Snow in Love: A Chick Lit Wednesday Review

cover art for Snow in Love by Melissa de la Crus, Aimee Friedman, Nic Stone, Kasie WestSnow in Love (2018) collects four holiday stories for the first time. Find it on Bookshop.

“Snow and Mistletoe” by Kasie West: Stranded at the airport without a car, Amalie finds unlikely help from a former classmate, Sawyer, who offers Amalie a ride when she needs it most. Can one detour filled road trip, numerous pit stops, a secret crush, and special gifts lead from a snowy mess to new beginnings? You’ll have to read more to find out but I’ll tell you that this story was a banter filled delight.

“Working in a Winter Wonderland” by Aimee Friedman: If Maxine can save up for the perfect party dress, she knows that everything else will fall into place–including finally catching the eye of her crush. There’s only one problem: The only job Maxine can find on short notice is working as an elf in a department store’s holiday department. This story was a lot of fun. Maxine is Jewish and completely overwhelmed by the way Christmas everything seems to take over once December rolls around. After years of being a wallflower, Maxine is ready to make some changes and I love that while she gets everything she wants, none of it is quite what she expects.

“The Magi’s Gifts” by Melissa de la Cruz: Kelsey and Brenden are still figuring out what it means to be in a relationship over the holidays. As both of them try to find the perfect holiday gift they realize that showing someone how much you love them sometimes means sacrificing what you love most. This retelling of O. Henry’s “The Gift of the Magi” is one of the shortest stories in the collection. It’s an interesting spin on a familiar tale but some of the details never quite come together.

“Grounded” by Nic Stone: Leigh is more than ready to spend the holidays on a beach with her family. The problem? She’s stranded at the airport during a snowstorm. And so is her childhood friend Harper. Leigh fell hard for Harper when she was fourteen but not knowing if Harper would reciprocate (or if Harper even liked girls), Leigh tried to shut that down. Now as she leads Harper on a scavenger hunt through the airport before they reconnect, Leigh has to decide if now is the time to take a leap or play it safe. Nic Stone is one of the best contemporary voices around right now. This story is snappy, sweet, and a really smart examination of intersectionality (Leigh and Harper are both black and Leigh is also Jewish) and being true to yourself. And did I mention it was also a sweet romance?

Snow in Love is a effervescent collection of stories sure to leave you smiling–a perfect choice to get you in the holiday spirit at any time of year.

Possible Pairings: Hungry Hearts: 13 Tales of Food & Love edited by Elsie Chapman; Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan; 10 Blind Dates by Ashley Elston; To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han; Let it Snow by John Green, Maureen Johnson and Lauren Myracle; My True Love Gave to Me edited by Stephanie Perkins; Pumpkinheads by Rainbow Rowell and Faith Erin Hicks; Recommended For You by Laura Silverman

*An advance copy of this title was provided by the publisher for review consideration*

Two Summers: A Chick Lit Wednesday Review

Two Summers by Aimee FriedmanAn unexpected phone call at the airport forces Summer Everett to make a split second decision. Should she answer the phone? Should she get on the plane?

One decision will lead to two very different outcomes as Summer’s choices play out in parallel worlds.

In one world Summer ignores the phone call and heads to France as planned for what should be a perfect trip. Summer is thrilled with the chance to catch up with her dad and get to see his portrait of her hanging in a fancy gallery–all while enjoying the beautiful French countryside.

In the other world Summer answers the phone and her plans are ruined. No trip to France. No time with Dad. Just three boring months off from school in her same old small town. She has the chance to take a photography class for the first time, but it’s hard to think of that as anything but a consolation prize.

Neither outcome is quite what Summer expects.

In France or her home town Summer will find unexpected surprises and growing pains, along with the promise of first love and self-discovery. Each vacation will also bring Summer closer to a shocking secret whose revelation will have lasting repercussions regardless of Summer’s initial choice. Some decisions might lead Summer to the same outcomes in both worlds, but it’s up to her to decide what shape her life will take from here in Two Summers (2016) by Aimee Friedman.

