Title: Summer Days and Summer Nights: Twelve Love Stories
Author: Stephanie Perkins (Editor)
Release Date: May 17th 2016
A collection of twelve romantic tales of young summer love. Edited by Stephanie Perkins. Featuring new short 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.
– Blurb courtesy of goodreads.com
Last Christmas I picked up, and really enjoyed, My True Love Gave to Me, so when I discovered there was a summer themed companion anthology I was eager to pick it up. Unfortunately Summer Days and Summer Nights was filled with more miss stories than hits, and all in all it was a disappointing follow-up to My True Love Gave to Me. I’ve said it before but I am not normally a fan of anthologies, and this collection reminded me of why that is.
Head, Scales, Tongue, Tails by Leigh Bardugo
Leigh Bardugo was one of my favourite authors to contribute to this anthology, and in my opinion Head, Scales, Tongue, Tails was the best addition but it set a tone the rest of Summer Days and Summer Nights just couldn’t meet. Head, Scales, Tongue, Tails is a story that spans a few years, with a touch of magical realism the only added to the budding romance between Gracie and Eli.
The End of Love by Nina LaCour
Before this I hadn’t picked up any of Nina LaCour’s books, although they are all on my to-read list. After this I can see why she is such a popular author. The End of Love has a sweet romance between Flora and Mimi, but what I enjoyed more was the development of Flora’s character as she navigates her parents’ divorce and all the changes her life is going through in its midst.
Last Stand at the Cinegore by Libba Bray
Libba Bray is another of my favourite authors, but Last Stand at the Cinegore wasn’t what I expected from her or this anthology. It felt more like a classic horror story with a romance side plot than anything else, but while I can’t say I was that invested in the romance the horror storyline kept me interested enough in discovering what would happen next to enjoy this novella.
Sick Pleasure by Francesca Lia Block
I very nearly DNF-ed this story, and looking back I can’t say there was anything I enjoyed about Sick Pleasure. None of the characters had names just letters – M, J, A, etc. – which made it very hard to keep track of who was who at the beginning, and hard to identify with them later on. Also there was a scene at the end that felt a little too (trigger warning) date rape-y in my mind.
In Ninety Minutes Turn North by Stephanie Perkins
When I brought this anthology I heard that Stephanie Perkins’ story was a sequel to the one she wrote in My True Love Gave to Me, which really excited me because I couldn’t wait to see how Marigold and North’s romance continued. In Ninety Minutes Turn North was my second favourite novella, I loved Marigold and loved how she wasn’t willing to give up on North or their relationship.
Souvenirs by Tim Federle
I’ll admit Souvenirs confused me a little, after all what’s a break-up story doing in an anthology that’s supposed to have ‘Twelve Love Stories’? Still it was well written with a good ending, and even though I wasn’t keen on Kieth’s character I liked exploring Matty’s feelings as their designated break-up point arrived, plus it was nice to see more LGBT+ representation in this book.
Inertia by Veronica Roth
Inertia was another favourite of mine from this anthology. Veronica Roth came up with an incredible concept, and despite the small amount of pages the story was told on I felt everything was developed perfectly; the setting, the characters, their development and their relationship with one another. This was a heartbreaking read in places, but definitely a story I wanted much more from.
Love is the Last Resort by Jon Skovron
I struggled a little to get into this story, the way it’s written as if the narrator is talking to the reader was slightly off-putting, but once I got past that I really enjoyed it. There were a lot of side characters so the character development wasn’t what it could have been in places, but Love is the Last Resort is a fun addition with plenty of matchmaking schemes that we get to watch unfold.
Good Luck and Farewell by Brandy Colbert
In some ways Brandy Colbert’s story reminded me of Nina LaCour’s. While there is a cute romance beginning between Rashida and Pierre Good Luck and Farewell largely focused on Rashida’s character development as she found herself having to say goodbye to her cousin. Rashida is closer to Audrey than anyone else in her family, so she struggles with her cousins’ choice to move away.
Brand New Attraction by Cassandra Clare
I love stories set in circuses, and the setting of Ted Darke’s Dark Carnival of Mystery, Magic and That Which is Better Left Unseen really worked for me in Cassandra Clare’s novella. What didn’t work for me was how the love interests, Lulu and Lucas, were step-cousins. I know that technically they’re not related, but it felt weird rooting for the two of them with the ‘cousins’ label in between.
A Thousand Ways this Could All Go Wrong by Jennifer E. Smith
When I think about it A Thousand Ways this Could All Go Wrong was exactly the kind of story I expected to find more in this collection. Jennifer E. Smith wrote a heart warming romance between Annie and Griffin that we got to see develop from the beginning, and there was also some incredible diverse representation which shines a light on mental illness and people’s perceptions of it.
The Map of Tiny Perfect Things by Lev Grossman
This ended up being another favourite addition of mine, which made it a pretty good story to end Summer Days and Summer Nights on. Another novella with magical realism influences added to the romance Grossman tells the story of Mark and Margaret, two ordinary people who find themselves living the same August 4th over and over again, the only ones aware the day keeps on repeating.
Although this anthology had more non-love stories than not, again strange in a book marketed as ‘Twelve Love Stories’, Summer Days and Summer Nights still had plenty going for it. There was plenty of diverse representation, and what’s more there were some really amazing stories as well, it was just a matter of getting through the not-so-good ones in order to find them.
What did you think of Summer Days and Summer Nights: Twelve Love Stories? Was it a favourite of yours or could you just not get into the story? Let me know.