Meet Cute by Various | Review

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Rating: ★★★☆☆

Release Date: January 2nd, 2018

Pages: 320

Publisher: HMH Books For Young Readers

Goodreads blurb:

Whether or not you believe in fate, or luck, or love at first sight, every romance has to start somewhere. MEET CUTE is an anthology of original short stories featuring tales of “how they first met” from some of today’s most popular YA authors.

Readers will experience Nina LaCour’s beautifully written piece about two Bay Area girls meeting via a cranky customer service Tweet, Sara Shepard’s glossy tale about a magazine intern and a young rock star, Nicola Yoon’s imaginative take on break-ups and make-ups, Katie Cotugno’s story of two teens hiding out from the police at a house party, and Huntley Fitzpatrick’s charming love story that begins over iced teas at a diner. There’s futuristic flirting from Kass Morgan and Katharine McGee, a riveting transgender heroine from Meredith Russo, a subway missed connection moment from Jocelyn Davies, and a girl determined to get out of her small town from Ibi Zoboi. Jennifer Armentrout writes a sweet story about finding love from a missing library book, Emery Lord has a heartwarming and funny tale of two girls stuck in an airport, Dhonielle Clayton takes a thoughtful, speculate approach to pre-destined love, and Julie Murphy dreams up a fun twist on reality dating show contestants.

This incredibly talented group of authors brings us a collection of stories that are at turns romantic and witty, epic and everyday, heartbreaking and real. 


The Meet Cute anthology was an interesting one. There were so many authors and so many stories. Some I couldn’t wait to end and others I wanted to be extended to fill the pages of a novel. For this review, I’ve tried to review each story featured in this anthology. They’re quite short but I find it difficult to rate an anthology as a whole (3 is what I just figured was the average among these).

This collection definitely was super cute and I do love meet-cute stories. Some definitely stood out. I would recommend this collection though if you’re looking for a short read to fill a rainy day.


SEIGE ETIQUETTE BY KATIE COTUGNO

STORY ONE – 3 STARS

I’m not sure this was the best start to the novel. I feel there were so many other ‘meet cute’ stories throughout the novel which were better suited for the first story – ones that would have had a better impact. I enjoyed the writing style and I did gush, but there was cheating and abuse which wasn’t dealt with and only very briefly mentioned that made me feel slightly uncomfortable about the whole thing.

I also hate people who are self proclaimed popular so I had that issue with the main character, since she knows she’s popular. I feel like there were just little facts in the story that, ultimately, didn’t add to the overall story and actually took away from me being able to enjoy it. I felt for her backstory, but she really did ruin it by being a self righteous bitch.


PRINT SHOP BY NINA LACOUR

STORY TWO – 4 STARS

This was the first f/f romance in the book and I loved it. It wasn’t as if it was anything special but the writing itself and the characters the author created in those few short pages were incredible. It shows just how talented the author writing it was.

I was so engaged it the idea of the print shop (especially since it was a queer business). The author didn’t rush a single moment. It all felt super organic and very well written to me. I was completely involved with the main character as she did her best to help the client in need. Print Shop was just super feel good and fluffy, if the idea had been extended into a full novel I would be so happy!


HOURGLASS BY IBI ZOBOI

STORY THREE – 3 STARS

This was when the lack of conclusions in this anthology really started to get to me. I also had a problem with every character but the main one in this particular story.

Our POC MC just wants to escape her small town despite all the waitlists she’s been placed on, her best friend ended up backstabbing her and she’s 6’5 (a queen). Her meet cute doesn’t really start until the end. Quite literally the last two pages or so it happens. So, it felt like a lot of build up which ultimately had a good ending. I just wanted a bit more interaction so I could root for the two characters some more!


CLICK BY KATHERINE MCGEE

STORY FOUR – 4 STARS

Click was one of my favourites in the anthology. The author creates such authentic and deep characters so quickly that had my heart racing. I loved the concept of online dating – it’s hard to meet people and online dating shouldn’t be shamed. I absolutely adored the twist as well.

I’m not even sure what to say, I loved how the MC was a smart girl and the love interest was a good guy. It just made me feel happy and mushy and the overall message was super sweet.


THE INTERN BY SARA SHEPARD

STORY FIVE – 2 STARS

The Intern was flat as heck for me. There was no climax. There was no moment I rooted for the two characters. Nothing. I felt for the main characters as much I felt for the cast of the new Jumajii movie (nothing).

I’m not too interested in ‘celebrity falls for normal girl and she makes him remember his passion’ trope either, which this fell into it. It really did have that classic love cures all vibe too which I am not down for in the slightest. There was also just no connection between the characters, they didn’t know each other long enough for what concluded.


