Blog Tour: The Winner's Kiss by Marie Rutkoski

Welcome to the Working for the Mandroid stop on Marie Rutkoski's The Winner's Kiss, the last book in her The Winner's Curse series. I am so excited about this book. This series has been so exciting and squeal-inducing and just lovely all around. To celebrate the release of The Winner's Kiss on March 29, bloggers around the interwebs have been sharing their favorite kisses from books new and old. I'll be sharing my own later in the post, but first, more about The Winner's Kiss.

The Winner's Kiss
by Marie Rutkoski

On Sale March 29th, 2016

War has begun. Arin is in the thick of it with untrustworthy new allies and the empire as his enemy. Though he has convinced himself that he no longer loves Kestrel, Arin hasn’t forgotten her, or how she became exactly the kind of person he has always despised. She cared more for the empire than she did for the lives of innocent people—and certainly more than she did for him.
At least, that’s what he thinks.
In the frozen north, Kestrel is a prisoner in a brutal work camp. As she searches desperately for a way to escape, she wishes Arin could know what she sacrificed for him. She wishes she could make the empire pay for what they’ve done to her.
But no one gets what they want just by wishing.
As the war intensifies, both Kestrel and Arin discover that the world is changing. The East is pitted against the West, and they are caught in between. With so much to lose, can anybody really win?

About the Author

Marie Rutkoski is the author of The Kronos Chronicles, including The Cabinet of Wonders and The Celestial Globe. The Cabinet of Wonders, her debut novel, was named an Indie Next Kids’ List Great Read and a Bank Street Best Children’s Book of the Year, among other honors. Rutkoski grew up in Bolingbrook, Illinois (a suburb of Chicago), as the oldest of four children. She attended the University of Iowa, where she took Writers’ Workshop classes and studied with Pulitzer Prize-winner James Alan McPherson. After graduating, she lived in Moscow and Prague. Upon receiving her Ph.D. from Harvard University, she held dual appointments as a lecturer there in both English and American Literature and Language, and History and Literature. Rutkoski is currently a professor at Brooklyn College, where she teaches Renaissance Drama, children’s literature and creative writing. She lives in New York City with her husband and cat. 

 

Now about that favorite kiss...

Hello, friends and strangers. Remember me? It’s been quite some time since I’ve truly written a post for WFTM. I could blame a job that is drowning me in madness. Or a wedding that I don’t have the faintest idea how to plan and yet somehow am planning anyway. Or just a general lack of apathy or time or patience. Or how everyone wants to hang out with me these days and I’m rarely home. Whatever the reason, I have been missing and I am sad about it.

But today! Today we talk about kissing! Now I’m not a mushy person. In fact I am best described by the following t-shirt graphic:

And yet there was once a day when I enjoyed a good kissing scene, especially if it were earned. Alas, my brain is now more swiss cheese than brain matter, and I don’t remember all the best ones. So I tried cheated. I looked at all the other wonderful bloggers who were part of the tour, except most of them chose books I’d never heard of or hadn’t read. That’s no help.

So I googled best literary kisses and that came up with… more books I’ve never heard of or hadn’t read. Then I despaired about all the amazing books I’ve never heard of or read and WHERE IS ALL THE READING TIME?

But finally I settled on my choice. And it was the first choice that came to mind at the thought of the topic, so I’m not entirely sure why I tried to cheat anyway.

What Book Is Your Favorite Literary Kiss In?

It’s not quite “literary”, but it’s going to be Soulless by Gail Carriger.

Who Is Kissing?

She of the soulless nature, one Alexia Tarrabotti, and the very uncivilized Lord Maccon.

Why Is It Your Favorite?

I am quite fond of love-hate relationships that turn into a happily romantic pairing between equals who respect one another, and the relationship between Alexia and Lord Maccon check all those boxes. I’m also fond of slightly rough make out sessions that take place in fancy libraries. Though this scene doesn’t tick the library box, I do get one of those later in the book.

So let me set up the scene: Alexia keeps attracting unsavory sorts who either want to kill her or recruit her. The latest was a weird man that snuck into her carriage. She’s escaped with the help of Lord Maccon, who demands she have a body guard type person with her at all times. She is infuriated and there is arguing, some flirty teasing and then some anger on the part of Lord Maccon. Then simply…

The earl grabbed Miss Tarabotti’s chin with one big hand and the small of her back with the other, pulling her toward him hard. He slanted his mouth over hers almost violently.
She jerked back. “What are you…?”
“Only way to keep you quiet,” he grumbled, taking her chin in a firmer grip and planting his mouth atop hers once more.
It was not the kind of kiss Alexia had ever experienced before. Not that she had been kissed all that frequently prior to this particular point in time.
The kiss itself was initially quite gentle: slow and soft. Alexia found it surprising given the violence of his embrace. She also found it faintly unsatisfying. She gave a little murmur of frustration and leaned in toward him. Then the kiss changed. It became harder, rougher, parting her lips with purpose. There was even, shockingly, tongue involved in the proceedings. Miss Tarabotti was not certain about that. It bordered on sloppy, but then again, the sheer heat of it … Her pragmatic preternatural self assessed the situation and realized that she could definitely learn to love the taste of him: like one of those expensive French soups, dark and rick. She arched her back. Her breath had gone all uneven, perhaps because her mouth was clogged with kisses. Alexia was just beginning to come to terms with the tongue concept and notice that she was now getting too warm to need the earl’s jacket, when he left off kissing, pushed the coat roughly down, and started nibbling on her neck.

And it continues – quite scandalously for events happening in a Victorian street – until they’re rudely interrupted by Maccon’s associate with news of the latest threat to Alexia’s life. This is only the first – and probably tamest – kiss in the book, much less the series. I guess I like my love affair with a bit of self-deprecating humor and sarcasm.

