By Jensen Argyle
Summer Days and Summer Nights is a summer anthology compiled of short stories written by your favorite young adult authors and edited by Stephanie Perkins, the lovely woman behind Anna and the French Kiss.
This anthology includes twelve summer romances written by twelve YA authors: 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. There is a delightful variety, as there are stories about straight, gay, and lesbian romances. The stories are not all what you would expect either.
These are not your cutesy, heartwarming summer romances (although some of them are.) These stories are not afraid to delve into the deep and difficult issues like divorce, sexuality, and family deaths. Some stories do not end the way you expect them too. And this variety of stories and circumstances makes this anthology all the more beautiful and enjoyable.
Each author has their own voice and take on summer romance. One I particularly enjoyed was Libba Bray’s “Last Stand at the Cinegore”, because it mixes in a little bit of horror with the romance element. It’s about the manager of a movie theatre that only shows classic horror movies.
On the night before the movie theatre closes forever, he is determined to ask out his coworker who he has had a crush on forever. But things may not be smooth sailing, as they show a cursed movie that threatens to end their lives and ruin his chances of ever being with the girl of his dreams. I thought this was a fun and quirky tale that added a lot of spunk to the anthology.
So there you have it. Twelve new short stories from your favorite YA authors just in time for summer. Be sure to pick it up and let me know which story is your favorite. And as always, happy reading!
By Danielle Gorman
I was inspired this week by a Facebook post I remembered reading several weeks ago; it was by a popular travel blogger who was asking her readers for advice on T.V. shows that gave the setting free reign to act as a character in the series, just as much as the actors did (re: New York and Sex and the City). It made me wonder what movies I’d seen that had settings and locations that drew you in and were as important to the plot and characters as…well, the plot and characters.
Obviously, this list could get very extensive (for example, I could just copy and paste everything made by the BBC and Masterpiece Theater for the past 30 years and you’d never get to the end), but here are films that came to mind that I felt particularly personified their surroundings:
Midnight in Paris – Paris
Paris is shown to perfection in so many movies; it was hard to pick just one. What I think makes Midnight in Paris so special is the fact that you get to see modern Paris and 1920s Paris. Each time period influences the characters, even if they don’t live during that period. For example, Gil Pender is drawn to a record shop selling old classics that he heard live in the 1920s, proving that Paris is as timeless and bright in its former glory and in the present.
Sherlock Holmes – London
Like Paris, London has been the setting of more movies than I can count. But one film (or story, because each adaptation addresses this) really does the city justice. Sherlock Holmes is incredibly intelligent and clever, and uses his knowledge of London (we’re talking geographic knowledge—he can tell you where every alley and walkway leads) to help solve crimes. The history and intricacy of the city helps and hinders Sherlock in his quest for the next big mystery.
Lord of the Rings/The Hobbit – New Zealand (Middle Earth)
New Zealand is not a country people think about often, and if they’re contemplating travel to that part of the world it’s more often than not Australia, New Zealand’s big sister, that they’re considering. But New Zealand perfectly captures our idea of Middle Earth, and its stony crags, lush forests, and wild, green fields. There’s no other place on earth that so perfectly captures the imagination, convincing the viewer that they’re actually watching a fictional world brought to life.
Leap Year – Ireland
Ireland (coincidentally, my favorite country) tried it’s hardest to keep Anna from reaching and proposing to her boyfriend on Leap Day. Some may say its fate that brings her and Declan together, but I think it’s Ireland that did all the hard work. Anna falls in love with Declan in spite of, and because of, the lush, green landscape and its inhabitants—the friendly, well-meaning, sometimes ridiculous Irish.
Roman Holiday – Rome
A classic film that introduced the world to Audrey Hepburn, Roman Holiday is a great example of how a person can feel at home in a new place. Audrey’s character, Princess Ann, discovers different nooks and crannies of the city while exploring it alone, and at times with journalist Joe Bradley, and shows us that you can become friends with a place, learning little secrets about it as you find new and exciting landmarks. The city determines where Ann and Joe go, not the other way around.
