Saturday, February 26, 2011

Fledgling by Octavia E. Butler

Fledgling by Octavia E. Butler

After The Curse of Chalion, our next Calico Reaction's 2011 Book Club book ended up to be Octavia E. Butler's Fledgling. Butler is yet another author that falls into the I-should-have-read-by-now category. So even though a large part of me was busy thinking, "Aw man, a vampire book? I don't want to read a vampire book - I'm so sick of vampires!" another part of me thought, "Well, it's Octavia Butler - maybe this will be interesting."

Interesting is what it was. Satisfying, not quite. It almost ended up in the same place as The Curse of Chalion in terms of how I felt about it. However, there was a bit more excitement, a lot more tension during the second half of the book (and closer to the end), and I really liked Shori, the main character. Here's a quick synopsis:

After a horrific attempt on her life, Shori awakens in a cave with no memory of what has happened to her. What she soon discovers is that the small community she lived in was destroyed and that she is 53-year old vampire. But as she tries to rebuild her life in a way that feels right, plenty of questions remain. Who is responsible for the attack? Will her memory return? Will she be able to protect those around her who are willing to help? And most important of all - will the killers try again?

Because of the synopsis, I thought this book would be a bit more exciting than it actually was. Instead it had its ups and downs, and I've decided this book requires me to split them up so I don't get all muddled as I type.

The Good

Shori. I liked her. A lot. And I liked Wright, her "first" (or I occasionally thought of him as her chevalier - too much Blood anime I guess). In a nutshell, when people are bitten, they're keen on sticking around said vampire. What I thought was really impressive - and I think this is just because it's so unexpected and different - is that Shori and Wright hook up several times. Now, some people will have a problem with this because even though Shori is 53 years old, she essentially has the body of a child. Normally that would be creepy, but the way Shori acts and talks, it's fine. The simple fact that Butler pulled it off is awesome.

I also enjoyed the way Butler crafted her vampires. She stuck with some of the old legends, such as sunlight doing harm, having to sleep during the day, and the pale skin and lean look. But she also gave them a different angle, putting them in interesting little communities and with a whole cultural way of working. It wouldn't surprise me if Butler has done research in anthropology. Because her vampires weren't exactly the traditional type as we think of them, it made for a nice difference. And no, none of them were sparkly.

She also gets points for killing a single person. Why? Because I never, ever saw that one coming. When it did, I was really bummed and really hoped that Shori would get her revenge because geez, the poor girl needed it.

The Not-So-Cool

When I reached the halfway point in the book, I was starting to get bored. It's actually a rather fast read (done in two days), but when you go so long without anything that feels like serious progress, you can get impatient. You want to know who's doing the killing. You want to know why. But first you have to go looking for more vampires that might be able to help. While it is necessary, it's a pain because you're so far in, you're ready for a few clues or something as to what the heck is going on.

When you do discover who is doing it, there is no big reveal. It's more like, "Hm. Those guys are doing it. Guess we'd better do something about that." There's no get up and go. There are phone calls to be made. A council to be had. And while I admit the council proceedings were interesting, I object to a few things.

First, one vampire Shori talks to claims that their Council of Judgment is better and more effective than human trials. Then he explains them. And they sounded exactly the same. He claimed that human trials are a "game" and the truth can easily go unpunished or overlooked. And yet, when the Council reaches its judgment, I immediately thought, "Bullsh*t." There you have vampires who were hundreds of years old, knew for a fact who was lying, and yet still ignored those facts. That ticked me off. It made them look exactly like the humans that some of them disliked so much - arrogant, shameful, and extremely stupid. I think some of the other vampires should have called them on it.

I was also highly displeased with the verdict and the way the book ended. If you don't want to know, skip to the last paragraph. I'm not going to give away details, but the gist might be enough to ruin it for you. Essentially it went: "Well, you've murdered a whole bunch of vampires and their humans, thus killing maybe 100 people, but we're going to leave you alive with only your word that you won't try to kill Shori and everyone around her. For a fourth time." Boo! Hiss!

The way this book ended just made me think, "So...that's it? Um, is there another book?" (there isn't) I literally made a face once I closed it.


It was interesting, and had several high points. I enjoyed the characters and the emotion that Butler brought onto the pages. But the ending annoyed me and left me rather unsatisfied. I'm sure other people will feel differently though - it's one of those sorts of books where everyone will have a different take. This book is a tricky one when it comes to giving it a star count. I think in the end, due almost wholly to its anticlimactic ending, it's a solid 3.5 star book.


Would I read another Octavia E. Butler book? Sure I might. But if the second one I read ended anything like this one, I think I would have to be done.

Originally posted on

Notes from the playlist: "If I Was Your Vampire" by Marilyn Manson

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

February Book Giveaway Winners!

Wow! After a stunning (at least to me) number of entries, the time has finally come for me to announce the winner of the I Am Number Four ARC. I honestly wanted to go out and buy another copy as a surprise for a second winner, but I just don't make enough to justify dropping money on random books for people the way I can for a bit of shipping (as much as I'd love to. You'd think with all the stupid ads I have on this blog, I would, but the truth is that these ads have actually made me ZERO dollars so, psh).

