Tuesday
Jun172014

Random Tuesday: New Lunar Chronicle Book, Strong Female Characters, Wonder Woman & Other Randomosity

First of all, just a reminder, we're giving away a copy of Geek Dad Awesomely Geeky Projects and Activities for Dads and Kids to Share by Ken Denmead. Submissions are being accepted until 12:01AM on Monday, June 23. You should definitely go over there and enter.

With the World Cup keeping my other half distracted for long stretches of time, I've recently rediscovered Twitter and have been spending far too much time over there discussing Game of Thrones, geek things and what television shows Joe Hill should introduce to his kids. I'm always looking for new people to chat about random things (even when it's not Tuesday), so tweet me something silly and random.

Now to random things!

Bookish people and nerdish people are always talking about Strong Female Characters(TM). The Dissolve (a site introduced to me on Twitter) has an article about Strong Female Characters quickly being taken over by Trinity Syndrome. It's an interesting read and another POV in the whole SFC discussion.

Simon & Schuster has announced the first round of releases from SAGA, their new genre imprint. It includes a couple of new books and some re-releases that come out early next year. io9 has all the pretty covers over here.

I hate Mondays, but this news about a secret prequal to Marissa Meyer's Lunar Chronicles series tiding us over until the release of the final book in November 2015 made yesterday a really good day. The cover is a bit more ostentatious than the rest in the series, but considering it's about crazy Queen Lavana, I suppose it makes sense. Can't wait to add it to my collection next January.

Many channels save all their scifi and fantasy programming until the summer. Here are a ton of shows starting or returning over the next few months. (from io9)

HBO lost the rights to adapt Neil Gaiman's American Gods. The president of programming finally came out and said why they never made it into a series. (from The Mary Sue)

I can't fathom that this list of release dates for DC Comics big screen adaptations has much truth to it, but if it does, Shazam is a strange choice to do before Wonder Woman. (from io9)

A mother discusses her young daughter's lack of interest in Wonder Woman and what that says about the state of the currrent state of comicbook media. (from Comic Book Resource)

It makes my heart incredibly happy to see all the success Noelle Stevenson aka Gingerhaze is experiencing lately. I've never met her and yet I'm oddly proud of this stranger whose work I'm very fond of. So have a Gingerhaze She Hulk.

And finally, to be truly random, have some adorable pictures of a stray cat wandering into a lynx enclosure in a Russian zoo.

 

What random things have you come across lately? Any awesome television you're looking forward to watching this summer?

Monday
Jun162014

Mini-Review: She Is Not Invisible by Marcus Sedgwick

She Is Not Invisible
Marcus Sedgwick

Roaring Brook Press
I received an advance copy of this book in return for an honest review.
Released April 22, 2014
224 pages
YA / Contemporary

Find it on Goodreads

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Indie Bound

Laureth Peak's father has taught her to look for recurring events, patterns, and numbers--a skill at which she's remarkably talented. Her secret: She is blind. But when her father goes missing, Laureth and her 7-year-old brother Benjamin are thrust into a mystery that takes them to New York City where surviving will take all her skill at spotting the amazing, shocking, and sometimes dangerous connections in a world full of darkness. She Is Not Invisible is an intricate puzzle of a novel that sheds a light on the delicate ties that bind people to each other.

Marcus Sedgwick is a very unique and interesting writer. He can take the seemingly ordinary and somehow make it feel extraordinary. While his previous work Midwinterblood had fantasy elements, She Is Not Invisible is straight contemporary told from the point of view of Laureth, a blind teenager, who fears something very bad has happened to her father. Even with the straight forward settings of London and New York City, there is a mythical shimmer of something not quite real world on top of the story simply by Sedgwick’s manner of writing.

Laureth “borrows” her precocious 7-year-old brother and her mother’s credit card after her fears about her father went unacknowledged by her mother. With the help of her brother, she navigates from her London home to New York City with no clue on the whereabouts of her father other than an email from a stranger claiming to have found his notebook.

