Summer Days & Summer Nights: Twelve Love Stories

“There are monsters everywhere, tsigele,” she said. “It’s always good to know their names.”

Title: Summer Days and Summer Nights

Editor: Stephanie Perkins

Series: Standalone

Publication: May 17th 2016 by St. Martin’s Griffin

Pages: 400

Source: Publisher in exchange for a honest review

Summary from 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.


My Thoughts:

What is it with these anthologies!?! Why must I fall in love so hard so quickly? Maybe it’s because this anthology is jam packed full of some of my favorite authors ever to grace this amazing Earth like the goddess Leigh Bardugo and my precious Cassandra Clare. I was in love from the moment I saw the cover, and I am glad to say I have once again found myself blown away.

Continue reading

Enthralled: Paranormal Diversions

“If you stay here, you become lost. And no one can find you.”

“I like lost.”

Title: Enthralled: Paranormal Diversions

Editors: Melissa Marr and Kelley Armstrong

Series: Standalone

Publication: September 20th 2011 by HarperCollins

Pages: 443

Source: Purchased

Summary from Goodreads:

A journey may take hundreds of miles, or it may cover the distance between duty and desire.

Sixteen of today’s hottest writers of paranormal tales weave stories on a common theme of journeying. Authors such as Kelley Armstrong, Rachel Caine, and Melissa Marr return to the beloved worlds of their bestselling series, while others, like Claudia Gray, Kami Garcia, and Margaret Stohl, create new land-scapes and characters. But whether they’re writing about vampires, faeries, angels, or other magical beings, each author explores the strength and resilience of the human heart.

Suspenseful, funny, or romantic, the stories in Enthralled will leave you moved.

My Thoughts:

I was so happy I found this thing! I had no idea this book existed despite the fact that it holds short stories from some of my favorite authors. I ran across this gorgeous beast when rummaging around a used bookstore, you know, the best way of finding new books known to man. In all honesty, Enthralled was sheer perfection for an anthology. Not only was each story centered around a specific theme – though each had their own twist on the topic – the stories actually felt like stories. They were complete, heartbreaking, uplifting, and the perfect thing to get me through my week.

Giovanni’s Fairwell by Claudia Grey

This little story… just… aww! It was so cute, adorable, and any other adjective you can think of that reminds you of snuggling with puppies. This one is mostly about a set of twins realizing they have abilities and coming to terms with them, as it were – BUT, there is a sweet little twist included. Just.. just read it and swoon with me, yea?

Scenic Route by Carrie Ryan

I’d never heard of Carrie Ryan before reading this, but now I am so glad I found her! While this wasn’t my favorite short story in the bunch, it is definitely up on my list simply because it was not what I was expecting – in a good way. This story focuses on family and how certain people are willing to go to horrible lengths to protect the people they love. I think I liked this one because it carried such meaning in an itty bitty space.

Red Run by Kami Garcia

This one was very interesting, to say the least. Lemme be straight with you guys: I don’t like Kami Garcia’s writing (Or Margaret Stohl) and I haven’t since I read the disaster that was Beautiful Creatures. DON’T HATE ME! I couldn’t bring myself to like it, and the same goes for this story. While I enjoyed the plot and what it was trying to do… it was simply meh in every other aspect. Therefore, it fell flat and that’s all I have to say about that. (Yes, I am biased. Deal with it.)

Things About Love by Jackson Pearce

This was so cool. Plain and simple. I’ve never read anything by Pearce, and that means I did not read the story this is based off of – but that’s besides the point. Things About Love was almost cutesy fun, at least in my head. It’s about a djinn trying to wrap its head around humans and love. It was awesome.

Niederwald by Rachel Vincent

Huh…that was.. interesting? No, I’m serious. I liked it, I really did – I just was lost I guess. This, too, is a connection to a book – but this one using actual characters and things from the series that just flew over my head. I will admit, though, that it made me want to go out and get the Soul Screamers series so I can see what was actually going on. I still liked it, don’t get me wrong – I just don’t like missing things. Oops.