Twilight – Forks, the Greater Seattle Area, Washington
If you’re a Twilight hater, then I’m sorry if the mere inclusion of this film offends you. But you have to admit, the dreary, gray setting of Twilight has a strong bearing on the events of the novel and film respectively. It is what allows the vampires to go out in daylight and also what keeps them away from humans when the sun inexplicably shines.
Did I miss any great location characters? Do you have a favorite city or country that steals the show in film? Let us know!
By Jensen Argyle
I can testify as a lifelong reader that having a book buying habit can be expensive; however, it does not have to be. Throughout my reading history, I have discovered a few ways to save money on books. Here are my top 3 tips for frugal book buyers.
Get it on Amazon – I know, I love bookstores as much as the next person. There is something so thrilling about wandering around aimlessly for hours, surrounded by books; however, bookstores are generally more expensive. Amazon has tons of great deals. The prices are usually lowered, or you can get free shipping with Amazon prime. Best of all, though, is the fact that there are tons of books available for as cheap as $.01, and if you pay for shipping that brings your total cost to a whopping $4. Think of all the books you will be able to buy without digging a hole in your wallet!
Book Outlet – Book outlet is an online retailer (they also have a bookstore that you can visit, located in Ontario) that sells brand new books for 50-90% off the original price. Yes, you heard me right and your audible gasps are justified. Nothing like the latest and greatest fiction resting on your nightstand without the hefty price tag. And like I said, these books are brand new so you don’t have to worry about where your book has been.
The Library – This one seems like a given, but surprisingly some readers don’t use this wonderful and FREE resource. The library is a wonderful place to go to and browse for books. And there is no limit to how many books you can pick up because they are all free! What’s that you say? They don’t have the book you’ve been really wanting to read? Don’t worry, that’s no problem because most libraries will allow you to make purchase requests. That’s right, they will buy you the books you really want to read. Just ask your local librarian how to go about making a purchase request.
There you go, and you’re welcome in advance for all the money you will now be saving. Spend it wisely. And as always, happy reading!
By Danielle Gorman
I’ve got sisters on my mind! But that’s probably because I’m currently on vacation in Texas, visiting my parents and one of my siblings—my youngest sister, to be exact. Sisters are great for sharing clothes, arguing over boys, and crying together while watching 90s rom coms.
For those of you in big families, you’ll understand when I say that you have a different relationship with each brother and sister. Some are closer than others. I love each of my siblings, but I’m extremely close to that teenage girl who reminds me of my younger self once upon a time. Spending time with her has made me reflect on the sisters I’ve read about in literature, and here are some of my favorite sororal relationships that influence and inspire me.
The March Sisters
Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy are the four beloved daughters of Marmie and their Civil War soldier father. And what’s great about this quartet of little women is the realism in their relationships. They love each other, yes, but that doesn’t stop them from doing horrible things to each other in a fit of jealousy and mean-spiritedness (remember the burning of the manuscript? Yeah, I’ll never forget it either).
The Bennet Sisters
Ah, the Bennets. The sisters you wanted but never had—actually, you did. They’re so incredibly real in the way they interact with each other. But we tend to ignore the fact that there are five Bennet girls in favor of only remembering Jane and Elizabeth. But Mary, Kitty, and Lydia were there too. And they were just as real and vivid to me as their elder sisters. In fact, there were many realistic moments in Pride and Prejudice where their bickering reminded me of my own sisters.
The Dashwood Sisters
I feel a special affinity with the Dashwood sisters. There are three of them (like in my family) and each sister has a similar personality to each of us. I have always been more of an Eleanor, my sisters Marianne and Margaret. And though they’re all very different, their bond is extremely close. They would each go out of their way for the other (and often do in the story) while maintaining individuality and kinship.
The Everdeen Sisters
The only set of sisters not coming to you via the 1800s, Katniss and Prim are far apart in age but close due to circumstances. After their father’s death, they have no choice but to cling to each other. They see one another through the horrors of the Hunger Games and poverty-stricken District 12 and, though their lives don’t turn out exactly as one would wish (for Prim, at least), they’re an example to you and me of the true love sisters feel.
