Thursday, May 25, 2017

Summer Days and Summer Nights Edited by Stephanie Perkins and read by: Jessica Almasy, Michael Bakkensen, Cherise Boothe, Christopher Gebauer, Erin Moon, and Stina Nielsen

Summary on Goodreads:
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.
I seriously loved this one. I don’t know why I’m always surprised to love short story collections. I always find myself enjoying them more than expected. It’s like getting an extra cupcake treat of an author you weren’t expecting to hear from for a long time.
Of course, I enjoyed some stories more than others. And I definitely loved some narrators more than others. I think this was my first time listening to an anthology, as compared to reading it the old fashioned way. And, I have to say, this was a good choice. Each story being read by a different voice, helped differentiate them more completely (though I know there were a couple repeat voices).  I’m going to take it apart by story.
“Head, Scales, Tongue, Tail” by Leigh Bardugo (10/10)

This was probably my favorite story in the whole book. I absolutely adored it and related to it in a weird way. I had a friend turned crush like the main character did. And I acted so stupidly, just like the main character did, but instead of coming to my senses I let something good go. This seemed so authentic. So did the town and summer setting. And I loved the slight pieces of magic added to the otherwise contemporary story. I loved how the beginning fitted perfectly with the end. And I loved the ending. Before getting to the final moments, I even cried. This story just moved me.

“The End of Love” by Nina LaCour (7/10)

This one didn’t grab me like the first story did. I liked the main character. Though, I’m not sure I ever believed her reason for doing geometry for summer school (even though she already aced it). Sometimes, I can super relate to teen characters (even as an adult) for feeling so strongly, and sometimes I do serious eye rolls for them completely overdoing it, and unfortunately I kept with the eye rolls in this story. Maybe the main character was behaving how any teen would, whose parents were getting a divorce, but I kept hearing a certain friend of mine in my head going, “first world problems.” I liked the romance/new friendship angle though.

“Last Stand at the Cinegore” by Libba Bray (8/10)

I love that everything I read by Libba Bray is nothing like anything else I’ve ever read by Libba Bray. I wouldn’t read/listen to this story and think this was the same author as A Great and Terrible Beauty, Beauty Queens, or The Diviners. This was something totally different. I loved the NYC old movie theater setting. It read like an episode of Are you Afraid of the Dark, so kinda creepy, but not too scary that I’d necessarily call it horror. It kind of reminded me of an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, with all the humor, teen angst, and believable boy characters (who think about believable things like sex and not just a girl’s laugh).  This one added a good sense of humor to the book. I just wish it had a better narrator. I kept zoning out to his voice, and I wish he was better at reading suspense.

“Sick Pleasures” by Francesca Lia Block (6/10)

I didn’t really get this one. I haven’t had much luck with reading this author in the past, though I have friends who swear by her. I hated the characters only having initials (though this is explained at the end). I couldn’t believe the lack of parents, the awfulness of the main character’s friends, or even how terrible the main character’s first sexual experience was. This was a harder, darker story. I guess I just found it super hard to relate to, at all. It was missing any light.

“In Ninety Minutes, Turn North” by Stephanie Perkins (10/10)

I adored this one. It’s like the sum of every girl’s wishes about what would happen with a certain ex that got away. More than that though, Perkins just gets teen YA awkwardness; it’s like she’s been in my mind and had the same thoughts as me. I loved the mountain setting. I loved that the main character had to realize her own feelings and it wasn’t just about rescuing her ex. This one gave me all the feels.

“Souvenirs” by Tim Federle (9/10)

I loved this story too. I’m not familiar with the author at all. But, I thought this was great. It seriously captured the truth of a lot of summer romances: they are only meant for summer. Not all of these romances can end with an OTP. And I’m glad the main character didn’t end up with his romance for good because he sounded kind of awful. I loved all the theater stuff and theme park stuff. I loved the main character’s relationship with his mother. Despite the not so happy ending that the main character tells you is coming, I still thought this was one of my favorites. 

“Inertia” by Veronica Roth (9/10)

This was not what I was expecting from Veronica Roth at all. And I ended up enjoying it more than I thought I would. It’s a darker story because the main character’s best friend is on his death bed and in this weird world, people who are dying can share their dying consciousness with loved ones before they go…Everything else is contemporary and realistic. I thought this was a cool concept. And I loved seeing the ups and downs of their friendship. I had tears in this one. And I loved the hopeful ending.

“Love Is the Last Resort” by Jon Skovron (7/10)

Unfortunately, I don’t remember a lot about this one because I despised the narrator. I almost just skipped the story entirely, so I wouldn’t have to listen to his voice. Some voices are just misses for me (and I’m not entirely sure why). Though, I’m glad I made it through, cause I remember loving the summer setting. And it was nice having a more cheerful story.

“Good Luck and Farewell” by Brandy Colbert (9/10)

I wasn’t familiar with this author at all either. But, I loved this story. I loved the Chicago setting because it’s where I grew up. I loved that the main character could find a new friend/romance amongst the pain of her closest friend/relative moving away. There’s some good family drama, relationship drama, and Chicago fun to be had.

“Brand New Attraction” by Cassandra Clare (10/10)

I also loved this story. I loved the carnival setting. I loved the idea of carnivals being run by demons (thought not connected to shadowhunters at all). I loved the adults who disappeared and the kids working together to figure it out. I loved the main character, even though it took her so long to figure things out. Again, I had some Buffy flashbacks with this one, in all the good ways.

“A Thousand Ways This Could All Go Wrong” by Jennifer E. Smith (10/10)

If I didn’t already declare Leigh Bardugo’s story as my favorite, this one would be it. I loved the camp counselor setting. I loved getting a YA story that talked about autism in more than one character! I loved the believable romance and that the main character had no idea about so many things, but she was so willing to do her best. I could have read a whole book of this.

“The Map of Tiny Perfect Things” by Lev Grossman (8/10)

This was a strange story. The main character kept repeating the same day over and over. I like that he first spends his days reading! I kind of loved him. And I like that the repeating days is actually because of someone else and not him. The reason behind it all had me really sad and surprised. I’m not sure I liked his love interest as much as I was supposed to, but I was definitely hooked from the very beginning
All in all, I loved this. I want more stories like this. I almost feel like going back to my car and re-listening to my favorites. The good stories and narrators outweigh the less good ones. I give it a 10/10 overall.

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