Now What Kiss Do I Want to See in The Winner’s Kiss?

Well, Kestrel and Arin, of course. Those two need a happy ending after all their misunderstandings and standing on opposite ends of the battle field. I want happiness and joy and safety, though I have a feeling some more pain and suffering will be felt on all sides before everything comes to an end.

So what is your favorite kiss from a book? Share in the comments or join the conversation on Twitter using the hashtag #TheWinnersKiss.


And regular activity at WFTM will start up soon. Hopefully? Maybe after this wedding? If anyone is still around?

Blog Tour & Contest: The Rule of Mirrors by Caragh M. O'Brien

Welcome to the Working for the Mandroid stop on the blog tour for Caragh M. O'Brien's newest release, The Rule of Mirrors. This is the second book in her The Vault of Dreamers series, and it's nearly as bonkers as the last book. Thank you to Caragh and Roaring Brook Press for having us on the tour. They're providing a copy of the first book of the series, The Vault of Dreamers, or the newest book to one lucky WFTM reader. Stick around after the review for your chance to win!

If you haven't read The Vault of Dreamers yet, turn back. The blurb has spoilers! Read my review of the first book in the series over here instead.

The Rule of Mirrors

Caragh M. O'Brien

Released February 16, 2016
Roaring Brook Press
432 pages
YA / Science Fiction / Thriller

Find it on Goodreads
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indie Bound

The fast-paced, psychologically thrilling sequel to The Vault of Dreamers follows Rosie after her consciousness has been split in two.

The entire country was watching when Rosie Sinclair was expelled from Forge, the prestigious arts school that doubles as a reality TV show. But few know how Dean Berg was mining students' dreams in laboratories deep below the school. And no one, least of all the Dean himself, knows that when Rosie's dreams were seeded into the mind of another patient, Rosie's consciousness woke up in that body--a girl far from Forge, a girl with a completely different life from Rosie, a girl who is pregnant.

Told from alternating points of view between Rosie as she makes sense of her new identity and the shattered subconscious that still exists in her old body, this sequel to The Vault of Dreamers will keep readers on the edge of their seats and leave them hungry for more.

After the exciting events that culminated The Vault of Dreamers, I felt inclined to write the continuation of Rosie’s story myself. Thankfully, I didn’t have to as the author has returned with another bizarre sci-fi meets psychological thriller romp that balances on the edge of social commentary. Whereas The Vault of Dreamers had an element of analyzing the culture that turned realty television into an everyday occurrence and the effects it has on its maybe-not-so-willing stars, The Rule of Mirrors at times examines what actually makes us who we are as people.

Normally this is where I would put a warning about spoilers for the end of The Vault of Dreamers, but the blurb for The Rule of Mirrors provides plenty of spoilers on its own, so… perhaps that’s unnecessary.

As was implied at the end of the first book, Rosie’s consciousness has been split in two with only her internal voice left behind in her real body. The other half has now woken up thousands of miles away in an Icelandic clinic within the body of a pregnant teenager. Both face new challenges as they try to regain control of their lives and find some way to break free from the Evil Mastermind™ of Dean Berg at the Forge School and stop the dream mining that ruined their lives.

The book is told from both points of view with Thea’s chapters (Rosie’s consciousness in the body of the pregnant former coma patient) regularly focused on what makes a person who they are. Do your memories and mental thought patterns make you who you are? Or is it the scars on your body and the way people see you that determine your identity? Or maybe something in between? O’Brien only barely brushes the surface of these philosophical conundrums, but they’re the most interesting elements of Thea’s story until late in the book. The rest of her plot often feels anticlimactic and a running parade of side characters marching across the screen with little effect to the larger story overall.

The chapters told from Rosie’s point-of-view are the most interesting as the internal voice that often voiced her darkest thoughts in the first book now has control of the steering wheel. While Thea spends a good portion of the book bedridden, shackled by her parents’ restrictions, or fighting people’s dismissals of who she truly believed herself to be, Rosie travels across the country, crosses paths with familiar faces and has more action in her story.

It isn’t until the two eventually come together that the story really hits all cylinders and starts to gel. Most likely because this is the middle book in a trilogy, it doesn’t have the most satisfying conclusion and much of the last 60 pages or so feel rushed after the more languid first half, but so many doors have been left wide open for an exhilarating conclusion.

The Rule of Mirrors might be a bit slower than its predecessor, but some big ideas are touched along the way and some new tech is added to this odd little science fiction thriller. This series is unliked much of anything I’ve read in the YA sphere, so it will be interesting to see if Rosie is ever able to get her happy ending.

 

Sound like something you'd be into? Then enter below to win your choice of a copy of the first book, The Vault of Dreamers, or the newest book The Rule of MIrrors. Open to those with US mailing addresses only. The publisher will be providing the winner's prize. Contest ends on March 10 at midnight Central time. Good luck!

Visit the other blogs on The Rule of Mirrors blog tour below:

·  2/16: Ex Libris Kate

·  2/17: Fiction Fare

·  2/18: A Dream Within A Dream

·  2/19: Bibliophilia, Please

·  2/20: Book Briefs

·  2/21: Fiktshun

·  2/22: Once Upon a Twilight

·  2/23: Reading Nook Reviews

·  2/24: Seeing Double in Neverland

·  2/25: Working for the Mandroid

·  2/26: Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers

·  2/27: Reads all the Books

Author Blog Tour & Contest: Teen Frankenstein by Chandler Baker - What's Your High School Horror Story?

