REVIEW: Summer Days and Summer Nights edited by Stephanie Perkins

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Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

SummaryMaybe 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.

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Short Story, Anthology

Review (by story): Head, Scales, Tongue, Tail by Leigh Bardugo3/5: I’ve never been the biggest fan of Bardugo’s writing, but I think this set the tone for how dynamic this anthology was going to be. While I enjoyed the majority of the story, I didn’t like the ending. Unfortunately, I think that ruined most of it for me. I just couldn’t get into the concept when I was expecting something entirely different.

The End of Love by Nina LaCour5/5: I really loved this story, and it was wonderful to see a wlw couple so early into the book, which I wasn’t surprised by since this came from Nina LaCour! Overall, I felt it was solid and heartfelt. I look forward to reading more of LaCour’s work in the future.

Last Stand at the Cinegore by Libba Bray4/5: I’m the absolute biggest fan of Libba Bray. I’m so totally biased towards anything she writes. That being said, while I loved this story personally, I don’t think it fit in very well with the tone of the book overall. But it was the perfect mix of scary, funny, and romantic, which is just what I love from Bray.

Sick Pleasure by Francesca Lia Block4.5/5: This story came as a big surprise to me. I liked the tone and the writing style immensely, especially how it took on a much larger issue. It was unexpected but incredibly well executed. I’d never read anything by this author before, but I would definitely consider doing so now. I loved it, but there were moments where I felt like I got lost along the way, which impacted my rating just the smallest bit.

In Ninety Minutes, Turn North by Stephanie Perkins3.5/5: I had such high expectations for Perkins’ story, so I felt let down when I saw that this story returned to Marigold and North from My True Love Gave to Me. It was a good story, but it didn’t have the romantic feel all the other stories had at their core. I really would’ve liked to see something new.

Souvenirs by Tim Federle4.5/5: This was a really wonderful story. Once again, I loved the LGBT couple, this time focusing on two men. It was a very interesting concept, and I thought it was written well. I wasn’t into it entirely for most of the story because I didn’t like the characters all that much, but it was sad in a very uplifting way, if that makes any sense. It had a really good ending and overall message to take from, which made me love this so much.

Inertia by Veronica Roth5/5: This was by far my favorite story of the bunch. It was a really great concept that turned into something so much deeper and more meaningful. It had just enough of a sci-fi feel to give the concept some roots, but it still felt contemporary. This one resonated with me in a way the others didn’t, and even had just a bit of a twist at the end. It was romantic, but it gave you a vibe the other couples didn’t, as it was rooted in friendship. I’d recommend this anthology on this story alone.

Love is the Last Resort by Jon Skovron3/5: While I liked this story, the writing style totally affected my feelings towards it. It felt so haughty and pretentious that it felt absolutely nothing like a YA contemporary short story. It was very melodramatic and felt out of place more than any other story in this book. I wanted to like it, and I liked parts of it, but it let me down.

Good Luck and Farewell by Brandy Colbert3.5/5: I really liked this story, but I wanted to feel more from it. I felt unconnected to the characters, and I understand why. They were dealing with issues I never have to deal with and would never want to. Ultimately, I felt more interested in Audrey and Gillian’s story than Rashida and Pierre’s. I think it’s hard to go from a love-hate relationship to a love relationship so quickly, and the relationship moved just too fast for me to like.

Brand New Attraction by Cassandra Clare[SKIPPED]: I was definitely not reading a story by Cassandra Clare. And after hearing what this story was about, I sure am glad I didn’t.

A Thousand Ways This Could All Go Wrong by Jennifer E. Smith5/5: Next to Inertia, this was my favorite story. I didn’t expect it to go in the direction it went, nor did I expect it to take on such a heavy issue. But it was handled with grace and written well and properly, without doing a disservice to the issue at hand. It was very sweet and romantic, and even with the complication in the story, nothing changed for the characters, which I loved.

The Map of Tiny Perfect Things by Lev Grossman5/5: This was the perfect way to end the anthology, and another of my favorite stories. It had a fantasy/sci-fi concept and vibe, but the development of the characters and the writing style was engrossing. It was sad, but it was ultimately a story about growing strength, which I loved. It was a perfect conclusion.

