Summer Days and Summer Nights edited by Stephanie Perkins
Published by: St. Martin’s Press
Format: ARC e-book
Note: We received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
There’s nothing we love more than summer. The weather’s been super nice recently, tricking us into thinking we’re closer to June than we are! So, to fuel those summery vibes, we started reading Summer Days and Summer Nights, because if there’s one thing better than summer…it’s romance! Each story is individually rated, so check it out!
We tried to match the couples to the authors, so here’s the key!
Head, Scales, Tongue, Tale by Leigh Bardugo – ★★★★
Probably the story we were most excited to read in the collection, after meeting Leigh Bardugo, and hearing her talk about how fun it was to write a story where nobody has to die! But, it wouldn’t be a Leigh Bardugo story without an element of fantasy!
The beginning of the story, although slightly discordant with the romance, was so atmospheric. It’s about a blooming romance between Gracie and Eli, who isn’t all that he seems and takes place over multiple summers, as the pair try and prove that a legendary lake monster exists. It was sweet to see the characters mature over the passing years, but this time shift was in no way obvious, only signposted by driving licences and college applications. Overall, the writing was beautiful, the pairing was heart wrenching and we’d love to see Leigh Bardugo write more of this genre!
The End of Love by Nina Lacour – ★★
We haven’t read any Nina Lacour before, but are both very excited for Everything Leads To You, this was a perfect sample of her writing and I’m hoping that the low rating was mostly because of the condensed space she had to build a romance. Flora’s parents are getting a divorce so she decides to re-take a geometry class over the summer to get out of the house. Serendipitously, three friends Mimi (love interest), Hope and Travis also are part of the class. The relationship between Flora and Mimi was rushed, and explained away by the fact that Flora had been in crush with her for three years. The writing could be a bit clumsy, with a lot of exposition and highly charged emotional scenes that got a lot of eye-rolls on our end. However, the premise was clever and fun, but needed more focus.
Last Night at the Cinegore by Libba Bray – ★★★
I’ve read a few Libba Brays book before, notably Going Bovine, and this had very much the same feel: you didn’t know if what you were reading was actually happening or not! This story is about Kevin, who pines for Dani, and needs to work up the courage to ask her out as they work the final shift at the cinema that only shows horror movies. Then some weird stuff starts to happen involving zombies and 3D glasses. Bee calls it surreal, I call it ridiculous, but in a good way! I liked the mash of genres, horror and romance, and the humour made us both snort at some moments.
Sick Pleasures: For A and U by Francesca Lia Block – ★
This is the story of a girl called I that meets a boy called A and all of the feelings she has following their brief relationship. The names are all single letters and it’s odd that the character’s name is I because it felt like both first and third person at the same time! I really didn’t get on with the blunt writing style and I didn’t find the romance very likeable. It was kind of realistic, I guess, in the fact that relationships can be short and still mean something, but it was definitely not my usual thing. Warning: this story contains drug abuse and possible non-consensual sex (I’m not sure whether she wanted to or not, but it’s best to warn anyway!)
In Ninety Minutes, Turn North by Stephanie Perkins – ★★★★
It was really, really sweet to see Marigold and North again, after their story in My True Love Gave To Me. Talking about this relationship might spoil something from the first, but I think Stephanie Perkins did an excellent job of keeping you up to speed with what had been going on in their lives up until July. Seriously, they’re so cute, and their declarations of love would melt even the coldest of hearts!
Souvenirs by Tim Federle – ★★★
Follows Matt and Kieth on the day of their break up, which they decided from the moment they got together. It seems like a contrived plot line, because the audience is aware that the ending is going to be bittersweet no matter what. It was a great little story about two people and how they could be simultaneously perfect for one another while also being exactly what they didn’t need. Despite the less hopeful romance it’s set in a fun amusement park giving the whole thing a haze of summer sweetness.
Inertia by Veronica Roth – ★★
Like Leigh Bardugo, Veronica Roth was able to convert the romance genre to something more in her comfort zone, by adding simulations and memory recall to a hospital room couple. The pair explore their shared memories while Matt’s in a critical situation, and come to realise how much they mean to each other, perhaps all too late. The story was just OK. The memories were hard to follow, because there was confusion over whether they were living the memory or just observing it. The ending felt like a plot device, and squashed any heartfelt emotion from the memory sequence.
Love Is The Last Resort by Jon Skovron – ★★ (ending adds: half a star)
This was the most ridiculous story we’ve ever read. It’s set in a country club hotel things, so just imagine High School Musical 2 and you’ve pretty much got it. All the characters are stereotypes of their class, and are falling in love, but some don’t want to admit it. The writing style mimics the speech of 19th Century, and the function of addressing the reader, and has a few Shakespearean speech elements too. That’s the ridiculous part. The genius part is the very final paragraph, that explains all of the writing choices that would otherwise seem ludicrous and worthy of a thousand eye-rolls. It’s one you can only truly appreciate in hindsight. But, the ending changes everything, so it’s worth reading.
Good Luck and Farewell by Brandy Colbert – ★★.5
There was nothing wrong with this one. It’s very family orientated and has a simple premise that makes sense within the limitation of the short story form. It didn’t stand out to us, but the characters would be interesting to read about in a large story. There’s also a lot of racial diversity in this one, which is always welcome!
Brand New Attraction by Cassandra Clare – ★
We were expecting a lot from this short story but Cassandra Clare disappointed us by trying to cram in magical realism and a full blown romance in under 30 pages. This is another case of an author contorting the genre into their comfort zone, so adding demons to a carnival is completely plausible (??) The exposition was clunky, and the ending was rushed and this had a bad case of insta-love. Basically, it’s reminiscent of that old Disney movie, Halloween Town, the one where they let all the creatures live with them and stuff, but the movie is much better.
A Thousand Ways This Could All Go Wrong by Jennifer E. Smith – ★★★★
CUTE. I have faith that Jennifer E. Smith will never fail to make me smile. This was an all-around adorable story about Annie, who works at a kids’ summer camp and Griffin, a shy boy that she falls in love with. It definitely had Clearwater Crossing vibes, and that’s always a good thing. The romance was sweet, but there was a lot more to this story than going on a few dates. Excellent work, Jennifer.
The Map of Tiny Perfect Things by Lev Grossman – ★★★★★
Stephanie Perkins definitely edited this anthology so the best story came last! A boy called Mark is stuck in a timeloop, like in Groundhog Day. Every day is the same until he meets Margaret who is stuck in the loop with him. Together they try and find meaning in a repetitive existence. I absolutely LOVED this story. It’s so peaceful and yet so poignant. I think it was the perfect kind of subject for a short story because any longer than that and I think you’d get bored. I mean, it’s a timeloop, we know the drill. I loved the subtle development of their relationship and how they come to the slow realisation about what the perfect little things are and life isn’t just a series of moments. Also, the fact that it incorporates an explanation of the fourth dimension reminded me of The New York Trilogy by Paul Auster. It’s like The New York Trilogy but instead of detective fiction it’s a YA romance.