Monday, September 5, 2011

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday - 13 Gifts and a GIVEAWAY!

I debated taking today off since it's a holiday here in the States (Happy Labor Day, everyone!) but I love this book so much I couldn't wait to tell you about it (and give away my hardcover copy!). This is the book I read when our power first went out during the hurricane, and it kept me turning pages even with the hassle of a booklight.

13 Gifts by Wendy Mass (Scholastic, September 1, 2011, for ages 8 to 12).

Source: hardcover purchased from the store where I work

Synopsis (from the publisher): When Tara, a self-proclaimed shrinking violet, steals the school mascot in order to make some friends with the popular crowd and gets caught, she finds herself in a heap of trouble. In addition, her parents decide that instead of taking her on their summer trip to Madagascar to study the courtship rituals of the Bamboo Lemur, she must go stay with her aunt, uncle, and bratty cousin Emily St. Claire in Willow Falls. Tara thinks it's a good time to start over; she'll be turning 13 after all, so she might as well make the best of it and perhaps even attempt to break out of her shell (in a non-criminal manner). What Tara doesn't know is that this charmed town has something big in store for her on her 13th birthday. It's not a typical birthday. But then again, nothing is Willow Falls is exactly typical!

Why I liked it: The amazingly talented Wendy Mass scores again with another hit for tweens.  Like its companion novels, 11 Birthdays and Finally, 13 Gifts is an adorable and funny book set in a small town where anything can happen.  In this case, it's a rollicking scavenger hunt for the thirteen obscure objects that the mysterious owner of the antique shop asks Tara to find. A touch of magical realism adds to the charm of this already-charming story.  Tara grows as a character and seems like a real girl.  And I enjoyed coming across old friends from the other books.

I'm always impressed with books like this, where a series of hilarious events that seem to have no connection at all click into place by the end.  And I didn't see it coming.  Girls who enjoy a bit of magical realism with their contemporary stories will devour this.

While I can't afford to give away 13 copies of 13 Gifts, I will give away my one hardcover copy to one lucky winner.  You know the drill:

1) Be a follower
2) Leave a comment on this post by Saturday Sept 10, 2011 at 11:59 pm EDT
3) Extra chance to win if you tweet about it and let me know (I'm @booksnbrains)

That's it!  This giveaway is open internationally and ends at 11:59 EDT on Saturday, Sept 10, 2011.  I'll let randomizer pick a winner and I'll try to announce it no later than Monday Sept 12.

For more MMGM love, visit these regulars:

Shannon Messenger (our founder) at Ramblings of a Wannabe Scribe
Shannon O'Donnell at Book Dreaming
Myrna Foster at The Night Writer
Sherrie Petersen at Write About Now 
Natalie Aguirre at Literary Rambles
Brooke Favero at Somewhere in the Middle
Deb Marshall at Just Deb
Barbara Watson at Novel and Nouveau
Anita Laydon Miller at her middle grade blog
Michael G-G at Middle Grade Mafioso
Pam Torres at So I'm Fifty


  1. This one looks fabulous. Thanks, Joanne! Have a great holiday! :o)

  2. I love the new tween books--some are better than the adult books

  3. I love all of these wonderful books and would love to win them for my granddaughter who is an avid reader just like her grandmother!

  4. Thanks for the recommendation. It sounds like a fun book. Have a great day off.

  5. I have a 12 year old daughter who would love this book!

    Thanks for the heads up!


  6. This sounds like a lot of fun. (You'll have to start a new category called "hurricane reading!) Wndy Mass is on my list to read.

    Enjoy Labor Day. Our Oregon temperatures are finally summer-like (high 80s and 90s), just before the kids return to school!!!

  7. Thanks, Myrna. Hope you have a nice holiday too.

    Hi Audra! I think kids' books in general are better than adult books! Of course, I read very few adult books anymore.

    Hi Connie. Glad to hear your granddaughter is an avid reader. Good luck! (And just to be clear, I'm only giving away one book!)

    Thanks, Natalie! Hope you enjoy your day off too.

    Hi Shelley! Thanks for stopping by. Has your daughter read any other Wendy Mass books? There are plenty to choose from!

    Michael, that's a good idea. But I only managed to read two books during the power outage! Wow, high 80s and 90s is a little too summer-like! I'm enjoying the cooler nights here. Maybe Emerald Atlas will arrive soon and you can escape into that. Media mail takes forever -- sorry.

  8. Oooooo! Giving away your personal hardcover??!!? Of a book you love?? You are WAY more kind than I. =) This sounds fantastic. Thank you for the review and the giveaway.

  9. Thanks again!
    GFC follower

    deadtossedwaves at gmail dot com

  10. Ahaha, Barbara! Yes, my shelves are bulging. My husband thinks if I keep buying books with my employee discount and bringing them home, we'll sink into the ground! Thanks for entering.

    Hi Vivien. Nice to see you here again. Good luck.

  11. I love Wendy Mass and my students do too! Thanks for having this giveaway!

    I tweeted:!/justkeepreading/status/110901256217833472

    themgowl at gmail dot com

  12. It's funny book? Ahh.. I'm definitely enter. Thank you :)

  13. I love Wendy Maas, but I hadn't seen this one. Thanks, Joanne! :-)

  14. Hi Joanne! So glad to know that another Wendy Mass is out! You introduced my 12 year-old to her a couple years ago and she has devoured everything Wendy has written. Love your blog, too - I'm going to share it with my kids' teachers. They have so much going on that it's hard for them to stay on top of all the new stuff that comes out, but you make it easy! Thanks again, Maia Tolsdorf

  15. Yay, Jill! Glad to hear your students love Wendy Mass too. Tweet duly noted. Thanks.

    Hi Natasha and welcome.

    Thanks, Shannon.

    Maia! Welcome to my blog! Always glad to hear from a satisfied customer. :)

    Good luck, everyone!

  16. Ah, the list is getting long, and no wonder. But I'm an eternal optimist, so count me in!

  17. Ooooh, I'm following and lookie: comment, comment, comment.

    I fired my twitter account several months ago. Gotta pick and choose my social media. But I will put this on my goodreads "to read" list and post a comment about the contest. How's that?

    This one sounds like a winner. Funny and with magical realism.
    And who doesn't love fish out of water stories?

    Do you have to read the books in order or do they stand alone?


  18. Welcome, Sue. The more the merrier, I say. Your chances are still good.

    Hey Danika! And ha ha about firing your Twitter account! I hardly ever use it myself. Find it confusing to read one side of a conversation! But #Yalitchat and #pblitchat have been interesting, when I remember to check them out. And agents give out valuable tips. Anyway, sure, I'll accept your Goodreads blurb as the same thing.

    These books can definitely stand alone. If you've read the others already, it just gives you more of an inside edge, knowing the minor characters.

  19. Thanks! I just saw a copy in the library, but I'm holding out in case I win. lol.

    I keep hearing that there's gold to be mined from Twitter, but I can hardly keep up with FB, GoodReads, blogging, and LinkedIn as it is!


  20. So true, Danika. I have a Goodreads account but I haven't kept up with it. Never joined LinkedIn. Between working, writing, reading, blogging and occasional visits to FB and Twitter, that's all I can handle!

  21. Oh, I've heard a lot about Wendy Maas (she's done school visits in my area) but I've never read any of her books. Glad I got here in time to enter!

  22. Hi Corey! Glad you got here.

    I believe Wendy Mass lives in your home state! You should definitely read her books.