About the Book:
Author(s): Holly Black, Ally Carter, Matt De La Pena, Gayle Foreman, Jenny Han, David Levithan, Kelly Link, Myra McEntire, Stephanie Perkins, Rainbow Rowell, Laini Taylor, Kiersten White
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Source: Amazon Purchase
Publication Date: 2014
Find the Review elsewhere:
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Find the Book Elsewhere:
Amazon ▪ Barnes & Noble ▪ Goodreads
Genre: Fiction; Contemporary, Fantasy, Novella
Review: Every year one of my “goals” for the Christmas season is to read more seasonal fiction because I must admit that being the Hallmark junkie I am there’s no logical reason why I shouldn’t enjoy some festive fiction as well, which is why this collection of novellas immediately snagged my attention. Its 12 stories written by some of the best in the YA/Teen business are all edited by respected novelist Stephanie Perkins. I started out reading this with skepticism after watching a booktube review for it, but am not sorry to have the information since it informed me about which stories I would enjoy and those that for personal reasons I wouldn’t be an interested in. Since it’s tough to review a collection of novellas, what I am going to do with this review is a little different. I’m going to share about some of the stories I liked best – along with maybe brief reviews on one or two I just didn’t “get,” beginning with the first novella.
Midnights, by Rainbow Rowell: This is one of the least developed stories that I read, meaning while it spans several years (three, I believe) – each time set on New Year’s Eve, it really didn’t feel as if we got to know the characters well. That being said, this one was darling. I enjoyed Mags as a character particularly since she’s isn’t your normal, outgoing, vibrant kind of heroine. She’s someone more people will relate to than I think we realize and that’s nice. It’s a story about a group of friends who have banned together for years and the male “best friend” (Noel) Mags has watched kiss someone new each year – and it’s never her. Plus I enjoyed getting a taste of what Rainbow’s writing is about and being one of the most hyped currently in culture writers, that was nice. (4 out of 5)
Polaris is Where You’ll Find Me, by Jenny Han: This one tells the story of Natalie, a normal girl rescued by Santa who was raised to be like Santa’s daughter. Only trouble is she has developed a crush on an elf and unable to see a future with anyone other than her own kind, she begins thinking about the outside world. Unique is the best word I can think to describe this story. It’s darling in a different kind of way because of the idea of a heroine who is crushing on an elf – one who’s sort of been her best friend through their growing up. Natalie has a sweet personality and I like that she’s imaginative. Though probably the shortest in the whole collection, it’s a nice read. (4 out of 5)
It’s A Yuletide Miracle, Charlie Brown, by Stephanie Perkins: Immediately following up Jenny’s story is this one which tells Marigold and North’s story. These two meet at a tree lot and through a series of events (nothing “epic” certainly), they take a kind of emotional journey together in the span of limited pages and oh my, gosh! I totally know why everyone hypes Stephanie Perkins as a great contemporary author. I absolutely loved this one and can definitely get behind the calls for Perkins to make this into a full length novel – without having time to really let us know these characters (because of page space), we love these two and want to know more as the last pages come to an end. It’s charming, really – plus it doesn’t hurt that the title brings to mind one of THE most beloved Christmas specials. (5 out of 5)
What the Hell Have You Done, Sophie Roth? by Gayle Forman: Unfortunately, for all the hype surrounding this author, I just didn’t care for this story. It has some nice moments and I liked the idea of the story, but the crudities and choppiness (the story didn’t flow as nicely as most of the other contemporaries) just didn’t work. Sophie is a Jewish girl (whose family isn’t strict in their religion) who finds it tough being at a school where next to no one is Jewish. She (of course) meets a boy who changes things. (3 out of 5)
Welcome to Christmas, CA., by Kiersten White: This was one that didn’t seem to get the best of reviews from readers, but I actually enjoyed it. It’s got some sass, features fabulous banter between its leads and offers a lesson that our perception of the life isn’t always the truth – something Maria has to learn and unfortunately it’s a lesson that could have made her life more pleasant had she learned it sooner. Really quickly, the story is about a high school senior named Maria who hates her small town until she meets the new cook (Ben) at the diner her mother runs and where Maria works after school. (4 out of 5)
Star of Bethlehem, by Ally Carter: Lydia and Hulda serendipitously meet at the airport and when Lydia sees that Hulda is trying to exchange her ticket for a different destination, they swap sending Lydia to a ranch where a cute guy, Ethan and this large family await her. Okay, so this story may be the most unrealistic, but aww… it was cute. I could have done without some of the “convenient” last-minute bits of dialogue and events – it has something to do with legal guardianship and an aunt named Mary, but other than that, this one is darling. (4out of 5)
I’m struggling with an overall rating for this so I’m not going that route with this collection. It’s hard to know where to rate it because in the interest of full disclosure, one story I read nothing of and two other’s I left unfished (one of which being ‘The Lady and the Fox’ because I’m sorry, but I just didn’t get it – am I missing something?) Then there is Holly Black’s mythical story (‘Krampuslauf’) which I suppose raises some interesting social issues yet doesn’t explain itself: is it contemporary fantasy… or what? Also some of the stories may wander into gray issues as regards spirituality and that will probably be a sore spot for some readers – I took most everything as regards those elements with a grain of salt because honestly nothing that happened in the pages is shaking what I believe in.
Some of the novellas won’t satisfy everyone not just because of content, but because some of the stories don’t have time to spell out every issue due to the length. In the end, I’m glad I read this. It gave me a chance to “meet” some of the most popular authors in the YA scene (which I loved since I’m anxious to read some of their full-length novels) and provided me with some nice holiday reading – the festive events, scenes or descriptions know no bounds! Despite some disappointments, it’s a book I can see myself picking up during the Christmas season and rereading my favorites in the collection.
Content: there is some profanity (sh*t, da*n, etc.) and innuendo (one story suggests a girl has taken a guy to a room at a party – she emerges in her underwear) in the stories. There are also some homosexual themes – some mentions are just in passing, another is the primary topic in ‘Your Temporary Santa.’ Parties do occur in certain novellas, most include alcohol and underage drinking.