Welcome to the Working for the Mandroid stop on Chandler Baker's blog tour for her new book, High School Horror: Teen Frankenstein. I'm really excited about this new series retelling classic horror stories by way of high school students. As part of the tour Chandler and members of the Feiwel & Friends team are sharing their own personal high school horror stories. The team over at Macmillan was kind enough to offer a space for me to share my own horror story, but I hated high school so much, I've actively repressed all memories of it.

We are also lucky to have a copy of Teen Frankenstein to give away to one lucky WFTM reader and an opportunity to win a special prize straight from the author herself. Stick around until after the horror story for instructions on how to enter.

So here is the high school horror story from one of of the Macmillan team with the request of anonymity. Enjoy the schadenfreude!

While I’ve always been relatively athletic, I’ve never been even remotely fast. It might be genetic: my mom’s nickname on her softball team was ‘Chariots of Fire’ (a reference to that scene where they run in slow motion). And perhaps because of my inherent lack of speed, I’ve always despised running, and coincidentally fell ill on the days of the so-called Elementary School ‘Fun Run.’ Given all this, you’d think that the last thing I would EVER do would be to join a cross country team.
Well…it started at the mall. One Saturday afternoon when I was in ninth grade, my friend Carly and I had just exited Bath & Body Works, reeking of Sun-Ripened Raspberry, when all of a sudden, we were greeted by a grade-A teenage hunk. Jake. I’d never seen him before. It turned out he went to private school and knew Carly from a county-sponsored cross country team. After a few minutes of discussion about who knows what (I think it may have involved Austin Powers), I was smitten. So I did the only logical thing: I asked Carly for information and convinced my parents to let me join the team.
I suffered through a few weeknight practices, trying my best to look attractive as I sputtered along behind everyone else, never getting even close to Jake, the fastest guy on the team. When the first meet came along, I was warned by the coach that I might not be ready- but I also knew through the grapevine that after meets, the team went out for pizza, and I knew that that might be my chance to win Jake’s heart. I signed up.
The meet was in the middle of nowhere. My parents gamely drove for 90 minutes to get me there, as I applied and reapplied Bonne Bell lipsmackers in the backseat. When we finally arrived, I joined the other runners in my division at the starting line and told myself that I just had to suffer through these three miles and then I’d be able to make my move. Well. The course was hillier than anything I’d run before and I quickly fell behind the pack. They became distant dots on the horizon. And then I couldn’t see them. I had to stop and walk several times. I was a red, sweaty mess. And by the time I finished, all the vendors were packing up their stands and most of the other teams had left. The only people left were my parents and my teammates who had all clearly finished ages ago, and were all clearly annoyed at having to wait. As I approached the finish line, they began a slow clap. Embarrassed at being such a spectacle, I then burst into tears and, with my eyes blurred, tripped and face-planted on the muddy finish line.  As I looked up, I could see Jake trying his absolute hardest not to laugh.
There was no redeeming this. I trudged back to my parents’ car, skipped the pizza party, and vowed to never again force myself into something just to impress a boy. (This lasted about a year, until I met the Morrissey-loving hipster, but that’s a story for another day…)

Teen Frankenstein
Chandler Baker

Feiwel & Friends
Released January 12, 2016
368 pages
YA / Horror / Classic Retellings

Find it on Goodreads

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Indie Bound

High school meets classic horror in this groundbreaking new series.

It was a dark and stormy night when Tor Frankenstein accidentally hit someone with her car. And killed him. But all is not lost--Tor, being the scientific genius she is, brings him back to life...

Thus begins a twisty, turn-y take on a familiar tale, set in the town of Hollow Pines, Texas, where high school is truly horrifying.

Enter to Win a Copy of Teen Frankenstein

Macmillan and Chandler Baker are offer a hard cover copy of High School Horror: Teen Frankenstein to one lucky winner. Enter through the Rafflecopter below for your chance to win. The contest will run until midnight January 31. Winner must have a US or Canada mailing address.

If you're brave enough, submit your own high school horror story in the comments below and Chandler herself will be reading each story. She'll pick a few of her favorites from all the blog tour stops and will provide a very special prize to each of those winners. Your high school misery could finally get you free stuff!

About the Author

Chandler Baker got her start ghostwriting novels for teens and tweens, including installments in a book series that has sold more than 1 million copies. She grew up in Florida, went to college at the University of Pennsylvania and studied law at the University of Texas. She now lives in Austin with her husband. Although she loves spinning tales with a touch of horror, she is a much bigger scaredy-cat than her stories would lead you to believe. 

You can find Chandler as the books contributor on the YouTube channel Weird Girls.

  • Add High School Horror: Teen Frankenstein to your to-read list on Goodreads.
  • Join in on social media with #HighSchoolHorror
  • Visit Chandler's website and follow her on Twitter and Instagram!

Visit the Other Stops on the Tour!

11-JanFierce Reads

12-Jan  Good Books and Good Wine

13-Jan  Jana's Book List

14-Jan  Booki Emoji

15-Jan  Sci Fi Chick

16-Jan  Novel Novice

17-Jan  Word Spelunking

18-Jan  XPresso Reads

19-Jan  Working for the Mandroid

20-JanKatie's Book Blog

Author Blog Tour Guest Post: David Wellington, Author of Positive

Welcome to the second part of the Working for the Mandroid stop on David Wellington's blog tour for his epic zombie adventure story Positive. This tour is hosted by Pump Up Your Book tours. Earlier we had a review of Positive and now the author himself has stopped by to discuss post-apocalyptic stories. If you're into zombie fiction and are looking for a book with a young, naive teen boy narrator suddenly thrust into a wild and unfamiliar world with danger around every corner, Positive could be the book for you! Let's here from David.

