Monday, May 16, 2016

Summer Lovin' • Summer Days and Summer Nights

While I was initially drawn to Summer Days and Summer Nights by the allure of another short story collection edited by Stephanie Perkins that featured some of my favorite YA authors, I was really mostly excited to read stories connected to summer – whether by setting or ambiance or concept. And it makes me glad to be able to say that, overall, this novel was just as lovely as I’d hoped it be! I actually prefer it over its predecessor, but that might be primarily due to the fact that I really just love this season and everything about it.

I feel like this collection was still a good mix of contemporary, magical realism, and fantasy; it also managed to be really cohesive, thanks to the spirit of summer that’s woven through every story. I personally read each story one after the other, drawn in by the variety of writing styles, characters and plots, and it was so satisfying. While there were certainly stories that stood out, I definitely feel like the collection was really likable as a whole. I would definitely take the time to reread it, particularly my favorite stories! If you’re looking for a short story collection that you can devour at your leisure during the summertime, then Summer Days and Summer Nights would be an excellent book choice for you.

If you’re curious to see how I felt about each individual tale, here are some brief thoughts on them below. (I’ve also marked off my favorites so that you’ll know which ones to look out for, particularly if we have similar taste in reading material.)

Heads, Scale, Tongue, Tail (a fave!) – I was already anticipating this one being good, since I knew it was written by Leigh Bardugo. And it was! It starts off in a way that immediately leaves the reader feeling a bit off-kilter. But slowly and surely, you come to see how the elements are connected – and the way it resolves left me very pleased indeed.

The End of Love – I’ve never read anything by Nina LaCour before, but I’m thinking I’m going to have to remedy that after reading her incredibly adorable short story. I really like that she kept it simple, really focusing on love itself – how it ends, how it starts, and perhaps a little bit of what lies in between those two.

Last Stand at the Cinegore – Of all the stories, I feel like this one is the oddest. And yet, it still appealed to me in a weird, wacky, horrific sort of way. It definitely relies heavily on readers being able to suspend their disbelief about things, but otherwise, it has a fun set of characters and a pretty readable narrative.

Sick Pleasures – This story, too, is quite odd. The way it’s written leaves the reader feeling off-kilter and fanciful, which I suppose is entirely the point. It definitely contributes to making everything that happens from start to finish feel really organic and not as unexpected or disjointed as you’d think.

In Ninety Minutes, Turn North (a fave!) – Dear Stephanie Perkins, I just adore your stories and I hope you never, ever stop writing them. Perkins gifts us with two unique individuals to love with a shared history that draws them together again in the most unexpected of ways. I really enjoyed how this one unfolded!

Souvenirs – Tim Federle’s contribution to this collection is nothing short of adorable. I really love that this one felt so light, even though you’d think (based on what the story centers on) that it wouldn’t be so. I definitely thought it was cute and funny and pretty worthy romantic comedy material, truth be told.

Inertia – This story was entirely unexpected, and yet somehow, it really worked for me. The premise was so unexpected, as was the unfolding of this particular narrative. But I was immediately able to latch on to the characters, to their relationship, and that definitely left me predisposed towards liking this one.

Love is the Last Resort – If you’re willing to let yourself be swept up in a story that is slightly over the top and very nearly unbelievable, then you will probably find this one cute. I certainly did, and that’s mostly because it left me really amused as I was reading it.

Good Luck and Farewell – This story had a great set-up, particularly because it was focused on family. While I don’t necessarily feel like the romantic aspect was the greatest, I did like how this one unfolded and I really appreciated the realization the characters come to by the end of the tale.

Brand New Attraction – I was not expecting to enjoy this one as much as I did. The setting was cool, the paranormal/magical aspects were intriguing and the main characters were definitely all too easy to like. I certainly admired the way it unfolded (so clever!), and I have to say that it was really entertaining.

A Thousand Ways This Could All Go Wrong – As with most Jennifer E. Smith works I read, this story was so cute. While it does play out in a pretty predictable way, I still found it charming. If you like Jen’s writing and if you’re a fan of fluffy love stories, this one will appeal to you for sure.

The Map of Tiny Perfect Things (a fave!) – I didn’t know what to expect from this tale going in, but I’m happy to say that this one is definitely one of the best in the collection! The entire concept really stood out to me, and Lev Grossman’s execution of the narrative is wonderful. I was so charmed by this story, and actually wish it could have been longer! 



Summer Days and Summer Nights edited by Stephanie Perkins
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin | Publication Date: May 17, 2016
Source: ARC downloaded from NetGalley (Thank you!)

Maybe it's the long, lazy days, or maybe it's the heat making everyone a little bit crazy. Whatever the reason, summer is the perfect time for love to bloom. Summer Days & Summer Nights: Twelve Love Stories, written by twelve bestselling young adult writers and edited by the international bestselling author Stephanie Perkins, will have you dreaming of sunset strolls by the lake. So set out your beach chair and grab your sunglasses. You have twelve reasons this summer to soak up the sun and fall in love.

Featuring stories by Leigh Bardugo, Francesca Lia Block, Libba Bray, Cassandra Clare, Brandy Colbert, Tim Federle, Lev Grossman, Nina LaCour, Stephanie Perkins, Veronica Roth, Jon Skovron, and Jennifer E. Smith.

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