I'm always delighted to see comments on my blogs and loved the enthusiasm so many of you had. I even had a few favorites:

Manu - for calling me "buddy" (I'm a girl, but high-five anyway)
Anonymous @2:10 - for noticing pracitically no one commented anywhere else on this blog (I know...aww)
Another Anonymous - who actually DID comment somewhere else (under the Lord of the Rings post) and made it a nice long comment too. :)

Anyway, after using a random number generator, the winner is.....

I Am Number Four!

Iris! Contratulations! Hope you like the book!

If you didn't win, better luck next time ("Next time?" you ask)! Yep, you never know what books I might be giving away. If you have any genres you'd like to see or authors you hope we get ARCs of, feel free to let me know and I'll keep an eye out for them. Until next month!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Purchased for My Shelf

The Elements by Theodore Gray

The Elements: A Visual Exploration of Every Known Atom in the Universe is the official title of this awesome book. Theodore Gray is a collector of elements and has put together this book with excellent pictures and information. That's right - Gray actually collects elements in their pure forms, from Argon to Zinc, Boron to Xenon. Bulbs of oxygen and chunks of germanium. When you were in chemistry class, the elements were never this fun (unless, of course, you were setting magnesium on fire or had a teacher cool enough to throw sodium into a lake). It's a nice hardcover book with pages done in black at about $35. The Barnes & Noble edition of this book (which is what I have because after Christmas this baby went on sale - whoohoo!) contains a DVD with some neat goodies on it as well. Have kids that don't like chemistry? Show them this. Just want a really sweet compendium of the elements for reference or for fun like me? Here you go.

Notes from the playlist: "Haven't Met You Yet" by Michael Bublé

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Recommended for Caldecott Award Readers

Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People's Ears by Vera Aardema

This is another book that I'm sort of surprised took me so long to recommend. I remember this book from when I was a kid - and now I'm 27! It's pretty impressive when a book can stay with you for that long. Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People's Ears is a tale of exactly that. It's a West African tale explaining why mosquitoes do that annoying buzzing in your ear. It all starts off with a story the mosquito tries to tell the iguana and sets off a chain reaction of events that ends with Mother Owl refusing to wake up the sun. It will take King Lion to sort all this out. I think these tales are fun (I'm also a fan of the story of how the zebra got his stripes) and kids will like the bright colors of the illustrations, which is exactly what helped it land the Caldecott award in 1976. Probably not a story kids have heard before - so why not try something different?

Notes from the playlist: "Tourniquet" by Evanescence

Tuesday, February 8, 2011


Yep, it's that time again. Time for a book you can get for free without lifting a finger (ok, well, you'll have to lift a few fingers in order to comment, but it's a lot better than forking over some dough!) So what do I have for you this time?

I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore

Why not read the book before you go see the movie? There were nine of them...but someone or something is systematically hunting them all down. They are all that is left standing between humanity and ruination. Three are dead. Number four is left - and next in line to die.

I thought maybe I'd chuck this one out there since the movie is due out the 18th. I also thought it was pretty impressive that this book got picked up so quickly to be turned into a movie. Some books take decades before they're noticed by Hollywood. I Am Number Four has been out 6 months, tops. And I think even that is stretching it. They sent the ARC (advance reading copy) to our store and I took one look at it and thought, "Ooh." Now I'll pass it on to you.

All you have to do is comment. Anywhere on this blog. Be sure to include your email address or some way for me to contact you if you've won. The contest will run until February 22nd, which gives you time to see the movie if you're the type that likes to do that before reading the book.

**Note: Please understand that because this ARC came through my place of work, in order to keep people from reselling them, the edges of the book have been marked (the way libraries or publishers do with remainder books) with "ARC." If you like your ARCs completely clean, it's best not to enter this contest. :)

Haven't seen the trailer for I Am Number Four yet? Well then, here you go!

This is the new cover the book has recently been released with. The copy you receive will be paperback and be the image at the beginning of this post.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Recently Finished (and Recommended)

Shadowfever by Karen Marie Moning

Yes! The final installment of the Fever Series has arrived! Actually, it arrived back in January, and I actually finished it a week or so ago, but who cares? It's a great finish to the series. Though I personally felt some of it could easily be cut out to help speed the book along and Mac started to really annoy me at several instances, as a whole it's satisfying. It wraps up every loose end, and while one or two tiny things still hang out there, it's okay to let them go for now since they're not imperative to know. Even if you aren't interested in the series, go to your local bookstore and check out the cover simply because it's gorgeous. Once I finished the book and closed it, I stared at the cover before laughing. Now I know what it's meant to look like. Nice.

Check out the rest of the Fever Series:

Notes from the playlist: "Time" by Hans Zimmer

Caraval by Stephanie Garber

Whoops! I completely forgot to mention this. Last month I reviewed Stephanie Garber's amazing book Caraval for the web blog I curre...