               Aren’t you a little sick of post-apocalypse stories? I know I am. Oh, I’m a big fan of mutant-haunted wastelands, going way back. In the ‘80s, when I was young, we were terrified of nuclear war. Yet our stories about what happened afterward, after the bombs dropped, were strangely hopeful. In the desert you could start over again. The shackles of modern civilization would be gone, all the expectations of a post-industrial society. No more punching the clock—your new job would be fighting off the fifty-foot tall grasshoppers who threatened your town. No more waiting in line at the DMV. No need for a license on the empty highways of the badlands. You would get to start a whole new life, and look like a badass all the time. You’d have a great atom tan and there seemed to be no shortage of hair care product, if the movies were anything to go by.

               But then the nuclear war just… never happened. Today’s fears of the apocalypse are different, more scientifically grounded, perhaps. Maybe just more nebulous. What will your life look like after climate change reshapes the planet? In case of an economic collapse, how much gold do you need to have stored in your bunker? And as our fears grew more diffuse, our apocalypse fiction grew steadily more grim and horrible. Life after The End just doesn’t seem as appealing as it used to. Oh, sure, no matter how bad things get, some plucky teenager might come along and save the day. Maybe. Or maybe the future is just going to suck, and we need to all accept that.

David Wellington on his Post-Apocalyptic Novel Positive

               I’ve written seventeen novels, now. My very first published novel, Monster Island, was about what New York City would look like after a zombie rising. It was grim, let me tell you. Gritty. Nobody had a good time in that book (except, hopefully, the reader). That was back in 2003. I was obsessed with zombies in 2003. Over the years I’ve watched countless movies about zombies and the apocalypse, though, and they’ve just started to depress me. You know? It just seems like things would go from bad to worse, and there was no hope for anybody. Worse—far worse—I’ve seen the people around me, especially the younger generation, start to think that the apocalypse is inevitable. That the year 2000 was the high water mark of civilization, and it’s all downhill from there.

               Which is why I needed to write my latest book, Positive, which just came out in paperback. I needed to write a book that was both post-apocalyptic… and hopeful.

               Is such a thing even possible? Finn, the main character of my book, is living in a pretty nasty world. Twenty years ago a virus raced through the population, causing some to turn into mindless, incredibly aggressive zombies. The worst part about the disease was that it could take twenty years to incubate. You could have this thing in your brain, growing and festering in secret, for two decades—and not even know it. Just one day you would go crazy and attack everyone around you. Of course, society’s response to this turned out to be even worse than the disease. Anyone even potentially infected is branded as a Positive, given a plus-sign tattoo on their left hand and shunned by society. Which is exactly what happens to Finn. He could be a zombie.

               Yet Positive is not really a zombie novel.

               Finn is forced out into the wilderness. A suburbia overrun by looter gangs and deadly road pirates. Think Mad Max but set in a world of crumbling row houses and strip malls. A world where you can be killed at any time for your canned food, your gasoline, even just for the shoes on your feet.

               Yet Positive is not a road pirate novel.

               As Finn ventures west, looking for some kind of security, some kind of salvation, he encounters a city that has fallen back into a primitive state. He finds a medical camp that is twenty different kinds of hell. Eventually he runs afoul of a death cult, which offers protection in exchange for human sacrifice.

               Yet Positive is… well, you get the drill.

               No, Positive isn’t about those things (or at least, not just about those things). It’s the story of somebody who can make his way in that world… and know there should be something better. That there can be something better, if we all pitch in.

               Positive is about the moment after the end of the world. The moment when the dust has settled, when the bodies have been buried. And about what happens next. In my early zombie novels, I had a number of characters ask the same question: What do you do the day after the world ends? Finn is finally the character who can answer that question.

               It’s simple, really. You rebuild. You gather together people who you can trust. People who get your vision. You sift through the rubble—but rather than just scrounging for tin cans, you look for the tools and the people who can make a whole new world.

               Positive is post-apocalypse fiction, sure. I also like to call it pre-renaissance fiction. It’s about what to do when there’s nothing left. It’s about finding hope in a place where hope has died.

               It’s also a ton of fun. Fast-paced, full of action and suspense and a love story for a damaged—but not quite defunct—age. I hope you’ll give it a look.

Positive
David Wellington

Harper Voyager
I received a copy of this book from the publisher in return for a honest review.
Released April 21, 2015
448 pages
Thriller / Suspense

Find it on Goodreads

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Indie Bound

The acclaimed author of Chimera and The Hydra Protocol delivers his spectacular breakout novel—an entertaining, page-turning zombie epic.
Anyone can be positive . . .
Years after a plague killed 99 percent of the population, turning them into infectious zombies, Finnegan and his family live in a barricaded New York City. But Finn's sheltered life fractures when his unsuspecting mother falls sick with the zombie disease—latent inside her since before her son's birth.
Finn, too, can be infected. If he remains healthy for the last two years of the potential incubation period, he'll be cleared. Until then, he must be moved to a special facility for positives, segregated to keep the healthy population safe.
Tattooed with a plus sign on his hand that marks him as a positive, Finn is exiled from the city. But when marauders kill the escort sent to transport him, Finn must learn how to survive alone in an eerie, disintegrated landscape. And though the zombies are everywhere, Finn discovers that the real danger is his fellow humans.

About the Author:

David Wellington was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where George Romero’s classic zombie films were shot. He is the author of an online zombie serial, the Monster Island trilogy; Thirteen Bullets, a serialized vampire novel; and the Jim Chapel missions, including the digital shorts “Minotaur” and “Myrmidon,” and the novels Chimera and The Hydra Protocol. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

For More Information

Visit David’s website.

