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My True Love Gave to Me, Edited by Stephanie Perkins


 
About the Book:
Author(s): Holly Black, Ally Carter, Matt De La Pena, Gayle Foreman, Jenny Han, David Levithan, Kelly Link, Myra McEntire, Stephanie Perkins, Rainbow Rowell, Laini Taylor, Kiersten White
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Source: Amazon Purchase
Publication Date: 2014
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Genre: Fiction; Contemporary, Fantasy, Christmas, Novella 

Every year one of my “goals” for the Christmas season is to read more seasonal fiction because I must admit that being the Hallmark junkie I am there’s no logical reason why I shouldn’t enjoy some festive fiction as well, which is why this collection of novellas immediately snagged my attention. Its 12 stories written by some of the best in the YA/Teen business are all edited by respected novelist Stephanie Perkins. I started out reading this with skepticism after watching a booktube review for it, but am not sorry to have the information since it informed me about which stories I would enjoy and those that for personal reasons I would be skipping. Since it’s tough to review a collection of novellas, what I am going to do with this review is a little different. I’m going to share about some of the stories I liked best – along with maybe brief reviews on one or two I just didn’t “get,” beginning with the first novella.  

Midnights, by Rainbow Rowell: This is one of the least developed stories that I read, meaning while it spans several years (three, I believe) – each time set on New Year’s Eve, it really didn’t feel as if we got to know the characters well. That being said, this one was darling. I enjoyed Mags as a character particularly since she’s isn’t your normal, outgoing, vibrant kind of heroine. She’s someone more people will relate to than I think we realize and that’s nice. It’s a story about a group of friends who have banned together for years and the male “best friend” (Noel) Mags has watched kiss someone new each year – and it’s never her. Plus I enjoyed getting a taste of what Rainbow’s writing is about and being one of the most hyped currently in culture writers, that was a treat. (4 out of 5) 

Polaris is Where You’ll Find Me, by Jenny Han: This one tells the story of Natalie, a normal girl rescued by Santa who was raised to be Santa’s daughter. Only trouble is she has developed a crush on an elf and unable to see a future with anyone other than her own kind, she begins thinking about the outside world. Unique is the best word I can think to describe this story. It’s darling in a different kind of way because of the idea of a heroine who is crushing on an elf – one who’s sort of been her best friend through their growing up. Natalie has a sweet personality and I like that she’s imaginative. Though probably the shortest in the whole collection, it’s a nice read. (4 out of 5)

It's A Yuletide Miracle, Charlie Brown, by Stephanie Perkins: Immediately following up Jenny’s story is this one which tells Marigold and North’s story. These two meet at a tree lot and through a series of events (nothing “epic” certainly), they take a kind of emotional journey together in the span of limited pages and oh my, gosh! I totally know why everyone hypes Stephanie Perkins as a great contemporary author. I absolutely loved this one and can definitely get behind the calls for Perkins to make this into a full length novel – without having time to really let us know these characters (because of page space), we love these two and want to know more as the last pages come to an end. It’s charming, really – plus it doesn’t hurt that the title brings to mind one of THE most beloved Christmas specials. (5 out of 5)  

What the Hell Have You Done, Sophie Roth? by Gayle Forman: Unfortunately, for all the hype surrounding this author, I just didn’t care for this story. It has some nice moments and I liked the idea of the story, but the crudities and choppiness (the story didn’t flow as nicely as most of the other contemporaries) just didn’t work. Sophie is a Jewish girl (whose family isn’t strict in their religion) who finds it tough being at a school where next to no one is Jewish. She (of course) meets a boy who changes things. (3 out of 5)  

Welcome to Christmas, CA., by Kiersten White: This was one that didn’t seem to get the best of reviews from readers, but I actually enjoyed it. It’s got some sass, features fabulous banter between its leads and offers a lesson that our perception of life isn’t always the truth – something Maria has to learn and unfortunately it’s a lesson that could have made her life more pleasant had she learned it sooner. Really quickly, the story is about a high school senior named Maria who hates her small town until she meets the new cook (Ben) at the diner her mother runs and where Maria works after school. (4 out of 5)  

Star of Bethlehem, by Ally Carter: Lydia and Hulda serendipitously meet at the airport and when Lydia sees that Hulda is trying to exchange her ticket for a different destination, they swap sending Lydia to a ranch where a cute guy, Ethan and this large family await her. Okay, so this story may be the most unrealistic, but aww… it was cute. I could have done without some of the “convenient” last-minute bits of dialogue and the events – it has something to do with legal guardianship and an aunt named Mary, but other than that, this one is darling. (4out of 5)  

I’m struggling with an overall rating for this so I’m not going that route with this collection. It’s hard to know where to rate it because in the interest of full disclosure, one story I read nothing of and two other’s I left unfished (one of which being ‘The Lady and the Fox’ because I’m sorry, but I just didn’t get it – am I missing something?) Then there is Holly Black’s mythical story (‘Krampuslauf’) which I suppose raises some interesting social issues yet doesn’t explain itself: is it contemporary fantasy… or what? Also some of the stories may wander into gray issues as regards spirituality and that will probably be a sore spot for some readers – I took most everything as regards those elements with a grain of salt because honestly nothing that happened in the pages shook what I believe in.  

