Review - Summer Days and Summer Nights + Signed ToG Giveaway!!

Wednesday, June 8, 2016



Title: Summer Days and Summer Nights
Edited by: Stephanie Perkins
Release Date: May 17, 2016
Genre: Contemporary
Source: Purchased

 
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.



I read and reviewed Stephanie Perkins’ holiday anthology My True Love Gave to Me in 2014, so when I discovered earlier in the year that she would be releasing a companion anthology, I knew I had to get my hands on it. As you may have read in my previous anthology reviews, the reason I love anthologies so much is the opportunity to “taste test” new authors before I pick up their full length novels. In this summer romance anthology, I had only read a handful of authors, but all I had to see listed on the cover were the names Bardugo, Clare, Roth, and Smith and I was sold. I was also secretly hoping that I might find a new writer to fangirl over, too, as there were a few names I recognized but had yet to read. 

Like my previous anthology reviews, I’ll cover the stories I thought were most noteworthy as well as those whom I felt missed the mark. If a story isn’t mentioned, it doesn’t necessarily mean it was good or bad. Most were very sweet stories, but I just can’t cover them all due to time/length constraints. 

The Best: 

1.) The Map of Tiny Perfect Things by Lev Grossman – This was the final story in the book and wow – talk about ending on a high note! Mark is the MC of this story and he finds himself trapped in a never-ending summer. And not metaphorically. Literally. By the time the story opens, it’s been August 4th for several days. No matter what Mark does, he can’t figure out how to make time flow forward again and, worse yet, it seems like he is the only one aware of the predicament. Everyone else goes about their day as if they haven’t relieved it over and over – until he meets Margaret, the only other person he’s seen who is aware of the issue. Of course, she has a big problem of her own… What I loved most about this story is its simplicity. Not so much in storyline, but how it’s aware that it’s not always the “big” moments in life that shape or form us. It can be a small thing, a split second, that can change us. With every day being August 4th, Mark and Margaret take it upon themselves to find and map all the “tiny perfect things” they can find in the city, such as a sunrise, an act of nature, or a child laughing. I found it touching that the teens in this story can find happiness in such small gestures. Moreover, I liked the reason that time had stopped. I think we’ve all had a moment in our lives in which we wished the world would just stop spinning for a moment, to give us time to cope or adjust. I loved peeking into Mark and Margaret’s secluded paradise! 

2.) A Thousand Ways This Could All Go Wrong by Jennifer E. Smith – I was so happy to see Smith in this anthology and even moreso when I finally read (and loved!) her story. Annie is once again a summer camp counselor, but this year she finds herself juggling a new camper: six year old Noah, who is Autistic. Between trying to befriend the shy and soft-spoken child, she is also trying to woo the guy she’s been admiring all year in Spanish class – Griffin. Of course, it would happen that the day she snags a date with Griffin, Noah’s mother is late picking him up at camp! Griffin offers to wait with the two and, to Annie’s astonishment, Griffin befriends Noah almost immediately. Of course, it’s only after they go on their first date that Annie realizes that Griffin has Asperger’s… As someone who has a family member with high functioning Autism, this story stuck close to home. Smith details both ends of the Spectrum with honesty and aplomb. I applaud her for bringing to light a topic that is so underrepresented in fiction these days. While YA is becoming broader in race, religion, and sexuality, books that tackle issues such as mental retardation and learning disabilities are few and far between. That Smith did so – and that she addressed the issues those with Aspergers or other cognitive disabilities live with daily – gains my highest respect. If only we had more couples like Annie and Griffin in novels today!

3.) Inertia by Veronica Roth – While I really liked the previous two stories, it’s clear to me which story was the crown jewel of the anthology, and that was none other than Roth’s. (And seeing as I’m still salty over Allegiant, my admitting as much says quite a bit! JK!) Matt and Claire used to be best friends, until they weren’t. And until Matt was in a serious accident. Believing that Matt’s time is coming to a close, his doctors ask those he requested to come to the Last Visitation. The Last Visitation is advanced technology that allows those who are about to pass away and their loved ones to talk and revisit past shared memories. Seeing that they were mad with one another, Claire is at a loss as to why Matt asked her to Visit him. It’s through the shared memories that we get a glimpse of what happened in the past and how they came to be at odds… The very idea of this story was what hooked me from the first paragraphs. I’m sure there isn’t a single person on Earth who didn’t wish to have one last moment with a loved one before they passed on; one last time to make things right or to tell them you love them or that you’re sorry. This was perhaps the only story I thought would have made a lovely novel, had it been flushed out. It had a likeable set of characters and addressed heavy topics with surprising clarity, despite the fact that it was a short story. The desire for a second chance or, at the very least, closure is something anyone can relate to and it’s that reason, I think, that this story was so poignant and spoke to many readers, myself included. The fact that we got a happy ending was merely icing on the cake! (And, again, that’s saying a lot, since Roth wrote it! XD) 

The Worst:

