WFTM Episode 9: ROBOT FIGHT!

There are a lot of robots in episode 9, including a battle between US and Japan mechs, Leslie losing all faith in humanity at the failed experiment of Hitchbot, and checking in on Mr. Robot in our summer television review. Fernando talks about how Jon Stewart changed news watching, Leslie squeals about Marissa Meyer and her Lunar Chronicles series, there is general love for Greg Rucka’s Lazarus comic series and much more. Don’t forget to enter to win boxes of Comic Con swag!!

Download it from the iTunes store here!

We’re now on Stitcher as well!! If Stitcher is your chosen app of podcasting choice, listen to the Working for the Mandroid podcast here

So what’s in Episode 9?

News:

GIANT ROBOT BATTLE IS A REAL THING!

I hate people. Hitchbot was destroyed in Philadelphia.

First look at the new Shadowhunters television show on ABC Family

What We’re Watching:

It’s Jon Stewart’s last week on The Daily Show and we are sad.

Checking in on Summer Television:

-        Killjoys

-        Dark Matter

-        Defiance

-        Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell

-        Humans

-        Mr. Robot

What We're Reading:

An update on A Fire Upon the Deep by Vernor Vinge

Lazarus Volume 1: Family & Volume 2: Lift by Greg Rucka, Michael Lark & Santiago Arcas

Warm Up by VE Schwab (original Tor.com short story)

Carswell’s Guide to Being Lucky by Marissa Meyer (short story in the Lunar Chronicles series)

We’re Still Hosting a Contest to Win SDCC Swag, Books & T-Shirts!

What’s Making Us Happy:

Fernando: looking forward to reading Volume 3 of Lazarus

Leslie: using Google Docs as weird IM software that feels more like passing notes in class and binging Parks & Rec on Netflix


Follow us on Twitter @WorkforMandroid and @fernborrego

Email your questions, concerns, thoughts and comments to WorkingfortheMandroid@gmail.com


Intro & Outro Music is “Robot Army” by Quiet Music for Tiny Robots, provided via freemusicarchive.org through a Creative Commons License

#Fandom5: Five Fictional Pets I'd Like to Adopt

Welcome to my attempt at 5 Fandom Friday, where I try to contribute to a weekly meme but usually forget. This fun weekly postathon is hosted by The Nerdy Girlie and Super Space Chick. If you’re interested in joining up, check out future posting topics here.

Two weeks in a row, guys! I might be getting the hang of this whole “meme participant” thing. But oh man, this week’s 5 Fandom Friday is another difficult one. The topic is Fictional Pets I’d Like to Adopt. I keep thinking of robots I want to “adopt”, which aren’t really pets (but but but… BAYMAX!). And yet that’s what I’m going to start with and see if I can come up with some actual animals as I go along.

K-9 from Doctor Who

So he’s a robot, but at least he’s in the shape of an animal, so that’s got to count for something, right? I would love to have a pet dog that could essentially take care of itself and didn’t need to be fed. Plus he could help me out in tight jams with the lasers he shoots from his nose. And it’s like having a link to the internet at all times with me.

abu.jpg

Abu from Aladdin

Ever since I saw Aladdin for the first time, I wanted a pet monkey. Abu is the best. He can get snacks and be sneaky when necessary. Plus he looks pretty spiffy in his little vest and fez.

Appa from Avatar: The Last Airbender

I would never have to be stuck in traffic again!! I would just hope on Appa and fly to wherever my destination was. Plus he’s warm and cuddly in case I ever get stuck outside at night.

Gromit from Wallace & Gromit

If I were to have a real dog, I would want him to be a super smart inventor dog who could create things that would help me not have to do daily chores like washing the dishes. Gromit is the smartest of all smart animals and yet remains completely silent. We could compete on who has the best look of absolute disdain though…

Chewbacca from Star Wars

I don’t know how much he would appreciate being regulated to pet, but this was Fernando’s choice. It would be awesome to have a Wookie as my co-pilot in daily life, plus he would get the things off of tall shelves that even Fernando can’t reach on his own.