The major plot points are secondary to the journey Laureth and her little brother takes.  Though she is blind, Laureth has developed as many secret talents as possible to hide her disability from the wider world. Just reading how ingenious she is in fooling the world and how cruel people can be to strangers was a fascinating glimpse at what those will disabilities face on a daily basis. Laureth is an incredibly independent character while having to remain frustratingly dependent on others in many situations. This is the first real time she’s been “on her own” and fending for herself, though she has put on the added responsibility of protecting her younger brother by bringing him along.

Due to that previously mentioned “mythical shimmer” element of Sedgwick’s writing, I expected a turn into the fantastical at any moment, but was completely satisfied when nothing magic or unrealistic came into play. It’s a story of misunderstandings, coincidences and what we do when we believe those we love are in danger. The climax of the story is incredibly satisfying with Laureth using what everyone else sees as her faults to protect herself and her brother from imminent danger.

She Is Not Invisible is a short, fast-paced book that is gripping in its drama and compelling in its humanity. Laureth is a unique and unexpected heroine that had a solid head on her shoulders while still being young and ignorant to the greater world. This is a lovely short book that deserves much more attention.

 

I received an ARC of this book from the publisher. All opinions are my own.

Friday
Jun132014

CONTEST & Mini Review: Geek Dad: Awesomely Geeky Projects by Ken Denmead

Okay, so the book title in the title isn't technically the name of this book. The title of this book is super long though. Thanks to Gotham Books, we have a handy copy of Geek Dad: Awesomely Geeky Projects and Activities for Dads and Kids to Share by Ken Denmead to giveaway. You can enter to win after the mini-review of the book below.

Geek Dad: Awesomely Geeky Projects and Activities for Dads and Kids to Share
Ken Denmead

Gotham Books
Released May 4, 2010
244 pages
DIY / Geekness

Find it on Goodreads

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Indie Bound

The ultimate DIY project guide for techie dads raising kids in their own geeky image, in the spirit of The Dangerous Book for Boys

Today's generation of dads grew up more tech-savvy than ever. Rather than joining the Little League team, many grew up playing computer games, Dungeons and Dragons, and watching Star Wars. Now with kids of their own, these digital-age dads are looking for fresh ways to share their love of science and technology, and help their kids develop a passion for learning and discovery.

Enter supergeek, and father of two, Ken Denmead. An engineer and editor of the incredibly popular GeekDad blog on wired.com, Ken has created the ultimate, idea-packed guide guaranteed to help dads and kids alike enjoy the magic of playtime together and tap into the infinite possibility of their imagination. With illustrations throughout, this book offers projects for all ages to suit any timeframe or budget. With Denmead's expert guidance, you and your child can:

•Fly a night-time kite ablaze with lights or launch a video camera with balloons

•Construct the "Best Slip n' Slide Ever," a guaranteed thrill ride

•Build a working lamp with LEGO bricks and CDs

•Create a customized comic strip or your own board game

•Transform any room into a spaceship

•Make geeky crafts like cyborg jack-o'-lanterns or Ethernet cuff links

Brimming with endlessly fun and futuristic tidbits on everything from gaming to gadgets, GeekDad helps every tech-savvy father unleash his inner kid-and bond with the next generation of brainiacs.

No one is ever going to mistake me for a Geek Dad or any other type of dad for that matter. I don’t have the biological equipment to warrant such a label. I don’t even have children, though I know a few. I can, however, be easily labeled a Geek with a capital G, so when Gotham Books offered me a copy of Ken Denmead’s Geek Dad, I was game to take a peek at it. I mean, anything a dad can do, a mom could do too, right?

Denmead is a columnist for Wired.com, where he has written several columns that I’ve found both insightful and entertaining. He strikes me more of a tech geek and has an engineering background, which means the crafts and projects in this book lean more towards the technical. There aren’t a lot of easy things to do in this book or at least not from my not-so-technical point of view. Many of the projects would also be pretty time consuming rather than a quick hour or two project to waste away a rainy afternoon. Even the projects Denmead lists as taking less than an hour seem like they would take much longer, though that could be because I don’t have an engineering background and would be fumbling around these things alongside the child.