1.) Last Stand at the Cinegore by Libba Bray – This was definitely one of the low points in this anthology for me. I was really looking forward to reading Bray’s work for the first time, seeing as she’s so popular with her Gemma Doyle series. I was ready to jump aboard her fan train, but after reading this story, I’m desperately hoping that her other work isn’t similar in quality. I think what made this one so frustrating is that it was set up to be a story I’d really like. Creative nerdy dude? I’m game. Set in a run-down theater that plays mostly horror flicks? Hell yeah! Actual inhabitants from Hell coming alive and eating people? ….What? And no, you didn’t misread it. It actually happened. This story went from cute, summer read about a guy struggling to ask his crush out to demons spilling open from a portal to Hell and slaughtering everyone. And quickly, too. Like, 0-100 in 3.83 seconds kind of crazy quick. I guess the juxtaposition of reality and fantasy – particularly when it happened so quickly – was just too jarring to me. It’s literally read like one person wrote the first part of the story, accidentally left it that the coffee shop after getting their frappe, and a stranger finished it. I can’t fault Bray’s creativity, at the very least, but this was definitely a story that left me scratching my head.

2.) Love is the Last Resort by Jon Skovron – This story was cute in the traditional sense of summer romance, in that it takes place at a resort, where both the employees and some of the vacationers are trying to find their summer flings – or in some cases, the ones they’ve been trying to woo for several years. Whereas Bray’s story was well executed up until the crazy jump-the-shark moment, this story had all the elements of a summery read I’d like but little to show for it. For the most part, I thought the characters rather boring. Lena, for a lead MC, was exorbitantly cold. Arlo was goofy and fun, but predictable. Franklyn could’ve held merit, but he couldn’t step out of his nerd archetype long enough to impress me. There are literally, like, ten characters and I couldn’t even remember their names – I had to look them all up for this review. Another big problem is that the vast majority of the characters are stagnant. They have no drive to do things for themselves and instead have to rely on Lena and Arlo – who admit that love is for fools - to orchestrate a crazy plan to get everyone hooked up. Oh, and surprise, Arlo and Lena hook up in the end, even though they had no chemistry. Lastly, the dialogue in the story was very stilted and… stiff. Arlo seemed to be the only character that remotely thought or acted like a normal teenager. The rest either did or spoke in a way no kid – at least none that I know – could’ve found relatable. I think Skovron was trying to be clever, or maybe I’m just too stupid, but this type of storytelling was a major turn off. 
Aside from a couple of dud stories, this anthology was really quite cute and enjoyable. Bardugo’s, Perkins’, and Clare’s stories were all adorable, too! Whether you like contemporary romance, stories with more fantastical elements, or even stories that pull at your heartstrings, this is definitely an anthology that has at least ONE thing for every reader. I just hope that we’ll get Spring and Autumn anthologies now, or my OCD will forever taunt me when I look at the other two on my shelf! 

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In case you missed any previous posts in the Review Train, here they are: 

 Genni at Ready, Set, Read reviewed The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson
Lauren at Always Me reviewed Future Shock by Elizabeth Briggs
 Laura at Blue Eye Books reviewed The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han
 Sam at Tsundoku Books reviewed Even if the Sky Falls by Mia Garcia
 Czai at The Blacksheep Project reviewed Vanishing Girls by Lauren Oliver
Alicia at A Kernel of Nonsense reviewed The Distance Between Us by Kasie West
 Ashley at [Insert Title Here] reviewed Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton
 Sinead at Less Reality, More Books reviewed The Square Root of Summer by Harriet Reuter Hapgood
 Ashley at What's She Reading? reviewed Open Road Summer by Emery Lord

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It’s been an absolute pleasure to host the Summer 2016 Review Train. This little idea came to mind about five weeks ago and, honestly, I was wondering whether or not I’d even get a handful of people to help me bring it to fruition. So, I was completely floored when a total of ten people signed up for the Train. Not only that, but every single review was lovely and posted on time with nary a hitch. I really couldn’t have asked for a better set of bloggers to help me with this project, and I’m so thankful to have gotten to know you guys better over the last few weeks. You rule! And, should you ever want to host a fun activity of your own, consider me in. I’d be more than happy to return the favor. 

To those readers who have followed the Review Train faithfully, thank you for all your kind comments, shares, retweets, and the like. You’ve made the Review Train a rounding success – and this will hopefully be the beginning of many Trains in the future. 

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Signed Throne of Glass Giveaway!!




As a big thank you to both my blogger buddies and readers/followers, I’m giving away a SIGNED, PAPERPACK copy of Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas. This giveaway is OPEN INTERNATIONALLY, so be sure to get as many entries as you can and share the news with your friends! (Closes 6/15/16!!)

25 comments :

  1. Great review Brittany! :D Once again, thanks for hosting the train! It's been so much fun doing this. I haven't read an anthology in such a long time, but I just might have to pick this up! It sounds perfect for the summer. :D

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    1. Thanks again for being a part of it! ^-^ And definitely look into it if you want something cute and fluffy. It's a great summer read!