SOMEWHERE THAT’S GREEN BY MEREDITH RUSSO

STORY SIX – 3 STARS

This particular story featured a transgender (male to female) character. Nia is in quite an accepting environment, with her dad accepting her and her friends. The problem is the church and the schools won’t acknowledge her gender in order for her to use the correct bathrooms. A part of this reason is that a girl in her grade has spoken out against Nia on the news on behalf of her church.

To rectify her choices this girl decides to out herself to her peers, recording it so her conservative parents will 110% see it.

My problem with this particular meet-cute was the fact one girl had to out herself. I just didn’t think she was ready to do so from her inner monologue. Maybe I’m wrong, and I completely understand I may be, but it just rubbed me the wrong way.


THE WAY WE LOVE HERE BY DHONIELLE CLAYTON

STORY SEVEN – 4 STARS

Now, this was an interesting concept. I’m not even sure if I can really find the words to accurately describe this story or even give my views. This isn’t a contemporary story like the others, this one is straight up urban fantasy with the inclusion of a thing called a love bond. I’m not even sure if I truly understand the concept to explain it either.
The writing style, however, was beautiful. I loved the characters the author was able to create in the few available pages she had. The story was so engaging and one of the few in the anthology that I didn’t pause while reading. I was simply so involved in what was happening on the page. This was yet another concept I wanted to be extended into a novel so I could truly get a feel for it.


OOMPH BY EMERY LORD

STORY EIGHT – 4 STARS

This was one of my favourites in the anthology. It was another f/f romance that left me feeling mushy and wanting to scream. The girls pretend to be CIA and FBI agents in an airport while they wait to board their separate flights. It was honestly nothing too original or too out of the ordinary but the authors writing left me desperately grasping for more once I finished the story. It was such a romantic read that I was shocked it wasn’t extended into a full novel.


THE DICTIONARY OF YOU AND ME BY JENNIFER L. ARMENTROUT

STORY NINE – 5 STARS

This particular story was my favourite. It featured a library-based romance that left my heart racing at the sheer adorableness of it all. I know this story had its flaws, obviously, but from the first page I was grinning ear-to-ear and desperately yearning for more. This was yet another story that could have been a novel, the idea definitely could have extended more than just a few pages and I would not be mad.


THE UNLIKELY LIKELIHOOD OF FALLING IN LOVE BY JOCELYN DAVIS

STORY TEN – 1 STAR

I don’t have much to say about this particular excerpt in the anthology apart from boring. The whole story was so analytical that I was left confused at all the jargon. I also just didn’t care as soon as math was mentioned. I am terrible at math and as soon as it’s mentioned in fiction or real life I instantly check out.

I also was not feeling the love connection either. This would have been to the quick changes of scenes. We’d get a few paragraphs about something and then a quick change. It made the whole story feel disconnected and the flow felt extremely off.


259 MILES BY KASS MORGAN

STORY ELEVEN – 3.5 STARS

I was so excited by this story, we were finally getting a male perspective after all this time. I’m not sure why but I expected more male perspectives. I absolutely loved the concept of having to go to Mars to create new life. However, the conclusion of this story left me feeling unhappy since it wasn’t a happy ending. Who allowed this? I was not okay.

Basically, fuck everyone. This story made me feel things and then ruined me.


SOMETHING REAL BY JULIE MURPHY

STORY TWELVE – 3 STARS

This did not go where I thought it was going. Honestly. A celebrity dating show where two girls compete in order to score a date with the celebrity on national TV. How nice. Sounds like my worst nightmare. The two girls competing couldn’t be more different on paper either. However, literally everything goes wrong and the end had me definitely like ‘what?’ It was cute though.


SAY EVERYTHING BY HUNTLEY FITZPATRICK

STORY THIRTEEN – 2 STARS

Now, this was the definition of mediocre for me. It read the exact same way as the author’s full-length novels and didn’t exactly vary from the plot line either. It was a very forbidden love like with the twist (if you can call it that) thrown in.

I don’t really have much to say. At one point I got some The Greatest Showman vibes but not really. It was just super mediocre and nothing to brag about.


DEPARTMENT OF DEAD LOVE BY NICOLA YOON

STORY FOURTEEN – 3 STARS

I think Nicola Yoon works much better for me in a short story format than her novels. I really do enjoy her short stories in the two anthologies I’ve read that feature her. It was super engaging, super messy and just overall reminded me of the concept of More Happy Than Not.

It was just a very interesting story and a pretty fun concept of meeting someone who realises you are over your previous partner.


Happy reading everyone!

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Because You Love To Hate Me: 13 Tales of Villainy | Review

Thank-you to Bloomsbury Australia who sent me a copy to review. This in no way impacted my thoughts and all opinions remain my own

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Release Date: July 11th, 2017

Pages: 339

Goodreads Review: here

Goodreads Synopsis:

Leave it to the heroes to save the world–villains just want to rule the world.