With projects like “Cool LEGO Lighting from Repurposed Parts” and “Model Building with Cake”, this is a book focused on projects to do with older children, probably during that sweet spot where they’re old enough to handle sharp scissors or a knife on their own, but not so old they’ve become a teenager that doesn’t want to hang out with you. This probably isn’t the book of projects I’d want to do with my 4-year-old nephew.

That’s not to say this isn’t an awesome book. There are some really cool sounding ideas, just that it will be useful to a very specific audience. I’m going to have to hang on to the idea of using LEGOs and remote control cars to create a personal demolition derby or the instructions to create a cyborg jack-o-lantern just for myself because that’s pretty cool. This book is full of crazy ideas for patient parents with children really into building things or working with electronics, so it’s definitely on my list to pass on to my brother when his kids get several years older.

 

Enter to Win!

Gotham Book is awesome, so in celebration of Father’s Day this Sunday, they provided me a copy of Geek Dad: Awesomely Geeky Projects and Activities for Dads and Kids to Share to give away to a lucky Working for the Mandroid reader. We’re going to keep this contest pretty straight forward. It’s open to anyone with a US mailing address who fulfill any of the criteria below. The contest will run until 12:01AM on Monday, June 23. One lucky winner will be pulled at random to win a shiny copy of Geek Dad.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday
Jun122014

Review: Hungry by HA Swain

Hungry
HA Swain

Feiwel & Friends
I received a copy of this book from the publisher in return for an honest review.
Released June 3, 2014
384 pages
YA / Dystopian / Creepy

Find it on Goodreads

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

In the future, food is no longer necessary—until Thalia begins to feel something unfamiliar and uncomfortable. She’s hungry.

In Thalia’s world, there is no need for food—everyone takes medication (or “inocs”) to ward off hunger. It should mean there is no more famine, no more obesity, no more food-related illnesses, and no more war. At least that's what her parents, who work for the company that developed the inocs, say. But when Thalia meets a boy who is part of an underground movement to bring food back, she realizes that most people live a life much different from hers. Worse, Thalia is starting to feel hunger, and so is he—the inocs aren’t working. Together they set out to find the only thing that will quell their hunger: real food.

H. A. Swain delivers an adventure that is both epic and fast-paced. Get ready to be Hungry.

You guys! This book!

I’m tempted to leave my review just like that, but I won’t because that could be a really good “You guys!” or a not so great “You guys!” In this case it’s the good kind. If there is one thing in this world that I love more than books, it’s food, so I was severely uncomfortable yet morbidly fascinated by the concept of Swain’s Hungry from the first pages. Then midway through the book took a sharp turn and drove right into creeptown only to progressively get creepier as the book reached its final pages. I don’t know what subject matter Swain has covered in the past, but this book freaked me out.

Thalia lives in a very materialistic world where no one has to eat food because inoculations and a scientifically perfected liquid have negated hunger after a devastating war that resulted in famine and starvation a generation before her. She lives in a world full of flashy tech distractions that fuel a massive society of consumerism that somehow Thalia has avoided buying in, preferring the vintage clothing from her grandmother’s younger days and hacking into the corporate overlord’s games to try to prove a point.

Then one day she wakes up with an ache deep inside of her, one that causes her abdomen to make crazy noises and causes her scientist mother real concern. She has started feeling hungry in a world where there is no food. This hunger leads her to cross paths with Basil, a boy from outside the walls that surround her privileged life in the inner city. He is from the slums that Thalia didn’t even realized existed, where he has to fight for each bottle of liquid nutrition just to survive as he dreams of a world where food isn’t forbidden. Conveniently he has also started feeling hunger and with the hunger comes to building unruly hormones of being a teenager.

