Summer Days and Summer Nights: A Book Review

Hi friends!

How is your summer coming along? I’m enjoying the warm weather by playing endless rounds of badminton, swimming the afternoons away with friends, and, of course, reading as much as I can – it’s nice to catch up with the YA world after popping in and out of it for so long. On a similar note, it’s been several weeks since I last posted a book review, but with my newfound free time, I hope that today’s post will be the first of many to come. So let’s play a game of catch-up of our own: what are you currently reading? What new titles have caught your eye?

Summer Days and Summer NightsTitle: Summer Days and Summer Nights
Author: Stephanie Perkins
Published: May 17, 2016, by St. Martin’s Griffin
Pages: 400
Genre: Young Adult / Contemporary / Magical Realism
Source: Library / Hardcover
Series: N/A

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. {Goodreads}

As I typically do with short story collections, I’ll divide my thoughts and take the review a story at a time, but a general note before that fun: this anthology nails depictions of the summertime. Almost all of these stories feature real teens on summer break: those who work at summer camps and carnivals, those looking for a summer fling and those crushing from afar, those who’ve lost parents and those who are repairing their relationships. Not all the stories are hits, but as a whole, they are a terrific option for anyone seeking a summery escape.

Heads, Scales, Tongue, TailSummer Days and Summer Nights opens with a contribution by YA fantasy author Leigh Bardugo in which a romance blossoms over the search for a sea monster. It’s magical realism at its finest: lyrical, mystical writing; a nostalgic atmosphere; and a bittersweet, unexpected ending. I can’t think of a better way to start the anthology {and I can’t wait to grab Bardugo’s other books from the library!}.

The End of LoveIt’s a testament to Nina LaCour’s ability as a writer that her short story, The End of Love, so easily captures the emotions of the summertime in its page constraints. Flora feels lost following her parents’ divorce, and while I don’t share the same experiences, I found connection with her worries and hopes. Furthermore, the relationship that develops between Flora and Mimi is lovely; I hope this isn’t the last we are able to read of them.

Last Stand at the CinegoreLibba Bray is known for her quirky thrillers, so I should have expected nothing less than a hilarious take on summer jobs and an homage to classic horror movies for her piece. Nevertheless, much of her story – the cursed film, the demonic audience, the Stanford-bound friend – took me by surprise. The pockets of humor certainly had me laughing, but I’m not sure to a degree that makes up for the clunky plot.

Sick PleasureI’ve seen other reviewers complain that Sick Pleasure seems out of place in the collection, but I disagree: this semi-autobiographical story is a powerful piece that speaks to the fleeting nature of summer and the lasting value of friendship. The piece ends on a sad note, but it’s the right choice, as it fits the emotional tone Block carries throughout. Interestingly enough, the more I think about it and discuss the story, the more I fall in love with it.

In Ninety Minutes, Turn NorthStephanie Perkins returns to the characters she first introduced in My True Love Gave to Me in this sweet piece. North and Marigold were navigating their time apart in the rocky few months after their break-up until Marigold decides to visit North herself. Perkins is a natural fit for the short story format, and the scenes between North and Marigold are wonderfully written. Was this follow-up necessary? Of course not. Was it much appreciated and adored? You bet.

SouvenirsI can sum up Souvenirs, Tim Federle’s short story about relationships formed at an amusement park, in just one word: charming. It tackles love from a different perspective than the other stories in this collection {Matt and Keith plan to break up rather than make up}, but thankfully, the romance never seems forced, nor the break-up anything but the relationship’s natural close. In short? It’s a light story laced with sadness.

InertiaVeronica Roth’s Inertia was one of the few stories I didn’t mesh with. I have yet to put my finger as to why the piece fell flat for me, but I believe it’s due, in part, to the unusual premise: Claire is invited to Matt’s “Last Visitation,” an opportunity to revisit memories before someone’s death. However, this is not the first time I’ve found Roth’s writing lackluster {I tried Divergent only to put it down a few chapters in}, so I truly believe it’s a case of “it’s not the story, it’s me.”

Love is the Last ResortI had a smile on my face the entire time while reading Love is the Last Resort, so needless to say, it was a personal favorite. The lighter plot was a refreshing change of pace in this heavier collection, and the Jane the Virgin fan in me appreciated the interactive narrator. My only complaint? With so many characters and storylines at the resort, I believe the story might have benefited from a longer format – not that I would say no to that!

Good Luck and FarewellThe last I had read from Brandy Colbert was her debut Pointe, so I was delighted to see that she had contributed a piece. I worried my expectations might have been too high, but I shouldn’t have feared: Good Luck and Farewell simply reminded me why I fell in love with her work in the first place. She masterfully explores love between siblings, parent and child, and significant others to form a diverse short I’d read again any day.

Brand New AttractionMuch to my disappointment, I finished Brand New Attraction with little to remark beyond the setting {Clare has a clear talent for crafting a chilling atmosphere}. I didn’t find the dark magic element compelling, nor did I connect with either main character. Another reader may find it interesting, but for this contemporary fan, the story wasn’t my cup of tea.

A Thousand Ways This Could Go WrongThere are several authors I can always count on for a pitch-perfect romance, Jennifer E. Smith being one of them. Her talent extends to short stories, as she displays with A Thousand Ways This Could Go Wrong. The relationship between the main characters – Annie, spending the summer as a camp counselor, and her Spanish class crush, feels honest, even if it doesn’t always reach the reader.

The Map of Tiny, Perfect ThingsThe anthology ends on a beautiful note with a story from author Lev Grossman. Reminiscent of Groundhog Day, the piece follows Mark and Margaret as they relive August 4th again and again and in doing so, look for the small miracles they might have otherwise missed in daily life. The piece prompts reflection on a life well lived, and Grossman’s introspective writing lingers with me days after finishing the story.

Have a lovely Thursday! :)
Bella

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8 thoughts on “Summer Days and Summer Nights: A Book Review

  1. I totally agree with your reviews! I loved Libba Bray’s story particularly, and I must read her other books immediately! This anthology is very summery and depicts it well. What is the font you used in your graphics? IT’S BEAUTIFUL. <3

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ah, I LOVE The Diviners! She is such a good writer; I hope you enjoy her other books. And I used Flamingo Licht for the font in the banners and Simple Joys for the author type – they’re both so fun! :)

      Like

  2. I love the graphics in this review! And even more than that, I’m glad to hear you liked the stories I’m most excited to read: Nina LaCour’s (her piece sounds wonderful, like always), Stephanie Perkins’s (I didn’t realize hers was a follow-up to her My True Love Gave to Me story – how cute!), Tim Federle’s (“a light story laced with sadness” also describes The Great American Whatever, which I just finished and quite enjoyed), and Brandy Colbert’s (I love, love, loved Pointe and have been waiting for more of her writing ever since). Fingers crossed my library hold on this one comes in soon!

    Liked by 1 person

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