In February, I read twenty-four books. That’s five short of the twenty-nine required to average one a day for the month, and my total in 2008 for January and February is only thirty-nine of sixty books. I am going to have to do a lot of catching up on school breaks!

Anyway, that said, last month, I read some awesome books.

Only two were non-fiction: Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera and Not Quite What I Was Planning. The other twenty-two were fiction.

One was read for English class (The Great Gatsby) and one was research for a school project (Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera).

I was a contributor to one of them (Not Quite What I Was Planning).

One was an anthology of short stories (Shining On) and part of its profits go to charity.

A few that particularly stood out were A Little Friendly Advice; Audrey, Wait; Good Enough; Lock and Key; Song of the Sparrow; What Happens Here; Shining On; and The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks.


This wonderful little anthology includes stories by Lois Lowry, Meg Cabot, Sue Limb, Anne Fine, Celia Rees, Rosie Rushton, Malorie Blackman, Jacqueline Wilson, Cathy Hopkins, and Meg Rosoff. Two things about that list of star authors stand out to me: One, they’re some pretty fantastic writers–some of my favorites. Two, most of them are British. According to the biographies in the back, Lois Lowry and Meg Cabot are the only ones who live in America (but I think Meg Rosoff is from the US, she just lives in England). I now have a confession to make: I love all things British, an obsession that has its root in a trip I took last summer to England. It was one of the best experiences of my life, so now I love to read English books and watch BBC America and such. It’s kind of dorky, I’ll admit, but it meant I was super psyched to read this story collection!

And it is in no way, shape, or form disappointing. There’s not a weak story in the bunch! I was completely captivated from the moment I started reading. They are all wonderfully well written (as they should be; all of these authors are masters of their craft).

Of course, I did have the problem I always have with great short stories–I wanted more! For every short story whose characters I fall in love with over the course of a few pages, I always wish that there was more to the story. For two of these, there actually is more–Lois Lowry’s is an excerpt from her novel. And Sue Limb’s story is about her character, Jess (star of Girl, 15, Charming But Insane and its equally fabulous sequels). But for the rest, sadly, as far as I know, this is all we will see of these characters.

While there are certainly no weak points in Shining On, there were a few stories that stood out to me personally as being exceptionally brilliant.

Sue Limb’s You’re A Legend is one. It’s a complete story in itself, but part of a larger body of work about this wonderful character. In this story, Jess goes to help her Granny sort through her dead husband’s belongings and makes a surprising discovery in the attic. I absolutely loved it!

Another story I loved was Malorie Blackman’s Humming Through My Fingers, an incredibly wonderful story about a blind girl who sees more than most of us who are sighted do. Simply brilliant! I mean, I adore Malorie Blackman, but I was still surprised at how completely marvelous this short story is! I’d love to read more about the characters, unsurprisingly. Hmm. Perhaps I’m too greedy to read short stories!

Anyway, another one I particularly enjoyed was Rosie Rushton’s Skin Deep, about a girl who is seriously traumatized (physically and emotionally) by an accident. I’ve never read one of Rushton’s novels, but I’ll have to after reading this story, which I thought was amazing (and I really shouldn’t even bother to say it after all this, but, yes, I wanted more! I feel so greedy).

Those are just a few of the highlights for me, but, trust me, all of the stories are breathtakingly wonderful. This collection is, of course, worth buying and reading because of its marvelousness, but even more so because a portion of the profits go to charity. So, to the bookstore! Or to your favorite online bookstore, if you want to let your fingers do all the hard work. And buy this book immediately!

I put this book aside for ages after reading it, because I wasn’t sure what to say about it. I’m still not entirely sure. It’s an engrossing read, yes. Interesting, certainly. But did I even like it? I’m still not sure! I loved Francesca Lia Block’s Weetzie Bat books. And this is certainly written in a similar style–that odd, haunting, lyrical prose that blurs the lines between reality and fantasy. It’s like something out of a dream. It’s like Salvador Dali in book form (surrealist).

Blood Roses is a collection of short stories. Some are kind of connected, but they are all stand-alone stories. And they are very intriguing. Very mind-bending sometimes. Thought-provoking. Lots of words come to mind about this book. None of them are bad. I think I enjoyed it; it certainly stuck in my mind. I’m not sure it’s for everyone, though. But I liked it. I think.

This book applies to the Triple Eight Challenge (since I’ve changed my categories).

HOW THEY MET, AND OTHER STORIES is an amazing collection of stories about love by brilliant author David Levithan. Each of these stories is fantastic in its own way, but they’re all so different! Some of them are more my kind of story than others, but even in those that were not my very favorites, I could recognise awesomeness. Every one created such great characters, and was so memorable. I felt like I wanted to read an entire novel about the characters in each story. That’s my only complaint; there wasn’t enough! I’ll talk now about a few stories I really loved.

Starbucks Boy is a really fun story about a boy who is hired for a babysitting job. His charge likes to go to Starbucks (he assumes that this must be normal for a child from New York City; after all, she’s got to be more sophisticated than kids where he’s from), and there he sees the Starbucks boy. According to Gabriel, every Starbucks has one, and he’s always out of reach. Or is he? I really just adored this story, the first in the book.¬† This is one of the ones in particular that I wanted a whole novel out of. Seriously, David, make this one into a novel!

The Escalator, A Love Story is a lovely story about a typical high school couple. It’s just so honest and candid and wonderful. That’s all I have to say on the matter. I’ll leave you wondering. Go buy the book and read it. It comes out January 8.

The Number of People Who Meet on Airplanes is another fantastic story. It’s about a couple who meet on an airplane, as the title suggests. Totally wonderful and totally random…Right? Coincidences leading up to love is a big theme in quite a few of these stories, exemplified by the last one in this collection, Intersection (which is short, thought-provoking, and amazing).

Princes also really blew me away. It is another one that feels like it could be a novel, but, as they all are, it’s also completely wonderful on its own, without any more added to it. The characters and their relationships are amazing here.

I could probably gush about each and every story in the collection, even those that weren’t quite my cup of tea like¬† A Romantic Inclination. Even if short stories are not necessarily your thing (they aren’t really mine), I would strongly suggest you read this book about love, in so many of its different wonderful forms. Just as love is varied, these stories are all so incredibly different; what they have in common, though, is that they are spellbinding, simply brilliant, just wonderful.