Find it on Bookshop.

Two Summers gives readers the best of both worlds in this two-for-one story of one (or perhaps two) pivotal summers. 

Summer is a smart, authentic narrator who learns a lot in each plot whether its how to stand up for herself in France or how to appreciate her own artistic abilities in a photography class at home. Throughout the novel Summer also learns how to be alone and how to step out of her comfort zone. Sweet romances and well-developed characters round out this charming novel that brings the lazy heat and possibility of a long summer vacation to life.

Careful plotting allows readers to watch both timelines play out in “real” time with little nods to the dual narrative which help to bring a cohesive quality to the overall story. The idea of causality and that some outcomes are inevitable is another interesting thread throughout as Two Summers builds toward a satisfying conclusion for both plots. A great summery story and a delightful introduction to time travel and parallel worlds. Highly recommended.

Possible Pairings: Going Bicoastal by Dahlia Adler, In Some Other Life by Jessica Brody, Parallel by Lauren Miller, Now That You’re Here by Amy K. Nichols, Just Like Fate by Cat Patrick and Suzanne Young, The Square Root of Summer by Harrier Reuter Hapgood, Thirteen Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson, All Summer Long by Hope Larson, The Shadow Society by Marie Rutkoski, The Night of Your Life by Lydia Sharp, Time Between Us by Tamara Ireland Stone, Pivot Point by Kasie West, Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac by Gabrielle Zevin

Be sure to enter my Two Summers giveaway too!

You can also check out my exclusive interview with Aimee!

*An advance copy of this title was acquired from the publisher for review consideration*

Author Interview: Aimee Friedman on Two Summers

Aimee Friedman author photoI first saw Aimee at one of the first Teen Author Reading Nights held at Jefferson Market in 2008. She was reading from and discussing her then-newest title The Year My Sister Got Lucky. I read the book soon after and started following Aimee on Twitter soon after. Her follow-up book, Sea Change, is still the only mermaid book I unequivocally love. Needless to say I’ve been waiting eagerly for a new novel from Aimee. I’m happy to report that Two Summers far exceeded my expectations and even more excited to have Aimee answering some questions about it today on the blog.

Miss Print (MP): Can you tell me a bit about your path as a writer? How did you get to this point?

Aimee Friedman (AF): I wrote my first story at age five and right away knew that this was what I wanted to do. Reading and writing were the lifeblood of my childhood and adolescence. When I graduated from college, I began working as an editorial assistant and always wrote on the side. And in 2005, my lifelong dream came true–my first YA novel, SOUTH BEACH, was published! The moment I saw it in a bookstore, I almost fainted. Then I made my parents take like twenty pictures. Since then, it’s been eleven years (eep!) of stops and starts, a few more books, some bumps in the road, adventures…and I wouldn’t trade the writing life for anything. 

MP: What was the inspiration for Two Summers?

AF: I spent a magical summer living in the South of France when I was 19, and I always wanted to write about it in some way.  But I also wanted to write a book about choices, and “what-if”s. And I love summer, the season, so much that I knew I wanted to explore more than one. So I started tinkering with those ideas…and the rest is (Two Summers) history.

MP: This book is has a prologue and epilogue framing the parts of the story which alternate between Summer’s two lives–one in France and one in her hometown. Despite the obvious differences, some key details and moments turn up in both narratives. How did you go about plotting this story and keeping track of everything?

AF: There’s a reason this book took me about three years to write! It was essentially like writing two novels at the same time, and it involved a lot of outlining and head-scratching and long talks with my editor when it came to figuring out the logistics. I ended up creating a fictional calendar for the story, and basically filled it out with what happened on each day, both in France and in America (also keeping note of time zone difference!). Once I had that in place, it was easier to go forth and write out all the beats.

