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BBAW Giveaway #3: The Secret of Lost Things & The Art of Racing in The Rain

17 Sep

I didn’t realize that the titles of the two books in this giveaway are grammatically similar until just now when I was typing the blog title. But! I like how it worked out. So this giveaway is called the “The ______ of ______” giveaway. I’ve got a copy of each of the following books to give away to you lovely readers: The Secret of Lost Things by Sheridan Hay and The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein. This can also be considered a giveaway of books about two of my favorite things: books and dogs. The first is Hay’s book that is set in a bookstore. I know. Right?

The Secret of Lost Things – Publisher’s description:

In this charming novel about the eccentricities and passions of booksellers and collectors, a captivating young Australian woman takes a job at a vast, chaotic emporium of used and rare books in New York City and finds herself caught up in the search for a lost Melville manuscript.

Eighteen years old and completely alone, Rosemary arrives in New York from Tasmania with little more than her love of books and an eagerness to explore the city she’s read so much about. She begins her memorable search for independence with appealing enthusiasm, and the moment she steps into the Arcade bookstore, she knows she has found a home. The gruff owner, Mr. Pike, gives her a job sorting through huge piles of books and helping the rest of the staff — a group as odd and idiosyncratic as the characters in a Dickens novel. There’s Pearl, the loving, motherly transsexual who runs the cash register; Oscar, who organizes the nonfiction section and shares his extensive, eclectic knowledge with Rosemary, but furiously rejects her attempts at a more personal relationship; and Arthur Pick, who supervises the art section and demonstrates a particular interest in photography books featuring naked men.

The store manager, Walter Geist, is an albino, a lonely figure even within the world of the Arcade. When Walter’s eyesight begins to fail, Rosemary becomes his assistant. And so it is Rosemary who first reads the letter from someone seeking to “place” a lost manuscript by Herman Melville. Mentioned in Melville’s personal correspondence but never published, the work is of inestimable value, and proof of its existence brings the simmering ambitions and rivalries of the Arcade staff to a boiling point.

Including actual correspondence by Melville, The Secret of Lost Things is at once a literary adventure that captures the excitement of discovering a long-lost manuscript by a towering American writer and an evocative portrait of life in a surprisingly colorful bookstore.

The second book of the pair is one of my absolute favorites. It’s one of those books that I give to everyone. And if I don’t give it to you personally, I insist that you buy it for yourself. I’m thrilled to be able to give a copy of The Art of Racing in the Rain. If you don’t win this book, you MUST buy a copy of this for yourself.

The Art of Racing in the Rain – Publisher’s description:

Enzo knows he is different from other dogs: a philosopher with a nearly human soul (and an obsession with opposable thumbs), he has educated himself by watching television extensively, and by listening very closely to the words of his master, Denny Swift, an up-and-coming race car driver.Through Denny, Enzo has gained tremendous insight into the human condition, and he sees that life, like racing, isn’t simply about going fast. Using the techniques needed on the race track, one can successfully navigate all of life’s ordeals.

On the eve of his death, Enzo takes stock of his life, recalling all that he and his family have been through: the sacrifices Denny has made to succeed professionally; the unexpected loss of Eve, Denny’s wife; the three-year battle over their daughter, Zoe, whose maternal grandparents pulled every string to gain custody. In the end, despite what he sees as his own limitations, Enzo comes through heroically to preserve the Swift family, holding in his heart the dream that Denny will become a racing champion with Zoe at his side. Having learned what it takes to be a compassionate and successful person, the wise canine can barely wait until his next lifetime, when he is sure he will return as a man.

A heart-wrenching but deeply funny and ultimately uplifting story of family, love, loyalty, and hope, The Art of Racing in the Rain is a beautifully crafted and captivating look at the wonders and absurdities of human life . . . as only a dog could tell it.

I’ll be giving each of these books away separately. The rules are the same as the previous giveaways:

  1. Leave a comment,
  2. with your name,
  3. and your preference of book (must pick one),
  4. and a valid email.
  5. For an extra entry, tweet the contest and include my Twitter handle, @homebtwnpages in the tweet, and the permalink to the tweet in your comment.

This is open for U.S. entries only. I’ll pick the winners next Friday, September 24.

Thanks to everyone who has already entered the two giveaways earlier this week. Missed ’em? The first is for Come Sunday and the second is for a shot to win The Shadow of the Wind or Brick Lane.


