Mistletoe: Four Holiday Stories by Various Authors | Rating: ★★★☆☆
Starting off my celebration and talks of stories that fit in with the holidays wonderfully, the first collection of holiday themed stories that comes to my mind is Mistletoe. In fact, it was the very first collection of four holiday stories that I’d ever picked up, due to my love of Melissa de la Cruz and Aimee Friedman.
While Mistletoe: Four Holiday Stories has the promise of a lot of fluffy goodness, it isn’t the best release out there. I loved all the stories in it once upon a time, but upon my reread of it last week, I’d discovered that only two of these stories still warmed me up. This isn’t to say that the short stories aren’t good, because that’s completely untrue, it’s just that they seemed to have… well, not aged well.
I’ll start with the first story from the collection. If I were you I wouldn’t expect me to go in story order, though.
At the time of its original release, I didn’t know much about Hailey Abbot’s work. My [then] best friend was once obsessed with her Boys series, and I just couldn’t get into it at the time. Which surprised me when I found that I loved her story in this one.
Her contribution is a lovely gem titled Have Yourself a Merry Little Breakup. When I think of this little guy, I think of life changing and snow and hot cocoa and other warm and fuzzies.
I still have a hard time wrapping my head around the fact that this one turned out to be my favorite of all four stories. It is sweet and relaxed, totally engrossing and honest. Set with a cute holiday backdrop, Have Yourself a Merry Little Breakup explores how easily life can change in just a few months. Abbot keeps things light and cute but there’s so much truth hidden away in the changes that come with a group of friends once one of them leaves.
It’s surprisingly honest and I can’t understand how I never liked her work before.
Nina Malkin’s addition to the four stories is a bit weaker than I remembered or expected. Malkin has a gift of words and while the story isn’t unlikable or unbearable, it is a bit forgettable for me.
Scenes From A Cinematic New Year’s is sweet and while not my cup of tea, the setting and plot will still find itself a hefty love.
I’m not against stories about fictional celebrities so I may be biased on it. Because at the end of the day, it does mesh with the other stories quite well and plays out like a cute little teen romcom. Think: Lifetime movies targeted at teen girls. If that’s your thing, you’ll LOVE it.
Because her work was one of the reasons why I checked out Mistletoe to begin with, I was horribly underwhelmed by Aimee Friedman’s Working in a Winter Wonderland. Which is extremely unexpected for me to have not enjoyed it as much as I thought I would. I mean, I can’t believe I am even saying this. It just didn’t do it for me at the end of the day.
I feel like kicking myself in the ass if I’m being honest, but for one reason or another as the years have passed, I just don’t feel much for her story in the collection and I can’t explain why.
Friedman’s stories are typically excellent to me and while I think she captured what it’s like working in a department store during the holidays really, really fucking well, there was just something missing in the story for me.
And lastly, my second favorite story from the collection would be Melissa de la Cruz’s contribution. The Christmas Choos is full of sweetness, romance, Christmas and hits all the right marks when it comes to holiday spirit, love and the retellings of a classic.
It’s impossible not to like the two halves of a boyfriend girlfriend duo. Melissa de la Cruz is hands down one of my favorite young adult authors and this story is proof of just how fun and captivating her writing is.
Overall, Mistletoe has its flaws but is still a cheerful read for those looking for a cute holiday story. Although it didn’t age well for me on some notes, it’s still an easy and entertaining read to curl up with on a cold night. It's perfect for fans of the authors included, or those who grew up reading books like Gossip Girl.