Merely Mortal by Melissa Marr

FINALLY! One connection to something else that I’ve actually read! Despite all that, though, this fell flat for me. It was sort of just underwhelming, and therefore disappointing. I had some pretty high expectations because I enjoyed Wicked Lovely and its interpretation of faeries. This just didn’t hit the bar for me. Should I feel bad? Also, be warned – if you haven’t read Wicked Lovely, this little tale is spoiler central.

Facing Facts by Kelley Armstrong

Spoilery but soothed my fangirl heart – and that’s all I have to say about that. *mic drop*

Let’s Get This Undead Show On The Road by Sarah Rees Brennan

While I appreciate the constant satire on vampire stereotypes and the like, the lore and everything else about this sort story required some serious suspending of disbelief and common sense. It was just lacking that little bit of…. sparkle (See what I did there? DID YOU SEE IT!?!?) I’m serious, though, despite the Twilight joke. This story was just another bout of meh.

Bridge by Jeri Smith-Ready

This one… wow. Just wow. If you read this, and when you read this – get some tissues and therapy lined up. This is sad, compelling, and needed. It is about family, about learning to let go, and trying to decide when everything becomes too much. It had a very fitting format, it was the perfect mode to tell the perfect story. This one might take the cake, as it were.

Skin Contact by Kimberly Derting

Leaving by Ally Condie

Why all the feels? Honestly, these last couple killed me, why did you have to join in? Ugh… this one cuts deep, and I mean deep. There is a lot in a little space, once again. This story really has something to say though, it has a purpose and it completely nails it on the head.

At The Late Night, Double Feature, Picture Show by Jessica Verday

Just close your eyes for a second and picture this: Flesh eating, zombie girl scouts and vampires dressed in so much drag they belong on Rue Paul’s Drag Race. This story is pleasantly surprising, entertaining, and everything else in-between.

IV League by Margaret Stohl

Gargouille by Mary E. Pearson

This short story was perfection. Just… agh! The feels, the romance, the setting – every little thing was amazing and I can’t figure out what else to say because it was so awesome. It was beautifully written. A short tale of love and sacrifice.. it deserves to be read.

The Third Kind by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

*Bows down to the queen*

Automatic by Rachel Caine

Rachel Caine…. *happy sigh*

Morganville makes an appearance and my life is made. It is just that simple.

 

Overall, this is a very good anthology – despite the few mishaps I noticed. If you’ve read the other works by these authors, you should be fine for the most part. Most of my issues stemmed from missing out on certain things or not understanding stuff – only one really missed my hit list because of bleh writing and the like. So, ENJOY!

Goodreads

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

 

Almost Midnight Review and Author Interview

Title: Almost Midnight

Author: C.C Hunter

Series: Shadow Falls Novella collection

Publication: February 2nd 2016 by St. Martin’s Griffin

Pages: 407

Source: Publisher in exchange for honest review

Summary from Goodreads:

Nestled deep in the woods, Shadow Falls is a secret camp where teens with supernatural powers learn to harness their abilities and live in the normal world.

Independent and strong-willed Della Tsang did not believe in vampires…until she became one. Chase Tallman is the newest member of Shadow Falls, but what made him into the sexy, mysterious vampire he is today? And what led him to Della Tsang? And for Miranda Kane, magic has always been something she’s struggled with, but when an opportunity to test her powers takes her to Paris, she’ll have to prove that she’s a witch to be reckoned with and belongs at Shadow Falls.

Fans won’t want to miss these four remarkable stories of love, magic and friendship.

 

My Thoughts:

Just, let me get this out of the way real quick. *SQUEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE*

Alright, I’m composed now, sort of. I love, love, love the Shadow Falls series. I’ve been a fan of Kylie’s story since it started and I have followed it faithfully till now. That’s years of devotion people, so yea, I’m excited.

Almost Midnight is a collection of short stories, previously published for e readers, that tells the various stories of Kylie’s sidekicks and BFF’s now in print for the first time. So, you can imagine my excitement and complete bewilderment when I got a package in the mail and out popped this glorious thing. I might have died a little.

