On October 5, 2004, Octavia E. Butler visited my graduate university to give a lecture and book signing. I was really impressed by her. She actually sOn October 5, 2004, Octavia E. Butler visited my graduate university to give a lecture and book signing. I was really impressed by her. She actually spent several hours at the university, giving a public interview with one of the professors, then a short lecture to a large auditorium, then a book signing. I even skipped class in order to attend.
The interview was really fascinating, where Butler answered questions about how she worked to write Kindred and how she felt about the characters and how the result all turned out. The professor kind of threw Butler for a loop once, when she pulled an interpretation of the book out of left field, and Butler blinked, and slowly said she didn't write with that interpretation at all in mind, but that she was of the opinion that any interpretation the reader reaches is a valid one. I thought she handled the question particularly well.
In the lecture, Butler talked mostly about how she writes, her writing style, her relationship with her fans, and the book she was currently writing, Fledgling. The signing afterwards was very informal, but I didn’t try to stay and chat. Butler had lots of professors and awestruck students who were all trying to catch her attention. I got my book signed, said a polite thank you, and left happy.
Fledgling turned out to be the last book Butler wrote. She died unexpectedly in early 2006. I feel incredibly fortunate to have had the chance to meet her.
The book: Was good. A time-traveling story dealing with love, gender, race, racism, and responsibility. It was beautifully and rather painfully done. I never would have found it if it hadn’t been for the author visit, and I’m rather sad about that....more
Kicking off the Atlanta Business Trip, Read #1: In which my days are largely too exhausting to allow me to focus on a new story and so I reach insteadKicking off the Atlanta Business Trip, Read #1: In which my days are largely too exhausting to allow me to focus on a new story and so I reach instead for something old and comfortable I've read twenty times before. Okay, maybe just ten. At least five.
Honestly, it felt like I had five minutes of spare time at a given stretch and I was not at all in the mood to start a new book. I was more in the mood to open an old book at any random page to read for just a few minutes. Sometimes it's nice not to have the urge to stay up all night reading to the end.
Howl's stands as almost certainly the first of the Wynne Jones' books I've read (I came to her late as an adult reader) and remains my very favorite. Plus, it's great fun to contrast with the film adaptation.
Atlanta Business Trip Reading List (October 2012) #1| Howl's Moving Castle...more
I was predisposed to be charmed by these stories. Look at the cover artwork with the tiny princess having tea with the dragon! Look at all the story tI was predisposed to be charmed by these stories. Look at the cover artwork with the tiny princess having tea with the dragon! Look at all the story titles about grumpy dragons and precious things! The stories themselves feel traditional and modern all at the same time, and Price's hand on the writing is sure and smooth and fun.
Five-year-old me would have demanded this book be read to her every night at bedtime.
Ten-year-old me would have pulled this out concurrently with volumes of Brothers Grimm and other folklores and sincerely try to read all of them at the same time.
Seventeen-year-old me would have stumbled upon this while reorganizing her bookshelves with a Huh, I remember this. and spent the next 30 minutes rereading it without a trace of shame.
This is one of my top five favorite books of all time. Oh, I love this book.
I first found it in a library where I picked it up for the title alone, thThis is one of my top five favorite books of all time. Oh, I love this book.
I first found it in a library where I picked it up for the title alone, then proceeded to reread it five times over the course of the next year and a half. I didn’t buy myself a copy until a dear friend of mine gave me a spending spree in a remainder bookstore (frankly, one of the best Christmas presents in the history of the world ever. Forty bucks travels an obscenely long way at a remainder bookstore, particularly when coupled with my friend's employee discount). I bought almost more books than I could carry, but I found two beautiful copies of The Book of Flying in paperback. I had to buy them both, of course; the second purchased as a lending copy to pass around to my friends. Then I found a third copy at a library sale, which I had to buy it because it was a hardcopy. Then I found another hardcopy in a hole-in-the-wall bookstore, which I had to buy because it wasn't exlibrary.
But, aurgh, I am addicted. Even after finding the perfect copy that I intend to keep forever, I'm still in the habit of purchasing whatever new copies I find specifically to give away, which is distressingly easy to do as I keep finding copies for cheap in other remainder stores. So far I've given away six copies. This book does not deserve to have been remaindered....more
You’re not reading this book for the story. You know the story. If you’re picking up this book, you’ve seen movie – movies – more times than you can cYou’re not reading this book for the story. You know the story. If you’re picking up this book, you’ve seen movie – movies – more times than you can count. You’re reading this book for the execution. And let me tell you – the execution is hilaaarious.
Now you might be a little leery, what with George Lucas’ undo preference for a ‘revised’ Star Wars coupled with his tight control over the copyright of the franchise, and fear that not even the language of Shakespeare can make worth entering into that whole mess again, and that’s understandable. But unwarranted. Ian Doescher’s got you covered:
HAN: —Nay, not that: The day when Jabba taketh my dear ship Shall be the day you find me a grave man.
GREEDO: Nay oo’chlay nooma. Chespeka noofa Na cringko kaynko, a nachoskanya!