Connect with David on Facebook and Twitter

Author Blog Tour: Review of Positive by David Wellington

Welcome to the Working for the Mandroid stop on David Wellington's blog tour for his epic zombie adventure story Positive. This tour is hosted by Pump Up Your Book tours and we're happy to have a review for you and later today we'll have a guest post from David himself! If you're into zombie fiction and are looking for a book with a young, naive teen boy narrator suddenly thrust into a wild and unfamiliar world with danger around every corner, Positive could be the book for you! You can see additional dates of the tour at the end of this post.

Positive
David Wellington

Harper Voyager
I received a copy of this book from the publisher in return for a honest review.
Released April 21, 2015
448 pages
Thriller / Suspense

Find it on Goodreads

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Indie Bound

The acclaimed author of Chimera and The Hydra Protocol delivers his spectacular breakout novel—an entertaining, page-turning zombie epic.
Anyone can be positive . . .
Years after a plague killed 99 percent of the population, turning them into infectious zombies, Finnegan and his family live in a barricaded New York City. But Finn's sheltered life fractures when his unsuspecting mother falls sick with the zombie disease—latent inside her since before her son's birth.
Finn, too, can be infected. If he remains healthy for the last two years of the potential incubation period, he'll be cleared. Until then, he must be moved to a special facility for positives, segregated to keep the healthy population safe.
Tattooed with a plus sign on his hand that marks him as a positive, Finn is exiled from the city. But when marauders kill the escort sent to transport him, Finn must learn how to survive alone in an eerie, disintegrated landscape. And though the zombies are everywhere, Finn discovers that the real danger is his fellow humans.

Oh, zombies. Will we ever tire of you? David Wellington has created an expansive novel that crosses much of the country 20 years after the fall of civilization caused by a zombie virus. What many authors would have cut into three novels, Wellington puts into one rapidly paced adventure ride where zombies are the initial drive of the plot, but become a bit of an afterthought by the end. Because, as with all zombie epics, people are always the real enemy.

Positive felt very much like a mash up of a lot of different things I’ve seen or read or consumed recently. It has long sequences that feel straight from Mad Max: Fury Road without the helpful addition of Furiosa. Other sequences could have been pulled straight from The Walking Dead and still others could be straight from any number of books or movies that involved long treks and starving through a terrible winter. Some elements of Positive stand out, but so much felt like it’d been taken from something else that the book never truly begins to soar for me.

Finn is our everyman hero. He’s a nineteen-year-old, post-apocalypse war baby, who doesn’t understand why everyone in his parents’ generation are all so paranoid and acting like they’re just ready to die already. He’s lived in the safe zone on Manhattan island all his life, fishing in the subway tunnels and living a fairly safe life. Then one day over a disappointing dinner, his mother turns into a red-eyed zombie and Finn’s best friend has to shoot her. As one would expect, Finn’s life is never the same.

Wellington’s zombie mythology is unique to the genre – or at least as far as my experience with the genre goes. While a virus caused the mass majority of people to turn into flesh-devouring, red eyed monsters 20 years ago, the remaining population must worry about a potential 20 year incubation period after exposure to the virus, whether that’s through exposure to blood or other bodily fluids both of zombies and those who may be infected, or being bitten. For example, main character Finn is pushed out of his community because his mother turns into a zombie 19 years after he was breast fed, so he potentially carries the virus. Considering this book takes place about 20 years after the initial zombie apocalypse, it makes you wonder why everyone isn’t a Positive, considering I can’t imagine a zombie situation where everyone didn’t have exposure to a zombie at one point in time. Or at least exposure to someone who was exposed. And wouldn’t each new exposure restart your 20 year clock? But this is a zombie novel, so some hand waving is allowed.

After Finn’s exile, book one starts. This is the “survive in the wilderness” story full of looters and crime lords with big SUVs covered in war paint and barbed wire. Finn gets picked up by a driver who happens to keep a harem of pre-teen and teenage girls in tow to help him loot houses and “keep him company”. This is the Mad Max portion of the program.

Book two starts when Finn finally reaches the “medical camp” he was meant to go to all along. The 20 year incubation period has left a great number of the remaining survivors exiled from the walled cities protected by the remains of the US Armed Forces and into work camps that are closer to gulags than anything one would expect to see on American soil. Suddenly zombies are an afterthought and we get a story about military control and political unrest.

Book three is a survival story involving a not-quite forced march through questionable terrain, starting a new community and learning new skills and trying to create a sense of safety. Think of this as the story of pilgrims with all the hopeful rhetoric and posturing that one would expect. There is one group of zombies that appear during this sequence. We see no other zombies after this.

Then finally we have book four, which involves a battle with the real enemies of the world – other humans. Because humans are the worse.

For a book so steeped in the fear of becoming a zombie, there aren’t that many zombies in this book, especially in the second half. I think that oscillation between “ZOMBIES! VIRUS! AAAAH!” and “The bad guys are really other people” kept me from really gelling with this book. There is a nice highlight about a third of the way when Finn comes across one of the few other people with their morals still intact in the whole book and I wish there could have been some more of that. Instead I got Finn becoming increasingly more self-important as he dictated new rules and not-so-serendipitously kept running into someone that was set out to be his nemesis but never seemed that menacing.

I don’t like classifying books by a gender, but perhaps this is more of a “boy” book because it’s told from the first person perspective of a teenage boy who lacks much maturity. His inner monologue, while possibly accurate for someone in that situation, often bothered me with its repetitiveness, immaturity and total lack of perspective. I’ve found with other books like this, people who had once been teenaged boys were less bothered by it than I am.

