(Title links go to Goodreads pages.)
Nerd Love by Irene Koh
Available: Included in the Secret Loves Of Geek Girls collection edited by Hope Nicholson.
Story: A girl starts a relationship with another gamer.
Why I'm recommending: I am completely in awe of the super-talented Irene Koh, who in a 5 page comic (just 25 panels!) brought her characters vividly to life and made me really care about her lead. It's sweet, rather sad in parts, but ultimately really heartwarming.
The Magic of Midwinter by Amy Alward
Available: In the Winter Magic collection curated by Abi Elphinstone.
Story: In the world of The Potion Diaries series, a girl tries to find the perfect present for her friend, seeking help from the elves to do so.
Why I'm recommending: I'm always slightly wary of reading stories which are part of series I haven't read yet - and I'm way behind on The Potion Diaries; I started book one and was enjoying and somehow got distracted then lost my copy. However this gorgeous story works whatever your level of familiarity is with the series, I'd say - it's a really lovely story of friendship and it's definitely got me excited to return to Amy Alward's writing soon. (I WILL either find my copy of the original book or buy another one!)
Guest post from Katherine Webber
Anything by Laini Taylor
Availability: Various; see below.
I love anything and everything that Laini Taylor writes, and her short stories are no exception. I adored her short story Gentlemen Send Phantoms in Foretold (the same anthology that has Malinda Lo's fantastic One True Love, you really should get that anthology) about three friends who are hoping to get a glimpse of the "phantom" of the man they'll marry-- it is romantic and lovely and just delicious, and includes cake. And I absolutely love her story The Girl Who Woke the Dreamer in the My True Love Gave To Me anthology (probably my favorite YA short story anthology!) because it is magical and wistful and a little bit dark and just gorgeous. But the ones I love the most (ok, I realize I'm cheating a bit and recommending a few of her wonderful stories) are the three stories in her short story collection Lips Touch. First of all, it's illustrated with beautiful art done by her husband, illustrator Jim Di Bartolo, and I love illustrated stories. And each of the stories hinges on the power or importance of a kiss, which is delightful. The stories are about goblins and demons and curses and, of course, kissing. They are like fairy tales on fire. And because Laini Taylor wrote them, they are stunning and have sentences that you'll want to underline and re-read and say out loud, because they are just so beautiful and unexpected. In conclusion, I'd recommend any and all of Laini Taylor's short stories. Impossible to just choose one!
Katherine Webber is the author of WING JONES, published by Walker Books. Katherine was born in Southern California but has lived in Atlanta, Hawaii, Hong Kong and now in London. For several years she worked at the reading charity BookTrust, where she worked on projects such as The Letterbox Club which delivers parcels of books to children in care, and YALC, the Young Adult Literature Convention. You can find her on Twitter @kwebberwrites