Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Really Random Tuesday #34: The Gap Year Winner, and BBAW 2011

Congratulations to Tiffany Drew, the winner of The Gap Year, a new novel by Sarah Bird that I thoroughly enjoyed. My daughter (who chose the winning name from a hat) is reading the book now, and she seems to really like it as well.

If you didn't win this book giveaway, don't despair! I have other book giveaways listed on the right side of my blog, and many more on the way.





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Two, four, six, eight
Who do we appreciate?



You may have noticed the banners on various book blogs recently. Book Blogger Appreciation Week (BBAW) is almost here! Created in 2008 by Amy Riley from My Friend Amy, this year it will be held from September 12 - September 16. BBAW is a chance to meet other book bloggers who share a love of books and the joy of reading. It only takes a few moments to register for BBAW, and there are numerous activities planned, such as giveaways, interviews, guest posts, awards, and more. It should be a lot of fun.


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Appearing on random Tuesdays, Really Random Tuesday is a way to post odds and ends--announcements, musings, quotes, photos--any blogging and book-related things you can think of. If you're inspired by this idea, feel free to copy the button and use it on your own blog. For other recent Really Random Tuesday (and Thursday) posts, please visit Vivienne's blog, Serendipity Reviews, Avis' blog, she reads and reads, Naida's blog, the bookworm, and Leslie's blog, Under My Apple Tree. Please leave a link in the comments if you’re participating and I'll add it to this post.

Thanks for reading! Your comments are welcomed.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Dael and the Painted People: Review and Giveaway

Their song could not continue; it was too dangerous to do anything that might draw the attention of enemies.
~Dael and the Painted People, Allan Richard Shickman



Think you have problems? Imagine a primitive world of warriors and hunters, teeming with wild animals such as bears and boars, a time of fierce competition for the basic necessities of food and shelter. Imagine the need to huddle outdoors with others in makeshift beds at night for warmth, and to always be vigilant. This is the world that author Allan Richard Shickman presents in rich and vivid detail. The new book in the Zan-Gah series, Dael and the Painted People, focuses on Dael, Zan-Gah's tormented twin brother, who is haunted by Hurnoa and his past actions, which have all too often stemmed from his uncontrolled fury. Accompanied by Sparrow, his new, quiet companion, they embark on a journey and discover a land of red rocks and crimson people, and things slowly start to change.

Wow! It will be difficult to convey even one tenth of my enthusiasm for this book--or this series. I read Dael and the Painted People with rapt attention over the course of a day. Initially, I didn't expect to be enthralled by books set in prehistoric days, but once again, I was absolutely (and willingly) transported back in time to a way of life stripped down to the bare essentials--food, shelter, and a touch of friendship and love. These books have enormous appeal to me (maybe I would be happy camping out in the wilderness). Imaginative and brimming with action and emotion, life here is presented as a daily struggle for survival, although in this book, cooperation and trust begin to supplant mere brawn and aggression. Although these books are for young adults, older readers should also enjoy them--I certainly did!

Does the prehistoric world of Zan-Gah also sound appealing to you? Earthshaker Books is generously offering a set of these three books, which includes Zan-Gah: A Prehistoric Adventure, Zan-Gah and the Beautiful Country, and the newest book, available to readers August 30, 2011, Dael and the Painted People, as a giveaway to one lucky reader in the U.S.. (Aren't book bloggers lucky? Frequently we're invited to read new books, sometimes before they're even published.)
  • To enter this giveaway, simply leave a comment.
  • For another chance at winning, become a follower of this blog, or let me know that you're already a follower, or that you subscribe in Google Reader.
  • For an additional chance, post about this contest on your blog, Facebook, or Twitter.
Enter by 5PM PDT on Monday, September 12. One winner will be randomly chosen and announced on Tuesday, September 13. Good luck!

Special thanks to Bonnie from Earthshaker Books for sending me this book.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

The Gap Year: Review and Giveaway

"Adolescence is perhaps nature's way of preparing parents to welcome the empty nest."
~The Good Stepmother, Karen Savage and Patricia Adams

Written in alternating perspectives, a mother and daughter reveal the events, thoughts, and feelings they experience over the course of about a year in The Gap Year, a novel by Sarah Bird, published in July 2011. As the mother of teenagers who drive me crazy at times (and vice versa, I'm sure), including a daughter who'll start college at the end August, I was interested in reading this book, in which a mother worries about her college-bound daughter. But I didn't know much more about the book or the author, and I had no idea if I'd truly enjoy reading this new novel.

Without further delay, I'll come right out and say that reading The Gap Year was a wonderful experience; I read most of it while in flight from NYC to San Diego recently. Instead of fretting about periods of turbulence, I was immersed in the worlds of the likable main characters, Camille Lightsey, a single mother and lactation consultant, and her daughter, Aubrey, a 17-year-old high school senior who's starting to become more independent. People talk about perfect beach reads, but for me, this book was the perfect airplane read.

