Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Release Date: October 14th, 2014
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. Whether you enjoy celebrating Christmas or Hanukkah, Winter Solstice or New Year's 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.Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book for review from the publisher. This does not affect my review in any way, nor am I being compensated for the review.
As this is an anthology, I'll be writing mini reviews for each of the stories separately, but if I were to rate it as a whole, I'd give it a 4 out of 5. You'll find that I found most of the stories to be in the middle/mediocre, but I really enjoyed the ones I did enjoy, so that's why I ended up giving it an overall rating of 4. As a whole, I found this to be enjoyable, and I'll definitely be rereading a few of these during the holiday season from now on.
1) Midnights by Rainbow Rowell
I absolutely adored this story. I'm going to be honest. I read the first half of the book around the time that the book came out so the details are a bit fuzzy, but I definitely remember loving this story. It's just this beautiful short little story about two friends growing closer, then apart, and then together again until they admit their feelings for one another. Rowell consolidated what could have been a great book into an amazing short story.
This story still confuses me. For most of the story, I couldn't figure out what was going on, and I didn't find it very convincing love story at all. It made me squirm, and it made me feel awkward. It got a bit better towards the end, but I was just so done with it by then.
Again, I wasn't really feeling the romance in this story. It did get progressively better, which I was really happy with. I really enjoyed the ending, even though the "reveal" towards the end didn't surprise me and made the romance a bit more weird. But overall, this was a pretty cute story.
I wasn't the biggest fan for the first few paragraphs, and Natalie is far from my favorite narrator, but I did enjoy the story overall. I like how open-ended the ending is, but at the same time, I wish there had been more! It felt incomplete, and I wasn't entirely convinced about the whole Flynn, Lars, etc thing. I think the story would have been a bit, if not much, better if it had been longer and had more time to develop and grow. Overall, a sweet, short short story.
*FLAILS* This was just utterly perfect, and it was exactly what I was looking for, hoping for, and what I needed at the time that I read it. It's such a nicely developed story, and I feel like I really got to know the characters. I was completely drawn into story, and I just flipped the pages, wanting more, more, more. So much love! If you're only going to read one story in this entire anthology, this is tied for my first choice.
6) Your Temporary Santa by David Levithan
I feel really indifferent about this story. I was not a fan of it at the beginning, and though it got slightly better, I was never drawn into the story. I didn't feel anything for the characters, and it feels like this was more like a snapshot of a larger work than a standalone. This was just a very mehhh read for me.
7) Krampuslauf by Holly Black
I had to restart this one so many times because I kept putting it down, forgetting what it was about, starting it again, etc. I'm still not entirely sure what the heck was going on and what exactly those creatures were, but I could tell that this story was really trying to have heart and be about friendship. It was just that there was this really awkward air around all of it. I was left feeling pretty indifferent about this story too. I still have no idea what the krampuslauf is supposed to look like, and if it's anything like I imagine, I just really don't see the appeal of the romance. I did not get a happy, light, holiday-y feel from this story at all. It ended up not being terrible, but it was pretty mediocre in my opinion.
8) What the Hell Have You Done, Sophie Roth? by Gayle Forman
I quite enjoyed this one. It was pretty cute and fluffy. The romance moved pretty quickly, but I really enjoyed the banter between the characters so it sort of made up for it. My biggest peeve about this story was all the racial commentary. I cringed every.single.time she brought it up. Ugh. And also the whole wealth commentary as well. It detracted from the story and from the narrative a lot. I understand that perhaps Sophie felt that way and thought those things, but I think this could have been a better story had it not had a slight focus on those two aspects.
9) Beer Buckets and Baby Jesus by Myra McEntire
Overall, a pretty enjoyable story. Not entirely sure how I feel about the whole religion commentary, but I like how it's portrayed in a positive light, used more for acceptance and forgiveness than judgment, anger, and hatred. The misconceptions that are revealed towards the end felt a bit unfounded, like where did they come from?, and there were some moments when he made comments about Gracie that made me uncomfortable, but overall, this was fun to read.
10) Welcome to Christmas, CA by Kiersten White
Tied as my favorite with Stephanie Perkins' story, what I loved most about this story is that it was wide in range, reach, and scope but still very focused. It wasn't simply a fluffy romance. While those are nice (I did really love Perkins' story), this one ultimately feels like the one with the most heart. For a good portion of the story, I wasn't expecting it to stick with me the way it did, and I wasn't expecting it to be as great as it ended up being. It addresses so many issues without being too crowded while still remaining concise and short. The twist at the end is one that I should have seen coming. I saw a small part of the revelation but the rest was quite a surprise. I love how it's about family and love and friendship and happiness and cultures and different peoples, but it's also about hardships and miscommunication and heavy and serious. Wow, just wow. I was blown away by this one. Highly recommended, and again, if you had to pick one story, it'd be a really hard choice between this one and Stephanie Perkins' story.
11) Star of Bethlehem by Ally Carter
This was a nice story that did not end up being what I expected. I'm not quite sure what I expected, but for a large portion of the story, I wasn't entirely sure what was happening while still having every idea of what was going on, if that makes any sense. The twist near the end was a shocker for me. I mean, I don't think we really had any good clues to lead us to that conclusion, but it was not what I was expecting. I enjoyed how it was about family and acceptance though. I did like the ending, though the romance was again awkward. It had this soft feel to it, even with the little bit of suspense mixed in there.
12) The Girl Who Woke the Dreamer by Laini Taylor
I'm going to admit that there are portions I kind of skimmed/skipped over. The story didn't grab my attention, and I had no idea what the heck was going on (in a different but similar way to The Lady and the Fox). I spent most of the story trying to figure out the world and how it worked. Once I sort of figured it out, the story did get better and was more enjoyable to read, but it was just so off-putting and her writing was hard for me to read. In the end, I liked the story and perhaps its commentary on females overcoming very obvious male dominance and control. It was just so hard to get into this!