Rating: 4 Stars
I think it can be hard to rate or review a short story collection, especially one that is from twelve different authors, because the voice for each is so different that one "wrong" story can drag the whole collection down. While I did enjoy the majority of the stories in this book, there were a few that either I didn't really understand in terms of feeling, and there are some that I think didn't wrap up well enough to be considered a short story rather than something that sounds like an excerpt.
Midnights by Rainbow Rowell - This story, while moderately entertaining, felt like it was an excerpt from a longer story. There was something about the pacing that made it feel like you were missing out on something. The whole story takes place on a series of New Year's Eves and it was the time between those holidays that I think we needed to know more about.
The Lady and the Fox by Kelly Link - a modern fairy tale that almost could have been a ghost story, I enjoyed trying to figure out what was going on and whether it was a fairy story or a ghost one. The ending was satisfactory.
Angels in the Snow by Matt de la Pena - a nice vignette that didn't have too much meat on the bone, but was pleasant to pass the time with.
Polaris is Where You'll Find Me by Jenny Han - I think that this was the most bittersweet story in the collection. While it is interesting to see behind veil of Santa's life, the ending was so sad. You really wonder, what is going to happen to Natalie? Can she really be happy in this world? Which is her world, really?
It's a Yuletide Miracle, Charlie Brown by Stephanie Perkins - I think that Stephanie is one of those authors that just gets a love story so right. It might not be 100% believable on the time, but the way she writes makes you want it to be.
Your Temporary Santa by David Levithan - I could not muster up a cheery feeling for this story or it's characters. The act that the main character performs for his boyfriend is nice, but that's about it.
Krampuslauf by Holly Black - a typical Holly Black story that is one part creepy, one part excellent. It reminded me a bit of "The Darkest Part of the Forest", with the Fae legend. Is Krampusnacht a real thing? It seems like it could be and that both thrills and terrifies me.
What the Hell Have You Done, Sophie Roth? by Gayle Forman - this is another love story that isn't 100% believable although I can see why someone would want it to be. This was also another story that felt like it was an excerpt from a larger work. I think that the larger work would add more to this character bubble that's going on and maybe help with the authenticity of the story.
Beer Buckets and Baby Jesus by Myra McEntire - this was a Christmas joke that had me laughing. It was a breath of lightness that I needed after some of the heavier stories that preceded it.
Welcome to Christmas, CA by Kiersten White - this story set up a lot of insinuation as to what certain characters were like and then dashed them within a few pages. I'm not sure if I accept that someone's prejudices that have been held for years will change that much within a couple of days, but it would be amazing if they did. There's also a character that seems like he would make much more sense if he was a supernatural creature, which in the end he isn't. Other than that, he's really sweet if a bit creepy.
Star of Bethlehem by Ally Carter - this story sounds like the basis for a Hallmark Christmas movie. It is heartwarming, has a sweet if somewhat sappy ending, and is completely improbably. This sort of thing doesn't happen and would freak me out just a little bit if it did. So, I think this story is getting put on the list of guilt pleasure that might get read again, if only very rarely.
The Girl Who Woke the Dreamer by Laini Taylor - I would love for Laini to do a whole series of fairy tale re-tellings. She has a gift that would translate those stories into something just as epic, if not more so, than the original. I liked Neve, I enjoyed her story, and I envied her spirit for believing in a future that seems grim, a future she can accept, even if no one else around her can.
I'm not sure I could pick one song that encompasses my feeling for this entire book, so instead I'm going to share with you some of my favorite Christmas carols.
Dominick the Donkey: In my family, it isn't the holidays until we hear the song about that little donkey, Dominick. I like this video especially because these guys look like they had a lot of fun filming it.
Snoopy's Christmas: another song that signals the holiday season has begun! Any of the Snoopy vs. the Red Baron songs will do.
Christmas Eve/Sarajevo: the music is so beautiful and so powerful, I look forward to it every year.
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