Review: SUMMER DAYS AND SUMMER NIGHTS edited by Stephanie Perkins

Summer Days GIF.gifPublisher: St. Martin’s Press
Release Date: May 17th, 2016
Series: N/A
Pages: 400
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher via NetGalley (Blog Tour)
Genre(s): Anthology, Romance, Summer
Synopsis 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 rambles

Special thanks to St. Martin’s Griffin and NetGalley for providing me with an advance copy of the book for review!

*Unlike my review for My True Love Gave to Me, I won’t be writing about each story separately. I don’t feel like I have enough to say about each one individually. Instead, I’ll talk about the compilation as a whole, and tell you what my favorites were!

When I first heard that Summer Days and Summer Nights (SDSN from now on) was going to be a thing, I was thrilled! I loved Stephanie Perkins’ first anthology, and so naturally, I had to get my hands on the summer version.

SDSN ended up surprising me (in a good way) that I wasn’t completely expecting. Because it was a compilation of stories all set during the summer, I figured that it would be mostly contemporary. But I was SO wrong. This anthology has a story for everyone, probably every genre! There’s magical realism, horror, fantasy, sci-fi, and then on top of that diversity and multiple LGBT stories! Add to that the stellar list of authors who contributed and you’re in for a treat!

I will say that while there was such a range of stories, and there were some of my favorite authors included, I didn’t fall in love with SDSN as much as the first anthology. There were just more stories in this one that I felt more “meh” about and less “AWWWW” about. I would have to say my favorites were “Inertia” by Veronica Roth and “A Thousand Ways this Could All Go Wrong” by Jennifer E. Smith. “Inertia” was heartbreak yet beautiful, and “A Thousand Ways this Could All Go Wrong” followed the same route. Coming in close behind were “Love is the Last Resort” by Jon Skovron (a funny and unique story), “In Ninety Minutes, Turn North” by the one and only Stephanie Perkins (you’re typical Stephanie Perkins story that you won’t want to miss), and “Sick Pleasures” by Francesca Lia Block (a darker, more interesting view at love).

That’s not to say that I didn’t enjoy the other stories. They were definitely wonderfully written, and great love stories, but the ones I already mentioned held my attention and stayed with me longer than the others. The couples were more “shippable” and brought out more emotion in me, I’ll say.

While I did have favorites, I still think that SDSN is the perfect book to bring with you for a leisurely day at the beach, or spread out reading throughout the summer. I found myself enjoying the stories I let steep for a bit better than the ones I read one after the other. If you’re a romance fan, you definitely should pick up this adorable anthology that pays homage to the summer, and of course, love!

3.5 hearts

xo

Mini Review: NO LOVE ALLOWED by Kate Evangelista

Publisher: Swoon Reads
Release Date: April 19th, 2016
Series: Untitled, #1
Pages: 256
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Genre(s): Contemporary Romance
Synopsis from Goodreads:

It’s all fun and parties until someone falls in love in this modern fairy tale from author Kate Evangelista.

Caleb desperately needs a fake girlfriend. Either he attends a series of parties for his father’s law firm with a pretty girl on his arm, or he gets shipped off to Yale to start a future he’s not ready for and isn’t sure he wants. And sadly, the last unattached girl in his social circle has just made the grievous mistake of falling in love with him. Fortunately, Didi, recently fired waitress and aspiring painter, is open to new experiences. As the summer ticks by in a whirl of lavish parties, there’s only one rule: They must not fall in love!

my rambles

Special thanks to Swoon Reads and NetGalley for providing me with an advance copy of the book for review!

Uh, fake relationship that turns into more? Count me in!

I’ve had pretty good luck with Swoon Reads’ titles, and No Love Allowed was no exception. It’s the perfect book to get you in the spirit of summer. Light, fun, and adorable! The whole story starts after a crazy proposition and a spontaneous decision are made: Caleb asks Didi to be his fake girlfriend, and she accepts. While the general storyline was a little predictable and cliche, I liked this book for its characters, particularly Didi. She was a little spunky, and a lot likable! One of my favorite things about her was that she was relatable to me in that she’s an artist, a painter to be exact. I enjoyed that her love of painting actually played a role in the story and in shaping her character, instead of just being a hobby of hers.