As is obvious, I tend to gravitate toward more classic literature (which also happens to depict the type of sisterly relationships I relate to), so what books have influenced you and your sisters? Or what sororal relationships have inspired your family? Let us know!
By Natalie Issa
I don’t know about you guys, but when the travel bug hits me, it hits me hard. The desire to see the world becomes overwhelming and ordinary life suddenly seems so, so boring. Unfortunately, as most of you can relate, the only thing stopping me from dropping everything and peacing out of here is the tragedy of my bank account. No money means no travel.
So what’s a girl to do?
When the travel bug becomes unbearable, I watch movies. Movies about travelling, movies that take place in exotic locations, etc. And, very briefly, my travel bug subsides.
So without much ado, I present to you some of my favorite movies that almost (but not quite) kill my travel bug.
Warning: while these movies may tone down the desire to travel for some, it might increase the need to travel for others. Results may vary.
1. Midnight in Paris (2011)
This movie is pure magic. It follows Gil Pender, an unsatisfied Hollywood screenwriter attempting to write his first novel. He and his fiancée Inez travel to Paris with Inez’s wealthy parents. One night while roaming the streets of Paris, Gil finds himself transported to the 1920’s. It’s there he meets authors and artists such as F. Scott Fitzgerald, Gertrude Stein, Ernest Hemingway, Pablo Picasso, and much more. It’s a great movie for those who fantasize about walking down the historic streets of Paris.
2. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (2013)
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is a delightful story about second chances. Walter Mitty, our dry-humored protagonist, is a negative assets manager at Life Magazine. When he receives photos for Life’s last cover by renowned photographer Sean O’Connell, he discovers that O’Connell failed to include the negatives. This sends Walter on a journey to Greenland, Iceland, and the Himalayas in an attempt to track O’Connell down. This movie shows that it’s never too late to travel and to live out your dreams.
3. A Room With a View (1985)
Taking place in the early 1900s, we follow young Miss Lucy Honeychurch who’s vacationing in Italy with her chaperone, Charlotte. During their stay they meet an array of interesting people, including Mr. Emerson and his young son George. Maybe it’s the romance of Italy, or maybe it’s because George is totally dreamy, but Lucy quickly becomes infatuated with George. But before their romance can blossom, Lucy and Charlotte return to their small village England. Not only does this movie take place in some gorgeous locations, but it also has a beautiful love story.
(Just as a quick side note, this movie does contain some very brief, but not sexualized, nudity).
4. Leap Year (2010)
This charming story centers around Anna Brady, a real estate stager who’s impatiently waiting for her boyfriend to propose. Upon discovering that he’s going to Dublin for a conference, she promptly decides to follow him to Ireland and propose to him herself. Because, according to Irish tradition, a woman can propose to a man on leap year. It’s in Ireland that Anna meets an adorable innkeeper named Declan O’Callaghan, who reluctantly agrees to drive her to Dublin. Not only is this movie adorable, but it’s also perfect for those who love the beautiful Irish countryside.
Hopefully these movies will help you escape reality for a little while. Or at least until you save enough money for your next big adventure.
By Jensen Argyle
Thrillers are the perfect beach read for a reason; you get so absorbed by the mystery and suspense that before you know it, you’ve been at the beach for hours and have a nice new tan to show for it! There are some exciting new thrillers coming out soon that you definitely need to check out for your beach-read needs. Here are some old and some new that you should add to your summer reading list:
Night Film by Marisha Pessl Ok, so this was technically released in 2013, but I read it last year and it was so good I had to share it. This story follows Scott Mcgrath, a once respected and successful journalist who lost his family and his career when he stuck his nose in the wrong place. Years earlier, Mcgrath attempted an investigation into the life of the mysterious horror film director, Stanislas Cordova. Cordova is known for his movies that are so disturbing they are not available to the general public; instead, they have an underground cult following. Not much is known about Cordova, and those who participated in his films never talk about them. There is definitely something sketchy going on, and Scott Mcgrath is determined to uncover the gritty and horrifying truths behind Cordova’s films.
