My True Love Gave to Me, edited by Stephanie Perkins (review copy) - On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me ...This beautiful collection features twelve gorgeously romantic stories set during the festive period, by some of the most talented and exciting YA authors writing today. The stories are filled with the magic of first love and the magic of the holidays. From Goodreads
I received My True Love Gave to Me, edited by Stephanie Perkins to review last month, but have been saving for closer to Christmas. Christmas is likely to be very difficult for me this year, so I decided to read this sooner than planned to help get me into the holiday spirit. I'm really glad to say it has made me a little cheerier about this time of year.
My True Love Gave to Me is a YA anthology of 12 stories set around Christmas. The tag line for the book is "Twelve winter romances", and this is pretty accurate, because they're not all technically Christmas stories. They're set around Christmas, and Christmas is mentioned in all of them, but in some, Christmas is the backdrop to some, or isn't something the characters celebrate due to different religions. But each story was very sweet and made me smile, even if some leave more to be desired. I'm going to review each story individually.
Midnights by Rainbow Rowell - A story set around New Years Eve over four consecutive years, and the relationship between two friends, Mags and Noel. It was a really sweet story, written with Rowell's recognisable style, but it was too short! I wanted it to go on much longer. Story itself is kind of forgettable, I hate to say, but how it made me feel - like how all Rowell's stories make me feel - is familiar and lovely!
The Lady and the Fox by Kelly Link - Miranda discovers a stranger outside at a family friend's Christmas ball, who only appears when it snows and never comes inside. Year after year. I was really hooked by this story, it gripped me fast and kept me turning the pages; the mystery, the magical element... but there were so many questions when it finished! A nice paranormal/fantasy Christmas story, but there were no answers to any of my "why" questions.
Angels in the Snow by Matt de la Peña - Shy is cat sitting for his manager over Christmas, but is left without food. He is fed by the neighbour above, Haley, in exchange for using Shy's shower, as hers has stopped working. I loved this story! It was so sweet, and so there was much chemistry between Shy and Haley! But again, was over too quickly. Ended just as things were beginning.
Polaris is Where You'll Find Me by Jenny Han - Natty, Santa's adopted daughter, is feeling left out during the Snow Ball, as the only human there besides Santa. I was loving this story! Elves that aren't tiny! Santa's has a daughter! A ball! And then it ended all of a sudden. I turned the page thinking there was more to come, but nothing. It really felt like I was only halfway through the story. Wasn't expecting it to end there, it could have been so good if there was just more. So much potential! I wish Han had expanded the story further.
It's a Yuletide Miracle, Charlie Brown by Stephanie Perkins - I don't even know how to summarise this story, so much happens. Marigold requests the help of North, a guy selling Christmas trees, to bring holiday cheer to her home. This is one of the longest stories in the anthology! And it's a full story, people! It has an end, and one that's satisfying! And seriously, so much goes on in this story, with a whole lot of chemistry! A story to sigh happily over.
Your Temporary Santa by David Levithan - Connor asks his boyfriend to dress up as Santa and visit his home in the middle of the night on Christmas Eve to keep his younger sister's believing. Oh my god, this story is so cute! Very Levithan, and just the sweetest, cutest story. I love how the narrator - who isn't given a name - acts as Santa, despite being Jewish, to keep Riley's belief in Santa alive! So cute! But still there's the romance aspect, which has him worrying about his relationship with Connor, feeling like he doesn't fit into his life. Adorable!
Krampuslauf by Holly Black - After taking part in the Krampuslauf charity run, Hanna and her friends Wren and Penny decide to throw a New Year's Eve party at which they'll humiliate Penny's cheating boyfriend. But then some otherworldly creatures turn up. This one started off pretty interesting, with the folklore of the Krampus, and the run where people were doing dressed as Krampuses for charity. Then things got better when things got kind of magical... and then it ended, just as it was getting really good. And skimmed over a lot of the better moments. I wanted more.
What the Hell Have You Done, Sophie Roth? by Gayle Forman - Sophie has been regretting going to uni in the middle of nowhere, until she meets Russell, who shows her not everything is as it seems. Another sweet story, and a little emotional. It was really good when I was reading it, but now, it's kind of hard to remember much about it.
Beer Buckets and Baby Jesus by Myra McEntire - After accidentally burning down the Church shed, Vaughn has to help get things ready for the Church's Christmas Nativity to make up for it. But when everything starts to go wrong, as chaos is his element, Vaughn is the only one who can fix things. This was a pretty funny story, and I really enjoyed it. Probably the funniest of the lot. It's not laugh out loud, but it's quite amusing. I loved Vaughn's voice!
Welcome to Christmas, CA by Kiersten White - Maria is beyond eager to get out of her deadbeat town, but when Ben, the new cook at the Christmas Café she works at, starts changing everyone's mood with his beautiful food, he shows her that maybe Christmas isn't so awful after all. Slightly different to the previous, and another emotional story, but also kind of cheesy. Ben was just a bit too nice. But I still enjoyed the story.
Star of Bethlehem by Ally Carter - Lydia swaps plane tickets with an Icelandic girl to escape her life, but finds more than she was expecting. I really liked this story! So much! This is the kind of story I'd love to read as a full length novel. It's more about Lydia than it is a romance, but there is that element. I really enjoyed trying to guess what Lydia was running from.
The Girl Who Woke the Dreamer by Laini Taylor - A poor orphan made to work until she's 18, Neve has only one possible future to escape poverty and hard work; marriage. But when marriage is it's own slavery, praying may be the only way out. But Neve prays to an old God, and wakes him, and her life will never be the same again. Oh my god! Laini Taylor is just so incredible! Even this short story moved me like her full length novels! The fantasy, the emotion, the hard life! Fantastic! Most probably my favourite of the lot!
Such a fantastic anthology, despite feeling let down with some of them. And what's brilliant about this anthology is how diverse it is! So many different races, a few religions, and LGBTQ characters in a number of stories. There really is something for everyone here! And I've discovered some new authors I'm going to have to check out. A great book for this time of year!
Thank you to Macmillan Children's Books for the review copy.
Published: 9th October 2014
Publisher: Macmillan Children's Books
Stephanie Perkins' Website