Monday, 29 December 2014

Review: My True Love Gave To Me edited by Stephanie Perkins

Title: My True Love Gave To Me - Twelve Holiday Stories
Authors: Holly Black, Ally Carter, Matt de Peña, Gayle Forman, Jenny Han, David Levithan, Kelly Link, Myra McEntire, Stephanie Perkins, Rainbow Rowell, Laini Taylor and Kiersten White
Publisher: Macmillan Children's Books
Publication date: October 9th, 2014
Genres: Young adult, Short stories, Romance, Contemporary

My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories

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 (Holly Black, Ally Carter, Matt de La Peña, Gayle Forman, Jenny Han, David Levithan, Kelly Link, Myra McEntire, Rainbow Rowell, Stephanie Perkins, Laini Tayler and Kiersten White), edited by the international bestselling Stephanie Perkins.  Whether you celebrate Christmas or Hanukkah, Winter Solstice or Kwanzaa, there's something here for everyone.  So curl up by the fireplace and get cozy.  You have twelve reasons this season to stay indoors and fall in love.

Upon hearing of this collection a few months ago I was instantaneously intrigued and exciting to see how it would work out. Essentially, this was to be the PERFECT assemblage of holiday stories from the 'Dream Team' of Young Adult authors.  As a whole, this anthology was a witty and adorable collection of stories that made me feel all fuzzy and warm, just as I had hope it would. Of course, some stories did not appeal to me as much as others, but for the most part I thoroughly enjoyed it. This anthology is the perfect companion in preparation for the holiday season, and is pretty much like curling up in bed with a cup of hot cocoa.
Some of my favourite contributions to the collection include the works of Gayle Forman and Stephanie Perkins (obviously), Matt de la Peña, Ally Carter and Laini Taylor.
I thought it'd be much easier for me and for you, if I were to review each story separately so that's exactly what I have done.

Midnights by Rainbow Rowell - ★★★★★

The anthology opens up with a short story from one of the queens of contemporary herself, Rainbow Rowell, (third in line after Gayle Forman and Stephanie Perkins) and it does not disappoint. This story was super sweet and absolutely adorable. I quickly connected with the characters, Mags and Noel, especially considering the short number of pages. Rainbow Rowell's writing is always incredibly on point and her dialogue is some of the best I've ever read. It was such a wonderful opening to the anthology.

The Lady and the Fox by Kelly Link- ★★

I've never read anything by Kelly Link before and had quite high expectations considering how stellar the first story in the book had been. However, the Lady and the Fox was not for me. I found this story to be extremely strange and very confusing, half of the time I had no idea what was going on. Part of me felt like maybe Miranda was hallucinating because what she'd been seeing made no sense at all. I didn't feel anything for the characters and I felt that their actions weren't very believable. I am still scratching my head over this one. The only reason I kept reading was so that I could find out what the heck happened and get some answers to my questions, but that didn't really happen. I did quite enjoy the writing style however, which is why I managed to give this a two.

Angels in the Snow by Matt de la Peña- ★★★★½

I've never read a book by Matt de la Peña but I was pleasantly surprised by his contribution to the collection. This story dealt with real world issues such as social classes and ethnicity in such a beautiful manner. The writing was perfect and the characters were gorgeously witty and genuine. I loved the dialogue between the two. I am really intrigued to read more of Matt's work after reading this.

Polaris is Where You'll Find Me by Jenny Han- ★★★½

Jenny Han is one of my favourite contemporary authors and her contribution was one that I had been highly anticipating. I thoroughly enjoyed the story, but I had a few issues with it and was left a little bit underwhelmed. Before reading this story I had been under the impression that all of the stories were contemporaries, although this story had a fantastical element to it. I was rather surprised to find out that the main character was living among elves and was adopted by Father Christmas himself. The characters were genuine enough but I found that the whole 'I'm adopted by Santa' act to be a little bit unbelievable. I did though, really love the interaction between the main character and her crush Flynn and the ending was nice and incredibly sweet.

It's a Yuletide Miracle, Charlie Brown- ★★★★★ (ALL THE STARS TO EXIST EVER)

ALL HAIL THE (SECOND) QUEEN OF CONTEMPORARY HERSELF (in my opinion), STEPHANIE PERKINS. This story was so stinking beautiful, and it comes as no surprise. I would never expect anything less from Stephanie Perkins. I can't even begin to describe my love for this story, which possessed characters so beautifully genuine and hilariously witty that I wanted to rip them from the pages and chat with them over hot cocoa. They were so genuine, Marigold especially. I thought it was so interesting that she was into animation and that she had a YouTube channel. Also, she's asian! It's nice when stories aren't completely white-washed. As per usual, the writing was flawless and a thousand extra stars for the witty banter.