Runner Up: Toothless from How to Train Your Dragon

Apa bumped him from the main list because Apa can fly me around with a little more security than Toothless, but dude, a DRAGON! A FRIENDLY dragon too! Who doesn’t want a friendly dragon as a pet?

So those are my picks for fictional pets. Which ones would you love to have waiting for you at home each night? Are you more of a direwolf person or a dragon person?

Also don't forget that we're hosting a contest to win one of two boxes of Comic Con swag with books, t-shirts, posters, buttons and more. Make sure to enter here!

Mini Review: Lost by S.A. Bodeen

Lost
SA Bodeen

Feiwel & Friends
I received an ARC from the publisher.
Published July 28, 2015
144 pages
Middle Grade / Adventure / Fantasy

Find it on Goodreads

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Indie Bound

The mystery of the island deepens as members of the Robinson family disappear and strange animals are discovered.
Sarah Robinson and her family are shipwrecked on a remote and mysterious island. Their food is running out, and their fear is escalating–there is no sign of rescue. The mysterious girl they found unconscious at the beach is healing, and what she tells them about the strange island and especially about someone called the Keeper has the family on edge. When Sarah’s dad and Marco’s younger brother go missing, the mystery becomes dangerous. Now, it’s a matter of life and death. Now, the family is truly lost.

If I’m being completely honest, the reason Lost got bumped up my TBR mountain was because the font was huge and I was recovering from eye surgery. It had been weeks since I’d been able to actually read anything, so I dove in with a hunger for stories and words and language and adventure. Also because I was hoping that the book would somehow live up to the mystery and intrigue hinted at by sharing the same title with one of the weirdest adventure mystery television shows in the past few decades.

This is the sequel to Shipwreck Island, which I reviewed before. It picks up where the last book ends with Sarah and Marco stuck on an island with their newly blended family. Weird hybrid monsters keep popping out of the woods and general weirdness is around every corner. This second volume meanders with these same ideas, but this time Sarah’s dad and Marco’s little brother go missing. The mysterious girl they found at the end of Shipwreck Island has a tall tale about a Keeper and weird science experiments. It’s all very odd and mysterious.

It’s unfortunate that outside of the new girl’s story, Lost doesn’t really dive into any answers (much like the television show of the same name). It’s a lot of wandering the island, searching for lost people. Then it ends with the most interesting part of the book on the last few pages. This is very much a bridger novel between the world building of the first novel and whatever explanations might come in the third. Even with my eagerness to be reading again, I found it a little on the boring side.

The target demo for this middle aged book might remain more engaged, imagining themselves adventuring beside Marco and Sarah as they traipse through the jungle. It was more proof that I should probably stay away from middle grade as a whole. It’s hard for me to find engaging characters when there is little self-reflection in 11-year-olds. This series would probably be good for adventure seekers of a similar age to the protagonists and it’s definitely a short easy read. Just not for me.

 

I received an ARC of this book from the publisher in return for an honest review. All thoughts are my own.

WFTM Podcast Episode 8: Sense8, They Came Together, Baymax Mattress, Short Stories & More

In episode 8, Leslie is a little tipsy on Summer Honey Cider, but she and Fernando discuss their feelings about Sense8, the weird Paul Rudd/Amy Poehler comedy They Came Together, some short stories from Clarkesworld Magazine’s podcast and Tor.com, the Baymax mattress, and more. Make sure to enter to win a bunch of SDCC swag, books and t-shirts by tweeting with the hashtag #wftmpodcast or entering through the Rafflecopter form at below!

Download it from the iTunes store here!

We’re now on Stitcher as well!! If Stitcher is your chosen app of podcasting choice, listen to the Working for the Mandroid podcast here

So what’s in Episode 8?

News:

All Leslie’s Dreams Have Come True! The Baymax Mattress!