The first half of the book focuses on the world building as Thalia discovers how small of a world she’d grown up with and how corrupt the corporation that rules the country truly is. She finds a slew of people forced to live in poverty outside the dayglow world of her immersive games and interactive advertisements. Midway the book makes a drastic change in both scenery and tone, almost becoming a different book all together. This half is full of creepy conspiracy and general crazy floating through the air like oxygen. It is disturbing and uncomfortable and yet Swain manages to write about these twisted ideas in a way that grabbed me and refused to let me put the book down.

Thalia is a naïve teenage girl that grew up in a bubble of privilege, so she is an easy proxy for the reader in discovering the world without it seeming like one exposition dump after another. As the illusion of the world around her begins to crumble, she grows distinctively until she starts questioning authority figures and refusing to take things at face value. That sort of smart character growth is my favorite and Swain writes the transition naturally without anything feeling forced or out of character.

I have no idea if this is a standalone. There is a door cracked open at the end that could lead to an action-packed second volume, but then again, everything is wrapped up enough to satisfy the particular story Swain was telling. Hungry is an out-of-the-ordinary that challenged my own expectations while maintaining a solid pacing full of action and danger in a world that is both horrifying to a foodie like me and uncomfortably realistic. I have a feeling this one will hang out under the radar, but it reallydeserves more attention.

 

I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher. In turn I'm providing my honest review.

Tuesday
Jun102014

Cover & Excerpt Reveal: Mirror X by Karri Thompson

So last week Entangled Teen, Karri Thompson and Rockstar Book Tours hosted the cover reveal for Karri's upcoming release Mirror X. Because I am lame and work rules my life, I was unable to participate in the actual reveal. This sounds like a fascinating book though, so even though I'm late to the party, I'd still like to share with you the great cover and a special excerpt from Mirror X.

Mirror X
Karri Th
ompson
Entangled Teen
Releases on June 23, 2014

Find it: Goodreads|Amazon|Barnes & Noble|iTunes

I was born more than a thousand years ago.

Put into a cryogenic tube at age seventeen, forgotten during a holocaust that decimated the world, I've finally been awakened to a more serene and peaceful future.

But things at the hospital are new and strange. And it’s starting to scare me.

Everyone is young. Everyone is banded and tracked. And everyone is keeping secrets. 

The cute geneticist Michael Bennett might be the only good thing in this crazy new world where “life is precious” but no one seems free to live it. The problem is, I don’t think he’s being totally honest with me, either.

When I’m told only I can save the human race from extinction, it’s clear my freeze didn’t avoid a dreadful fate. It only delayed the horror…

 

Exclusive Excerpt:

Michael took a seat on the edge of my bed, rocking me toward him. When the side of my thigh met his knee, my heart rate doubled, and I drew in a deep breath.

“Before you were awakened I spent hours at your bedside imaging what you were like, how your voice would sound, how you looked when you smiled. When your red lips pulsed, when your chest heaved, and you took your first breath, I kept my emotions in check. But now, now that you’ve ‘awakened,’ everything is different. I can’t sleep. I can’t stop thinking about you.”

I ignored the pain and tilted closer until the space between our faces was less than a foot. My heart, my mind, my soul—everything yearned for his affection at that moment.

“I feel the same way, too.”

I closed my eyes, wanting this handsome, earnest guy to take me into his arms and tell me he’d make them let me go. My lungs expanded with his warm breath and spicy scent. When his lips met mine, every atom in my body danced, urging me to pull him closer and tighten my grip upon his back.

His kissing became more fiery and I reacted by kissing him harder. It wasn’t until his mouth moved to my neck, that I came to my senses and drew away.

“Not yet,” I said, scooting away.

“I know,” he said between breaths, rising from the bed. His wiped his forehead with the sleeve of his uniform and returned to the chair. “I can’t…we can’t. We can never…,” he said abruptly. “It’s against protocol. I-I should go.”

 

About Karri:

Karri’s debut YA novel, Amateur Angel, was released May 1, 2012. The next book in that series, Hollywood Angels, came out September 1, 2013. The first book in her upcoming dystopian trilogy, The Van Winkle Chronicles, will be released by Entangled Publishing Spring 2014.

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