TBR List + Giveaway #2: Brick Lane & The Shadow of the Wind

16 Sep

I know that a lot of us are guilty of letting the TBR (that’s To-Be-Read) list get out of control. I may be the worst offender. Because 9 out of 10 times, a book is on my TBR list because I’ve purchased it. Such a problem, especially when you consider the fact that my Goodreads “To Read” list is 677 books strong. And sadly growing. Occasionally, I find a book in the midst of all that mess (because have you ever tried to organize that many books?? It’s impossible!) that, low-and-behold, I already own. It’s happened before, usually with a hardcover and a paperback, but in culling through my bookshelves a few months ago, I realized I had multiple copies of the same paperbacks. I say this, with my head hanging low, slightly embarrassed, but also with a grin, because it means I have duplicates. Duplicates I’m GIVING AWAY.

I also have to say, before we get to the giveaway details, that today’s BBAW topic is about Forgotten Treasures. How great is it that I feel like I’m discovering Forgotten Treasures every time I look at my bookshelves? To purchase a book more than once means I must really be drawn to it, a treasure I want to keep finding, again and again. Okay enough waxing poetic about my inability to keep accurate records of what I own.

Time for some free books!

Today, I’m going foreign. I’ve got one copy of Brick Lane by Monica Ali and one copy of The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon to give away.

 Brick Lane – Publisher’s synopsis:

After an arranged marriage to Chanu, a man twenty years older, Nazneen is taken to London, leaving her home and heart in the Bangladeshi village where she was born. Her new world is full of mysteries. How can she cross the road without being hit by a car (an operation akin to dodging raindrops in the monsoon)? What is the secret of her bullying neighbor Mrs. Islam? What is a Hell’s Angel? And how must she comfort the naÏve and disillusioned Chanu?As a good Muslim girl, Nazneen struggles to not question why things happen. She submits, as she must, to Fate and devotes herself to her husband and daughters. Yet to her amazement, she begins an affair with a handsome young radical, and her erotic awakening throws her old certainties into chaos.

Monica Ali’s splendid novel is about journeys both external and internal, where the marvellous and the terrifying spiral together.


 The Shadow of the Wind – Publisher’s synopsis:

Barcelona, 1945 — just after the war, a great world city lies in shadow, nursing its wounds, and a boy named Daniel awakes on his eleventh birthday to find that he can no longer remember his mother’s face. To console his only child, Daniel’s widowed father, an antiquarian book dealer, initiates him into the secret of the Cemetery of Forgotten Books, a library tended by Barcelona’s guild of rare-book dealers as a repository for books forgotten by the world, waiting for someone who will care about them again. Daniel’s father coaxes him to choose a volume from the spiraling labyrinth of shelves, one that, it is said, will have a special meaning for him. And Daniel so loves the novel he selects, The Shadow of the Wind by one Julian Carax, that he sets out to find the rest of Carax’s work. To his shock, he discovers that someone has been systematically destroying every copy of every book this author has written. In fact, he may have the last one in existence. Before Daniel knows it his seemingly innocent quest has opened a door into one of Barcelona’s darkest secrets, an epic story of murder, magic, madness and doomed love. And before long he realizes that if he doesn’t find out the truth about Julian Carax, he and those closest to him will suffer horribly.

I’ll be giving each of these books away separately. Here’s how it works:

  1. Leave a comment,
  2. with your name,
  3. and your preference of book (must pick one),
  4. and a valid email.
  5. For an extra entry, tweet the contest and include my Twitter handle, @homebtwnpages in the tweet, and the permalink to the tweet in your comment.

This is open for U.S. entries only. I’ll pick the winners next Thursday, September 23.

Also, if these don’t tickle your fancy, have you checked out my giveaway in yesterday’s post? And stay tuned for two more giveaways tomorrow!!

Review + Giveaway: Come Sunday

15 Sep

If you’ve stumbled here from BBAW, WELCOME!!

I’ve never really put much stock in cover blurbs. I know some of my esteemed blogger colleagues sometimes put a lot of stock in the blurbs, more specifically on who provided the blurb, but until Isla Morley’s Come Sunday, I never really had. The blurb on the cover of this debut novel is from Sara Gruen, author of Water for Elephants: “A heart-wrenching tale of unthinkable loss and hard-won healing. This is a novel to savor.” Love Sara. Love Water for Elephants. Excellent endorsement.