Some of the novellas won’t satisfy everyone not just because of content, but because some of the stories don’t have time to spell out every issue due to the length. In the end, I’m glad I read this. It gave me a chance to “meet” some of the most popular authors in the YA scene (which I loved since I’m anxious to read some of their full-length novels) and provided me with some nice holiday reading – the festive events, scenes or descriptions know no bounds! Despite some disappointments, it's a book I can see myself picking up during the Christmas season and rereading my favorites in the collection.

Content: there is some profanity (sh*t, da*n, "effing" etc.) and innuendo (one story suggests a girl has taken a guy to a room at a party – she emerges in her underwear) in the stories. There are also some homosexual themes – some mentions are just in passing, another is the primary topic in ‘Your Temporary Santa.’ Parties do occur in certain novellas, most include alcohol and underage drinking.  

Synopsis: If you love holiday stories, holiday movies, made-for-TV-holiday specials, holiday episodes of your favorite sitcoms and, especially, if you love holiday anthologies, you’re going to fall in love with MY TRUE LOVE GAVE TO ME: TWELVE HOLIDAY STORIES by twelve bestselling young adult writers, edited by international bestselling author Stephanie Perkins. - Goodreads
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8 comments:

  1. Of course I've heard a lot about this book, but honestly I didn't have a lot of interest in reading it. Mostly because I'm not into novellas (they're much too short!), but also because I don't really read seasonal books.

    But I'll likely eventually check it out from the library or something to read Rainbow Rowell's novella, because I'll read anything she writes. :) And now after your review, I'm also intrigued by Jenny Han's and Stephanie Perkins' novellas.

    And even though I don't usually read seasonal novels, I do have a couple that I'm hoping to read next month. Including Dash & Lily's Book of Dares...I hear really mixed things about it, but it's set in New York during Christmas, and the plot sounds intriguing to me! :) We'll see, I guess.

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    Replies
    1. I was happy about this one from the get-go, Kristin because I'm such a Hallmark movie sap around this time of year and I figured books would be the same - and yep, they are! I was really happy to read this even with some disappointments, it was sweet and will be something to enjoy re-reading favorites during the holiday season. Hope you find some to enjoy when/if you read it - and Rainbow's is really charming! :)

      The novellas didn't bother me in this instance for the most part. This was just a nice, easy book overall.

      You know I just saw someone else mention wanting to read 'Dash & Lily' because it was a Christmas novel, so thanks for the reminding - always wanting to find new books!

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  2. I didn't enjoy this one that much either, I read Let It Snow with John Green and some other writers also and man that was the pits also. Guess YA author book compliations just are not my thing. Which is funny since I really enjoy YA.

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    1. Overall, I actually did like this book, Shannon - I was just unsure how to rate it because I didn't finish a couple stories and skipped one. If judging by the stories I did read, I'd give this a 4.5 or so rating because I am a sap for Christmas stories. Sorry this one and John Green's weren't wins for you - guess that happens to us all sometimes, even in genres we love. It's a good thing there is SO much variety. :)

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  3. Replies
    1. It IS, Juju. I so enjoyed (most) the stories I read. Loved this idea and the Christmas cheer was the icing on the cake. :)

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  4. Oh my goodness, I don't know why I haven't heard of this before! I love Christmas-themed stories, and these stories are written by some pretty amazing YA authors. So cool. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Rissi. I'm glad you enjoyed most of the stories!

    Also, do you happen to have any recommendations for other Christmas-themed books? I'm currently waiting for Where Treetops Glisten to come in the mail, but I'm in the mood for more seasonal fiction :)

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    Replies
    1. I am glad to introduce you to this one, Jillian and certainly hope you enjoy it. It was definitely full of Christmas cheer - and I did indeed love the stories that I loved (if that makes any sense). It'll be fun to revisit some during future holidays. :)

      As for more Christmas books, the only one I can think of is the secular adult novel Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor. It has adult content so I don't know that I can recommend it since that's for each reader to decide, but for some reason I really enjoyed it, though if all goes as planned, I am hoping to review a couple more books during this season - just something Christmas! And I hope you enjoy your seasonal read - and let me know if you read any you like too as I'm always wanting to read more Christmas books too. :)

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