In my opinion, this anthology was less than stellar. I definitely liked the second half of the stories than the first half. It was very dynamic, which I thought was important, and it was good enough, but it has nothing on My True Love Gave to Me. That being said, some of these stories were so wonderful that I’d recommend the whole anthology in a heartbeat.

REVIEW: The Long Game (The Fixer #2) by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

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Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

SummaryThe Kendricks help make the problems of the Washington elite disappear…but some secrets won’t stay buried.

For Tess Kendrick, a junior at the elite Hardwicke School in Washington, D.C., fixing runs in the family. But Tess has another legacy, too, one that involves power and the making of political dynasties. When Tess is asked to run a classmate’s campaign for student council, she agrees. But when the candidates are children of politicians, even a high school election can involve life-shattering secrets.

Meanwhile, Tess’s guardian has also taken on an impossible case, as a terrorist attack calls into doubt who can—and cannot—be trusted on Capitol Hill. Tess knows better than most that power is currency in D.C., but she’s about to discover firsthand that power always comes with a price.

Genre: Young Adult, Thriller, Mystery, Contemporary

Review: The Fixer was one of my absolute favorite books, and once I got my hands on this book, I couldn’t put it down. Unbelievably, it was even more intense and fast paced than The Fixer. It went deeper into the world that the first book had created while also crafting an entirely original plot. I could barely wrap my head around the twists and turns, and it surprised me every time. This was a stunning follow-up to The Fixer.

That being said, I was really disappointed to hear that this was a duology. It’s a perfect sequel, but it just isn’t a conclusion, Especially with an ending like it has, which introduced a whole new element to what the books have been building. Furthermore, I was hoping to see Henry develop more. He was taken in an entirely new direction, and so was his relationship with Tess. As amazing as this book was, it’s just not right for it to end here when there’s so, so much more to delve into.

It’s hard to review this book and not immediately go into spoiler territory. It was, in one word, an experience. One that every individual reader should go on alone.Overall, this book met every expectation I had for it, and then some. It was just a thrilling and engrossing as the first book, and I’m truly hoping to see a third book in this series’ future. It deserves one.

ARC Review: The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett by Chelsea Sedoti

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I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

SummaryHawthorn wasn’t trying to insert herself into a missing person’s investigation. Or maybe she was. But that’s only because Lizzie Lovett’s disappearance is the one fascinating mystery their sleepy town has ever had. Bad things don’t happen to popular girls like Lizzie Lovett, and Hawthorn is convinced she’ll turn up at any moment-which means the time for speculation is now.

So Hawthorn comes up with her own theory for Lizzie’s disappearance. A theory way too absurd to take seriously…at first. The more Hawthorn talks, the more she believes. And what better way to collect evidence than to immerse herself in Lizzie’s life? Like getting a job at the diner where Lizzie worked and hanging out with Lizzie’s boyfriend. After all, it’s not as if he killed her-or did he?

Told with a unique voice that is both hilarious and heart-wrenching, Hawthorn’s quest for proof may uncover the greatest truth is within herself.

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Mystery

Review: Let me preface this review by saying I absolutely cannot wait for this book to be published. I requested it on a whim, and I could not be more happy that it came into my life, especially right now. It’s one of the finest examples of character development in contemporary young adult fiction by far. The entire book flows seamlessly, naturally, and without hesitation. There are moments of harsh reality and raw emotion. It is a book about self-discovery and realization, and it does not hold back.

Hawthorn Creely is one of the most relatable narrators out there. Her “cliche” moments don’t seem that at all – they’re simply who she is, and what she struggles with on a daily basis. She’s a loser, but at no point does she attempt to change herself to fit others. She is unabashedly original, but that doesn’t mean she always loves being that way. She’s hard to handle sometimes, and that’s what makes her all the better. She goes through the ups and downs that we all do, and she handles them in stride, even when it’s hard.

Every inch of this book was flawless. It made me laugh, it made me cry, and y the end of it I felt emotionally drained. I felt everything Hawthorn did, and I just wanted to give her a hug. It’s by far one of the best YA novels I’ve read, and I can’t wait for everyone to be able to experience it and find something of themselves in it the way that I did.

This book is, ultimately, about discovery. Disocvering yourself, others, and life for what it really is.