I’d heard about Come Sunday on Goodreads and then Twitter, and was incredibly intrigued by the premise of the book. From Morley’s Web site:

Abbe Deighton is a woman who has lost her bearings. Once a child of the African plains, she is now settled in Hawaii, married to a minister, and waging her battles in a hallway of monotony. There is the leaky roof, the chafing expectations of her husband’s congregation and the constant demands of motherhood. But in an instant, beginning with the skid of tires, Abbe’s battlefield is transformed when her three-year-old daughter is killed, triggering in Abbe a seismic grief that will cut a swath through the landscape of her life and her identity.

Clawing its way through the strata of grief comes the memory of another tragedy, one that has been tucked away for twenty years. If Abbe is to find a way through blame and guilt and find redemption she must confront the last summer of her youth.

It is a journey that will take her back to the continent of her childhood, bringing her face-to-face with her past, to the old witchdoctor’s hut where curses were cast, secrets kept and a crime concealed. Abbe will have to make the harshest of choices, choices which blur the lines of life and death, responsibility and forgiveness, murder and self-defense.

Come Sunday is a novel about searching for a true homeland, family bonds torn asunder, and the unearthing of decades-old secrets. It is a novel to celebrate, and Isla Morley is a writer to love.

Between this description and the Gruen blurb, I was anticipating an emotionally tough, but satisfying read. And it didn’t disappoint – for the most part. The setting of the novel – in Honolulu and South Africa – was foreign to say the least, and it was difficult for me to get immersed in the book because I had a hard time relating to the setting, which is a huge part of the novel. But the emotion of the novel was undeniable. Abbe and her husband treat each other, both before and after their daughter is killed, in ways that are realistic and heartbreaking and unflinching. It’s sad to see what this kind of a loss does to people, but in no way was the relationship or their reactions to the world around them and the people around them forced.

That being said, there were some moments where the narrative structure bothered me and pulled me out of the story that was distracting. The story jumps between present day and Abbe and her husband dealing with the death of her child and Abbe’s past – including her relationship with her parents, her brother, and her troubled childhood in South Africa. It wasn’t immediately clear to me how these two stories were related, aside from Abbe as the common denominator. Even by the end of the book, I struggled to connect the separate story lines, even though it is slightly more clear at the conclusion of the novel. Most of the storyline jumps are understandable, but there are a few moments where Abbe’s present story jumps away to a seemingly-unrelated memory and when we finally do get back to present day (a story I found much more compelling, most of the time), it’s hard to re-immerse yourself in the plot.

Overall though, this story was compelling and heartfelt – and surprisingly fresh. My heart broke when their daughter was killed, and I could relate (even if I’d never experienced anything like that) to Abbe’s anger and the difficulty in granting forgiveness. This is a fantastic late summer, early fall novel. I’m not the only one that think so! Look at the awards:

Winner of the 2009 Kafka Prize for Fiction


FINALIST for the Audie 2010 Award for Literary Fiction

LONGLISTED for the Sunday Times Literary Award

And newly announced, like TODAY, she’s won the Janet Heidinger Kafka Prize for Women’s Fiction

Now for the giveaway (BEST PART!): I received this book for review from Picador and they’ve offered one of my lucky readers the chance at a copy as well!!

 Leave a comment with:

  1. your name,
  2. email (doesn’t have to be in the comment – just make sure the one you use to comment is valid),
  3. and for one extra entry, tweet this giveaway and include the link to your tweet. Don’t forget to include @homebtwnpages!!

Sorry, but this giveaway is only for U.S. entries.

I will announce the winners next Wednesday, Sept. 22nd.

Also stay tuned the rest of the week. Four more great giveaways are forthcoming!

Have you hugged a book blogger?

14 Sep

Well you should! Why?

Because it’s Book Blogger Appreciation Week!!

There’s a lot going on in the world of book blogging this week, including some daily themes, and there are tons of great posts out there in the blogging world to celebrate. You can find all the details here:

As for me, I’m not with it enough to be a part of the scheduled posts (obviously since I’m a day late with this BBAW announcement post), but there’s going to be lots of fun things happening here all week. Namely some super sweet giveaways! Starting tomorrow, there will be a giveaway a day, maybe even two.

There are lots of other bloggers doing giveaways too, which you can find here: