Thursday, October 29, 2015

My True Love Gave to Me » Review

I'm on an anthology roll, finishing up the horror collection, Slasher Girls and Monster Boys, and heading into the decidedly more romantic My True Love Gave to Me.  Whenever I was in bookstores last winter, this book was being clutched and cooed over, and I believe it did very well for itself.  Is there any way we can check book profits, like a type site for books? Anyway, Stephanie Perkins, a big, big name in YA publishing, serves as the editor for this collection of romantic, holiday stories.  Let's jump in!

Midnights » Rainbow Rowell » 4 stars

"It was cold out on the patio, under the deck."

The anthology doesn't pull any punches, starting out with the master of "aww,"  Rainbow Rowell.  Rowell doesn't disappoint fans of straight-forward romance with Midnights.  She delivers a cute will-they-won't-they that hops across the years.  Depending on your taste, this story will be a winner or even a little limp, however. There is no edge to this story — it's as blunt as the edges of a sugar cookie, and just as sweet.

The Lady and the Fox » Kelly Link » 3 stars

"Someone is in the garden."

Kelly Link writes a modern day fairy tale, as suggested by the story's fable-ish title.  Miranda's mother is in prison, so she spends every Christmas as part of the crowd at her godmother's Downton Abbey-esque, family estate.  There are plenty of nooks and crannies to explore and a garden that holds a magical captive.  If anything, this story was a tad unfocused, hopping between Miranda's growth into adulthood and a somewhat unfeasible romance.

Angels In the Snow » Matt de la Peña » 4.5 stars

"I didn't tell anyone how dire shit had become."

I was surprised when I enjoyed this story so much, because I've never heard of Matt de la Peña.  This just goes to show that gems lie in wait in anthologies, despite the name recognition factor of the authors.  This story follows Shy, a Mexican-American college freshman at NYU, who's cat sitting during his Christmas break, but can't afford to feed himself.  He's slowly starving when the girl in the apartment upstairs comes to the rescue.  It's a great story.  My only complaint is the ending hits a bit of a bland note, when the beginning and body of the work were full of life.

Polaris Is Where You'll Find Me » Jenny Han » 2 stars


Polaris was, unfortunately, my least favorite story in the anthology.  Told from the perspective of Santa's adopted daughter, readers must endure a vapid, boy-crazy narrator and her substance-less quest for adolescent like.  A definite low-point for the collection.

It's a Yuletide Miracle, Charlie Brown » Stephanie Perkins » 3 stars

"Marigold loved this Christmas tree lot."

I expected quite a bit more from Perkins, one of the queens of contemporary YA, but Yuletide Miracle wasn't a bad installment.  Our two characters meet, spontaneously hang out, exchange a lot of dialogue, and get together all in the space of a few hours.  Maybe it goes to show how effortless Perkins' writing is, but this story felt like it was whipped out quickly.  Maybe that's not the case at all, but I didn't get that slavishly crafted feel that other stories in this anthology gave off.

Your Temporary Santa » David Levithan » 4 stars

"It's hard not to feel just a little bit fat when your boyfriend asks you to be Santa Claus."

With a killer first line, Levithan delivers the laughs in his short story, which, of course, features our only gay couple.  Our narrator is freaking hilarious in his earnest attempts to make his new boyfriend's little sister believe in Santa.  My only complaint is that Connor, the boyfriend, has reduced pagetime to make way for the enormous, nervous introspection of our main character, who is never named.

Krampuslauf » Holly Black » 4.5 stars

"Fairmont's second annual Krampuslauf felt a little bit like a parade and a lot like a zombie crawl, except instead of the undead, we were dressed up like Saint Nick's creepy buddy, the Krampus."

I expected Holly Black's installment to be a little weird, and she didn't let me down.  Her story reminded me quite a bit of The Coldest Girl in Coldtown, with supernaturals crashing a teenage rager.  Although, I don't know whether to give points or take away points for the weirdest line in the entire anthology, which details our protagonist's dream about being erotically flayed by Satan. Yeah, you read that right.

What the Hell Have You Done, Sophie Roth? ’ Gayle Forman » 2.5 stars

"In the fifteen weeks since starting her freshman year at the University of Bumfuckville, Sophie had counted at least a dozen What the Hell Have You Done, Sophie Roth? moments."

Forman, another queen of contemporary YA, makes a bit of a misstep with Sophie Roth.  There's a decidedly negative tone in the story.  I understand that our main character has a cranky personality, but it brought the holiday cheer factor down quite a bit.

Beer Buckets and Baby Jesus » Myra Mcentire » 2 stars

"The whole mess started when I lit the church on fire."

Mcentire's story started out strong, reminding me distinctly of my childhood favorite, The Best Christmas Pageant Ever.  Unfortunately, the dialogue become somewhat stilted and preachy as the minister and minister's daughter deliver speech after speech to the overly receptive town troublemaker.

Welcome to Christmas, CA » Kiersten White » 3 stars

"If you do a search for "US cities named Christmas" (which, get a life, weirdo), you'll get five main results.

White's main character, Maria, is just as crabby as Forman's S0phie Roth, but is counterbalanced by a love interest who practically embodies the spirit of Christmas.  What this story does very well is show how a gloomy situation can turn around when viewed from a different perspective.

Star of  Bethlehem » Ally Carter » 2.5 stars

"As Christmas stories go, this one isn't as sad as it could be."

This story started out with a great hook — two girls switching their plane tickets — but the Disney Channel ending was out of control.  I like stories with a bit more grit to them.

The Girl Who Woke the Dreamer » Laini Taylor » 5 stars

"It is the custom on the Isle of Feathers for young men to leave small gifts for their sweethearts on each of the twenty-four days of Advent."

How totally excellent that the anthology ends on its high note.  Laini Taylor's imagination continues to bust its seams in a story that indirectly touches the holiday theme.  In Taylor's fictitious island, a fire-and-brimstone Christianity has replaced polytheistic, pagan beliefs.  Neve, an impoverished young woman, finds herself in dire straits when targeted as a prospective wife by the island's nasty, evil preacher.  She prays to the island's old gods and receives an unexpected answer. There were so many lines that I loved, in this lyrical, sexy tale, that funnily enough, kind of shits upon traditional Christian Christmas.

Overall, not as strong an anthology as Slasher Girls, but still solidly enjoyable.  Because I'm continuing on my anthology streak, I'll be reading Geektastic next, edited by mah gurl, Holly Black. Tune in next time.

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="500"] I was trying really hard to match the skaters on the covers with the romantic pairings in each story, but damn if Laini Taylor's god, Wisha, didn't mess up the uniformity of the figures. Credit goes to another source » click on pic to go to there.[/caption]


  1. Is it bad that I only read a couple of stories from this compilation?

  2. It's not bad at all! Also, Hope the new job isn't throwing wrenches into your blogging! How to get reading done with two jobs, gawd!

  3. […] was announced as the companion of My True Love Gave To Me. (See my review of the first anthology HERE) Now, having read Summer Days and Summer Nights, I can’t say it lived up to all of my […]