Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Book review: My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories by Stephanie Perkins

A delicious little read that will make you feel all the fizzy and cotton candy feels.

My True Love Gave to Me edited by Stephanie Perkins (Macmillan Children’s Books)
My True Love Gave to Me, edited by Stephanie Perkins (who also contributes to this anthology), is a delightful, adorable and quirky little read.

It's the kind of book that proved to be exactly what I needed to kick start 2015 – and it’s a read that I’d recommend to anyone in search of a feel good, pick-me-up read.

Don’t be fooled though – while these stories can be described as being fluffy, they’re little shorts with plenty of substance and enough heart to soothe any angst-ridden soul.

There’s a little something in here for everyone; from contemporary and magic realism, to urban and paranormal fantasy, this collection of YA novellas is wonderfully diverse and beautifully written. 

Below, I share just a few quick thoughts about each novelette.

Midnights by Rainbow Rowell – Ah, Rainbow Rowell. Can you ever do anything wrong in my eyes? I think not. 

What I loved about this story is how much it just reinforced my love for Fangirl. Rainbow is the queen of eccentrically cute dialogue and as with Fangirl, she absolutely nails the character voices in Midnights. Noel and Mags are made of epic adorableness.

The Lady and the Fox by Kelly Link – Ooh, this one has got to be my favourite. I know, I’m surprised as well, as I was fully expecting to love the Laini Taylor one more.

Given that this is somewhat of a fractured fairy tale, which includes (if you squint) elements of The Snow Queen and (more obvious) a retelling of Tam Lin (one of my favourite Scottish ballads of all time), it hardly comes as a surprise that I’d adore this one.

Strangely enough, I was first put off with the rather stilted, staccato-like sentence structure, but the more I read, the more lyrical and beautiful this story and imagery became. I’ll definitely be revisiting this story over and over again.

Angels in the Snow by Matt de la Peña  - A fabulous interracial romance (male protagonist is half Mexican, female protagonist is white), by an author I haven’t heard of before? Talk about a fabulous new discovery. 

I loved the writing, I adored and felt for the characters (starving Mexican scholarship boy who loves music, meets wealthy girl desperately trying to get out of a relationship that’s going nowhere) and just generally fell in love with the flow of the story.

Polaris is Where You'll Find Me by Jenny Han - Oh what a bittersweet but exquisitely written little read. There’s just something about an awkward misfit pining for a boy she can’t have (in this case an elf, because elves aren’t allowed to be with humans), that makes my soul ache. 

Seriously though, why haven’t I read any of Jenny Han’s books before? I’ve heard loads of fabulous things about her, but have never gotten around to reading any of her other books, something I plan on rectifying as soon as possible.

It's a Yuletide Miracle, Charlie Brown by Stephanie Perkins – Oh my gosh. This little short is made of all the fabulous things. Diverse characters, deep family themes AND  two protagonists that will make your face light up like the Christmas tree that features in this story. 

I’ve only read Anna and the French Kiss so far, but I reckon it’s time that I hurry up and get around to reading the rest of her books. This novella only served to remind me why I was so charmed with her writing first time around.

Your Temporary Santa by David Levithan – A Jewish Santa sneaks into the house of his boyfriend in order to surprise his boyfriend’s younger sister.

This short story is told from the perspective of our would-be Santa and has a rather melancholy touch in the sense that you, like the boyfriend (who remains nameless throughout the tale), feel very much like an outsider looking in. 

I really loved this one and actually wished that this one could have been longer.

Krampuslauf by Holly Black -  It’s Holly Black at her urban fantasy best in this short story about a hooved boy – a satyr if you really want to go into specifics – wished to life by one feisty girl with an extremely vivid and dreamy imagination. 

My favourite kind of character, really.

What the Hell Have You Done, Sophie Roth? – by Gayle Forman – Now this one was absolutely fabulous. I admit that I struggled with this in the beginning – I wasn’t particularly a fan of the writing – but then, what Gayle did next was awesome.

She flipped roles in every sense of the word. White, Jewish scholarship girl and a wealthy black boy? Not only does this go against every single stereotype about both the Jewish and Black community, but it’s done in an incredibly believable manner.

The chemistry between the two? So palpable.  It filled my heart with all the happy feels.

Beer Buckets and Baby Jesus by Myra McEntire – Ha! All the giggles were had with this one. How could it not when you have a borderline delinquent pining after the local pastor’s daughter? Super cute and filled with all manner of hilarious shenanigans.

Welcome to Christmas, CA by Kiersten White – The magical power of food is at the heart of this novella set in a small town off the beaten path. I loved that this introduced such a variety of colourful characters, and was genuinely moved by the family dynamics and themes of acceptance in Welcome to Christmas, CA.

Star of Bethlehem by Ally Carter – An account of two girls swapping plane tickets should be an improbable notion, but somehow  Ally Carter had me reading this one right until the end. 

The Girl Who Woke the Dreamer  by Laini Taylor – Gorgeous, lyrical and all sorts of dreamy, this magical little tale is exactly the kind of story that one can expect from Laini. Her ability to weave and meld words together is an experience that leads the reader into a shimmering daze that is both dazzling and unsettling.

She juxtaposes images, plays with folk tales and sings it to the tune of her own, melodic voice. 

All in all, this anthology is a collection that is well worth the read, and one that I’ll definitely be rereading again and again.

Don’t wait for the next festive season to come around – get this one now; it’s really one you can and should read at any time.

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