I don’t think I’m spoiling you by saying that Didi and Caleb totally fall for each other (*cough* predictability). As I mentioned before, I found their relationship to be the predictable part of the story. They were really cute together, though. Didi and Caleb were masters at flirting and banter! There were aspects of the book that caught me by surprise, such as Didi’s mental illnesses. I enjoyed the incorporation of the more serious storyline into an overall lighthearted book.

Yes, it was cliche (the whole fake relationship, Caleb being mega-rich and Didi being pretty poor), but it’s a fun and super cute story! Perfect for a quick summer read, No Love Allowed is a romance that will make you smile.

7

xo

Review, Playlist, + Excerpt: IN REAL LIFE by Jessica Love Blog Tour!

I’ll admit: I’m becoming a big contemporary reader, and lover. I never thought I’d say that, but it’s true! And when I heard about In Real Life, I knew it would be right up my alley. First of all it’s a friends to something more romance, and who doesn’t love that? Second of all, THEY’VE NEVER MET BEFORE IN REAL LIFE! WHAT?! Craziness. An automatic Emily must-read. And I did. And I really, really liked it. Like a lot.


Review

Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books
Release Date: March 1st, 2016
Series: N/A
Pages: 240
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher via NetGalley (Blog Tour)
Genre(s): Contemporary Romance
Synopsis from Goodreads:

Hannah Cho and Nick Cooper have been best friends since 8th grade. They talk for hours on the phone, regularly shower each other with presents, and know everything there is to know about one another.

There’s just one problem: Hannah and Nick have never actually met.

Hannah has spent her entire life doing what she’s supposed to, but when her senior year spring break plans get ruined by a rule-breaker, she decides to break a rule or two herself. She impulsively decides to road trip to Vegas, her older sister and BFF in tow, to surprise Nick and finally declare her more-than-friend feelings for him.

Hannah’s romantic gesture backfires when she gets to Vegas and meets Nick’s girlfriend, whom he failed to mention. And it turns out his relationship status isn’t the only thing he’s been lying to her about. Hannah knows the real Nick can’t be that different from the online Nick she knows and loves, but now she only has one night in Sin City to figure out what her feelings for Nick really are, all while discovering how life can change when you break the rules every now and then.

my rambles

Special thanks to Thomas Dunne Books and NetGalley for providing me with an advance copy of the book for review, and for the opportunity to be a part of the blog tour!

I flew through In Real Life so fast, I read it in two hours. I stayed up late reading, and if you know me at all, you know that I don’t stay up late. Ever. Jessica Love, you should be very proud that your book made me stay up late, and become an emotional mess. Okay, well maybe the emotional mess part is because I was tired, but either way, it happened. I just couldn’t stop reading this adorable book. I had to know what would happen next! How would it all turn out for Hannah and Nick?

Let me get this out there early on: friends to lovers romances are my all-time favorite romances that could happen, especially for a book that takes place over a short amount of time. We already know that they have a solid, and most likely long, relationship. No insta-love to worry about, just the friend zone. But instead of In Real Life just being the typical friends to more romance, she adds in the idea that they’ve never met in person before. This is so relevant in today’s world, and it definitely added to the drama and tension!

Hannah was an awesome main character. She was so relatable to me in that she was a studious, focused, rule-following girl afraid to take risks. An added bonus was that she’s Korean — yay for diversity! Nick was funny and sweet. Their conversations made it easy to believe that they would be best friends. I also really liked the interactions between Hannah and her older sister, Grace, and her “real life” best friend Lo (another diverse character, Latina). While I will admit, they weren’t the best supporters of Hannah in her situation, they weren’t afraid to tell Hannah how it is, no sugarcoating.

