Review: Meet Cute: Anthology by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Sometimes I just need to get sucked into a feel-good story and stay there until I’m finished. Thankfully, I accomplished just that with this anthology full of short bursts of sweetness with meet-cutes, butterflies, first impressions, and so much more.

Just some of my personal memorable stories from the book:

  • Nina LaCour’s Print Shop:

Funnily enough, this story opens with our main character, Evie, receiving her first job where she’s set to develop an online presence for a print shop she chose mainly for its lack of computers. I loved how we got such a solid grip on the atmosphere of the shop and the people working there, like, I could smell the air engulfing Evie the minute she walked in, similar to what I mentioned in my review for LaCour’s We Are Okay. I especially cherished Neve, who’s eight months pregnant and doesn’t care to overshare:

“But then Neve leaned forward and said, “We’ve been basking in a seemingly eternal youth, and now, shit, I’m thirty-seven. I told Eduardo now or never and threw the condoms away.” She leaned back and laughed. “Okay, thanks for tolerating my overshare. I like you. You’re hired.”
“Oh,” I said. “Thanks!” I shook my head to rid it of the image of the two of them having sex, and stood up to shake her hand.”

Weirdly relieved when I read that last sentence and realized how everyone desperately tries to erase that image in their head.

But things really get going when Evie receives a cranky customers service tweet, demanding justice be served to Principal Hope not principle hope.

  • Dhonielle Clayton’s The Way We Love Here:

“None of us know when our time is up. The gods gave us one gift—to know when our loves would come. The best part of life. It would be greedy to ask for more.”

The blurb describing this as a predestined tale of love had me thinking it would lead to a bunch of sappy one-liners about the greatness of romance, but in all actuality, I was surprised for the better thanks to the characters’ self-deprecating humor and eerily relatable overthinking thoughts.

“I’ve never held hands with anyone outside of Momma, my sister, and Papa. The elders of Meridien say that this type of intimacy is reserved for blood relatives and beloveds. They warn us about the dangers that could happen: falling in love with the wrong person, ending up alone, altering the will of the gods, confusing the senses, and losing our fingers. The newspapers print cautionary tales about young teens who disregard the warning. They make sure to include their sad pictures. I’ve never done it. Then again, I’ve never had a boy with whom to try.”

We then receive this rare opportunity to look into Vio and Sebastien’s future lives together, which reminded me of another similar short story from a #LoveOzYA Anthology that I absolutely adored last year: I Can See the Ending by Will Kostakis. “It’s different, when you know its ending.”

  • Jennifer L. Armentrout’s The Dictionary Of You And Me:

Following Moss’s ongoing mission at the library to retrieve the way-overdue dictionary from a certain H. Smith.

Interestingly enough, the ongoing flirting and bantering that took place between the two over the phone was put a little on the back burner for me as I had a magical time living vicariously through her to see what a job at the library would entail. Swoon.

But that’s not to say that I wasn’t left with a megawatt smile on my face upon reading their amusing conversations as well.

“I’ve missed you,” he said, surprising me. Even without a mirror, I knew my pink skin was getting even pinker.
Clearing my throat, I focused on the task at hand. “There is no way you could’ve missed me.”
“And why not?” he replied, sounding amused.
“We don’t even know each other.”
“I don’t think that’s true. I mean, at least I feel like I know you.” There was a pause. “Just the other day, you told me you hated turkey.”
I had told him that, though I couldn’t remember how that topic of convo had come up. “Yeah, and just the other day you told me the reason you’d been unable to return the dictionary was because you were touring the back roads of France.”
He chuckled. “That’s not a lie.”
“Oh, really?”
“I’ve been checking them out on Google Maps.”
My lips twitched.”

I’m a sucker for smooth talkers in books.

  • The Unlikely Likelihood Of Falling In Love by Jocelyn Davies:

“I may or may not have fallen in love at first sight with a boy on the B train. I’m doing my final project on the likelihood of seeing him again.”

I wasn’t expecting to like this one as much as I did because I rarely if ever appreciate “love at first sight” stories. But Jocelyn Davies took an interesting spin on this trope.

The reason I cherished this tale was mainly that I saw so much of myself exposed within the main character. As I once read somewhere (and I’m desperately wishing I remembered the source here): There’s something completely indescribable about reading someone’s story and being able to see some of yours in it. Like, her calculating the chances of meeting the cute boy she randomly passed on her morning route is all too relatable to me.

