by velocibadgergirl

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!

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'd love to win this book!

My favorite pet story is from Are You My Mother by P.D. Eastman. I love that book!

lelou2 AT ymail DOT com

12:10 AM  
Blogger black eyed susans kitchen said...

I would like to read that book. Please enter me in the give away.
Thank you , Susan

7:44 AM  
Blogger Marie said...

I just read a wonderful pet memoir -- Wesley the Owl. It was very sweet and I learned a lot about owls in the process, although it had the typical pet memoir ending that always makes me so sad -- sigh.

9:30 AM  
Blogger Kaye said...

I'd just love a chance to win this one.

Favorite pet story~ Mr. Popper's Penguins of course. So much fun.


9:33 AM  
Blogger Amanda said...

I think the only pet memoir I have read is Dewey the Library Cat and I loved it.

2:02 PM  
Blogger queenrandom said...

I would love to read this book! If I don't win I'll be buying it myself :P I'm glad no pets die in the book; it's the entire reason I've avoided Marley & Me. Plus it's awesome to have a CAT book out there!

5:25 PM  
Anonymous Beth said...

Please enter me. Thanks for the chance to win. My fav pet story is Marley and Me.

lizzi0915 at aol dot com

8:40 AM  
Blogger ikkinlala said...

My favourite animal-related (sort-of)-memoir is The Dog Who Wouldn't Be by Farley Mowat.

ikkinlala AT yahoo DOT ca

2:06 PM  
Blogger Joanne said...

Marley and Me was the first I read and one of my favorites, I also loved Ken Fosters' The Dogs Who Found Me and Mark Dotys' Dog Years.


6:12 AM  
Anonymous Lucyinthesky said...

I have a blind cat who is 13--had her since she was a baby. She has just gone blind in the past 2 years. I am not sure what she sees (something or nothing as the vet says it's kind of a guessing game since she can't tell us) but she does use her sense of smell and touch to navigate(she is kind of like that cartoon character Mr. Magoo) and she manages in a house with 5 other cats and holds her own. So it's great to know others are writing memoirs about blind cats. Thanks for entering me in the giveaway.

Lucy and (vision challenged) "Bella"

espressogurl at hotmail dot com

6:44 PM  
Blogger GMR said...

Oh, definitely count me in! I saw this on the shelf the other night at the bookstore and it looks really good.

My favorite book (thus far) about animals would be Three Angels by Ben Kerschburg. It tells the tail, I mean tale, of his three dogs and the love and adventures they had over the course of their lives. I own Marley and Me, but haven't brought myself to read it yet as someone told me it's very sad....don't want to imagine the passing of a pet as I am a dog lover and owner myself!

Thanks for the great contest and happy BBAW!


11:41 AM  
Blogger Maria said...

I love the classic "Where The Red Fern Grows" for dog stories and "The Autobiography of Foudini M. Cat" for cat stories.

6:26 PM  
Anonymous Sheila (bookjourney) said...

I have heard such great things about this book! My fav pet story is long but I will try to shorten it up.

Elmo is our schitzu and he is the dog that I swear was sent to me to be a companion after my mom passed away.

We got elmo in the fall of 97 and 2 years later he was stolen out of our yard. I was heart broken. We offered an award and 4 days later he was returned with a claim they found him. He was actually living in a home about 45 minutes away from us in a different town.

Last year he was hit by a car on a busy highway -still not sure how he got out of the house - but he is 10 pounds and was hit - drug by a car and LIVED.
The dog is a miracle to me and my family and I can not imagine what the past 12 years would have been like without him.

11:44 AM  
Blogger Jasmine said...

I love animal memoirs and have read several including Marley, Dewey, Wesley, and Jon Katz's stories. I have 5 pets of my own and am a huge animal lover. The only non fiction I do read are animal memoirs so I would love to be entered in this one


4:05 PM  
Blogger wynne said...

please enter me in the contest!

5:02 PM  

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