Novella numero uno is Turned at Dark, a story illustrating how the amazingly sassy Della became a vampire. We get an inside glimpse into her home life, of everything about her – and I’d be lying if I said it didn’t make me go all gooey inside. I have to say, this might not be my favorite story of the bunch, but it’s definitely high up there on my list because DELLA. The world building was ehh, I was sort of looking forward into gaining a deeper understanding of the vampires because they seem so aloof – but it was still just enough to wet my appetite, as it were.

Next we have Saved at Sunrise, the story of Della’s first mission with the FRU (The supernatural world’s FBI – they’re awesome). This one picks up right after Turned at Dusk, so it was both really easy to get into and to fall head over heels in love with. I mean, come on, Della being more badass than usual? Yes please. This story had some more hard core development compared to the first one, it really opened my eyes to Della’s character so much more. I loved it, I really did.

Then there is Unbreakable, the one book that broke my heart into a million tiny pieces. This, though somewhat unconnected to the other stories, is by far my favorite. I think it was the structure – this novella was gift wrapped in an emotionally charged batch of news stories that rip your heart out. It is real, surprisingly raw, and oh so satisfying. This book isn’t in your face supernatural, not like the others, it is more of a gentle, subtle approach into something that turns out to be so much bigger than you ever expected.

Next up: Spellbinder. Oh Miranda how I’ve missed you, you snarky little wench. Let’s just say, there is a mystery and Miranda tries her hand at figuring it out – and, if you know anything about Miranda, just picture how that goes. She is one hell of a comedic source of every possible infomercial you could imagine the supernatural world would need. Miranda is the poster girl, and it’s adorably frustrating. This ended up being a light hearted, fluffy, good timey sort of thing and it was perfect.

And then Fierce. HOLY BATCRAP ROBIN I’M IN LOVE *flails*. Fredericka, aka: the person I hate the most besides the obvious bad guys in the Shadow Falls books, is our protagonist in this beautiful mash up of issues. She has a serious character arc in the small amount of page time she gets, and it was lovely. She struggles with her own emotions and yet she also seems to be steadfast in her beliefs and everything else. I loved getting a glimpse into her head – especially because there were little easter eggs for those who have read the original series. This was a well rounded, heart pounding, and brilliant addition to an already amazing collection. I think I need to go reread the rest of the books now, maybe I won’t hate her as much this time around.

Overall, this is an amazing collection that only made me fall in love with the series even more. Even if you are new to the series, C.C Hunter does an amazing job of introducing things and pulling you deeply within the vortex that is the world of Shadow Falls.

 

Interview with the amazing and wondrous C.C. Hunter (whom I love immensely):

