Wednesday, January 28, 2015

MY TRUE LOVE GAVE TO ME: BOOK REVIEW

My True Love Gave To Me: Twelve Holiday Stories
Edited by: Stephanie Perkins
Hardcover: 321 pages
Publisher: St. Martins Press
Language: English
October 2014
Genre: YA/Holiday/Anthology

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.

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My good friend Finn is a Christmas-aholic. She is the girl who fills up most of the DVR with Holiday films that they play on Lifetime and ABC Family. She has more Christmas decorations than I do. She absolutely loves spreading the holiday cheer through her wardrobe, music, and general cheer. So of course she would choose this book for book club over the holiday. It’s just my own fault for being behind on actually writing all the reviews…it’s the move people (and all of the things that need to be packed). Finn is also a young adult junkie by the way as well. And I dig anthologies so it seemed like a fit.

I am not a Grinch, really I am not. In fact I like all the warm fuzzies that seem to present around the holidays. I completely love holiday music, Christmas cookies, and the spell of pine when you bring the tree into the house (however, I have never actually went and found my Christmas tree and chopped it down which is just odd since I have lived in Montana for almost a decade now). I love the Christmas lights, candy canes, and watching the snow fall outside. So could this lovely little book fill me full of cheer with its short stories?

Lets discuss: I have said it before and I will say it again, I love anthologies. If they are done right short stories can convey almost as much as the 300 page novel. Plus I love the little bite sized reads. If I need a pick me up or have ten minutes to kill, anthologies are perfect. However, I will admit that it took me a little longer to get through this and I found myself reading the last story an hour before all of the geeky ladies came over for book club.

There is a nice collection of moods and authors, some by authors I like and read (Holly Black, David Levithan, and Laini Taylor) and others I am just discovering and perusing (Stephanie Perkins, Rainbow Rowell, and Gayle Forman). I will say it is a bit heavy on the romance, but it is a diverse set of romances which I dug. Next time can they do a Halloween themed anthology because I have, and always will be, a Halloween sort of gal. But Yule does show up as a close second so was nice. This was my anthology version of Love Actually (my go to Holiday movie behind Elf) and it was nice.

"Midnights" by Rainbow Rowell. I think, by far, this was my favorite of the collection because it was so damn adorable. New Year’s Eve has always had expectations. It is a chance to get that new year kiss. Its also one of my favorite part of the holidays. While I tend to stay fairly low key, I always make E watch the ball drop with me and kiss me at midnight. This year we also added some aged scotch to the mix. Sorry, distracted. This story takes place during the midnight countdown over several years and features the same characters. It is not only a lovely story about allergies, best friends, and wanting that kiss from your crush. It is also a story about growing up especially once you leave high school. If I had not just finished Fangirl, this story would make me go out and pick up Fangirl or one of Rainbow’s other novels immediately. This was the perfect example of how you can pack as much punch, character development, and plot in just a few pages and it still has more impact than larger novels. I also want this to be part of Love Actually Part 2. Can we make this happen?

"The Lady and the Fox" by Kelly Link. I have mixed feelings about this one because I actually think it would have been a bit better had it been a little longer. I love the Tam Lin retelling and the overall mood. However, it felt rushed. I needed to know more about each of the characters. I wanted more depth. I wanted more magic. And yet there are things I absolutely loved from the coat, to the snow machine, to even the relationship with the boy everyone wants you to be with but whom you realize will always be more of your friend. And yet this needed to be longer to really have the impact I think Kelly was going for.

"Angels in the Snow" by Matt De La Pena. Finn absolutely loved this one, but for me it was one of the weakest of the stories. While I loved that it featured a male protagonist and even explored some stereotypes about race, I didn’t like the love interest and it was too….I don’t know. I felt like it was trying too hard to have this emotional impact that I wasn’t feeling. I was feeling the playing music in the bathroom though because the acoustics are the best in a bathroom. I say this because I constantly sing in the shower.

"Polaris is Where You’ll Find Me" by Jenny Han. Again one of the weaker stories for me, Polaris tells the story of Santa’s adopted daughter. Think of it like a female version of Elf, but heavy on the young adult, the romance, and the saccharine sweetness instead of the funny ha has. I really didn’t connect with or really like the lead character, so this was a pass for me.