The Sudden Appearance of Hope by Claire North This book is about a girl who no one can remember. It started when she was 16 years old and her parents started to slowly forget her, setting a table for three instead of four. This means that she can do or say whatever she wants. She could call someone fat or rob a bank and it wouldn’t matter because no one would remember. This makes her very powerful and very dangerous.
Among the Wicked by Linda Castillo This book comes out this July. This murder mystery is the latest adventure of chief of police, Kate Burkholder. She is assigned to go undercover as an Amish woman and investigate a reclusive and mysterious Amish community after the death of a young girl. Without modern technology, Kate is on her own and must solve the case the old-fashioned way. Soon, Kate uncovers shocking secrets and realizes she is trapped and alone, fighting for her life.
So there you have it, three thrillers you should definitely check out this summer. And as always, happy reading!
By Danielle Gorman
I don’t know about you, but when I’m expected to know something—and I don’t know it—I feel really stupid when someone brings it up. This becomes especially embarrassing when people assume I’ve read a book that, to be honest, I should’ve read before today. To be fair, I’ve read a lot of books. But different schools have different lists of required reading, so it’s a definite possibility that I won’t have read something from the list of classics we were each given as freshmen in high school.
However, I’ve been doing a lot of reading for fun these past months, and I figured it was about time I drew up a list of classics that I’ve always wanted (or felt obligated) to read. There were a few honorable mentions that didn’t make the cut: A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway (I’ve read a shocking lack of Hemingway in my life), Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky (I just want to brag that I’ve read such a large and difficult book), and Dubliners by James Joyce (I know it has nothing to do with the Dublin that I love, but I love Ireland so much I should give it a shot).
So here is my list of classics I haven’t read yet and why.
Les Miserables by Victor Hugo
Yes, it’s a musical. Yes, it has Wolverine in it. But did you know it was originally a novel? Clocking in around a whopping 1,500 pages, Les Mis exposes the world of 19th century France in all its splendor and grime. Jean Valjean starts the story off by stealing a loaf of bread, setting off a chain-reaction of events that lead him to the formidable Javert, the desperate Fantine, and a myriad of interesting characters who try to start a revolution.
I’ve tried to read this book. Several times I’ve started and stopped 50 pages in. For some reason, I can’t get past Valjean meeting the kind clergyman who gives him the benefit of the doubt, showing him there’s a better way to live.
The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
I have been meaning to read this book for years. The story explores ideas of sin, immorality, and vanity among others. The take on those vices intrigue me (as does anything Wilde wrote) and I want to see how Dorian fares under his Faustus conditions.
I think that part of why I feel guilty that I haven’t read it is because my cousin—who is by no means a big reader—loves this book. And if she loves it, then I—an avid reader—am bound to find it engaging, well-written, and clever.
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
I feel obligated to read this, but I’m not sure that I actually want to. I know the basic premise because it is often compared to life today—humanity obsessed with being entertained and engineered to be perfect and beautiful while partaking in specialized drugs and sexual encounters of every variety. It’s for this very reason that I don’t want to read it. I don’t want to have the truth slapped in my face about how the world is now and how I wish it wasn’t that way; how I wish there were more decent people, like Bernard, who recognize that our way of life is wrong, that it takes the joy out of life and replaces it with momentary euphoria.
And there we have it. I’ll try and read these books this year (but knowing myself, I may put them off again). What about you? Do you have a bucket list full of books? Did any of mine make the list? Let us know in the comments!
By Danielle Gorman
Hello, and welcome to the first birthday special at Blithe and Bonny! And who are we celebrating today? None other than His Royal Highness, The Duke of Cambridge, a.k.a. Prince William. Standing second-in-line to the throne (behind his father, HRH The Prince of Wales), Prince William has been no stranger to the limelight.
He has been followed by the media since his infancy. His mother, the late Lady Diana, Princess of Wales, was often seen taking him and his brother, Harry, out and about in London—whether it was shopping or enjoying a meal at McDonalds (yes, the Prince has deigned to eat at McDonalds and—dare I say—enjoyed it!) they could be seen with a smile, hand-in-hand with their mother. But fate, unfortunately, took her away too early. Lady Diana passed away in 1997 in a vehicular accident in Paris. But this did not stop William from following in her footsteps.