  1. What inspired the world of Shadow Falls and Kylie’s story? Kylie is such a
    wonderfully complex character, did you have to go through a lot of planning or
    outlining before you started?
    I’m a pantser. Meaning I don’t plot, I write by the seat of my pants. I sit down to
    write and discover who my characters are as I put words on paper. But I have
    always been interested in what makes people tick. I like to link things that
    happen in our lives to what makes us who we are. One of the first things I knew
    about Kylie was that she had night terrors. My son had night terrors and they
    were scary, so when I gave that to Kylie I started to figure out what it could mean
    in a paranormal world.
    2. I love how it isn’t just one species. You have some very specific lore, say like for
    the shapeshifters and werewolves, how did you keep it all straight? How did the
    ideas for each species shift from start to finish?
    I could tell you that I research and write theses on each type of species. But it
    would be a lie. I just make it up. But since these stories were about teens, I took
    a stroll down memory lane and recalled all the different types of clicks there were
    in my high school. I started giving each type of click a species according to their
    traits. For example, the werewolves were those groups who were tight knit and
    who didn’t socialize a lot with others. The shapeshifters were those who were
    class clowns and could fit into any group, but deep down didn’t have a good idea
    of who they were. The faes were the people who you went to and always told
    your problems to, because they always seem to understand your issues.
    Creating these species around groups that I’d grown up with, make it easier.
    3. Speaking of werewolves, Lucas. Lucas has to be one of my favorite characters
    ever, and so I have to ask: why did you introduce him the way you did and how
    did you decide what roll he would play?
    Again, I’m a pantser. So I just started writing and when it came to the scene
    where she first arrived at school, I thought…hey, what if she recognizes
    someone and it’s someone who left an impression on her. Then it hit, ah, this
    should be a boy. And something we need in every scene is conflict. So what if
    this impression leaves Kylie both frightened and a little intrigued. And magically
    Lucas’s story started to form. He intrigued me.
    4. Was it a plan from the start for Kylie to be in a love triangle/square with Derek,
    Lucas, and Trey? Did you have a set plan as to who she would end up with from
    the beginning or was it sort of up to chance and the fan’s reactions?
    My editor suggested that I add a love triangle. Trey was never meant to really be
    part of that mix. But I’m a firm believer that we are in part who we are because of
    our past. At one time, Trey was very important to Kylie. He was also a lesson for
    her. I didn’t know who Kylie was going to choose, Lucas or Derek. My editor
    said she loved that, because that meant the reader wouldn’t know either. When I
    wrote Whispers at Moonrise, I will say that I was actually leaning more toward the
    boy who didn’t win Kylie. My husband, who reads my books, was rooting for the
    same guy. But my editor and agent were big fans of the guy who did win her
    heart. I know it sounds crazy, but I kind of let Kylie choose. When writing the
    last book, I tried to write it with an open mind. And then all the sudden it just felt
    right.
    5.How did you get started writing and who or what is your biggest inspiration?
    I’m dyslexic, I wasn’t a reader when I was young, and I never dreamed of being a
    writer. But I was raised in Alabama and storytelling was second nature to me.
    And I spent a lot of time spinning tales in my head. I would go off by myself and
    make up stories that included cute boys and adventures. I was twenty-three
    before I even admitted that I would like to be a writer. My husband said, “Then
    write!” He was a big inspiration to me. But I also had a grandmother who was an
    English teacher. At the time, they didn’t know what dyslexia was, but she always
    told me, “You can do anything you want. You just need to work harder.” It
    wasn’t until I was writing that I learned she had secretly wanted to be a writer all
    her life. She had even been offered a job with a newspaper, but her older
    brother refused to let her take it, because good girls didn’t do that. He told her
    she could be a school teacher or a nurse. She was alive when I sold my first
    book. I don’t think anyone was more proud of me than she was.
    6. What advice would you give to aspiring authors?
    I do a lot of workshops for aspiring authors. The most important thing I offer
    them is that if you want it, you just don’t give up. You keep learning. Keep
    writing. I wrote ten years before I sold my first book. I have thousands of
    rejections. And I mean that literally. Not all from books, but from magazine
    articles when I went down that path of writing. At the end of my talks I do what
    has been dubbed the Rejection Dump. I start talking about when you should give
    up, and I start pulling rejections out of a big envelope and dropping them into a
    suitcase, talking about how many times I had been told “No, thank you.” I kept
    learning, kept writing, kept believing in myself. And look what happened. I tell
    them, write because you love it, not just to get published. Eventually, your writing
    will improve, or you’ll find an editor who gets your writing voice. But if you love
    it, you never quit.
    Find the world of Shadow Falls:

My True Love Gave To Me

MyTrueLoveGaveToMe_animated_PS[4]

 

“Sweetheart, when you lose someone, you lose a little bit of yourself, too. And that missing piece? Sometimes you have to lose the rest of yourself to find it.”

Title: My True Love Gave To Me: Twelve Holiday Stories

Editor: Stephanie Perkins

Series: Standalone anthology

Publication: October 14th, 2014 by St. Martin’s Press

Pages: 336

Source: Publisher in exchange for a honest review

 

Summary from Goodreads:

If you love holiday stories, holiday movies, made-for-TV-holiday specials, holiday episodes of your favorite sitcoms and, especially, if you love holiday anthologies, you’re going to fall in love with My True Love Gave To Me: Twelve Holiday Stories by twelve bestselling young adult writers, edited by international bestselling author Stephanie Perkins. Whether you enjoy celebrating Christmas or Hanukkah, Winter Solstice or New Year’s there’s something here for everyone. So curl up by the fireplace and get cozy. You have twelve reasons this season to stay indoors and fall in love.