"It's a Yuletide Miracle, Charlie Brown" by Stephanie Perkins. This is a love story that happens right away and has the cheese without being too sweet and fluffy. It’s a feel good story and one that has some great dialogue and some memorable characters. Plus I totally get the butterflies in your stomach feeling, the anxiety of the future and what it holds for you and where and what you are supposed to be. Essentially, Stephanie won me over because I want to read more by her because of this story. Damn it, it was just cute.

"Your Temporary Santa" by David Levithan. “He says presents aren't important, but I think they are - not because of how much they cost, but for the opportunity they provide to say I understand you.” David Levithan wrote Boy Meets Boy so I was happy to see him in the mix of authors for the anthology. His characters feel real to me and this little short story was no exception. I just wanted it to be longer. There is no real beginning and it kind of just ends. In a way I liked it, but because I started becoming invested just as it ended, I wanted more. I like that it is sweet and sad at the same time. Love is a lot of things and you never know what it will become, if it will ever end, but you take what you have at the moment, and hope it is forever sort of thing. Also the little sister is adorable.

"Krampuslauf by Holly Black". If you know me, you know I love Holly Black. So of course she would need to do a Krampus story….go Holly! Continuing with her modern faerie, magical stories, I loved the whole party organization. I dug the characters, the overall storytelling, and made me want to go and hug Holly. She does that to me sometimes. It was a nice little story.

"What the Hell Have You Done, Sophie Roth?" by Gayle Forman. In this story a Jewish girl moves to a small Christian town. She feels a bit awkward to say the least. And then she meets someone who feels as much as an outsider as she does. As a girl who moved from New Jersey to Montana I could understand part of it. The first time I lived in Bozeman my roommate had pictures of Garth Brooks and horses on her side of the dorm room. I had Dario Argento and JW Waterhouse paintings. I had an accent. She didn’t. I was finishing my goth/hackers phase. She thought I was the antichrist. So yeah, I get the feeling like an outsider and convincing myself of what everyone thought about me. And yeah one of my first University boyfriends was another urbanite like myself. So I see why the two came together. It was fluffy, but I didn’t mind.

"Beer Buckets and Baby Jesus" by Myra McEntire. Vaughn is a troublemaker and Gracie is the reverend’s daughter. Sound like one you have heard before? Sure. But then what holiday film isn’t filled with tropes and stereotypes. It had some great dialogue even though I felt like things were a little too cookie cutter for me.

"Welcome to Christmas, CA" by Kiersten White. Probably my second favorite story in the entire collection. While I have never lived in a themed town, I saw the humor in it. Not only did I like the lead character Maria, but I really liked Ben (even though we knew what Ben was short for from the beginning…this is a holiday themed collection after all). I would like to go to a restaurant where the cook brings me exactly what I wanted even though I may not realize I wanted it. Plus I love food themed books for some reason. This is probably because I love food. Anyway, this story was cute, offbeat, and absolutely wonderful. Will totally read something by Kiersten again.

"Star of Bethlehem" by Ally Carter. Our lead girl here not only gives away her plane ticket to a completely random stranger at an airport, but then pretends to be Hulga…from Iceland. This story completely screams Holiday Hallmark film. And if you have read it, you know I am right. Which is why I liked it. Sure Ethan’s family know that this girl is not Hulga, but they don’t care. She had reasons and they were happy enough to let her continue her ridiculously obvious charade. There would be some great scenes in this Holiday hallmark film just as there were in the short story.

"The Girl Who Woke the Dreamer" by Laini Taylor. This story has a completely different tone and language style than the rest of the stories. Perhaps this is why it is the closing tale. If you have read anything by Taylor, you know that she has her own style of prose. It is not fluffy. It is not sweet. So yes there is a big change of pace here. But this another fairytale and it has the dark and the light all intertwined in it. A Dragon takes a wife and yet it is so much more than that. My biggest disappointment is that it could have taken place during any other time and didn’t really invoke Christmas or Holidays at all for me. But it was still lovely.

Buy or Borrow: Buy. If you are a Christmas or Holiday addict and like cute…this is for you.

Part of:Stand alone

Also Recommended: For a film anthology that is all Christmasy like definitely watch Love Actually if you have not watched it a million times already. And if you enjoyed the authors, why not pick up some of their longer offerings.

3.5 out of 4 happy bibliosnark bookmarks 

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