Positive is a take on a zombie world that felt very cobbled together from other things, though a few original ideas would have helped it soar much more if they’d been explored and expanded on. I know it’s wrong to demand logic of zombie books, but I need a little more of a solid foundation to truly follow along with Finn on his adventures. Instead I kept coming back to my questions about the logic of the whole thing. This could be an exciting adventure through post-apocalyptic America if you’re not as sensitive to those kinds of things.

About the Author:

David Wellington was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where George Romero’s classic zombie films were shot. He is the author of an online zombie serial, the Monster Island trilogy; Thirteen Bullets, a serialized vampire novel; and the Jim Chapel missions, including the digital shorts “Minotaur” and “Myrmidon,” and the novels Chimera and The Hydra Protocol. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

For More Information

Visit David’s website.

Connect with David on Facebook and Twitter

 

Full Tour Schedule

 November 24

Book featured at 3 Partners in Shopping

Book featured at Bibliophile Mystery

Book featured at Around the World in Books

Book reviewed at Cheryl’s Book Nook

November 25

Book reviewed at Read Love Blog

Book featured at Authors and Readers Book Corner

Book featured at My Book Fairy

November 26

Book featured at Crystal’s Chaotic Confessions

Guest blogging at Bound 2 Escape

November 27

Book featured at Chosen By You Book Club

Book reviewed at Books, Food and Me

November 30

Book reviewed and Guest blogging at Romancing the Darkside

Book reviewed at Books that Hook

Book featured at Dawn’s Reading Nook

December 1

Book featured at Harmonious Publicity

December 2

Book reviewed and Guest blogging at Working for the Mandroid

December 3

Book featured at Bent Over Bookwords

December 4

Book featured at Archaeolibrarian

December 7

Book featured at The Dark Phantom

December 8

Book featured at Voodoo Princess

December 9

Book reviewed at Deal Sharing Aunt

December 10

Book reviewed and Interviewed at The Cosy Dragon

December 11

Book reviewed at Bea’s Book Nook

December 14

Guest blogging at Write and Take Flight

December 15

Book reviewed at Kristy Centeno

December 16

Book reviewed and Guest blogging at Natural Bri

Book reviewed at Bloody Bookish

December 17

Book reviewed at A Room Without Books is Empty

Book reviewed at I’m Shelf-ish

December 18

Book featured at Teatime and Books

Book reviewed at A Book Geek

Book reviewed at Ashley’s Bookshelf

 

Author Blog Tour Guest Post & Contest: Viola Carr, The Devious Dr. Jekyll

Welcome to the Working for the Mandroid stop on Viola Carr's author blog tour for The Devious Dr. Jekyll, hosted by Pump Up Your Book tours. Viola has stopped by to discuss steampunk, anachronism and Victorian-era CSIs as well as give away a $25 gift card to one lucky reader of the tour. The Devious Dr. Jekyll is a fun take on the classic Jekyll and Hyde tail starring a female protagonist in a steampunk version of Victorian England. Take it away, Viola!

Steampunk, Anachronism and Victorian-era CSIs

A cool aspect of steampunk (and its many derivatives) is anachronism. It’s alternate history – you can mess with the timeline. Move historical figures and events around, kill someone off or pretend that an important event from 'real history' never happened. Take what you want, and discard the rest.

I love steampunk, and the Victorian era, but I'm only an amateur historian. For me, so long as the writer gets the sense of the period authentic, they can add in whatever they like – zombies, clockwork people, steam-powered airships – and I'll buy into it.

My Electric Empire series centers on Dr. Eliza Jekyll – yes, the daughter of that Jekyll – whom I've invented and transported to the mid-Victorian-era, as a physician and crime scene investigator. Cool, eh? She's a combination of detective, forensic specialist and mad scientist. CSI: Jekyll & Hyde.

Never mind that, in the real 1850s, there was no such thing as a CSI. I've had to alter history quite a bit, in subtle ways.

Firstly, the physicians of the day were notoriously standoffish about getting their hands dirty – as opposed to surgeons, whom physicians sneered at as mere artisans, little better than butchers. Physicians would be more likely to confine themselves to laboratory testing for poisons or illnesses, which more often than not, they got wrong. So the idea of my physician attending a dirty crime scene in person is ahead of its time.

Oh, and qualified female physicians? No such thing in England until 1865, when a formidable lady named Elizabeth Garrett Anderson bullied her way in through the back door, fighting a hostile College of Physicians every step of the way. But never mind. This is steampunk!

I also had to deal with the fact that in the 'real' 1850s, crime scene investigation as we know it today – searching for trace evidence at the scene – hadn't been invented yet. By modern standards, it was appallingly easy to get away with murder.

Locard's Exchange Principle – the now-common concept that 'every contact leaves a trace' – hadn't yet been formulated. And even if it had been, contemporary science was woefully inadequate to the task. There was as yet no test to prove that a stain was blood, or that it was human and not animal. Poisons such as strychnine were undetectable. Of course, no one had ever heard of DNA, or even blood typing.

Autopsies were done on the spot, in poor light and filth, by inexpert people. And much of the common medico-legal wisdom – such as the idea that a murder victim's retina preserved an image of the killer's face, or that if a dead infant's lungs floated in water, it indicated breathing and therefore infanticide rather than stillbirth – were just plain wrong.

On top of that, police procedure was dodgy, too. Crime scenes were routinely contaminated by curious passers-by, who were encouraged to view the gruesome scenes for entertainment. Crucial evidence was lost, misidentified or ignored because no one knew any better. And identifying suspects properly was impossible, without fingerprinting or a proper filing system for photographic records.

With all these limitations, a real Victorian CSI wasn't left with much to do! Luckily, steampunk and weird science have come to my rescue. Eliza Jekyll has all manner of improbable gadgets: portable electric lights, bottles of special solution, an array of fantastic lenses and sensors that perform feats of detection that are scientifically impossible without a little magic. She reaches conclusions about crime scene evidence that her real-world contemporaries could not.