In fact, I was so engrossed in the book that my 14-year-old daughter, sitting to my left on the plane, took note and turned her head to also read it (and told me to hurry and finish it, so that she could read it soon, by herself). Later during the flight, the man in my row by the window, whom I'd conversed with only briefly and perfunctorily (don't bother me, I'm reading), also noticed my intent reading and said that he wanted to read this book as well. The Gap Year is touching and funny (I laughed out loud more than once) and realistic, and I simply basked in it. In addition to my appreciation of the author's wit and fluid writing style, this book also made me decide to react more sensitively toward my teenaged daughters. Time and experience have toughened me up a great deal, but I certainly remember the overly sensitive days of my (boy-crazy) youth, and the extreme self-consciousness that was sometimes paralyzing; I realized while reading this that my daughters (and daughters everywhere) are struggling to become independent, to become themselves, and that I should respect their feelings and efforts, and back off some. Based on my enjoyment of this book, I'd really like to read more of Sarah Bird's work, which consists of eight novels.

Great news! Alfred A. Knopf Publishers is generously offering a copy of The Gap Year as a giveaway to a lucky reader (U.S./Canada only).

  • To enter this giveaway, simply leave a comment.
  • For another chance at winning, become a follower of this blog, or let me know that you're already a follower, or that you subscribe in Google Reader.
  • For an additional chance, post about this contest on your blog, Facebook, or Twitter.

Enter by 5PM PDT on Monday, August 22. One winner will be randomly chosen and announced on Tuesday, August 23. Good luck!

Special thanks to Lisa from TLC for sending me an uncorrected proof of this book. I did not quote from the book for that reason (sometimes I do bend the rules a tad, but in this case I chose not to). For other reviews of this novel, please visit the other stops on TLC's The Gap Year book blog tour.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Scene of the Blog


This week, I'm investigated on Scene of the Blog, a feature that spotlights the creative spaces of book bloggers around the world, created and hosted by Cathy from Kittling: Books. Please stop by and "check out" my blogging space when you get a chance. Thanks very much!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Really Random Tuesday #33: The Lake Winner, Carlo's Bake Shop, and the Case of the Missing Followers

Should I change the name of this blog from Suko's Notebook to The Really Random Tuesday Blog? Because I've posted little else lately! Soon, though, I'll return to more serious bookish things (such as reviews), so please bear with me. In the meantime, here are my random bits.

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The randomly chosen winner of The Lake by Banana Yoshimoto is Hira, from Chronicles of an Enamored Soul. Many congratulations, Hira! I'll be sending you a hardcover copy of the book very soon, compliments of Melville Publishing of Brooklyn, NY. (I was prepared to send this book out of the country if necessary, but my daughter drew a name close to home.)







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While in NYC recently on vacation, visiting with family, we also ventured to Carlo's Bake Shop in Hoboken, NJ. Although I only recently discovered the TV show that made this Italian and American bakery famous (during Memorial Day weekend 2011), I was charmed by Cake Boss, and promised my daughters that we'd try to visit the shop on our trip back east. In order to visit this world-famous bakery, we woke up very early and took the PATH train from NY to Hoboken (a quick, pleasant ride), and arrived at the shop at about 7 AM, when the bakery opens for business. We waited outside the bakery on line (my two daughters are pictured at the end of the line) and were handed a number, and before we knew it, we were inside, and treated to appearances by both Grace and Frankie. I even high-fived Frankie after he waved to the crowd in the shop (pictured), because he was right in front of me and posed to do so. Of course, we bought a few treats (including my morning coffee, pictured) and T-shirts, and then sat outside the store enjoying them before walking around Hoboken, a picturesque city with a waterfront view of NY. This excursion to Carlo's Bake Shop was great fun.


Click on photos to enlarge them.

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Oh where, oh where have my Followers gone? Or where, oh where can they be? Their tiny square photos have been missing on my blog, although they're visible when I view my blog on my iPhone, adding to the mystery of this case. I think this may be a Blogger problem--is it affecting other fellow bloggers? (Other images, on older posts, are missing as well, and this is rather annoying, as I spend a lot of time working on posts.) Please, Blogger, get this resolved--I hate these occasional glitches--and I hope to be able to see my Fantastic Followers (and other images) again soon.

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Appearing on random Tuesdays, Really Random Tuesday is a way to post odds and ends--announcements, musings, quotes, photos--any blogging and book-related things you can think of. If you're inspired by this idea, feel free to copy the button and use it on your own blog. Please leave a link in the comments if you’re participating and I'll add it to this post. For other recent Really Random Tuesday posts, please visit Naida's blog, the bookworm, Avis' blog, she reads and reads, and Leslie's blog, Under My Apple Tree.

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Some of the books reviewed here have been provided
to me free of charge by authors, publishers, and agents,
in exchange for my honest reviews.