Writers Have Been Announced For the New Spider-Man Movie & They Discuss The Tone for the Next Film

What We’re Watching:

We Finished Sense8 – really mild, vague spoilers

They Came Together

What Leslie’s Reading:

We started A Fire Upon the Deep by Vernor Vinge

This Wanderer, in the Dark of the Year by Kris Millering (short audio story)

Asymptotic by Andy Dudak (short audio story)

Clarkesworld Magazine podcast

Four Horsemen, at Their Leisure by Richard Parks (short Tor.com original)

We’re Still Hosting a Contest to Win SDCC Swag, Books & T-Shirts!

What’s Making Us Happy:

Fernando: The Strain season 2

Leslie: Angry Orchard Summer Honey Cider and So You Think You Can Dance


Follow us on Twitter @WorkforMandroid and @fernborrego

Email your questions, concerns, thoughts and comments to WorkingfortheMandroid@gmail.com


Intro & Outro Music is “Robot Army” by Quiet Music for Tiny Robots, provided via freemusicarchive.org through a Creative Commons License

#Fandom5: Five Fictional Vehicles I'd Love to Travel In

Welcome to my attempt at 5 Fandom Friday, where I try to contribute to a weekly meme but usually forget. This fun weekly postathon is hosted by The Nerdy Girlie and Super Space Chick. If you’re interested in joining up, check out future posting topics here.

I thought this week’s topic would be super easy because who doesn’t want to ride in fictional vehicles? But then I realized I don’t know the names of a lot of fictional vehicles (for some reason Snowpiercer keeps coming to mind and that is definitely NOT a fictional vehicle I want to ride in), so let’s see if the internet can help me find five. This Wikipedia page is incredibly helpful.

The TARDIS from Doctor Who (preferably with 10 as pilot)

I’m pretty sure if this posting topic was a poll, the TARDIS would win by a huge landslide. Who doesn’t want to travel through all of time and space to see exciting and amazing things? Boring people. People who we do not want to be friends with. They probably don’t like cookies either.

The Batmobile

Because that would mean that I was chillin’ with Batman and that could be cool (or deadly). I’d want it to be like the Nolan ‘verse tumbler for extra security reasons.

Firefly

Mostly so I could hang out with the awesome crew and take part in exciting heists, but being in space would be really cool too if I were on a reliable ship like this.

The Dirigible from The Finishing School series by Gail Carriger

Going to a ladies’ finishing school sounds terrible unless it’s really secret code for turning you into a Victorian badass spy lady. I don’t remember if the dirigible-that-is-a-school has a name or not, but it would fulfill my latent desires to A) go to boarding school, and B) live on a moving vessel that is not a cruise ship for a weird length of time.

The Millennium Falcon from Star Wars

Because it would probably be Fernando’s second choice (after the TARDIS of course), and we could have space adventures with Han and Chewie.

Runner Up: A Jaeger from Pacific Rim

This is a runner up because I can honestly say the idea of riding in a jaeger is terrifying, but it would be pretty badass too. Especially if I didn’t have to fight a giant glowy monster and just romp around the ocean instead.

So what fictional vehicle would you like to ride in and who would you want as the pilot? Are you a TARDIS fan or would you prefer a jaunt in a spaceship? Anyone else think the Impala from Supernatural doesn't count because it's a real car?

Review: Familiar Things by Lia Habel

Familiar Things
Lia Habel

Kitten Perfume Publishing
I received an e-copy of this book from the author.
Released October 28, 2014
297 pages
YA / Fanatasy / Magic

Find it on Goodreads

Amazon | Barnes & Nobel

Sixteen-year-old witch Everrose Morgantwill isn’t sure which monster is causing her more trouble—the ten-foot-tall wildcat she’s attracted as her familiar, or her emotionally unstable boyfriend.
Half her spells go nowhere, and people always have trouble remembering her name, but even so—Everrose’s life is idyllic. Born and raised in All Hollows County, a secretive world created by powerful witches and warlocks for the protection of the magically inclined, she’s never had to fear persecution. In All Hollows, magic is used openly. A great spell known as the Nestle Ward isolates and protects it, though there is one odd little side effect.
In our world, it’s 2015. In All Hollows, it’s 1958.
Between sewing the perfect high school wardrobe, experimenting with red lipstick and cake mascara, and dreaming about prom, Everrose has a lot on her mind. When her steady boyfriend returns from a trip to “the Layside” a changed warlock, however—she notices. Handsome Vincent Olwen was affectionate and self-effacing when he left, but he’s come back acting sullen and withdrawn. Everrose is lost for an explanation—and lost for what to do.
Troubled by the changes she sees in Vincent, Everrose tries to distract herself by searching for her first familiar—a rite of passage for sixteen-year-olds in All Hollows. But when she does make the Connexion, it’s with the last animal she would’ve ever expected—a massive, terrifying wildeor called a trothenbeast. Only powerful witches and warlocks attract wildeors as familiars. Yet, when it comes to magic, Everrose is completely inept. It makes no sense. Weirder still, the beast fails to alert Everrose to the presence of magic, and refuses to shadow her. In short, he doesn’t act like a protecting, guiding familiar animal at all.
Faced with all of this, Everrose is just about ready to throw in the towel. Before she can, though, she learns that the trothenbeast has been cursed by an evil witch named Ebonella Rosu—and that Ebonella wants him back.
Everrose must contend with a witch who wants her dead, a familiar who needs her protection, and a boyfriend who’s changing before her eyes. When she finally reaches out for help, she finds it from an unlikely source—her boyfriend’s moody, somewhat mysterious father, the mayor of her little town. What secrets does Roderick Olwen harbor? And what do they have to do with Everrose herself?

If you’ve listened to our most recent episode of the Working for the Mandroid podcast, you’ll know how difficult this review has been for me to write. If you’ve ever loved an author based on their debut series so much that you feared reading any future series by them, you might understand how difficult this review has been for me to write. If you’ve ever received a copy of a book directly from an author with their well wishes and hopes that you’ll love it, you’ll really understand how difficult this review has been for me to write.

I loooooved Lia Habel’s Dearly, Departed series or at least the two books that she’s released. I bought into the world from page 1, fell in love with a zombie boy despite my brain telling me it was a terrible idea, and wanted so desperately to be Nora, the delicate girl that has to learn to be a soldier in a world in conflict. It’s one of those series where the logical side of me sees the flaws and the rest of me tells that logic to shut up, we’re busy enjoying the ride. It’s a series that I nearly always want to be talking about, but can’t seem to find anyone else who has loved it nearly as much as I have.

So I put off reading Familiar Things for a while after receiving a copy directly from Lia. Partly this was from fear, partly from not realizing that I had to email the Kindle file to my Kindle and therefore never being able to find it on my Kindle when I was willing to make that leap to start reading it. I finally decided to change that during our annual trip to Comic Con. Line waiting is very conducive to reading as is airplane time.

I wanted so badly to love it. I dived in reading to join the adventures of a teenage witch stuck in the 1950s. I ignored my trepidation at the twee musical cues that seemed to pop up every few pages and were always way too on the nose. I overcame my nervousness when it looked like the story was headed one way only to completely ignore a potentially interesting plot to go in a different direction. I powered through even when some weird romantic subtext creeped in that made me feel incredibly uncomfortable. And when I was done, I was sad because I didn’t like Familiar Things much at all.

This is the first book self-published by Lia Habel, and it left me with the same feeling as most self-published works. It really needs some help from a professional editor to tighten up plot, to point out potential inconsistencies in world building that could be explained away with a sentence or two in the right place, and to help with pacing. The writing is still solid and it’s obvious that the author loves this setting of a 1950s pocket universe, but all those elements that made it feel authentic to the time period seemed to take the attention away from the more important plotting elements.

Familiar Things is about Everrose, who lives in a pocket universe somewhere in the forests of Pennsylvania. This pocket universe was formed during the witch burnings in the US and has been going on alongside the greater world for 200+ years. Unfortunately time goes a bit slower in All Hollows, so while the rest of the world is in the tech boom of 2015, they’re still using 1950s technology. Every summer, witches and warlocks about to graduate from school go on a sabbatical to experience the real world for a month and then decide whether to return to the magical haven of All Hollows or stay in the modern world. The book opens with Everrose’s boyfriend returning from his jaunt to the modern world acting weird and wanting to import modern technology to All Hollows.