Your Temporary Santa by David Levithan- ★★¾

I haven't read anything by David Levithan before. *raises hands in surrender* I know, I know. It's shameful. I've heard such stellar things about his work and to say I had incredibly high expectations would be an understatement. I was expecting pure magic. I especially admired the fact that we were able to read a story about a gay couple, I'm an active advocate of diversity within YA and I think that any author who chooses to portray such a subject, even though it may be controversial, should be commended. The issue I did have with this story though, was the characters. I'm not saying they were bad or unlikeable, I just felt that I wasn't able to fully connect with them. It felt like something was missing. Also, there were a few unanswered questions and the ending was slightly confusing.

Krampuslauf by Holly Black- ★★ (DNF)

I've read and loved quite a number of Holly Black's books so I was rather optimistic about her short story, however I wasn't able to get into it and ended up giving up three quarters of the way through. The entire concept was rather strange, but I found the characters to be likeable. For the most part the story was amusing and the writing was well done, it just wasn't my cup of tea. I think I might not have been in the right mood at the time.

What the Hell Have You Done, Sophie Roth? by Gayle Forman- ★★★★★

If you know me well enough you'll know that I am a firm believer that Gayle Forman is a novel-writing goddess and the Queen of Contemporary. Her contribution to the anthology is just as spectacular as I could have hoped, and definitely does not disappoint. First of all, my favourite thing about her story is the diversity. We are given a main character who is Jewish, and it features a biracial couple. YAY FOR DIVERSITY. I especially loved Sophie's sarcasm, and the dialogue between her and Russell. Forman always knows how to weave such witty lines and hilarious concepts into her stories. I especially loved the parts about the Christmas Sweater orgy and Ned Flanders. Pure gold. The writing was superb, as to be expected and I absolutely fell in love with the dynamic between the two characters. They were so genuine and fittingly flawed. This story was such an incredibly cute and heartwarming addition to the anthology.

Beer Buckets and Baby Jesus by Myra McEntire- ★★

I'm not too familiar with Myra McEntire so I wasn't expecting far too much from this story and to be honest, it fell kind of flat with me. I could see how someone may think it was cute, but it wasn't my cup of tea and I didn't connect with the characters. It was nice that religion played quite a significant role in the story, but I can also see how some might not enjoy that aspect. It doesn't push anything on readers, but religion can be quite controversial. The characters were okay, but the relationships between them felt very forced and unnatural which probably played a role in my disengagement. I must admit though, Vaughn's voice was very unique and likeable.

Welcome to Christmas, CA by Kiersten White- ★★★★

I have not had the pleasure of reading any of Kiersten White's other works, but I really enjoyed her contribution to this collection. It made me feel all warm and fuzzy, like I was sipping on a hot chocolate. This story was alot like comfort food, and all the talk of food did make me very hungry. I think it was actually this story out of all that really got me into the Christmas spirit. The characters were loveable and genuine, but I didn't connect with them as much as I would have liked. This story had many heartwarming and endearing moments, and quite a bit of depth and the ending was quite touching. I may or may not have gotten a little teary.

Star of Bethlehem by Ally Cater- ★★★★★

Growing up, Ally Carter was one of my favourite authors for her Gallagher Girls series, and her writing still continues to sit well with me today. I adored this chapter because to me it touched on themes more complex than just romance, but also family, love, loss and hope. I did want to know more about the characters though, I felt we were kind of thrown into the story without any backstory or prior knowledge. Yes, it kept it kind of mysterious and interesting, I just would have liked them to feel a little bit more developed.  Though I do admit the story got cheesy at times I found it to be incredibly adorable and heartwarming. The story was so much fun and I could see myself reading it as an entire novel.

The Girl Who Woke The Dreamer by Laini Taylor- ★★★★★

This story was pure and utter magic. Laini Taylor's writing is so incredibly perfect, I just want to bathe in its otherworldly magic and soak in it. Though it did take me a little while to get into, I absolutely adored where the story went. This was the only story that featured alternating POVs which was quite impressive too. The world-building, writing, plot and characters were nothing short of flawless. I don't even understand how a human being could conjure up a story so unique and imaginative. It was such a beautiful tale and I was in a sort of daze upon completing it. Just thinking about it makes me sigh dreamily in awe of her talent. This story just oozes magic. It was both sort of strange and utterly incredible.

Average star rating across all stories: 3.81 stars

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