But hey, it's steampunk! We can suspend a little disbelief here. And in a world where Dr. Jekyll's potion is real and actually works, sinister brass automatons stalk the streets, and the electric underground train has been invented forty years before its time… well, it'd be stranger if forensics didn't happen.

Enter to Win a $25 Gift Card!

Terms & Conditions:

  • By entering the giveaway, you are confirming you are at least 18 years old.
  • One winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter to receive one $25 Gift Certificate to the e-retailer of your choice
  • This giveaway begins October 26 and ends on November 13.
  • Winners will be contacted via email on November 1.
  • Winner has 48 hours to reply.
  • Good luck everyone!

The Devious Dr. Jekyll
Viola Carr

Release Date: October 27, 2015
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Genre: Paranormal/Fantasy/Steampunk
Format: Ebook/Paperback/Audible 

Find It on Goodreads

Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Dr. Eliza Jekyll, heroine of the electrifying The Diabolical Miss Hyde—an edgy steampunk retelling of the classic Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde—investigates a bizarre murder case in an alternate Victorian London while battling her treacherous secret half: Lizzie Hyde.
Solving the infamous Chopper case has helped crime scene physician Dr. Eliza Jekyll establish her fledgling career in the chauvinistic world of Victorian law enforcement. But the scrutiny that comes with her newfound fame is unwelcome for a woman with a diabolical secret. And there is the mercurial Royal Society agent and wolf man Remy Lafayette. Does he want to marry her, eat her, or burn her at the stake? Though Eliza is uncertain about Remy, her dark and jealous shadow self, Lizzie, wants to steal the magnetic and persistent agent, and usurp Eliza’s life.
It’s impossible to push Remy away when he tempts her with the one thing she can’t resist: a bizarre crime. The search for a bloodthirsty ritual torturer dubbed the Pentacle Killer draws them into a terrifying world of spies, art thieves, and evil alchemy, where the price of immortality is madness—or damnation—and only Lizzie’s dark ingenuity can help Eliza survive.
As Eliza and Remy race to thwart a foul conspiracy involving the sorcerous French, they must also overcome a sinister enemy who is all too close: the vengeful Lizzie, determined to dispose of Eliza for good.

About the Author:

Viola Carr was born in Australia, but wandered into darkest London one foggy October evening and never found her way out. She now devours countless history books and dictates fantastical novels by gaslight, accompanied by classical music and the snoring of her slumbering cat. She loves history, and pops down to London’s many historical sites whenever she gets the chance.  She likes steampunk, and thought it would be cool to investigate wacky crimes with crazy gadgets…just so long as her heroine was the creator of said wacky gadgets: a tinkerer, edgy, with a dash of mad scientist. Readers can follow her on twitter at @viola_carr  and online at http://www.violacarr.com.

For More Information
Visit Viola’s website.
Connect with Viola on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest

 

Visit Other Stops on The Devious Dr. Jekyll Tour!

 October 26

Guest blogging at Tez Says

Book featured at 3 Partners in Sh0pping

 

October 27

Book featured at What is That Book About

Book featured at Teatime and Books

 

October 28

Interviewed at I’m Shelf-ish

Book featured at Angel’s Guilty Pleasures

 

October 29

Interviewed at The Cosy Dragon

Book featured at Kristy Centeno

 

October 30

Book featured at Harmonious Publicity

Guest blogging at The Romantic World of Leigh Anderson

 

November 2

Book featured at Mikky’s World of Books

Book featured at Celticlady’s Reviews

 

November 3

Book featured at Kayl’s Crazy Obsession

Guest blogging at Working for the Mandroid

 

November 4

Book featured at Around the World in Books

Book featured at Lisa’s Louisiana Home

 

November 5

Book featured at Crystal’s Chaotic Confessions

Book featured at Curling Up by the Fire

 

November 6

Book featured at Sapphyria’s Book Reviews

 

November 8

Book reviewed at Rhi Reading

 

November 9

Guest blogging at One Book Shy of a Full Shelf

Book reviewed at Doing Some Reading

 

November 10

Book reviewed at Here’s to Happy Endings

Book reviewed at Words I Write Crazy

 

November 11

Book reviewed at Book Him Danno

Book reviewed at Worth Getting in Bed For

 

November 12

Book featured at Chosen By you Book Club

Interviewed at Urban Fantasy Investigations

Book reviewed at Reader Girls

 

November 13

Book featured at Paranormal and Romantic Suspense Reviews

Book reviewed at Moonlight Rendezvous

Book featured at Dawn’s Reading Nook

Author Blog Tour: Three Days in April by Edward Ashton

Welcome to the Working for the Mandroid stop on the Three Days in April blog tour. We're so excited to be part of this tour for Edward Ashton's recently released techno-thriller hosted by Pump Up Your Book Tours and Harper Voyager Impulse. Today we have a review of this odd sci-fi thriller along with a contest to win a $25 gift card to the e-tailer of your choice.  

Three Days in April
Edward Ashton

Harper Voyager Impulse
I received a copy of this book from the publisher in return for an honest review.
Released September 15, 2015
384 pages
Techno-Thriller / Weirdness

Find it on Goodreads

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

Anders Jensen is having a bad month. His roommate is a data thief, his girlfriend picks fights in bars, and his best friend is a cyborg…and a lousy tipper. When everything is spiraling out of control, though, maybe those are exactly the kind of friends you need.
In a world divided between the genetically engineered elite and the unmodified masses, Anders is an anomaly: engineered, but still broke and living next to a crack house. All he wants is to land a tenure-track faculty position, and maybe meet someone who’s not technically a criminal—but when a nightmare plague rips through Hagerstown, Anders finds himself dodging kinetic energy weapons and government assassins as Baltimore slips into chaos. His friends aren’t as helpless as they seem, though, and his girlfriend’s street-magician brother-in-law might be a pretentious hipster—or might hold the secret to saving them all.
Frenetic and audacious, Three Days in April is a speculative thriller that raises an important question: once humanity goes down the rabbit hole, can it ever find its way back?

