Review: The Mad Scientist's Daughter by Cassandra Rose Clarke

The Mad Scientist’s Daughter
Cassandra Rose Clarke

Angry Robot
I received an e-ARC from the publisher in return for a review.
Released January 1, 2013
391 pages
Science Fiction / Romance / Robots / Feels

Find it on Goodreads

Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Indie Bound | Angry Robot

"Cat, this is Finn. He's going to be your tutor."

Finn looks and acts human, though he has no desire to be. He was programmed to assist his owners, and performs his duties to perfection. A billion-dollar construct, his primary task is now to tutor Cat. As she grows into a beautiful young woman, Finn is her guardian, her constant companion...and more. But when the government grants rights to the ever-increasing robot population, however, Finn struggles to find his place in the world, and in Cat's heart.

I honestly can’t keep track of all these “Daughter” name books, so I wasn’t completely sure what book this was when I opened it up on my Kindle during our first of many hour-long lines at Comic Con. But then there was a robot and robots make everything better, so instead of moving on to something more action packed, I stuck with the slow burn part political, part romance, part sci-fi, all adult book and found myself getting lost in it while convention chaos went on around me.

I suppose the proper blogger phrasing would be that The Mad Scientist’s Daughter gave me feels, lots of feels. Like serious “my heart hurts what is happening” feels. It starts when Cat is a small girl and her scientist father brings home an associate named Finn who will be living with them, working in his lab and acting as Cat’s tutor. There is something a little bit off about him, so Cat immediately decides he’s a ghost and tries several experiments to confirm her suspicions. She is, of course, wrong because Finn is an incredibly lifelike android and he quickly becomes her only friend. The rest of the book follows Cat as she grows up and tries to reconcile her relationship with Finn with the feelings and political views of society in general.

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Author Blog Tour Guest Post: Jay Posey, Author of Morningstar Falls & Three

I am so excited to have Jay Posey stopping by WFTM again, this time in support of his new release Morningstar Falls. This is the second book in his Legends of the Duskwalker series, which started with the fantabulous Three (one of my favorite reads for 2013). Today he stops by to discuss telling his story from the point of view of a different main character than in Three. Also as a note, Morningstar Falls is on presale on Amazon right now for just $5! Take it away, Jay!

On Changing Horses Midstream

My latest book Morningside Fall is the second novel in a trilogy, and it picks up a little over a year after the first book (titled Three) ends.  Perhaps a little unusually, the main character of the second book isn’t the same as the first.  The main characters of Morningside Fall are Cass and Wren, mother and son, and though they’re both returning characters from Three, neither of them were the primary point-of-view for the first book.  Having a different lead character (or two) for the second book brought its own pros and cons; some creative advantages along with some interesting challenges.

First, the pros.  Probably unsurprisingly, using different leads gave me the opportunity as a writer to explore the world through different eyes and to experience everything from perspectives I hadn’t necessarily spent a lot of time with in the first novel.  I was in Wren’s head especially a lot more in the sequel, and it was good for me creatively to see what life was like for him both internally and externally.  It also gave me the opportunity to give readers more insight into these characters than they would have gotten otherwise. 

Using different characters also gave me a new palette of challenges, obstacles, and threats to work with over the course of the story.  It opened up a lot of interesting possibilities for me, knowing that things that wouldn’t have been much of an issue for Three (the main character of the first novel) could be a matter of life and death for young Wren, for example.  New challenges forced me to find new solutions and took me in directions I probably wouldn’t have explored otherwise.

Finally, I wanted Morningside Fall to be its own story, not just a rehash of the one I’d told in the first book, and adopting new main characters let me experiment with a different tone and theme.  It forced me to think about everything from a different perspective, rather than falling back on things I knew had worked before.  It was scary and frustrating at times, but it was good to challenge myself, to test my own limits, and hopefully to grow as a writer through the process.

Which obviously means it wasn’t all smooth sailing, and there were definitely some downsides.  I wasn’t nearly as comfortable with Cass and Wren as I had been writing Three.  Three was a character I felt I’d known for a long time, and as strange as it may sound, I trusted him enough to know that he’d be able to adapt and overcome whatever I threw at him.  Cass and Wren are both strong characters in their own right, but I didn’t have the same confidence in myself when it came to writing them, and at times I struggled with not being sure whether I was pulling punches or not.  It’s a weird experience to feel like your characters are better people than you might be able to convey.  That really slowed me down more than I had been expecting.

And the big thing: I had no idea how The Audience was going to react to the transition.  I spent a lot of time fretting over that with the second book; a debut novel is a nerve-wracking experience all its own, but at least with the first book I didn’t feel the pressure of Expectation hovering over me.  With the sequel, I knew there would be people out there waiting to see where I took things next, and the fear of disappointing them was pretty strong.  I probably let it get into my head more than I should have, especially since there was no way for me to know how people would react until I actually wrote the thing and got it out there for them to read.

