her)

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    2. Okay, showing my ignorance here, but... what is DCOM??

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    3. Disney Channel Original Movie

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    4. Ahhhh, that makes sense. I was thinking DC comics or something. LOL

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    5. I think you had to have a kid in the early 2000s to get that reference. I don't even know if they have DCOMs anymore, and I would probably would get lost with new mom lingo.

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  14. Oh, man, these both sound so good. My TBR is crying! :-)

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

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    1. Both were fun and touching and very feel good

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  15. Both of these sound great! A time loop...that has me. I will have to pick these up.

    Mary

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    1. I can fangirl about both these books all day, but I am so excited about Reynolds, because he debut was just THAT good

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  16. Omigosh yesssssssssssss, Sam, with your review of Opposite of Always. I totally totally agree about the time loop aspect. It is definitely one of the best ones that I've ever seen. AND YES MORE JUSTIN REYNOLDS PLZ. Wondreful reviews!! :)

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    1. And did you hear about the adaptation?! I hope it does this book justice.

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  17. I've not really seen Opposite of Always about so didn't know anything before your review but I do love a good Groundhog Day style book and it sounds like a wonderful emotional read. I mean, when you said Kate died I was picturing a Before I Fall type situation but the fact it's an illnes makes it so much more interesting.

    And I've only just heard of Cold Day in The Sun but it's too pricey for me to buy right now but your review makes me so glad I have it on my radar. It just sounds exactly like the kind of book I'll enjoy. I'll just have to patiently wait for the price to drop.

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    1. Boo for expensive books! Because, Biren does YA contemporary so well, and this one had a lot of heart and soul and fun and swoon. It made me feel good.

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