My Thoughts:

Alright, so for this review I am going to do something a little bit different. I’m going to review each short story individually and then point out my favorite and least favorite of the bunch. So, shall we begin?

Midnights by Rainbow Rowell

I was unsure of this one when I started it – but by the end of the twenty or so pages, I was actually really enjoying it. This story is mainly about Mags and her friend (whom she has a crush on) Noel – he’s a dude. I know, it threw me off for a bit. Now, for this story, the one thing I really disliked is one thing that also added to the charm: the time skips. This short story jumps around from year to year and at different times. It starts off in 2014 just before midnight, and then leaps back to 2011, hop scotches its way up to 2012… you get the picture. I do have to give Rowell credit, though. Despite the trigger happy timeline, she managed to create characters that I was rooting for and invested in within a short amount of pages and minuscule scenes. Bravo. Also, MAGS AND NOEL ARE SO FREAKEN CUTE!

The Lady and the Fox by Kelly Link

This one wasn’t one of my favorites – but I still liked it. I felt as though it had a quirky, but distractedly unclear purpose/theme. I had no idea what the point of this story was, honestly, the ending totally ruined it for me. I thought this really had something going, I loved the dynamic between Fenny and Miranda – though it is a little bit weird that she meets him at eleven years of age and then is trying to get into his pants later in the story. I enjoyed the whole paranormal mystery aspect of Fenny and what/who he was – and I would have preferred for it to be left alone instead of screwed around with at the end. I don’t want to talk too much about it because it’s a spoiler, but ugh.

Angels in the Snow by Matt De La Pena

This one sort of surprised me. I wasn’t sure if I was going to like it or not, but the more I kept reading the more I found myself enjoying what was going on. This one was actually sort of sad. Shy, our protagonist, is cat sitting over Christmas break in his boss’ apartment – but he doesn’t have any food. He’s starving. One morning, the girl form the floor above him comes down to ask if he can help her with the plumbing – and, low and behold, the gentle flirtation of apartment living begins. I liked the dynamic between Shy and Haley – they were adorable. She took care of him even though she didn’t need to and it sort of melted my heart into little pieces. As a whole, this story wasn’t one of my favorites – but it was still highly enjoyable.

Polaris is Where You’ll Find Me by Jenny Han

I enjoyed this one a lot. It was a little strange going into because all of a sudden we’re in the North Pole hanging out and watching a bunch of beautiful elves dance – but I enjoyed it nonetheless. Natalie was interesting, actually, the entire short story was interesting and I think that was the only thing that kept me reading it. I’m sort of sick of endless pining over someone you can never have – and that’s really what this short story is about. It was painful. I have to admit, though, the idea that Santa adopted a human girl and raised her made me think of one thing that’s already a huge Christmas thing – Elf. That’s right. In all honesty, this story felt sort of like a rip off of Elf, at least the whole idea of Santa + human baby = plot line. Short rant aside, the story was good – don’t get me wrong here. I just felt like it wasn’t all it could have been.

It’s a Yuletide Miracle, Charlie Brown by Stephanie Perkins

This was probably my favorite one out of the entire anthology. Not only was it cute and cuddly with all the feels, it also was able to showcase deeper themes like the individual against the family and the meaning of Christmas within a short number of pages. Marigold and North… damn, I love them. I love, love, love, love them. They’re relationship is adorable, everything about them is adorable. I mean, come on, North completely disregards his job so that he can help Marigold clean her apartment in order to fit the Christmas tree she bought from him. I don’t really know how to explain it, but everything about this short story was perfection to me.

Your Temporary Santa by David Levithan

First of all, some serious props are needed when due. Thank you David Levithan for writing an extremely cute and believable gay couple trying to preserve the magic of Christmas for younger kids. Just… thank you – it was absolutely perfect. I honestly don’t know what to say about this story – it wasn’t my favorite, but it could have been if I didn’t like others more. If I had to describe this story in one word, it would be: cute. Pretending to be Santa in order to keep a younger sibling believing is just plain adorable if you ask me.