Now of course I have to talk about the romance between Hannah and Nick. There’s lots of drama. Especially with the setting of Vegas, I was reminded at points of The Secret Diamond Sisters series by Michelle Madow, but with less of the cheesiness. We’re almost immediately introduced to a whole cast of characters that are a part of Nick’s life. When Hannah and Nick meet, it’s like two completely different worlds colliding. Lies are uncovered, and lots of craziness goes down. And through it all, Hannah is trying to confess her love to her best friend, who is trying to reign in his feelings for her because of the whole having a girlfriend situation. I really didn’t like his girlfriend, either. She seemed way too fake and ditsy.

Basically all the scenes between Hannah and Nick, you could feel the tension. It was pretty obvious that Nick was in love with Hannah too. But we have to wait until the very end to see how it all turns out. And I was very happy with the ending. I thought it was the most adorable ending. It was the perfect way to finally bring the two best friends together at last. It may seem cliche, but it was perfect happy ending for Hannah and Nick, no worries!

So all in all, In Real Life was a cute and fun new take on the “friends to more” trope in YA. It’s a super quick read, with some unique qualities that definitely make it stand out in a good way! If you’re looking for your next favorite light, contemporary romance, In Real Life just may be the one!

7


Playlist


Excerpt

CREDIT: In Real Life by Jessica Love; Courtesy of Thomas Dunne Books

My best friend and I have never met.

We talk every day, on the phone or online, and he knows more about me than anyone. Like, deep into my soul. But we’ve never actually seen each other in real life.

Sometimes, when I’m talking to Nick, I wonder how we man- aged to get ourselves into such a bizarre, complicated friendship. At first glance, our relationship probably doesn’t seem all that odd. Like right now, it’s the Friday afternoon that kicks off the spring break of my senior year. I’m lying out next to my pool with my feet dangling in the chilly water, my back flat on concrete, and I’m talking to him on the phone. This is how I spend pretty much every Friday from 3:30 to 4:25-ish, before he goes off to band practice and I have one of my various school or family obligations. Sounds pretty normal.

But the thing is, Nick lives in a different state, 274 miles away. Yes, I looked it up.

“Ghost,” he says, because he never calls me Hannah, “you know I will do anything for my best friend, and this is no exception. I’ll have this girl killed for you without a second thought. Just give me twenty-four hours.”

I laugh as I swish my feet back and forth in the pool. “There’s no need to resort to murder. It’s just a stupid student government trip. I’ll be over it by the end of the week.”

As tempting as it is to plot Aditi Singh’s violent end, the only reason she applied to go to the national leadership conference when it should have been a given that the senior class president (aka me) was going was because I got into UCLA and she didn’t, so a big ol’ middle finger to her. But she can’t see my middle finger, because she’s in Washington, D.C., for spring break and I’m at home with no plans like a big loser.

“Well, if you change your mind,” Nick says, “just let me know. That’s how much our friendship means to me. The code word is ‘Platypus.’ Just say it, and—poof!—I’ll make her disappear.”

I sit up and pull my feet from the pool, crossing them in front of me. “And how can you do that?”

“Hey, I live in Vegas. I have connections to the mob. Everyone here does.”

“You’re a senior in high school, and you live in a tract home in Henderson. You’re not exactly Al Pacino.”

“You don’t know. Everything I’ve told you for the past four years could be a front. I need to have a cover. No one suspects the quiet, nondescript white boy.”

“You’re right. There is a lot I don’t know about you. I mean, there are any number of huge secrets you could be keeping from me.” I say it just because I’m playing along, but it’s not true at all. I’m pretty sure I know everything there is to know about Nick Cooper.