There is a lot of potential in this plot idea, but it’s only used as a way to wedge Everrose and the otherwise flat boyfriend apart so she can have a story about self-discovery and cause some secondary characters to have conflict that has little effect on the main story. A story of self-discovery is fine, but I don’t know why so much of the beginning of the book is focused around the boyfriend’s story was when it didn’t have much to do with anything in the end.

Everrose’s story is really about her not being able to find a familiar as she’s getting closer to the birthday when she’s supposed to find her first familiar. She’s also very bad at magic except on a rare occasion where she seems very powerful. Both these things cause her much internal strife and adolescent angst. The issue I had with the self-discovery arc is that somewhere around a third of the way through the book, there’s a passing reference to how Everrose’s mother doesn’t have a familiar and no explanation for why that’s not weird. I just kept thinking Everrose might have inherited whatever non-familiar witchiness that her mother had. People – including her father – also have a tendency to forget about her when she isn’t around, which provides her with some issues as well.

All these things are explained in a reasonable way for the rules of this world, but rather than have hints or explanations weaved throughout the story, all the answers to these and every other issue, mystery or concern that build up through the entire book are provided during an epic mansplaining exposition dump at the very end. The only thing this male character doesn’t explain is the one thing where someone actually told him, “Make sure to tell her about that one character we keep mentioning, but have never seen and won’t explain.”

And then on top of this, there are a couple of scenes involving a massive tiger-like beast who has been imbued with the intellect of a man or possibly a teenage boy and Everrose, where there is romantic tension and possible innocuous weird flirting. That is when I nearly gave up on this book. Zombie and teenage girl, I’m fine with, but apparently I cross the line at man-trapped-in-tiger-beast and teenage girl. It just hit all my squick buttons.

I see potential in Familiar Things, potential that with the help of possibly beta readers and/or an editor could become a much better book about a teenage witch in a pre-tech boom period discovering herself and how she fits into the greater world around her. I just think that book is several very different drafts away from where it is now.

And with all that said, there are people loving this book on Goodreads, so what do I know? Other than I hate myself for writing this review, I mean.

I received an electronic copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review. These are all my own thoughts, and I hope Lia understands that this one just wasn’t for me. I still adore her, Nora and Bram though.

WFTM Episode 7: Ant Man, Sense8, Ms Marvel, Lumberjanes & More

This week's WFTM podcast is a day early, but it's full of comic book fun as Leslie and Fernando talk Marvel's Ant Man movie (spoilers start at 18:00 and last through 31:53), the first volumes of Ms Marvel and Lumberjanes, along with reviews of the first 6 episodes of Sense8, Lia Habel's Familiar Things, Xena reboot news, Emmy noms, and much more. We also start off our very first contest to win loads of Comic Con goodies.

Download it from the iTunes store here!

We’re now on Stitcher as well!! If Stitcher is your chosen app of podcasting choice, listen to the Working for the Mandroid podcast here.

So what’s in Episode 7?

News:

First look at David Tennant’s Fugitoid robot character in Ninja Turtles cartoon

BC is rebooting Xena: Warrior Princess with Sam Rami producing

This season's Sleepy Hollow will include a crossover with Bones, which doesn't make sense to us

Emmy Nomination - Orphan Black, GoT, Netflix!

What We're Watching

Ant Man Review

Sense8 Review - first 6 episodes

What We're Reading

Lumberjanes by Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis & Brooke A. Allen

Familiar Things by Lia Habel

Ms Marvel: No Normal by G. Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona

Our Very First WFTM Podcast Contest!

Follow us on Twitter @WorkforMandroid and @fernborrego

Email your questions, concerns, thoughts and comments to WorkingfortheMandroid@gmail.com

Intro & Outro Music is “Robot Army” by Quiet Music for Tiny Robots, provided via freemusicarchive.org through a Creative Commons License