Ultimately, I’m pleased with the story I was able to tell with Morningside Fall, and even though it was a significant challenge for me, I’m glad that I pushed through with my original intent to focus on the characters that I did.  I hope my readers feel the same way.

 

Thanks for stopping by, Jay! I highly recommend that you guys all read these books because they are fantastic. Here's a bit more about Morningstar Falls. Just a reminder, there are MASSIVE SPOILERS for Three in the description.

Morningstar Falls
Jay Posey

Angry Robot
Releases April 29, 2014
432 pages

Find it on Goodreads

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Indie Bound

The lone gunman Three is gone, and Wren is the new governor of the devastated settlement of Morningside, but there is turmoil in the city. When his life is put in danger, Wren is forced to flee Morningside until he and his retinue can determine who can be trusted.

They arrive at the border outpost, Ninestory, only to find it has been infested with Weir in greater numbers than anyone has ever seen. These lost, dangerous creatures are harbouring a terrible secret – one that will have consequences not just for Wren and his comrades, but for the future of what remains of the world.

 

Cover Reveal & CONTEST: Dream Stalkers by Tim Waggoner

WARNING: If you're not a fan of clowns, you might want to skip this post.

Angry Robot is one of the best publishing companies and it makes me sad that more people don't know about them. They put out tons of great science fiction, fantasy and a genre they like to refer to as WTF. Today we have a cover reveal for an upcoming release that can probably be put in that final catagory. I'm happy to present to you the official cover reveal for Dream Stalkers by Tim Waggoner.

Cover art created by amazing15

A new drug – Shut-Eye – has been developed in the dreamland, and smuggled into our world. It’s addictive, and dangerous, and Shadow Watch agents Audra and Mr Jinx are on the case, preparing new recruits to deal with the problem.

Meanwhile, a wave of ancient, bodiless Incubi are entering the dreams of humans in an attempt to possess them and live new lives. Only the criminally insane would ever risk a confrontation with them.

Thank goodness, then, for Mr Jinx: clown, Shadow Watch agent, psychopath.

 

Enter below to get your hands on a shiny copy of the first book in the Shadow Watch series called Night Terrors, courtsey of Tim and Angry Robot. The contest will end at 12:01am on April 26 and is opened INTERNATIONALLY!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Author Blog Tour Interview & Contest: Christian Schoon, Under Nameless Stars & Zenn Scarlett

Welcome to the Working for the Mandroid stop on Christian Schoon's blog tour for Under Nameless Stars, the sequel to last year's Zenn Scarlett. Thanks to Christian and Strange Chemistry, we have all sorts of goodies today. Christian has stopped by for a chat and he brought along with him an excerpt of Under Nameless Stars and an opportunity to win some great prizes. You can see all the tour stops here and learn more about the tour-wide competition to win copies of the Zenn Scarlett and even your own star! But first let's meet Christian.

 

Welcome to Working for the Mandroid, Christian! For those of our readers who are unfamiliar with your Zenn Scarlett series, how would you describe it in two sentences or less?

The books chronicle the adventures of a teen girl in her novice year of exoveterinarian training. Book one introduces us to Zenn’s occasionally disastrous experiences at the Ciscan Cloister exovet school and clinic on Mars and preps us for the interstellar conspiracy that ensnares Zenn and her friends in book two.

Your main character, Zenn, is an exoveterinarian-in-training. For those unfamiliar with the term, what is an exoveterinarian and why did you choose this particular profession for your character?

An exovet is a veterinarian specializing the diagnosis, care and treatment of diseased or injured alien life forms. Zenn’s is leaning toward a sub-specialty in off-world mega-fauna, so she regularly interacts with such species as Mu Arae whalehounds (marine predator, 80 to 100 feet), Tanduan swamp sloos (estuarine insectivore, 190 to 220 feet),  crypto-plasmoid seepdemons (giant unicellular organism, roughly 10-foot diameter), Greater Kiran Sunkiller (gas giant upper atmospheric filter-feeder, 1,500-foot wingspan) and Lithohippus Indrae, or Stonehorse (vacuum-dwelling synapsid, 500 to 800 feet).

I found Zenn’s choice of profession an interesting career since I hadn’t run across it anywhere else in SF novels. There were a few exo-physician types, and after I started my series I later found one or two passing references to vets treating alien animals in TV shows and fan lit, but nothing that really got down in the weeds of what it might take to become an exovet and what one’s life would then entail on a day-to-day basis. And, of course, because: Indra.