In this unique YA anthology, thirteen acclaimed, bestselling authors team up with thirteen influential BookTubers to reimagine fairy tales from the oft-misunderstood villains’ points of view.

These fractured, unconventional spins on classics like “Medusa,” Sherlock Holmes, and “Jack and the Beanstalk” provide a behind-the-curtain look at villains’ acts of vengeance, defiance, and rage–and the pain, heartbreak, and sorrow that spurned them on. No fairy tale will ever seem quite the same again!

Featuring writing from . . .

Authors: Renée Ahdieh, Ameriie, Soman Chainani, Susan Dennard, Sarah Enni, Marissa Meyer, Cindy Pon, Victoria Schwab, Samantha Shannon, Adam Silvera, Andrew Smith, April Genevieve Tucholke, and Nicola Yoon

BookTubers: Benjamin Alderson (Benjaminoftomes), Sasha Alsberg (abookutopia), Whitney Atkinson (WhittyNovels), Tina Burke (ChristinaReadsYA blog and TheLushables), Catriona Feeney (LittleBookOwl), Jesse George (JessetheReader), Zoë Herdt (readbyzoe), Samantha Lane (Thoughts on Tomes), Sophia Lee (thebookbasement), Raeleen Lemay (padfootandprongs07), Regan Perusse (PeruseProject), Christine Riccio (polandbananasBOOKS), and Steph Sinclair & Kat Kennedy (Cuddlebuggery blog and channel).


R A M B L E

Because You Love To Hate Me is a hard book to rate. I really struggled with it. This is because the book is a collection of stories from thirteen authors with thirteen BookTubers having their say on what was written (basically writing essays on the author’s work). It was strange in some parts and I really struggled with some stories. However, there are stories I basically devoured and wanted in full-length novels.

Do you see why I struggled now?

This review will split into my talking about each story and hopefully keep it relatively short and sweet (we’ll see). No time to waste, let’s jump into this!


The Blood of Imuriv by Renée Ahdieh

★★★☆☆

Renée’s writing is usually a hit or miss for me. I couldn’t stand Wrath of the Dawn but I loved Flame In The Mist. So, I was really feeling mediocre about The Blood of Imuriv. It was clear to see the shape the story was taking throughout this piece, but it would have been a lot better if it could have been stretched to fill a whole book, I think.

The ending was just too quick though I did enjoy it. It really did show the villain element of this anthology very well. I just feel this story would have been a lot more enjoyable if the feelings of the POV were explained in a longer format.


Jack by Ameriie

★★★★☆

I really enjoyed Jack. I wasn’t sure I would, as it is a retelling of Jack and the Beanstalk a narrative I have never really cared for my whole life no many how many movies it gets turned into. However, I loved this piece. It has to be one of my favourites in the whole anthology.

The build up and tension were so well done. The author hints at nothing which results in the ending of the story and I was left speechless when I did reach the end. Unable to believe that that happened. I’m not sure why I was so shocked, this is a book about villains.


Gwen and Art and Lance by Soman Chainani

★★★★☆

Gwen and Art and Lance was a story that took me a hot minute to work out it was a mixed retelling of both King Arthur and the story of Hades and Persephone. However, when I worked it out I was so on board. I am low key trash for King Arthur retellings. I have probably watched that Avalon High movie by Disney around fifty times (no matter how cheesy it is).

This particular story is told through texts our main character, Gwen, has with others. It was such an interesting way of telling this particular story that I was able to fly through it faster than the others in the anthology.

No matter how much I enjoyed it, though, I didn’t really see it as a villain story. It may be because I have such a traditional sense of what villains are that when the person isn’t doing evil things I don’t class them under the category. A really interesting story though and very deserving of four stars.


Shirley & Jim by Susan Dennard

★☆☆☆☆

I can’t speak much on Shirley & Jim. Mainly because I didn’t actually finish the story. I know, sue me. I’m not a fan of Sherlock Holmes and basically, every single reference and action were going straight over my head to the point I was so mad I had to skim. I was also struggling greatly with the writing style; I found it hard to follow and was not connecting to a single character in the piece.


The Blessing of Little Wants by Sarah Enni

★★☆☆☆

This is another story I didn’t particularly enjoy. The Blessing of Little Wants just wasn’t for me. I was not enjoying it and I was quite done with the characters. I believe this story was about witches, our two main characters are two of the most powerful witches of their age but have to hide it.

The writing itself didn’t feel…magical. I’m not sure if that makes sense. I like my witch stories to have a magical sense to them so I feel like this could exist in this reality. However, I did not get that from this particular story.