“Alex’s right,” she said, dipping her brush into a blob of hunter-green paint. “It’s fate.”
“It’s not fate,” I countered. “It’s math.”
“Why do you think you keep seeing him? Why do you think both of your trains stopped at the exact same time? It’s fate, I’m telling you.”
“I’ll tell you why I keep seeing him. He goes to school in Brooklyn. I go to school in Manhattan. School starts at pretty much the same time every day no matter what school you go to. There are only a limited number of ways to cross between Brooklyn and Manhattan, and one of them is the Manhattan Bridge. See? The pool of variables keeps getting smaller and smaller. If you think about it, how could I not see him?”

This right here is my two inner voices arguing on paper.

And this next passage then captures that moment of trying to comfort yourself that it’s for the best if you never see him again:

If we did ever meet IRL, then he would become real. And all this perfect stuff I sort of knew about him would be all mixed up with imperfect stuff, the real stuff, the stuff no one wants to know. The stuff that would take him out of the early morning haze of my dreams and into the cold hard daylight of reality.”

But once in a blue moon, the universe (or the author of a story) has something bigger in store and all we can do is wait. I wasn’t expecting to feel this seen with this anthology but I’m glad I was.

  • Julie Murphy’s Something Real:

Entertaining reality TV told through short fiction? Yes, please!

Something Real follows our main character, June Smith, as she’s going through the trials of entering a reality dating show contest with her favorite singer Dylan as the “prize.”

At the heart of it all, though, is a story of fandom, girls supporting girls, and connection.

“Those lyrics, they were, like, immediately seared into my brain. It was almost like all the words in that song existed inside of me, but Dylan had somehow grouped them all together and sorted them out. And not only that, but he could freaking sing. That video of him in his dad’s basement. Just acoustic. Nothing fancy. I would turn that song on and close all the curtains in my room and just lie there in the dark. I should’ve felt so alone, but I didn’t. And I wanted that feeling all the time. But Dylan’s one person.” I laugh a little. “I’m not some psycho who’s going to stalk him at his house, so I decided to find people who felt just as alone as I did. I guess I just thought we could be alone together, or maybe—just maybe—we’d find that we weren’t all that alone to begin with.”

It was also just dizzyingly and irresistibly enjoying to read.This is reality TV at its peak. The author said it best when she talked about June’s competitor, Martha: “I’m hanging on her every word. I know this has nothing to do with Dylan or his music or this stupid date we’re competing for, but if Jill is out to make good TV, she knows how to get it done.”

I’m glad that what I was feeling was conveyed on paper, but it made me laugh when I remembered this post:

On that note, I have one last story I want to mention which is Nicola Yoon’s The Department Of Dead Love. There’s a question she posed in it that I found radically important to know the answer to. It goes as follows: “What do you think the difference between wanting to be friends and wanting to be more than friends is?”

And Yoon did not disappoint in her theory: “Some people you want to get to know and some people you want to know you. I think that’s the difference.”

Overall, upon completing each story, I had an insurmountable amount of fun revisiting the words of some of my favorite YA authors. As well as trying to guess which couple was being featured on the cover.Meet Cute-- bookspoils

Lastly, I’d like to feature the theme song playing in the back of mind throughout this anthology performed by the one and only Adele:

 

 

4/5 stars

Note: I’m an Amazon Affiliate. If you’re interested in buying Meet Cute, just click on the image below to go through my link. I’ll make a small commission!

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Review: The Secret Loves of Geeks by Hope Nicholson

Starting out the last month of the year on the right foot with this follow-up to 2016 best-seller The Secret Loves of Geek Girls. It’s no secret by now that I absolutely adored said anthology when I picked it up last year. I even went back to reread my review recently and got to experience all those feelings of fun rush back in, like when I had first read them.

So I was more than ready to dive into this new world, where cartoonists and professional geeks tell their intimate, heartbreaking, and inspiring stories about love, sex and, dating in this comics and prose anthology.

But the one thing I came to notice were how few illustrated stories there were compared to The Secret Loves of Geek Girls. This follow-up paves the way for more essays and short stories to be included. That’s not to say that I enjoyed the written tales less, as my favorites below will testify. Still, I wish we would’ve gotten a couple more comics thrown in the mix.

On a brighter note, The Secret Loves of Geeks had me wrapped in the storyline from page one. Starting with Cecil Castellucci’s piece about finding love while camped out for six weeks (!) in line for The Phantom Menace, reminiscent of Rainbow Rowell’s Kindred Spirits.