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Author Blog Tour Review: The Almost Girl by Amalie Howard

Welcome to the Working for the Mandroid stop on Strange Chemistry's tour for The Almost Girl by Amalie Howard. This YA science fiction novel is action-filled with plenty of gadgets and an army of robotic zombie hybrids wrecking havoc for our hero and her friends. As part of the tour, Howard is hosting a huge giveaway to win some other great YA titles. Enter the giveaway at the end of this post, but first my review of The Almost Girl.


The Almost Girl
Amalie Howard

Strange Chemistry
I received an ARC of this book from the publisher.
Releases January 7, 2014
416 pages
YA / Science Fiction / Action

Find it on Goodreads

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Indie Bound | Robot Trading Co.

Seventeen-year-old Riven is as tough as they come. Coming from a world ravaged by a devastating android war, she has to be. There’s no room for softness, no room for emotion, no room for mistakes. A Legion General, she is the right hand of the young Prince of Neospes, a parallel universe to Earth. In Neospes, she has everything: rank, responsibility and respect. But when Prince Cale sends her away to find his long-lost brother, Caden, who has been spirited back to modern day Earth, Riven finds herself in uncharted territory.

Thrown out of her comfort zone but with the mindset of a soldier, Riven has to learn how to be a girl in a realm that is the opposite of what she knows. Riven isn’t prepared for the beauty of a world that is unlike her own in so many ways. Nor is she prepared to feel something more than indifference for the very target she seeks. Caden is nothing like Cale, but he makes something in her come alive, igniting a spark deep down that goes against every cell in her body. For the first time in her life, Riven isn’t sure about her purpose, about her calling. Torn between duty and desire, she must decide whether Caden is simply a target or whether he is something more.

Faced with hideous reanimated Vector soldiers from her own world with agendas of their own, as well as an unexpected reunion with a sister who despises her, it is a race against time to bring Caden back to Neospes. But things aren’t always as they seem, and Riven will have to search for truth. Family betrayals and royal coups are only the tip of the iceberg. Will Riven be able to find the strength to defy her very nature? Or will she become the monstrous soldier she was designed to be?

This book is packed to the gills with action, fighting, science fiction tropes, fighting, zombie robots, fighting, running and did I mention fighting? There is a lot of fighting in The Almost Girl, considering the leading lady is a teenage ninja prodigy super soldier from a parallel world that used to lead an army of zombie robots created by her mad scientist father.

Like I said, this book is packed. Howard has so many great ideas and gizmos and historical background to build her world around that everything feels as though there really could be another world accessible through string-theory level physics travel that is a disaster, chaos-filled version of our own. The author doesn’t lack for details, explaining and re-explaining almost every aspect of her created world, which sometimes assists in adding dimension to her world while at other times detracts from the story itself.

The Almost Girl follows Riven, a child of Neospes (the parallel world) who has been trained from birth to be an emotionless super soldier while her father explored bio-engineering that led to the creation of robotic zombie-esque soldiers that she was given the reigns to control at 14 years old. The opening chapters really reinforce this idea that Riven is a warrior on a mission rather than a normal girl. The prologue is badass with a 14-year-old Riven proving how deserving of the super ninja soldier label as she escapes from the zombie robot horde she used to oversee to escape to the other world.

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Leslie's Favorite Reads of 2013: Time Travel, Aliens and, Of Course, Zombies

I actually hit my goal of reading 100 books in 2013, barely squeaking out that last book just a day or two before the end of the year. Despite the long list of reads, I found myself having a difficult time remembering enough awesome books I’d read to justify a Best Books of 2013 list. Nothing immediately jumped to mind like with last year’s list when Feed, Robopocalypse, Dearly, Departed and Cinder refused to let my brain go months after reading them.

Of the 100 books I read, I rated only 1 with a single star and five others with 2 stars. That seems pretty good, right? Another 26 got three stars, though looking at the list, some of those might need to be demoted. The bulk of my reads got 4 stars with 44 books landing in that category. And yet there aren’t that many in the list that I would be happy to revisit.

What was even more bizarre that, of the 24 books I rated 5 stars, not many of them truly got me excited to write another word about them. Most of the year was spent reading the second books in series that didn’t live up to their predecessors or the final books in series that just made me depressed with boredom. Despite that, I was able to pull together a list of 8 books that I could honestly recommend with a happy heart and a clear conscious.

Scarlet by Marissa Meyer – This was one of only three books that came to mind when I started to compile this list. I was happy to find that Meyer recreated the magic of Cinder despite adding an entirely different story line and a new set of characters. It was difficult to put the book down from beginning to end and it even distracted me from an on-going illness, so you know it must have been good.

Something Strange & Deadly / A Darkness Strange & Lovely by Susan Dennard – I thought I’d read SS&D ages before, not as my first read of 2013, but Darkness was going to be on this list anyway. Dennard created a new sort of zombie thriller with steampunk elements, highly amusing side characters and a truly amazing heroine with a mind of her own and an attitude that was a match to any of her male counterparts. Though Dennard made me wait 200 pages until the dashingly ungentlemanly Daniel made an appearance in the sequel, it didn’t dampen the fun and excitement of the story. I have high hopes for the final book in the series and hope it will break me out of the series ending blues I’ve found myself in.

