Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Title: My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories
Author: various
Narrator(s): various
Series: anthology
Length: 12 hrs 55 mins
Publisher: Listening Library
Publication Date: October 14, 2014
Source: from publisher via Netgalley, audiobook via library
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Audible

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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 12 best-selling young adult writers (Holly Black, Ally Carter, Matt de La Peña, Gayle Forman, Jenny Han, David Levithan, Kelly Link, Myra McEntire, Rainbow Rowell, Stephanie Perkins, Laini Tayler and Kiersten White) and edited by the international bestselling Stephanie Perkins. Whether you celebrate Christmas or Hanukkah, Winter Solstice or Kwanzaa, there's something here for everyone. So curl up by the fireplace and get cozy. You have 12 reasons this season to stay indoors and fall in love.

Every short story in a collection like this can't be a winner for every reader, but I dare anyone to say that they read all of the stories in this anthology and didn't feel at least a little holiday cheer by the end. Some of these stories were written and narrated by favorites of mine, while others were by authors and narrators I've only ever heard of...if that. I tried to go into this audiobook without knowing who wrote each story, and even though the author is stated before each story, it was so quick that I missed a lot of them at first. But my curiosity got the better of me and I just had to know who certain stories were written by. Some were kind of obvious and some were complete surprises. Here's how they fared all in all:

Midnights by Rainbow Rowell and narrated by Rebecca Lowman - ★★★★★

This story, I had no problem whatsoever guessing the author. It felt very reminiscent of Fangirl, which is by no means a complaint. It's just that RR really knows how to write a coming-of-age story that feels genuine. Midnights chronicles several New Year's Eves in the MC's history with the love interest in a somewhat random order to fill in some blanks and show how this story's couple came to be where they are this New Year's Eve. It was bittersweet and everything you expect from a Rainbow Rowell story. And I don't think I will ever approve of anyone but Rebecca Lowman as narrator for RR's stories...she is perfect.

The Lady and the Fox by Kelly Link and narrated by Fiona Hardingham - ★★★★

This story probably won't resonate with most readers the same way it did for me, but I kind of loved it. I don't think I can say I've actually heard of Kelly Link before, but this haunting tale of a love that defies logic -- not to mention the borders of the living world -- has intrigued me enough to research the author to find more of her works. Also, it probably helps that I love Fiona Hardingham as a narrator, and her performance made this story that much more interesting. Her accent also made it feel more authentic.

Angels in the Snow by Matt de la Peña and narrated by Henry Leyva - ★★★★

I've been meaning to check out this author's work for some time, so I was happy to see that a short story from him was included, especially as it lent some diversity to the anthology. Loved the male perspective...that was a definite plus. Not so sure I loved his love interest, considering the circumstances, but I liked how the scholarship kid made out in the end. Never heard anything narrated by Henry Leyva as far as I know, but I really bought his performance.

Polaris is Where You'll Find Me by Jenny Han and narrated by Kim Mai Guest - ★★★★

Another favorite author paired with a favorite narrator; this makes my heart happy. Especially since this story was kind of like the movie Elf but with a female protagonist. It was bittersweet, much as I've come to expect from Jenny Han, but even so, I felt a twinge of hopefulness there at the end, despite it all. Also, I think I would give this story the award for best title in the anthology, even if the story did feel like the shortest one in the bunch.

It's a Yuletide Miracle, Charlie Brown by Stephanie Perkins and narrated by Samantha Quan - ★★★★★

This story was definitely cute. Like, make my heart sooo happy cute. So, of course it's from Stephanie Perkins. She knows how to write love interests that just melt my heart. And she writes normal girls who get themselves all flustered over said heart-melting love interests. And I like the homage to Charlie Brown. I'm not familiar with this narrator, but she did an outstanding job of making me fall even harder for these characters.

Your Temporary Santa by David Levithan and narrated by Dustin Rubin - ★★★

I've only read Levithan's collaborations with other authors, including John Green and Rachel Cohn, so I only know how his characters bounce off of another author's characters. Without that added narrative, this story just fell flat for me. I was pleased to see that a LGBT story was included in this collection, but I wish the romance would have jumped out at me the way they have in the author's previous works. Another narrator I'm not familiar with, and honestly I can't say the performance was all that memorable either.

Krampuslauf by Holly Black and narrated by Julia Whelan - ★★★★

This story was another win for me, and not just because of the favorite author and narrator combo. I liked the contemporary start the story had but loved the fantastical turn it took. After listening to this story, I had to look up Krampuslauf to see if it was a real thing because I was so intrigued by where it took the is a real celebration and one I'd like to witness some day.