MP: In Two Summers Summer faces a pivotal decision that can lead to two very different summer vacations for her. Did you always know this story would explore dual lives?

AF: Yes! I have long been obsessed with the idea of parallel lives–the notion that one tiny choice can split off into infinite possibilities. (I love the movie Sliding Doors, though I haven’t seen it in years and very deliberately did not watch it while writing Two Summers, so as not to be overtly influenced or thrown off track). I love the work of Brian Greene, a physicist who wrote The Elegant Universe and The Hidden Reality, among other books, that explore in really accessible ways the idea that there are endless universes out there. So cool.

I also really believe that all of us have “two sides”–or more. Different versions of ourselves that we share with different people; ways we are when we are alone, ways we are when we travel versus stay at home. I wanted the book to touch on that as well.

MP: It seems like everyone has pivotal moments like Summer’s all the time. (“What if I didn’t have that internship in high school?” “What if I had sent that email?” And so on.) Do you have your own pivotal moment you’d want to share? Do you think your life now would be different if you had taken the opposite path?

AF: Well, any moment can be a pivotal moment–that’s the thing; we never really know! Sometimes those moments are obvious–if, for instance, I went to law school after college, something one of my professors strongly recommended I do, my life probably would have taken a very different path. Or would it have?  And then there are those funny, tiny moments of choice; the other day, I decided to walk somewhere instead of taking the subway and I ended up running into a dear old friend whom I’d been hoping to reconnect with on the street. Fate, or randomness? 

MP: Two Summers features two (possibly of many more!) distinct paths Summer could have taken. Do you seen one as more “real” by the end of the story? Was one more fun (or more challenging) to write?

AF: I don’t want to say, for fear of spoilers! This one is up to the readers to decide. In terms of writing the dual narratives, they both presented their own rewards and challenges; both settings were fun to “live in” but I also wanted to make sure they both felt authentic and true. 

MP: If you were in Summer’s shoes, would you have answered your phone?

AF: No! I never answer my phone when it’s an unknown number. I usually just stare down at the screen like “Who ARE you?” and let it go to voicemail. 

MP: Did you have a favorite scene to write in Two Summers or a scene you are excited for readers to discover?

AF: I loved writing the moment when Summer first gets to France. It took me back to when I lived in France, those  feelings of discovery and excitement and disorientation. 

MP: Can you share anything about your next project?

AF: It’s in the very early stages right now–sketching down ideas, talking it over with some trusted readers, etc. I’m superstitious and don’t want to jinx it by saying more!

MP: Do you have any advice to offer aspiring authors?

AF: Read! Read what you love, read across genres, read to feel inspired and overwhelmed and inspired again. Wander around bookstores. Read Bird by Bird by Anne Lammot and On Writing by Stephen King. Those are lifesavers! Write down scraps of ideas. Then seize on the scrap that most captures your imagination and expand it. And try to turn off that internal editor whispering in your ear that “it’s not good enough.” It’s hard, but if you can turn off that voice and just get the words down, it will feel awesome. Have a trusted beta reader or two, someone there to push you along and give you criticism and praise as needed. Go, go, go!

Thanks again to Aimee for this awesome interview.

Be sure to enter my Two Summers giveaway too!

You can see more about Aimee and her books on her website.

You can also check out my review of Two Summers.

Sea Change: A Chick Lit Wednesday Review

Sea Change by Aimee FriedmanMany are drawn to Selkie Island. Few know why.

The whirlwind of events that brought sixteen-year-old Miranda Merchant to the island, away from her sensible summer plans in New York City, are unlikely but they make enough sense. Her mother has inherited a house that needs to be gone through and emptied. Logical enough. And so much more realistic than any fairytale happy ending.

But Selkie Island is a messy place that quickly blurs the lines between past and present and, more startling for Miranda, between reality and legend. Lore about mythical creatures and her own family’s past pervade the island filling the dense air with mystery and a charge Miranda’s logical mind can’t grasp. Soon enough everything Miranda thought she knew about her own family, her basic reality, and love is turned upside down when she meets Leo, a local boy with his own breezy, otherworldly charm.

