This collection was overall not as strong as My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories. I felt like fewer of these stories caught my attention tThis collection was overall not as strong as My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories. I felt like fewer of these stories caught my attention than the first volume. It's probably not a surprise that the first collection had a higher percentage of authors I love. In this series (and I do hope it's a series! I would love fall and spring versions), my enjoyment of the stories strongly correlates to how much I've liked the authors' other works. Although at first it surprised me that Cassandra Clare and Levi Grossman had two of my favorite short stories, once I thought about it I realized it wasn't really a surprise. I may have strong negative feelings about Clare's Mortal Instrument series, but I still re-read her Draco Trilogy. And while Lev Grossman's Quentin Coldwater is the #1 Most Slappable Protagonist, his Magicians trilogy held a strange charisma for me. The one standout new-to-me author was Nina LaCour. Her Everything Leads to You was already on my to-read list, but now I have much higher expectations.
Head, Scales, Tongue, Tail (Leigh Bardugo) [B+] - The story of a girl who thinks she sees the local legendary water monster. Looking for answers, she is directed by the local mystery woman/witch to talk to a summer kid about it. This summer kid is a teenage boy who is obsessed with cryptozoology and loves to eat strawberry-dipped ice cream at the local DQ. Boy and girl hang out all summer, and then boy goes away at the end of the next summer. Girl is not overly suspicious about the fact that the boy is UNCONTACTABLE during the school year (he says he comes from a sheltered family, is home-schooled, and his parents don’t let him have a cellphone/TV/etc. Except he clearly knows how to use the library so he probably could have an e-mail account). The start and the end were a little too strange for me, but it was fairly cute and it felt appropriately summery.
The End of Love (Nina LaCour) [B+/A-] - A girl's mom and dad are divorcing (amicably, after years of fighting), and she is upset that her parents are giving away/selling her entire childhood. The girl she has a crush on and the girl's friends are in her same summer school class. A very cute romance and some fun friend bonding ensue. It felt like the beginning of a full book - there was still more story to tell! I especially wanted to know the fallout of her finally telling her mom that her mom was being entirely selfish. There had been so much buildup and tension caused by the girl's resentment of her parents, and I felt like I never got the catharsis of the resolution.
Last Stand at the Cinegore (Libba Bray) [B-] - I am not sure that campy, comedic horror really works in a book setting. I don't know why I can completely get behind in a TV show (yes, I actually enjoyed Scream Queens), but when written out, it just leaves me with a bad taste. I mean, a whole movie theater of innocent people get turned into demons and die gory deaths just to set up a teen romance? Those poor people! This story was supposed to be funny (I think), but it just made me sad that innocents were slaughtered for no purpose (and I don't care that the only audience members who were given speaking lines were Jerk Bully and Snooty Hipster. I'm sure there were good people there too).
Sick Pleasure (Fracesca Lia Block) [F] - My very, very least favorite. I feel like most of the authors were on board with the idea that these are romantic YA stories. This one was...not romantic. In fact, the ending was deflatingly realistic. I also spent most of my time wondering why all the characters are only known by their initials. There seemed to be no rhyme or reason for it, and all it did was confuse and annoy me. I also spent far too long wondering if this story was in the first or third person, because the narrator/main character is known as "I." Do you see how that could be confusing? What is the purpose? There are 26 other letters in the alphabet! Why choose the one letter that could cause such confusion?? Spoiler: It's in the first person.
In Ninety Minutes Turn North (Stephanie Perkins) [A-]- A sequel to My True Love's "It's a Christmas Miracle, Charlie Brown." Since the first story, Marigold and North broke up (!). Marigold shows up at North's new job, determined to win him back. While I loved the first story more, I was excited to see Marigold and North return. I would read many more stories about these two crazy kids.
Souvenirs (Tim Federle) [B-] - This is the story of Matt and Kieth’s “break-up” day. That is Kieth with an "ie", which basically says everything you need to know about Kieth. He is a showboating egoist, and I could not see any downside to Matt and him ending things. I know he's cute, but you can do better, Matt! I'm not sure if the audience was supposed to be rooting for the break-up to occur. But I sure did. Most of the time is spent with Matt working at the local amusement park, watching Kieth, who also works at the park, and being bummed out. Far too much moping. The ending...confused me. I think it was supposed to be empowering?
Inertia (Veronica Roth) [B] - I feel like I should have liked this more? But then didn’t? In the future, those individuals who doctors predict will certainly die are granted Last Visitations by selected loved ones. The loved ones and the dying have their memories merge, and can interact in these memories. The story's love interest is in a car accident, and has included his ex-best friend as one of his Last Visitors. Will they make-up? Will they make-out? Will he survive? I really felt like this concept should have given me all the feels, but it didn't, and I can't put my finger on why.
Love is the Last Resort (Jon Skovron) [B] - A cutesy, light bit of fluff, that was perhaps a tad too airy for my tastes. This is a screwball comedy of a variety of couples who are Meant to Be at an exclusive resort.
Good Luck and Farewell (Brandy Colbert) [B] - Rashida's aunt/surrogate-mom is moving away with her girlfriend to California. Rashida is understandably sad and more than a little resentful. She ends up falling for her aunt’s girlfriend’s surrogate brother. Rashida dealing with the transition/change of losing her mother figure of course took more precedence than the romance. But it didn't leave enough time for the romance, and that left the romantic relationship feel rushed and incomplete.
Brand New Attraction (Cassandra Clare) [A-] - This story made me really, truly wish that Clare wrote a YA book that was not the nine millionth Mortal Instruments novel. This is about a girl whose dad owns a Dark Carnival (complete with adorable demon). Her evil uncle tries to take over the carnival, but she (and a cute guy) work to foil him. It may a bit too Scooby Doo for some, but I found the Dark Carnival concept intriguing and spooky, and I wouldn't mind if it was expanded on for a full-length novel.
A Thousand Ways This Could All Go Wrong (Jennifer E. Smith) [B-] - A camp counselor and her love interest. I honestly cannot think of anything to say about it.
The Map of Tiny Perfect Things” (Lev Grossman) [A+] - My very, very favorite one of all. A boy and a girl are trapped repeating August 4 (a la Groundhogs Day. They make a map of all the tiny perfect moments in the day, and the final tiny perfect moment holds the key to making the world finally turn to August 5. I am still a bit confused by how the 4th dimension is tied in, but I found this story adorable and nearly perfect. ...more