I know when my sister met his brother at a concert four years ago and they told us we should start talking online, he thought I was one of his brother’s friends playing a joke on him until I e-mailed him a picture. I know in the middle of junior year, he shaved his head when his favorite English teacher started chemo. I know the gravelly scratch of his voice when he wakes up in the middle of the night to answer one of my random “I’m bored, talk to me” phone calls. I know the hole in the sleeve seam of the lucky Rage Against the Machine T-shirt he inherited from his brother, Alex, since I’ve seen so many pictures of it. I know his middle name (Anthony), the date and time he was born (September 24 at 3:58 A.M.), and his favorite color (gray). And he knows more about me than absolutely anyone else, even the über-embarrassing stuff. We’ve IM’d, texted, sent a million pictures, mailed each other packages, video-chatted, and talked on the phone.

We’ve just never been in the same place at the same time.

I don’t think it’s strange to be so close to someone I’ve never met. Yeah, he’s in Nevada and I’m in Southern California, but I talk to him more than to people I’ve been in classes with since kindergarten. I do wish we could go to the movies together or something normal like that, but we watch the same movies at the same time and mock them over video chat, which is pretty much the same thing.

On the other end of the phone, his laugh stops abruptly and his voice changes. “Secrets? What kind of secrets could I have?”

“Who knows!” I try to sound shocked and serious, but I can’t keep a laugh from creeping in. “For all I know, you do have a secret mob life. Do you have some sort of gangster name I’m supposed to call you?”

His voice lightens again when he realizes I’m joking. “Oh yeah. Knuckles Nick. Or, no. Wait. Nick the Click.”

“What does that even mean?”

“I don’t know. It rhymed. Don’t those names always rhyme?”

“I know nothing about mob names, Nick the Click. But rhyming names do make mobsters seem a bit less murder-y.”

There’s a shuffle, a thump, and a squeak on his end of the phone, and I imagine him collapsing backwards onto his twin bed. “I just hate that you’re still bummed over missing out on the trip.”
“It’s not that I’m bummed, it’s just . . . I followed all the rules, Nick. I did exactly what I was supposed to do. Serving four years as class president means I go on that trip, not Aditi Singh. Onetime vice-presidents don’t get to go! It’s supposed to be my year. She broke the rules, but she got picked. How do you break all the rules and get what you want like that? It isn’t fair.”

“Well, you know what they say. . . .” “Life’s not fair?”

“Well, that, too. But I was thinking rules are made to be broken.”


I hope you decide to pick up a copy of IN REAL LIFE! If you’re looking for an adorable contemporary, make this your next read!

xo

Review: P.S. I STILL LOVE YOU by Jenny Han

Publisher: Simon & Schuster BYR
Release Date: May 26th, 2015
Series: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, #2 | To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before
Pages: 352
Format: Hardcover
Source: Bought
Genre(s): Contemporary Romance
Synopsis from Goodreads:

Lara Jean didn’t expect to really fall for Peter.
She and Peter were just pretending. Except suddenly they weren’t. Now Lara Jean is more confused than ever.
When another boy from her past returns to her life, Lara Jean’s feelings for him return too. Can a girl be in love with two boys at once?

In this charming and heartfelt sequel to the New York Times bestseller To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, we see first love through the eyes of the unforgettable Lara Jean. Love is never easy, but maybe that’s part of what makes it so amazing.

my rambles

Why did I wait so long to read this book?! From the moment I finished To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before I needed to know how it would end for Lara Jean and Peter. And I’m so happy to say that P.S. I Still Love You made me quite happy!

While the first book I remember being a lighter and fluffier read, showing the antics that brought Lara Jean and Peter together, this one I found to be a bit more serious. Lara Jean and Peter go through their struggles, so there is an emphasis on first serious relationships and the emotions they bring. There’s also a large emphasis on family once again. The diversity of having a Korean-American main character was awesome. We got to learn a bit about the Song family’s traditions. And of course, there’s the friendship aspect of the book. The Lara Jean-Genevieve friendship is dealt with much more, and we get to learn more about the two when they were children, and just their childhoods in general.

I loved all of those three aspects of the book, but I of course loved the romance too. Peter Kavinsky is such a sweet, and real guy. The relationship and story is all portrayed in such a real way that’s relatable. There wasn’t one point while I was reading that I thought something happening could have been fake.