Krampuslauf by Holly Black

This one was just plain weird, but I still liked it. Strange, huh? I don’t know what it was about this story, but it just didn’t sit right with me. I enjoyed reading it and watching a certain character get served a serious case of justice for being an ass – but on a scale of one to ten, it was sort of just meh. Though, on the bright side, it really made me want to go watch Krampus – YAY!

What the Hell Have You Done, Sophie Roth? by Gayle Forman

This is the other story competing for the top favorite spot on my list. I can’t pick between this one and “It’s A Yuletide Miracle, Charlie Brown” – both of them rocked my fuzzy socks off. This one I could actually relate to a little more, though. Sophie, a Jewish freshman in college who is stranded for an extra week on campus because of expensive flights,  feels like a complete outsider. She decides to go caroling to take her mind off of things, and while she is out, she runs into Russel – a hilarious, food dare devil, sweet talker. These two hit it off and then Russel spends the rest of the night trying to make sure Sophie can have a real Hanukkah – cue the “awws”.

Beer Buckets and Baby Jesus by Myra McEntire

First of all, that title. Holy bat crap robin that title made my crack up for a solid five minutes. I don’t know, it’s just hilarious – and it makes perfect sense once you read through the short story. As someone who struggles with titles and naming stuff, I applaud you Myra McEntire – you struck gold. As for the story itself, it is just as hilarious and intriguing as the title that caught my eye in the first place. This ends up actually being a really cute story about redemption turning into something just a little bit more. The characters were multidimensional, the premise hilarious though unoriginal, and the setting both superb and superfluous at the same time. A Christmas parent at a rodeo dinner experience venue where a multitude of chaos ensues? Count me in.

Welcome to Christmas, CA by Kiersten White

Oh my goodness this story was adorable – and extremely close to home. I’ve driven through that area, hung out in Barstow, camped in Baker – yay for Southern California. I really loved this short story – every little thing about it was perfect and adorable and Christmassey. It was all about the true meaning of Christmas being the joy within oneself and spending time with family, and it hits you right in the feels – especially at the end there. The characters were well developed over a short period of time, and right from the get go I knew they were going to stomp all over my heart. Maria, our narrator/ protagonist has such a presence right from the first page – it was spectacular. Everything felt alive.

Star of Bethlehem by Ally Carter

This one started off pretty strong and it captured my attention right from the get go – but it sort of fell downhill from there. I loved it, truly I did – but I was just extremely confused by the “climax” of the short story. One of my biggest pet peeves in short stories is when something suddenly happens without any prior hints having been dropped before the event. I don’t mean blindsided/plot twist sort of events, even those have foreshadowing we don’t realize until it happens – I mean just complete shifts without the subtlest of warnings. That happens here, and from that point on I was both disappointed and somewhat angry. It just didn’t do it for me. The whole premise was really interesting, I do have to point that out. I was really hoping it would go somewhere other than what actually happened, so yea, disappointed.

The Girl Who Woke the Dreamer by Laini Taylor

This story… this story was my least favorite and I could barely bring myself to read it. Not only was it convoluted and confusing, the characters were practically impossible to connect with. I didn’t understand any of it, and for that reason I simply skimmed over the words without trying to discern the meaning. It was really upsetting, I wanted to like it – but more than anything, I wanted to know what was going on. It just went right over the top of my head without as much as a warning or a goodbye. It seemed very interesting, at least what I could get out of it did, but it was far too little and much too late.

So my favorites out of this anthology are:

It’s a Yuletide Miracle, Charlie Brown

What the Hell Have You Done, Sophie Roth?

Welcome to Christmas, CA

Least favorite:

The Girl Who Woke the Dreamer

 

Overall, I definitely recommend this anthology to anyone looking for a fun Christmas read. You don’t have to read it all in one go considering each story is a standalone and the only thing connecting them all is the spirit of the holidays. My True Love Gave To Me really is an amazing anthology and I am so grateful I got the chance to read and review it. My only problem was that almost every single story ending with someone kissing, but that was a minor annoyance that in no way affected how I feel about this book as a whole. I blew through this book yesterday like it was nobody’s business – I came down with something and feel like I got hit by a freight train, so all I did was read and sleep all day. So worth it, trust me, this book is so, so worth it.

Goodreads

Amazon

Barnes & Noble