Published by Macmillan Children's Books on October 9th, 2014
Genres: Anthology, Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult
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.
When I saw just how STUNNING the UK edition of My True Love Gave to Me was, I had to go out and buy a copy. My desire to stroke all the pretty covers ever demanded it. It was the first time I ever read a short story anthology, and for the most part I enjoyed it! As expected, some stories are better than others, and some just don’t get enough depth or space by nature of their shortness. But with the shared holiday theme and my timely reading of it, this was delightful!
Midnights by Rainbow Rowell: 5/5
Rowell’s story is all about New Year’s kisses, and as expected, it is ADORABLE. It flashes through a number of years, as the main characters, Mags and Noel, grow closer together, but still never get that fateful kiss at midnight. So cute and wonderful, because they are actually really great friends as well and it’s exactly the kind of friends-to-lovers transition that I love.
The Lady and the Fox by Kelly Link: 2/5
I don’t really know about this one. It has a light and certainly creative fantasy aspect because Miranda sees a stranger outside the house whenever it snows on Christmas – but when the snow stops, he disappears. He seems to be stuck in time too, because through the years he hardly seems to age. That’s part of why this is so creepy to me: Miranda first meets him when she’s quite little, and he’s MUCH older than her, and they barely spend any time together, but she’s obsessed with him. And not so much because of the mystery of where he comes from (which was bugging ME) but because she wants to spend time with him. I dunno, I guess it’s kind of a fairy tale romance set in modern day – but those tropes do not work for me.
Angels in the Snow by Matt de la Peña: 4/5
Here’s a story of a guy house sitting and practically starving himself because he’s completely dead broke. Then the neighbor upstairs meets him and practically forces him to eat. They gradually get to know each other by way of a mutual personal anecdotes sharing game, so they get surprisingly deep pretty quickly. It was cuuuute. But, Shy did annoy me a little with how he didn’t want to accept any help. I would not have been that patient with that dude. He’s starving, but won’t accept her invitation to come up for dinner? Idiot. I mean, they get there. …But still.
Polaris Is Where You’ll Find Me by Jenny Han: 3/5
This was so creative and awesome! Natalie was adopted by Santa Claus and lives on the North Pole, helping the elves and Santa get everything ready for Christmas. I was eating up the setting and adoring it, but the romance part of the story fell flat. It tried to put a love triangle in a story of ~30 pages. Errrr, no. That failed, and it ended on such an anti-climax. BUT I will say that I would LOVE it if this story was expanded to a full-length novel. Jenny Han could pull it off, and I would be first in line to read it.
It’s a Yuletide Miracle, Charlie Brown by Stephanie Perkins: 5/5
FLUFFY CHRISTMAS PERFECTION. My favorite of the anthology, by far. Seriously, even in just 30 pages, Perkins can bring out the most endearing characters and swoonworthy scenes. I did my fair share of swooning. North is just so kind and caring and wonderful, and Marigold stole my heart with her family’s difficulties and her passion for animation and her YouTube channel. It was on point and just all of the adorbs. Bonus points for Christmas Tree decorating and the heartfelt importance of a well-decorated home. I need all of the Stephanie Perkins stories ever in my life – she can do no wrong.
Your Temporary Santa by David Levithan: 2/5
I mean, bonus points for an LGBT romance, but this was so emotionally distant for me. It was sweet that the guy would dress up as Santa and sneak around his boyfriend’s house on Christmas Eve to get his sister to still believe in Santa Claus, but… the romance was hardly even there, since we never really saw him and Connor together. The story was way too short to get me to care.
Krampuslauf by Holly Black: 3/5
You can count on Holly Black to insert some subtle fantasy into her stories, and I love that she added the folklore of the Krampus to this anthology – which was completely new to me. I think the story tied together well, but as with my experience with Holly Black, it was a bit emotionally distant for me. It wasn’t quite that romantic, but it was entertaining!
What the Hell Have You Done, Sophie Roth? by Gayle Forman: 4/5
Sigh. I still feel like Gayle Forman is overrated. Fair enough, her story was pretty cute with sarcasm and banter. It also showed some Hanukkah traditions and had a black love interest, leading to some nice messages about expectations and prejudices. But I dislike the set up – that apparently no one at this private university in the middle of nowhere gets sarcasm because it’s such a “big city” thing? No it’s not. People are not that dense. It was just a set up so the two leads would be drawn to each other as “the only ones who do get sarcasm”. Eh, Forman tries to be endearing and meaningful but it tends not to work for me. (Also, she’s stuck at uni for Hanukkah because it’s cheaper to fly home CLOSER to Christmas? In what world everrrrr.)
Beer Buckets and Baby Jesus by Myra McEntire: 4/5
I forgot how swoony Myra McEntire can write! In her short story she takes a bad boy – writing excellently and realistically from his point of view – and shows him slowly resolve to ditch his prankster ways as he serves his community service hours in helping the local church put on a Christmas pageant. He’s a natural born prankster but was more or less instinctively acting out because of the girl he liked, and it was just SO CUTE. Adorable and filled with giggles.
Welcome to Christmas, CA by Kiersten White: 3/5
It was cute enough, but Kiersten White’s story fell back on too many cliches – the family that secretly cares but never said anything, the couple making long term plans when just entering a relationship… My mind says NO. But aside from that, it was a cute story about the magical powers of FOOOOOOD and finding your home.
Star of Bethlehem by Ally Carter: 3/5
Here’s another story that was cute enough but tried to do too much. The characters are all damaged and running from things and have mysterious backgrounds, but they just kind of ignore all of that… It’s all left a bit too much up in the air for me to really like it.
The Girl Who Woke the Dreamer by Laini Taylor: 4/5
You can always count on Laini Taylor to bring the amazing lush writing and a totally creative story. Seriously, this one was something else. Ultimately, I kind of lacked the link to the holidays though, which makes this one not be my favorite – and characters falling in love without ever speaking to each other before doesn’t really work for me. It wasn’t bad – certainly not – and Taylor’s writing makes it convincing anyway. It was like a fairy tale!