HAN: Aye, true, I’ll warrant thou has wish’d this day. [They shoot, Greedo dies.] [To bartender:] Pray, goodly Sir, forgive me for the mess. [Aside:] And whether I shot first, I’ll ne’er confess!
This is brilliant. By god, I hope Quirk publishes more. Five stars.
An ARC book was provided to me by the publisher through the LibraryThing Early Reviewers Program. Quote pulled from pp. 76-77 of ARC version of ISBN 978-1-59474-637-6. Finished copy may differ in pagecount and wording.
Advisory note -- This has become less a review and more a collection of topical essays.
March 2013: Oh, thank you thank you thank you for giving me respAdvisory note -- This has become less a review and more a collection of topical essays.
March 2013: Oh, thank you thank you thank you for giving me respectably scary monsters again. And for making every character in this book a potentially scary monster. And for giving me a world full of so many new and different scary monsters — everything's so turned on its head here. Gosh, it's hard not to squee.
I really liked this. This was really, really good. Maybe not perfect — there are a bunch of dangling plotlets sprinkled throughout that only aggravated me because I wanted to read those stories now, and sometimes the explanations were a bit abrupt and heavy-handed, which is kind of Bishop's style — but it was a moving, flowing novel and I loved it. I've been a big fan of Bishop's work since the publication of the first novels in her Black Jewels series, and Written in Red has given me so much of what I loved about the Black Jewels in an entirely new form. I can't wait to read more.
Highly recommended to any fan of horror or fantasy, and particularly to anyone finding the trend of sparkly vampires / high-school werewolves to be unpalatable. Five stars.
ETA -- I'm surprised to see a recent negative review of this that mentioned a lot of issues with its alternate-North American setting (link). I actually had really liked that about the book. Most of the urban fantasy on the market seems to build the basic plot premise of, 'This world is just like your world, with added werewolves,' but Bishop seemed to give this a better grounding by considering, 'What if werewolves had been here all along? What if exploring Europeans did not discover reasonably hospitable and exploitable native inhabitants but instead inhabitants that licked their lips and thought, yum?' I wasn't as big a fan of some of the renamed North American locations (Sparkletown being the silliest), but there's a limit what you can do to denote your alternate-North American location as alternate and still North American.♥ And... I'm sorry I'm not sensitive enough on racial concerns to register if a character is one race or the other? Seriously, unless specifically told in the book, 'Character X is African-American,' details like that pass me by completely.§ And the reviewer's concern with Meg's implications of self harm I thought had already been handled within the book. And still neither of those issues made me particularly unhappy or altered my enjoyment of the book.
♥ A limit that Lion's Blood subverted in depth. Still my favorite alt-history of all time.
§ This statement is probably showing off my ethnocentrism. Sorry.
And I really like how the character of Meg is shaping in this excerpt. I've read a lot of books lately where the characters are very reactive, responding reasonably to the story stimulus but still responding to action rather than acting themselves. Meg is introduced as a character who has just actively escaped from captivity. Her successful escape has caused other characters to pursue her, she evades them by finding a hiding place, she gains tentative acceptance in that hiding place by finding a place of employment.† She feels like a character a tentative step ahead in the plot, rather than racing several steps behind. Man. Refreshing. I like that.
† Contrast this with how Briggs first introduced Mercy. There she was, just minding her own business, tinkering in her shop, when suddenly unexpected visitors wolfing out! Which forced Mercy to run, which lead Mercy to inadvertently kill, which she then needed to report to the local pack, which kicked off every other pack interaction. Not a bad opening by any means and it certainly snagged my interest when I read it, but I find I'm a bit tired to that plot device now.
Oh, and I really like how her magical ability seems to be set up. It's a rare ability, but not unheard of‡ (Simon will recognize it when she shares it with him); and it's implied to have limitations and a very clear cost.♠ Yessss.
‡ Although McKinley's Sunshine did the unheard-of-magical-ability thing really, really well.
♠ Contrast this with how Hamilton's heroines have a habit of receiving a Whoops—magical power up! whenever the plot of each new book might call for it. I find that that trick a little dull.
December 2012: I have to admit I'm more than a little werewolf-and-vampire'd out. The publishing market is glutted with books of that theme, and I've largely stopped reading them even when written by authors I like (Patricia Briggs, I'm looking at you). But now it's Anne Bishop entering the urban fantasy subgenre. Anne Bishop. If I have one favorite author, at present it's her. I have a complete collection of all her works, down to the last obscure short story.♣ (Except Summer in Mossy Creek. Did anybody read that?♦) I can't begrudge her for chancing an entry into this extremely lucrative subgenre. And honestly, who am I kidding? I preordered this book the moment it became possible.
♣ Oops, that's a lie. Bishop published "She Moved Through the Fair" just last year in some limited-release chapbook that I cannot find a copy of. Drat.
♦ I felt very bad about this statement, so I requested a copy through interlibrary loan. They only had a large-print at their disposal. Review.