Ever since he was young, William was influenced by his parents in different ways: from his father he learned about the life of a royal—what it was to attend functions and behave in a way befitting a boy in his position (a successor to the throne); from his mother he learned about the importance of humanitarian work. Lady Diana was a strong believer in helping others, volunteering her time, efforts, and money for many charities.
William easily fell in his mother’s footsteps. William spent part of his gap year (the time between secondary school, or high school, and university) in Chile, Belize, and Africa, performing work for many charities and beginning his career in the British military (a career he still follows today). His time spent in Chile, in particular, saw him sharing dormitories with other young teachers, sharing household chores, while he taught children in the area.
When he did enroll in university, at St. Andrews in Scotland, he threw himself into his studies, changing his degree from Art History to Geography (see, even a Prince can’t make up his mind about majors!) and participating in many sports and activities: polo, football (soccer), rugby, swimming, water polo, and riding motorcycles. It was also at St. Andrews that he met his wife, Kate Middleton (now Her Royal Highness, The Duchess of Cambridge), and treated us to the wedding of the millennium.
In the years preceding his marriage with Kate (who now goes by Catherine), he trained with the British army and Royal Air Force and even served on active duty for seven years (it is actually fairly common for male royalty to serve in the military in one form or other). However, these days he’s more likely to hang up his pilot’s license in favor of spending quality time with his two adorable children, George and Charlotte.
It seems that whenever William and his family step out into the public, we just can’t get enough of them. And that is because for everything that he is—royalty, wealthy, privileged—he treats his life with dignity and humility. He doesn’t puff himself up, or think he is better than anyone. He is kind and generous. He is a family-man who takes his responsibilities seriously. He cherishes what he has, and lifts up those that are weak. He’s an inspiration to you and me.
Happy birthday, William!
By Jensen Argyle
The summer before I went to middle school my mother compiled a list of twenty-five books she wanted me to read that summer. For each book I read, she gave me five dollars.
Since that summer, I have been very into my summer reading and creating my own reading lists to keep my mind active during the relaxing summer months. Creating a summer reading list is a fun way to get the most out of your precious summer months. Here are my best tips on creating a summer reading list.
By Jensen Argyle
From the author of Something Borrowed and Something Blue comes a new novel, First Comes Love. This latest novel focuses on two sisters and how they are dealing with the death of their brother fifteen years later. The sisters have a strained relationship and are complete opposites. Josie is single, a first grade teacher, and has a string of men from her past who she still obsesses over. Meredith is married, a lawyer, and an OCD mother. Their biggest difference though is in how they deal with the death of their beloved brother. Their misunderstandings and incapability of seeing eye to eye make for a very interesting relationship dynamic. Emily Giffin is queen at writing about complex relationships, and she successfully masters this in writing this difficult sisterly relationship.
The book starts out with Josie. Josie has an interesting, casual voice. Her POV reads like a blog entry, and she definitely has enough wit and spunk to keep the reader engaged. I loved reading her thoughts about being a first grade teacher and her inner monologues where she tells the reader what she really thinks behind what she actually says. I thought it gave great insight into her character. I also loved when she shared her obsessiveness over past flames, as it felt so crazily relatable and genuine. How many of us don’t obsess over our exes and what they are doing now?
Meredith has a much dryer voice. She is methodical and that clearly shows as she tells her side of things. Don’t get me wrong though, she has enough sass to make the reader laugh as well. Her insights on her sister are especially interesting, because seeing Josie through Meredith’s eyes gives the reader a completely different perspective of Josie and it’s hard to read her the same when you are in Josie’s head. This feels very authentic, and I love how it reflects the fact that we all have different perspectives and depending on whose eyes you are looking through, you will see things in a different way.
Overall, I really enjoyed Giffin’s writing. This was my first time reading an Emily Giffin novel, and I was pleasantly surprised by her wit, casualness, and easy ability to grab the reader. This is definitely the perfect novel for a warm summer day lounging by the pool.
Check it out June 28th. And as always, happy reading!
Image taken from usmagazine.com