What the Hell Have You Done, Sophie Roth? by Gayle Foreman and narrated by Abby Craden - ★★★

I've only read If I Stay and Where She Went by Foreman because I'm not sure that anything else by her would be a good fit for me. Case in point, this story. It features a mixed couple getting to know each other, feel each other out without offending one another with stereotypes and generalizations. I liked that aspect, but I just think maybe it was just a bit too heavy-handed in this story. Or it's Foreman's writing style that didn't work for me. Another unfamiliar narrator that did a decent job, though.

Beer Buckets and Baby Jesus by Myra McEntire and narrated by Lincoln Hoppe - ★★

This was my least favorite story in the whole anthology. I should also probably mention that I never read further than the first book in the Hourglass series, either. I'm just not a fan of McEntire's writing style or the fact that I never connect with her characters. This story was basically one of those in which a good girl makes a bad boy question his wicked ways. That can usually be a fun scenario, but it was just boring in this case. I liked the narrator, though.

Welcome to Christmas, CA by Kiersten White and narrated by Michelle Jubilee Gonzalez - ★★★★

Well, butter my biscuits! I totally expected to be disappointed by this story because I've all but given up on the author's work up until now after finding myself unable to finish the Paranormalcy series, but I was very happy with this story. I really, really thought it was going to take a more magical turn, but I'm glad it didn't. Basically, the MC is soooo ready to graduate and leave her sad life and tiny town behind her...until a cute new boy enters the picture and gives her a reason to stay. That's not even the best part, though! Family present and accounted for. Diversity. And standing up to physical abuse. And it managed to be quirky and funny, something her previous books attempted and it fell flat. Not in this case. And the narrator was legitimately good, especially her accents and pronunciations.

Star of Bethlehem by Ally Carter and narrated by Shannon McManus - ★★★★★

I've never read an Ally Carter book before, but I am now convinced that I have to read them all. (I know,'ve been telling me this for ages now.) I love when starlets want to disappear from the limelight because I imagine that most do from time to time. But I also love a takes-no-sh!t love interest, too, and the one in this story is kind of the best. As is his family and the whole situation the MC finds herself in. Carter may soon become a favorite, and it doesn't hurt that she's paired with another of my favorite narrator's in this audiobook anthology. This was definitely one of the highlights of the collection for me.

The Girl Who Woke the Dreamer by Laini Taylor and narrated by Ann Marie Lee - ★★★★★

In a collection of mostly contemporary tales, Laini Taylor manages to stand out, as usual. This was by far the most fantastical of all the stories in the anthology, and it was also probably the most melancholy. But it was oh so evocative, as I've come to expect from Taylor, and I am in no less awe of her exquisite prose than I was when I finished her Daughter of Smoke and Bone series. But this is the problem with fantasy short stories: they always leave me wanting more of the world and characters, and I know I'll never get my wish. I've also never experienced an audiobook narrated by Ann Marie Lee, but I'm a fan after this story.

A bit of a mixed bag, for sure, but there's a little something for everyone here. I don't read many anthologies, but I heartily recommend this one.

Oh, and did you know that the couples on the cover actually represent the couples from the stories? How cool is that?


GIF it to me straight:

About the editor:

Hi, there! I'm Steph, and I wrote ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS, LOLA AND THE BOY NEXT DOOR, and ISLA AND THE HAPPILY EVER AFTER. I also edited (and contributed a short story to) a romantic holiday anthology called MY TRUE LOVE GAVE TO ME. My next YA novel will be horror—a teen slasher published by Dutton.

Find Stephanie:

Website | BlogTwitter | TumblrGoodreads


  1. I just got the UK edition of this one! Can't wait to read it for all the Christmasy feels~

    1. Ugh, I don't have a finished copy, but I think I'll probably end up with both because I can't choose which one I like better, lol.

  2. I've read the book and I loved it. It would be interesting to listen to the audiobook. :) - Joy @ The Bookshelf Intruder

  3. Wow, that really impressed me! I like your ideas. And the cartoon made it even better! Thanks for sharing your concept! Cheers This is simply hilarious! I gotta keep coming back.

  4. Great review, Jen! Thanks for sharing all your thoughts. My favorite was definitely Stephanie Perkins - seriously, how did she pack that much swoon in such a short story?! - but I also really loved Rainbow Rowell's, Gayle Forman's, and Kiersten White's. I hope we'll get more anthologies like this in the future!


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