“We were creating our own microsociety and it was all centered around this thing that we loved.”The Secret Loves of Geeks 1-- bookspoilsAnd then moving on to the next story by Saadia Muzaffar on online (Tinder) dating and doing things different this time. It had me enthralled from start to finish. I was entirely invested to see if the whole “get to know me in a way only I knew me,” without disclosing any Google-identifiable details, would work.The Secret Loves of Geeks 3-- bookspoils

I also came to notice how “The [isolating] feeling of otherness… of never quite fitting in, and of not knowing how to act, or how to be interacted with…” was ever present in this anthology, and I felt the core of it.

The last written piece I want to highlight was Hope Larson’s story: “I wanted to be seen, and yet remain unknown.” She had me eating out of the palm of her hand while recalling her meeting someone “who lights up the night and slows down time.”

Finally, I’d like to highlight some of my favorite illustrated pieces:

The Secret Loves of Geeks 6-- bookspoilsThe art style and colors are dreamy in the above.

Also, this panel from Bear With by Terry Blas:The Secret Loves of Geeks 4-- bookspoilsI wasn’t expecting to find a piece bringing me back to my days of loving Miranda, but I’m so here for this. Also, I cherish the tiny detailed shout-out to the iconic “What have you done today to make you feel proud.”

And last but not least, to quote from the introduction, Cara Ellison and Maddie Chaffer rage against the hypocrisy of controlling women’s sexual fantasies in “Women Love Jerks.”

The Secret Loves of Geeks 5-- bookspoils


Overall, it was validating and so incredibly affirming to read through all the different stories presented in The Secret Loves of Geeks. I’m rooting for more anthologies like this to come out in the near future.

ARC kindly provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Publication Date: February 13th 2018

4/5 stars

Note: I’m an Amazon Affiliate. If you’re interested in buying The Secret Loves of Geeks, just click on the image below to go through my link. I’ll make a small commission!

Review: The Tiny Book of Tiny Pleasures by Irene Smit, Astrid van der Hulst

A great read to start the week “filled with whimsical, colorful illustrations, plus cheerful random prompts, thoughts, and facts, The Tiny Book of Tiny Pleasures is a pocket-size gift of joy
Created by the editors of Flow magazine, it encapsulates the qualities that make their work so distinctive—the sensibility of slowing down and appreciating the simple moments of life, the emphasis on everyday creativity, and the joys of imperfection.

This book ended up reminding me a lot of 14,000 Things to Be Happy About by Barbara Ann Kipfer, which is a  book I’ve been wanting to read for awhile now. But turns out this tiny read was a lot more accessible and pleasant because it had these incredibly vibrant and lively colors guaranteed to brighten up your day even just a tiny bit. Plus, certain pieces are accompanied by insightful commentary and tips that really add depth to the ongoing arc.

On that note, here are some of my favorite mentions from The Tiny Book of Tiny Pleasures:

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The Tiny Book of Tiny Pleasures 2-- bookspoils

 

The Tiny Book of Tiny Pleasures 3-- bookspoilsThe above is such an accurate feeling.

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The Tiny Book of Tiny Pleasures 5-- bookspoils

 

The Tiny Book of Tiny Pleasures 6-- bookspoils

 

The Tiny Book of Tiny Pleasures 7-- bookspoilsthinks about Skam.

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The Tiny Book of Tiny Pleasures 10-- bookspoils

 

The Tiny Book of Tiny Pleasures 11-- bookspoils

 

The Tiny Book of Tiny Pleasures 13-- bookspoils#Me right now.

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The Tiny Book of Tiny Pleasures 15-- bookspoilsI think the above might just be my favorite piece. I mean, look at those colors!!!

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The Tiny Book of Tiny Pleasures 19-- bookspoils

 

The Tiny Book of Tiny Pleasures 20-- bookspoilsThis last one brought to mind Ring Road, Iceland & The Atlantic Road, Norway, which the book mentioned earlier on. And thanks to said mention, I discovered this beauty of a place in Norway:

All in all: I’m truly grateful for this read because it made me discover an abundance of new places and insights thanks to the author’s many welcome recommendations.

But damn did The Tiny Book of Tiny Pleasures end quickly. Since I wasn’t really paying attention to the page number and just enjoying flipping from page to page, I was stunned to have suddenly reached the acknowledgments… That’s when you know it was a good read.

4/5 stars

Note: I’m an Amazon Affiliate. If you’re interested in buying Maus, just click on the image below to go through my link. I’ll make a small commission!