The summary blurb for this book is a little misguided. Other than Anders’ roommate being a data thief, it oversimplifies and labels relationships that are not nearly so clear cut in the actual story. It also frames Ander as the main character of the story, which is just incorrect when the story is told from the shifting points of view of four or five different characters. Anders is just our initial entry point into this weird techno world and all the action seems to start and revolve around him. With that warning said, this book is still as odd and entertaining as the description makes it sound, but just with a slightly different set of characters than are presented on the back of the book.

Three Days in April is an odd techno-thriller that starts off surrounding Anders Jensen. He’s a bit down on his luck, teaching as a part-time adjunct professor to bored rich kids that don’t care while regularly suffering injuries caused by his very heightened (but delicate) reflexes caused by the mouse DNA added to his genetic sequence before birth. He meets a Neanderthal girl named Terry at a bar, and instead of getting into a fight with her after spilling her beer, they become friends-who-might-sleep-together-maybe-some-day.

This fortuitous meeting along with a job he picks up from his half cyborg friend (it would be a huge stretch to call him a “best” anything with as little character development as he gets) to decipher documents drags Anders straight into the middle of a potential government conspiracy. A town near Washington, D.C., suddenly has 88 percent of its population drop dead and the government fire bombs it to protect the rest of the country from a rouge illness. Before long Anders, Terry, and his hacker roommate Gary are having bombs dropped on their heads because they inadvertently know too much.

Three Days in April is not quite goofy, but it definitely doesn’t take itself seriously. I mean one of your leads has mouse DNA as his superpower. Another character is shady street magician who may or may not be able to become invisible. Gary is a nano-bot energy drink chugging, greasy dread wearing slob, who gets away with calling his new associates by rude nicknames and still maybe gets the pretty girl. It’s all very silly, this world of gene hacking and technological body mods, but it never is laugh out loud funny. It’s a strange subtle line Ashton walks along, but it more or less works for him.

The overarching story is the ragtag group of weirdos figuring out the truth behind what happened in Hagerstown without getting killed by shady government agents. There’s a decent amount of technobabble, but not too much that I got lost or felt as though I’d fallen into a lecture. There are bigger conflicts like the inequality and tension between modded people and “homo saps” (or completely natural people), but the surface is really just barely scratched on these bigger issues. Far more world building could have been done, but it’s sacrificed for this misfit adventure instead, keeping the pacing fairly steady. A few moments lag as Anders and his friends catch their breath before going on to the next misadventure, but for the most part this book read very quickly.

The final few chapters turn into a bit of split second Taratino movie told in rapid changes of perspective before just ending, which was probably the most unsatisfying part of the novel. By the time the book wraps up, questions are answered, but I didn’t feel like the crazy conspiracy danger handing over everyone’s heads had been truly resolved. Instead I was left with a bunch of characters that survived because of hand waving and a lack of paper rather than because there was a conclusion to the story. It’s unfortunately this could have been a much more enjoyable story had the conclusion been more satisfactory. Instead I was left scratching my head a little, wondering if I’d missed something important or had a few more chapters missing from my copy.

This is a strange techno-thriller that could really work for anyone tired of the overwrought drama and seriousness of most books in the genre. I wished there was a little bit more, but it was still a fun little jaunt into a different type of book for me. The world building was intriguing and the characters were weird, so I’d call this one a win.

About the Author

Edward Ashton lives with his adorably mopey dog, his inordinately patient wife, and three beautiful but terrifying daughters in Rochester, New York, where he studies new cancer therapies by day, and writes about the awful things his research may lead to by night. His short fiction has appeared in dozens of venues, ranging from Louisiana Literature to Daily Science Fiction. Three Days in April is his first novel.

Enter to Win a $25 Gift Card to the e-Retailer of Your Choice!

Terms & Conditions:

  • By entering the giveaway, you are confirming you are at least 18 years old.
  • One winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter to receive one $25 Gift Certificate to the e-retailer of your choice
  • This giveaway begins September 15 and ends on October 9.
  • Winners will be contacted via email on October 10.
  • Winner has 48 hours to reply.

Good luck everyone!

Visit the Other Stops on the Three Days in April Tour:

September 15

Book featured at 3 Partners in Shopping

Book reviewed at Polished Bookworm

September 16

Interviewed at I’m Shelf-ish

September 17

Book reviewed at Cubicle Blindness

September 18

Interviewed at Review From Here

September 21

Book featured at Archeolibrarian

September 22

Guest blogging at Voodoo Princess

September 23

Book featured at Crystal’s Chaotic Confessions

September 24

Book featured at Chosen By You Book Club

September 25

Book featured at Fabulous and Fun

Interviewed at Deal Sharing Aunt

September 28

Book reviewed Queen of All She Reads

September 29

Book reviewed and Guest blogging at Working for the Mandroid

September 30

Book featured at Literal Exposure

October 1

Book featured at Abibliophobia Anonymous

October 2

Guest blogging at Around the World in Books

October 5

Interviewed at The Writer’s Life

October 6

Book featured at Celticlady’s Reviews

October 7

Guest blogging at Write and Take Flight

October 8

Book featured at Lori’s Reading Corner

Book feature at A Room Without Books is Empty

October 9

Book featured at Booklover Sue