The Sea Witch by Marissa Meyer

★★★★★

A Little Mermaid retelling calls to me in more ways than one. When I was younger my favourite Disney films were The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast. However, my grandparents latched onto The Little Mermaid since I watched that with them and bought me so many stickers. They actually still use them. So, seeing this story in the anthology had me excited. 

Marissa Meyer didn’t disappoint either. I adored her Lunar Chronicles series and if only she would extend this story into a full-length novel, I would be happy. Mainly because of Nerit, our main character is such a good villain. She is ruthless and bides her time to search revenge. She goes through transformations for other people but finally realises that who she is is someone completely different.


Beautiful Venom by Cindy Pon

trigger warning; sexual assault & victim blaming

★☆☆☆☆

Much like The Little Mermaid, I am also obsessed with Greek mythology. So, a medusa tale was one I was excited for. How would this story change set in this different setting?I was very curious. I had problems though. The writing was great but the message of the piece made me mad.

Ultimately, our main character is raped. After this happens the Goddess of Purity turns her into Medusa because she “never said no” or “disinvited the interest”. I don’t remember the exact quote but I was not happy with the victim blaming present. The fact that is also her villain origin story didn’t sit well in my boat either.

I wish these events didn’t happen because the writing would have made this a solid four-star story.


Death Knell by Victoria Schwab

★★☆☆☆

I say this while hiding in a castle, I don’t enjoy Victoria Schwab’s writing. I know. I am the actual worst. Everyone likes her writing. So, I didn’t expect to like her story, Death Knell, in this anthology.

I was right. I didn’t feel that the prompt given by the BookTuber translated well into this piece either (Hades wakes up at the bottom of a well in Ireland). I was incredibly confused throughout the piece and didn’t quite get where it was leading or what it was supposed to mean until I read the prompt after finishing.


Marigold by Samantha Shannon

★★☆☆☆

This is another story that fell short on me. Marigold just fell so short. I didn’t care for the writing and I most certainly had no idea what was happening. I have never heard of the Erl-Queen and I did not get the Victorian London vibe from the piece.

I was just so confused throughout the story that I can’t even speak on the villain acts that occurred or if any did. I had to spend more than an hour after finishing trying to work out the retelling that went into this and, honestly, I’m still confused.


You, You, It’s All About You by Adam Silvera

★★★★★

Adam Silvera can write. Boy, can this guy write amazingly. I have read two out of three of his books and loved both. I knew I would love his story, You, You, It’s All About You. And, sure as heck, I loved it.

This is the example of a story I need in a 600-page novel. I want to completely devour it and sit there screaming about how anti-heroes are the only ones we need. The prompt for this piece was simply ‘teen girl drug lord with a mask’ and Adam made this story his bitch.

The backstory and writing throughout this piece is flawless. I just can’t fault a single thing. The way Adam weaves a villain character into one I felt sympathy for was brilliant. I truly can’t wait to read more of his upcoming works.


Julian Breaks Every Rule by Andrew Smith

★★☆☆☆

If I had to describe Julian Breaks every Rule, it would be disappointing. I was really expecting…more. With a prompt that is a psychopath in a futuristic setting, you tend to expect…well exactly what the prompt is. That is not what this piece delivers. I was disappointed in the lack of on the page villain acts.

The piece ends off on an ominous note but I feel if it had started from the end it would have been a lot stronger. It was just a very mediocre story that would have been better if it had been extended into a longer narrative, I think.


Indigo and Shade by April Genevieve Tucholke

★★★☆☆

Now, Indigo and Shade has to be one of the most interesting stories in this anthology. A retelling about Gaston where he isn’t that villainous. I was interested. It was incredibly well done too…if this wasn’t an anthology of villains. I would have loved this story any other time, the writing was excellent and it was so engaging as a reader. It did feature insta-love but in this particular story, Gaston is so close to getting the girl.

It could have also been a longer piece and I would not have been made in the slightest.


Sera by Nicola Yoon

★★★★★

Gender flipped war God? Sign me the fuck up. I loved this story. This was what I wanted. It was so well written and so brilliant that I could not put the book down once I had started.

I am just speechless apart from the word awesome. I truly didn’t expect this when I started this story and I was left mouth agape and absorbed. The fact both characters are villains in this piece is interesting since it is in ways you would never expect. It is insane to me just how perfectly this story fit both the prompt and idea of the anthology.

Definitely giving Nicola Yoon all the praise for this story. A true masterpiece.


So, there we have it. Probably one of the longest posts I’ve written on my blog but I really had some opinions and thoughts about these stories. Despite my ratings for each story, this anthology was so well executed. The essays by the BookTubers added an extra something that can be read at a later date if you choose to. The prompts they chose are also very interesting.

Have you read this anthology? What was your favourite story?