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  2. Awesome review! I didn't know Roth wrote a piece in this anthropology! Inertia sounds really good. I might have to pick it up sometime. Also, a Thousand Ways This Could Go Wrong sounded really good too. I've not read many books with characters who have mental illnesses but I always want to because I want to know what it's like for them.

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    1. Thanks! Those were definitely two of my favorites. Smith's story was actually the first one I've ever read with an MC with Asperger's. I'm hoping that it will become more of a welcomed topic in future YA novels.

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  3. Glad you enjoyed this, it does look like a fun anthology.

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    1. It definitely held up to the Holiday anthology! I hope that we can get a fall and spring one, too! *Crosses fingers*

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  4. I'm always iffy about anthologies, but I do agree that they do give you a chance to sample the works of different authors. This is actually how I got interested in April Genevieve Tucholke. I loved Wink Poppy Midnight and am planning to pick up more by her. Thanks for hosting this Review Train, Brittany!

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    1. I've only read three so far, so I can't really say that all anthologies are masterpieces, but I've enjoyed the ones I've read so far. I first read April Genevieve Tucholke's work with Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea. It was... okay, I guess. It didn't keep me interested enough to continue with the series, though. I liked her story in Slasher Girls and Monster Boys, though, even if it WAS a little predictable.

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  5. Great review - I like how you broke it down by best and worst. I'm definitely interested in reading the Lev Grossman story - especially after my reaction to The Magicians (Loved the show - less so the book).

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    1. Thanks! Sometimes it's hard to decide which ones to cover and which to skip, but these were some of the better/worse ones in the books. I'm definitely interested in reading more Grossman now, though!

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    2. In the case of The Magicians, I think I actually like the adaptation more - what I have seen so far at least.

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  6. Great review! I'm so glad you enjoyed this :) I really like how you broke it down into best and worst categories. I'll definitely have to give this a shot!

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    1. Thanks! I hope you enjoy it as much as I did, if/when you get around to reading it. It's definitely a lot of fun!

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  7. I haven't read the previous trilogy, but wow, I really want to read this one! :D I especially like how you said it was sort of a sampler for various authors to see if you want to read more by them...so true! I'm also keen for the Jennifer E Smith story because I agree that Autism is hopelessly underrepresented in literature (although as someone who knows and is related to Autistic people....they are do not suffer from "mental retardation". At all. So. Learning and cognitive disabilities = yes, though.)
    And the Veronica Roth one sounds AMAZING! I'm super keen to read more from her so YAY. And also I loved Allegiant too. *hi fives* ;D
    Thanks for stopping by @ Paper Fury!

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    1. It really is underrepresented. Not only that, but it's greatly misunderstood, too. It's called a Spectrum for a reason. Some people have very mild symptoms, whereas others are more debilitated. It's just so sad to see it largely overlooked in literature, especially when there are a number of young folk who struggle with it or know/are related to people who have cognitive disorders.

      But yes, Roth's was - in my opinion - the highlight of the book! I hope you enjoy it if you get around to read it!

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  8. I love your review and the book!!!
    I really like this idea of the review train!!
    And I hope so much to win!!

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    1. Thanks so much! Best of luck to you! ^-^

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  9. A shame about the Libba Bray story- your description really does make it sound crazy! I can't imagine that sort of twist working out that well when it's done so quickly...

    Thank you so much for running this train I had so much fun and was honored to be part of it! If you ever do another review train, please let me know because I'd love to participate again! And I'm so glad this one worked out so well :)

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    1. It really was a shame... I had looked forward to reading hers because of all the buzz she got from her other series. But the short story was just waaaay too out there for me. And from what other reviews I've seen for this anthology, I'm not the only one who things so. But, well, perhaps the books are better...

      Thanks so much for being a part of it! It's been great getting to know you better and please don't hesitate to ask me to return in the favor in the future. ^-^

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  10. Hi - I hadn't heard of the Summer 2016 Review Train. Neat idea!
    @dino0726 from 
    FictionZeal - Impartial, Straightforward Fiction Book Reviews

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  11. I've been seeing this collection around a lot and it looks like it matches so well with the winter one but then summer-y! The perfect read for the beach. It's always difficult to review a collection of short stories because there can be a difference in enjoyment level but I am glad you were able to mostly enjoy this one!

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  12. I actually haven't read the other anthology - even though it has been on my TBR forever. I really want to pick up them both up at some point. Great review!

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  13. I haven't even read this yet, but I'm commenting to say how excited I am to soak up your thoughts on this anthology! I'll be back once I peruse...

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    1. Okay, I finally got around to reading your full review. I LOVE that our likes and dislikes align pretty much perfectly. It's great to disagree with other bloggers sometimes, because that's the spice of life, but it's also wonderful to be in perfect alignment. I, like you, am very excited to see what these standout authors have to provide us in terms of new and past work!

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  14. I haven't read any of these types of anthologies, but with all the great authors that have stories in them, I need to! I like how you reviewed good ones, and then also talked about the not so good ones. Thanks for sharing it with us!

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