The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey – The world needs more alien books where the aliens are both creepy and yet certain “bad guys” are steeped in shades of gray. Yancey got my heart pounding and in return I beat the book against my couch repeatedly in my strange way to encourage the characters to RUN FASTER. Despite being the first of a series, there were answers without the explanation police stepping in and yet still so much mystery that I need more NOW!

Between Two Thorns by Emma Newman – I discovered Angry Robot publishing in 2013, which is probably the most fortuitous moments of my blogging career. Though vN and iD didn’t make this list, they were some of the most unique and intriguing reads I’ve set my eyes on in ages. Newman’s start to her faerie series, The Split Worlds, left me a little speechless with its vivid world building and her ability to somehow make faeries living concurrently with the real world make sense. It was one of the books I truly couldn’t put down. I can’t believe I haven’t made it on in the series, but that’s definitely a goal for 2014.

Three by Jay Posey – Speaking of Angry Robot, I couldn’t leave this book out of my top of 2013 with a clear conscience. I was blown away with this book and Posey’s narrative style. It is nothing like I’ve read before and takes played out tropes from horror and western genres to mold them into something new and creepy and exciting. And then the ending knocked me off my feet, leaving me stunned and with no idea of where this series is headed. That, of course, just left me wanting more.

All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill – Another book where I had no expectations or idea where things were going to go. That worked out for the best with this twisty time travel story that actually made sense. I wasn’t really able to write much of a review of the book back in August and I write one now because this is one book best read blind. Having no idea what to expect or any preconceived ideas on plot made this an incredibly pleasant surprise.

Crown of Midnight by Sarah J Maas – I wasn’t overly enthusiastic for Throne of Glass, probably because by the time I read it, the entire blogosphere was going nuts over it and too many people were comparing it to Game of Thrones. Despite that – because I am a completest that can’t stop a series in the middle – I picked up the sequel and was delighted by its mix of romance and wizardry. Putting Celaena in the awkward position of working for the man she hates most while she falls for the head of the guard made for an exciting set up. COM built extensively on the mythology started in TOG, which combined with the action to become a fun ride full of adventure and drama.

Wonder Woman by Brian Azzarello & Cliff Chang – What is a favorites list without one comic series? I read a lot of DC comics this fall, catching up on all my favorite characters’ adventures in the New 52. Unfortunately the Bat Family stories got incredibly convoluted and twisted together, and while Batwoman and Nightwing remain my favorites and Batman & Robin started winning me over towards the end, it was Wonder Woman that really surprised me. Azzarello and Chang surround Diana with mythological gods and fantastical wars between super-powered deities to great and surprising effect. It thrilled me while at the same time making me depressed that no one seems to be able to create a viable film showcasing the awesome that is Wonder Woman. This is unlike any of the other DC comics I picked up this year and it benefits from going a little out there.

In retrospect, my reading list for 2013 was severely lacking in science fiction, which could explain my general blah-ness towards the year’s books. It’s all heavy on YA romance fantasy, so perhaps some adjustments will have to be made for 2014.

What are some of your favorites from 2013? I need some great books to add to my 2014 TBR mountain.

Stacking the Shelves (13): MacMillan Loves Me, Space Exploration & More

This weekly linkup is hosted by Tynga's Reviews. Visit her site to see what everyone else has gotten their hands on recently.

The UPS man has become my friend the last two weeks and has brought me lots and lots of new shinies to sit on my shelves and mock me because I don't have the time to read all of them in any reasonable amount of time. These are the books I've collected since the last STS edition a few weeks back.

My friends at Macmillan have been incredibly generous lately and are mostly responsible for the presents on my doorstep. I'm very, very excited to read these upcoming winter 2014 releases.

Nil by Lynne Matson

Tin Star by Cecil Castellucci

Unforgotten by Jessica Brody

Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira

Plus One by Elizabeth Fama

The Riverman by Aaron Starmer

Sekret by Lindsay Smith

Avalon by Mindee Arnett

Desert Tales by Marissa Marr

The Brokenhearted by Amelia Kahaney

The Almost Girl by Amalie Howard

Cracked by Eliza Crewe

The Rule of Three by Eric Walters

Bellman & Black by Diane Setterfield

Starhawk by Jack McDevitt

Perfect Ruin by Lauren DeStefano

Thank you to Macmillan and their various subsidiaries, HarperTeen, Strange Chemistry/Angry Robot, Mindee Arnett, Atria and Ace. Also, thanks to the local library for getting Perfect Ruin so quickly.