December 27, 2014

Blogging for Books: The 13th Gift

When I heard about Blogging for Books, I realized it fit in nicely with my reading goal for the year.  Rounding out the year with a Christmas book sounded ideal also, because I usually try to read a holiday-related story in December.

There was a bit of a snafu in the ordering/shipping/receiving process.  This book took over a month to arrive.  My intent was to have it posted as a review early in December so you all could read it if you were in the mood for a Christmas story.  However, arrive it did, and I read it on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, so I suppose it worked out alright in the end.

The 13th Gift is A True Story of a Christmas Miracle by Joanne Huist Smith.  In it, she draws from her journals and remembrances of the Christmas after she lost her husband, Rick, in 1999.  She has just become a single mother of 3 children and is struggling to make it through the holiday season.  An anonymous gift giver starts leaving presents on her family's doorstep, one each day, leading up to Christmas.

From Random House:

After the unexpected death of her husband, Joanne Huist Smith had no idea how she would keep herself together and be strong for her three children--especially with the holiday season approaching. But 12 days before Christmas, presents begin appearing on her doorstep with notes from their "True Friends." As the Smiths came together to solve the mystery of who the gifts were from, they began to thaw out from their grief and come together again as a family. This true story about the power of random acts of kindness will warm the heart, a beautiful reminder of the miracles of Christmas and the gift of family during the holiday season.

What did I think of the story?  I enjoyed it.  It was a nice reminder to keep the true meaning of Christmas in the Christmas season.  It was definitely one of those "you should read it but it might make you feel a little down" kind of stories.  Like a movie on the Hallmark channel.  Nothing wrong with that, but you need to be in the right frame of mind, I think.

I very much enjoyed that fact that it was true story.  That made it easy to identify with and sympathize with the author and her family.  I like that it was memoir-based and it would probably be extra special to her children and grandchildren because it chronicles such a difficult time for the family.

It wasn't the best Christmas story I've read, as some of the writing was more journalistic than literary (given that the author's a reporter) and it read as being very clinical, and "detached" is the word I came across a few times on Goodreads when I was reading other reviews of this book.  But I will say that the beginning of the book pulled me in and I read five chapters before I even looked up.  However, after that, it did become a little monotonous and the ending wasn't anything jaw-dropping or spectacular.  And, I swear to you, I read the last two chapters twice and I only *think* I know what the 13th gift actually is.  Implied endings are hard.  Unless of course, I missed it in my cough-syrup induced fog (which is quite possible).

Anyway.  If you are a fan of the real-life-inspired Christmas movies that are on the Hallmark Channel this time of year, you will probably be a fan of this book.  I rated it as 3 stars on Goodreads.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review, but all opinions are, of course, my own.  I do appreciate the opportunity to add this book to my repertoire for the year!


  1. I love your book reviews. I've never read a christmas book but it seems many bloggers were trying out that trend this year! I like the concept of blogging for books but I think I prefer Netgalley for the sake that it's digital and "immediate." Shipping around these parts is a nightmare!

  2. I *almost* got this book and then decided on the Lincoln bio instead. I kinda want to read this but also kinda glad I skipped it...


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