Miranda will have to sort through the facts, and the myths, to find the truth and maybe even her own happy ending in Sea Change (2009) by Aimee Friedman.

Find it on Bookshop.

Sea Change is subtle and exquisite. Thoroughly grounded in Miranda’s scientific, logical head the story practically vibrates with tension as she works to reconcile what her mind knows to be impossible with what her heart might already know to be true. Friedman has already written a lot of great books, some of them bestsellers, but this one might be her best to date.

Friedman seamlessly integrates scientific references, seaside lore, and family to create a clever, romantic book with delightful characters and a setting evocative enough that some readers might finish this book only to find sand between their toes.

On top of all that, Miranda is a smart, grounded heroine who has a strong sense of self even at her lowest. No vampire’s here, but anyone looking for a thinking girl’s answer to Twilight need look no further.

Possible Pairings: Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl, North of Beautiful by Justina Chen Headley, Girl at Sea by Maureen Johnson, Scarlett Fever by Maureen Johnson, Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta, Swoon at Your Own Risk by Sydney Salter, Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy by Gary D. Schmidt, How to Say Goodbye in Robot by Natalie Standiford

Exclusive Bonus Content (where I actually have content): If, like me, you love the cover of this book be sure to stop by the readergirlz blog to hear the awesome story behind the cover from the author herself.

The Year My Sister Got Lucky: A Chick Lit Wednesday Review

The Year My Siser Got Lucky by Aimee FriedmanFourteen-year-old Katie Wilder has her whole world figured out. She and her older sister Michaela are best friends and ballerinas at a prestigious dance school in New York City. Their futures are mapped out as minutely as the New York City Subway system. They are City Girls, born and bred, and neither Wilder sister would have it any other way in The Year My Sister Got Lucky (2008) by Aimee Friedman.

That was August.

September finds the Wilder family moving upstate to the rural Adirondack town of Fir Lake.

Nothing is the way it was in the City. Everyone knows Katie’s name (even if they can’t actually pronounce “Katya”) and her background. Neighbors say hello and the entire town is excited about a mysterious event referred to only as “Homecoming.” In a town where everyone knows everyone, Katie feels like a stranger.

To make matters worse, Michaela has no such problems. Overnight it seems like Michaela has made a place for herself in Fir Lake finding popular friends, joining Yearbook, and even dating the gorgeous quarterback.

The harder Katie clings to her memories of City life, the more Michaela adapts to life in Fir Lake, leaving Katie to wonder what happens when your home doesn’t feel like a home and your best friend starts to look like someone you don’t know.

As a City Girl myself, it was great to read Friedman’s evocative scenes early in The Year My Sister Got Lucky that so wonderfully capture the city I (gratefully) call home. While Friedman’s descriptions of New York City are pitch perfect, right down to the ballerinas the flock there for summer dance programs, she also captures what I imagine is an authentic picture of rural life. Even as Katie aches to be back in New York, Friedman shows the unique beauty that can be found in a dark sky lit by stars instead of skyscrapers.

More than that, this story is about growing up. While her sister blossoms in their bucolic town, Katie struggles to understand what being a teenaged girl really means.

The Year My Sister Got Lucky is also a fully developed look at a year in the life of the Wilder family. Friedman brings together a lot of different elements to create a story that is funny and insightful and strikingly genuine from every angle.

Possible Pairings: Tumbling by Caela Carter, Bunheads by Sophie Flack, King of the Screwups by K. L. Going, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han, Suite Scarlett by Maureen Johnson, Boy Toy by Barry Lyga, We Are the Goldens by Dana Reinhardt, A Map of the Known World by Lisa Ann Sandell, How to Say Goodbye in Robot by Natalie Standiford, The Inside of Out by Jenn Marie Thorne