by velocibadgergirl

Friday, September 18, 2009

BBAW Giveaway #2: The Lake That Stole Children (A Fable) by Douglas Glenn Clark

To wrap up Book Blogger Appreciation Week, I'll be giving away two copies of The Lake That Stole Children by Douglas Glenn Clark. In this fable-style tale, a village has been losing its children. After a stern and overbearing fisherman refuses to let his young son cast a line into the river, the boy sneaks out at night to try it on his own. He is pulled into the water and swept downstream to the ominous and forbidden Flat Horn Lake.

The fisherman tells a gathering of villagers of his son's disappearance and begs for help searching for him, but the people dismiss him by saying that his son has surely drowned. But the fisherman knows better, for he hears the voices of the missing children when he weeps for his lost son. The only people who respond are a husband and wife who recently lost their daughter. The two fathers head to Flat Horn Lake and discover that the missing children have been swallowed by a giant glass fish, guarded by schools of smaller, vicious fish. Unwilling to accept defeat, the fisherman sets about crafting special lures, designed to capture the glass monster.

I won't spoil what happens, because the end is well-crafted and well-written. As a fable requires, lessons are learned by all parties, but it never comes across as preachy or overly trite. Some of the language is downright lovely -- my favorite line describes the assault of the guardian fish, who rise to the surface of the lake with the "smooth aggression of a mushroom cloud." A slim volume, The Lake That Stole Children would be appropriate to share with young adult readers and maybe even kids. As always, I'd recommend reading it for yourself first.

For a chance to win a copy, leave a comment on this post by midnight on Sunday (September 20th) and tell me what your favorite fable or fairy tale is, either now or from childhood. Open to readers in the US & Canada!

Labels: , ,

Monday, September 14, 2009

shelfporn for Monday morn(ing)

I love seeing photos of other people's book collections, especially authors I love.

And so, Neil Gaiman's library, courtesy of Shelfari.

It's Book Blogger Appreciation Week! Click here for book giveaway #1, and come back later this week for at least one more.

Labels: ,

Sunday, September 13, 2009

BBAW Giveaway #1: Homer's Odyssey by Gwen Cooper

It's time once again for Book Blogger Appreciation Week, and to celebrate, I am giving away a copy of Homer's Odyssey:  a Fearless Feline Tale, or How I Learned About Love and Live With a Blind Wonder Cat by Gwen Cooper.

I've got a bit of a soft spot for pet memoirs, as long as they're not too heavy on the schmoop. I've read and enjoyed the ubiquitous Marley & Me, the sweet Dewey, and the more cerebral The Dogs of Bedlam Farm. So when Homer's Odyssey appeared in the LibraryThing Early Reviewers program in June, I added it to my request list. For days afterward, I wondered if I'd made a mistake. The only problem with pet memoirs is that there's usually a heartbreaking if predictable ending. I tend to do most of my reading at work on my lunch breaks, and so a sob-inducing ending is something to be avoided. When I was selected to receive an advance-review copy of Homer's Odyssey, I was quite pleased, but set it aside to read in the evenings at home. But then I read the prologue, which talks about Homer in the present-tense, and it gave me hope that the book was work-safe.

When she met Homer, Gwen Cooper was living with a friend, trying to figure out where her life was headed after a breakup with the man she'd assumed to be "the one." Already a cat person, she was sharing her life with one-person-cat Scarlett (so named because when she was found, she was so dehydrated that she was prone to fainting spells. And if that's not the greatest cat-naming story ever, I don't know what is.) and sweet beauty Vashti. Even as she drove to the vet to meet Homer -- in desperate need of a home after losing his eyes to a life-threatening infection at two weeks of age -- Gwen was aware of the reasons she shouldn't adopt another cat, but as soon as she met him, her fate was fixed. Touched by Homer's resilience, heart, and literal blind trust, Gwen agreed at once to take him home.

The story moves smoothly through the months and years of Gwen's life with her now three cats, chronicling her realization that a nonprofit salary will not be enough to make her self-sufficient, her difficult decision to swallow her pride and move back in with her parents while she re-aligns her career path (perfectly described as a "break-glass-in-case-of-emergency scenario"), and her eventual move to New York City. Even though the story is largely about Homer, the blind cat who never spends a day of his life believing that he is disabled, the story is also about the people whose lives are touched by Homer. Everyone he meets (with the exception of one horrible first-date) is not only won over, but instantly converted to dyed-in-the-wool Homer fandom. And the story is ultimately about Gwen. Without getting too schmaltzy, she relates the ways in which Homer teaches her about, well, life and love.

Cooper is a great writer, blending insight with humor to create a book that is a fast read but not fluff, touching but not cheesy, and ultimately extremely satisfying. And best of all -- spoiler -- no pets die at the end of the book! There is a close call near the end that made me worry, but all three cats are alive and well at the close of the story. There were several sweet moments that made me a little sniffly, and the scenes of Gwen fleeing Manhattan on foot in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks and then spending several days trying to get back to her cats, trapped in her apartment only a few blocks from Ground Zero, had me fighting tears. The difficult moments are never played as cheap tear-jerkers, though, which I greatly appreciated.

I loved Homer's Odyssey. In fact, upon receiving it, I was planning to use it as a giveaway book for BBAW, but as soon as I finished it, I couldn't bear the thought of giving it away. I already had a list of people I wanted to loan it to, and I wanted to be able to re-read it someday. On a whim, I emailed Cooper's editor, and she was kind enough to arrange for another copy to be sent just for this giveaway. How rad is that?

To enter to win, leave a comment on this post and tell me either your favorite animal-related memoir or a favorite pet story / memory of your own. You have until Friday (September 18th) at midnight to comment, and sometime after that, I'll put all the entries into and choose one winner. The giveaway is only open to residents of the US and Canada, and you must include a valid email address to be eligible.

For other great BBAW giveaways, go here. To purchase a copy of Homer's Odyssey if you don't win (or if you do but need another copy to give as a gift), go here.

And finally, check back here later in the week...I'm planning to do at least one other giveaway, and maybe more!

Labels: , , ,