The one thing that I didn’t like about this was the introduction of another love interest. I didn’t like the timing of a new possible relationship for Lara Jean when it came up in the story. I’m a Peter girl, that’s for sure!

If you’ve read the first book, this is a must read. It won’t disappoint you. If anything, I think that there’s a very high chance you reading this book will make you love Lara Jean and Peter even more!

9

xo

Review AKA a List of My Inner-Fangirl Thoughts Immediately After Reading: Bookishly Ever After by Isabel Bandeira

Publisher: Spencer Hill Contemporary
Release Date: January 12th, 2016
Series: Ever After, #1
Pages: 350
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Genre(s): Contemporary Romance
Synopsis from Goodreads:

In a perfect world, sixteen-year-old Phoebe Martins’ life would be a book. Preferably a YA novel with magic and a hot paranormal love interest. Unfortunately, her life probably wouldn’t even qualify for a quiet contemporary. But when Phoebe finds out that Dev, the hottest guy in the clarinet section, might actually have a crush on her, she turns to her favorite books for advice. Phoebe overhauls her personality to become as awesome as her favorite heroines and win Dev’s heart. But if her plan fails, can she go back to her happy world of fictional boys after falling for the real thing?

my rambles

Special thanks to Spencer Hill Contemporary and NetGalley for providing me with an advance copy of the book for review!

BEWARE: EXTREME FANGIRLING AHEAD. PROCEED WITH CAUTION.

That gif emoji was me before, during, and after reading Bookishly Ever After:

  • From the moment I read the title I knew this book would be pretty much perfect.
  • Then I read the synopsis…
  • THEN I READ THE BOOK, GUYS!
  • It’s every book-loving, fangirl’s DREAM COME TRUE.
  • Know why? BECAUSE PHOEBE IS YOU. SHE IS ME. SHE IS US.
  • Phoebe reads tons of books and fangirls all the time. She met her favorite author and totally acted just like we do when we meet favorite authors. It’s just so accurate to the life of a real, true, fangirl.
  • Lots of fangirl slang included. I believe OTP was used more than once.
  • She has a crush on a guy that looks like one of her book boyfriends, okay? We all know this is a real problem for us. We must admit it.
  • But then her friend tries to set her up with a non-book-related person, AND IT’S SO CUTE!!!
  • Dev is so sweet and adorable, and their interactions are just CUTENESS OVERLOAD.
  • It’s also kind of a friend to more than a friend thing going on. I love those kinds of romances. Those are the best in my opinion, because they are already close they just have to realize their feelings for each other are romantic! *sighs*
  • So now I’m left pining for a romance like the one in this book therefore becoming MORE like Phoebe yet also less so…???
  • Oh, and speaking of fangirling, it’s a bit like Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell in a way in that there are little excerpts of fake books that Phoebe loves to read between the chapters.
  • But what makes that even better is: PHOEBE TAKES NOTES ABOUT THE ROMANCES IN A NOTEBOOK. AND HOW TO ACT LIKE THE MAIN CHARACTERS! TO TRY AND FLIRT BETTER WITH DEV! ❤ ❤ ❤
  • There’s also diversity and LGBT characters which is always great to see.
  • BASICALLY, EVERYTHING IS ADORABLE.
  • Some parts are cheesey, but I was expecting that.

IN MORE OF A COHERENT SUMMARY: If you consider yourself a fangirl in the least, this book is perfect for you. It will make you smile, and you’ll relate to Phoebe on extremely high levels, and it’s just a good feeling kind of book! Of course it has it’s flaws, but I rate books mainly based on enjoyment level, and Bookishly Ever After was VERY enjoyable. I think this a book you can’t help but like, if even you are hyper-aware of some of the problems. I’m sure I’ll read some mediocre reviews, but I think the things people will find problems with are things like predictability, characters, etc. I bet I’ll find in each review though, that they REALLY ENJOYED it, and that’s what matters.

8

xo