We're Not Dead! The World Is Just a Blurry Mess!

Hello, friends! It seems more often than not, I'm writing tristes about where I've been, so I'll keep this one short.

*This has nothing to do with the story. I just thought this post could use some Benny.

A little over a month ago, I got it into my head that I should pay someone loads of money to shoot lasers into my eyes. The qualified doctors all said the recovery time would be 48 hours before I could return to my life of computers and books and television and normalcy.

They are all liars*.

*Not really. The doctors were fine. I just heal at a snails pace and no one expected that, so expectations were not managed as well as I wish they had been.

Here we are a month later and the world is still a blurry mess. With some magnification, i manage to still do my job, which requires me to be on a computer nine or ten hours a day. By the time I finish work for the day, my eyes feel like they're going to fall out of my head and possibly were replaced by sandpaper. I haven't read a book in over a month and soon I fear I may wither up and die from lack of stories being input into my head.

But I've healed enough to manage to return to blogging and perhaps in the next day or two, I'll even be able to read something that's not magnified to a ridiculous size! Anyway, we'll slowly be starting WFTM back up and we have some fun blog tours scheduled for May that I'm really excited about. There will be giveaways and guest posts and fun stuff.

So stick around and please excuse me if there are a few more typos than usual. My little Lenovo can only zoom in so much before the rest of the page falls off the screen.

 

So what have I missed? Besides this terrible mess, I mean. I sadly can see well enough to see this nonsense.

I mean, seriously Harley,  where are your pants? And what are those shoes? And why does the Enchantress look like a female Swap Thing? What is happening with this? Can I have Arrow Suicide Squad instead? #notmyharley

Random Tuesday: Leslie's Favorite Summer Movies

Summer is over. Or at least in a calendar sense it is now over. It’s still 100 degrees here in Texas and probably will be for the next month. The big summer blockbuster movie season is over though, and over the next few months, we’ll get a lot of quieter award bait films with fewer explosions. So how did this summer blockbuster season measure up? Well, I couldn’t come up with five films that I would willingly sit down and watch all the way through again, so not very well.

I also realized while compiling this post that I didn’t see a ton of movies this summer. A lot of the big budget films looked like bloated wastes of time, so I steered clear of Transformers 4 (even with the dinosaur robots) and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (even – or possibly because of – my renewed love of the characters). I like entertaining films, but I’m not keen on ones that treat me like I’m stupid. There were also several that had been on my radar, like The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and Maleficent, where my interest waned as reviews started coming in. Those films quickly landed on my “wait until Netflix” list instead (as did The Fault in Our Stars because there is no way I will voluntarily go to something I know will make me ugly cry in public).

So I made a list of the films I did see and there were four gems on the list. These are movies I would purchase to own. These will become my next Scott Pilgrim or Pitch Perfect, where no matter where it is in the movie, I will watch the rest of it every. single. time. it comes on HBO. These made me happy and left me hopeful that there still could be good blockbuster films to be made. Here are my top four films from the summer of 2014:

Guardians of the Galaxy


I saw this during my doctor-induced blogging hiatus, so my sheer love for this film wasn’t as well documented as it would have been otherwise. This may be my favorite movie on the year so far, though I really don’t want to pit Pratt against Pratt, so I haven’t been thinking too hard about if this beats the nostalgic glee of The LEGO movie.

This movie should have been a mess of nonsense, but instead we got an authentically entertaining mix of action and heart. Is this a perfect movie? Absolutely not, but it’s a fun movie that left me smiling from ear to ear as I left the theatre. A month later and I still desperately want a baby Groot of my very own.

 

Lucy


WHERE IS MY FEMALE SUPERHERO MOVIE?! The Internet – or at least the parts of the web I travel – was screaming this over and over again after Lucy came out. It was fast paced and surprising with a bizarre twist ending that I never would have predicted. Scarlett Johannsson kicked some major ass and not a damsel in distress was seen after the first ten minutes. I just wish the commercials and trailers hadn’t given away all the big action-y bits, so that it would have felt newer. Even so I had high hopes for this movie and it fulfilled expectations.

 

Snowpiercer


I thought Snowpiercer was going to be a giant wreck. I’d followed the politics and drama with its US release, so I wasn’t even all that interested in seeing it. But the Internet promised me that it was the original director’s cut and not some nonsense Weinstein disaster, so we took a chance. And it was good. I never had any particular feelings towards Chris Evans before now, but I kinda want to see everything he’s ever been in. This movie is pretty straight forward with a predictable story, but it’s the details and the performances that make it so awesome. Don’t think too hard about the logic or plausibility for the setup of the film because you might start bleeding out the ears. Action mixed with some seriously bizarre visuals made this one of the most unexpected and entertaining hour and a half of my summer.


X-Men: Days of Future Past


I knew the basics about the comic storyline for Days of Future Past, and this movie wasn’t the comic. Instead it was a weird pseudo-political thriller action adventure dystopian whatsit taking place over two time periods drawn together by Wolverine. Even so, I would watch James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender stare at each other for two hours. Thankfully I didn’t have to and I got to watch a comic book movie instead. It’s not perfect, but at least I liked Jennifer Lawrence’s Rogue in this one. This barely made my list of favorites for the summer, but the ridiculous set pieces were thankfully overshadowed by some over-the-top-but-highly-entertaining performances from the main cast. Also Quicksilver = the best.


Honorable Mention: Captain America: The Winter Soldier


This movie made it feel like summer came early. I can’t wait to get my hands on the DVD, so I can watch it over and over again to see the things that I missed. The first Captain America movie verged on boring and it’s not one I’ve revisited since its release, but in this second one, Steve Rodgers has a lot more heart and having him paired up with Black Widow gave him a great opportunity for snark and great banter. I fell in love with Falcon and my heart hurt for Bucky, so all around this movie was filled with great characters that I want more from. The giant battle towards the end was way over the top, but it provided great opportunities for action sequences and impressive stunt work (that was probably all computer generated, but whatevs).

 

Movie I’m Scared to See: The Giver

I almost went to see this and then 7-year-old me started kicking me in the stomach and yelling,” NO NO NO NO!” The Giver is one of those literary touchstones in my life – a book that had such an impact on my life view as well as my reading habits that I couldn’t stand seeing it destroyed on screen. While I won’t say The Giver single-handedly turned me into a lifelong reader, it did introduce me to how to escape into a totally different world through reading (or in my case hearing) some words that were written down. I’ve heard mixed reactions to the movie, so I think I’m going to have to protect 7-year-old me and avoid this screen adaptation.

 

All right, friends. What were your favorite movies from the summer? Was there something glaringly missing from my list that I must dropped everything and go see right now? Will The Giver break my 7-year-old heart? Let me know if the comments.

 

Gifs were created by people more awesome than me. If they are yours, let me know and I'll be happy to credit.

What We’re Watching: Endings and Beginnings - True Blood & Doctor Who

During my blogging hiatus, I realized I had already started skipping Wednesday posts. At first I thought it was because Wednesdays are the middle of the week and work is crazy and computers are stupid. Then I thought about it a little more and realized it was more likely due to not having a go-to post for the day. Yeah, I could do the Waiting on Wednesday meme, but it seems a little like a copout (and it was making my TBR list even longer).

I pondered what I could write about on Wednesdays instead. And usually this pondering happened while watching television or Netflix, so it’s a little embarrassing that it took as long as it did to figure out a good Wednesday theme.

Welcome to What We’re Watching Wednesday, where I will babble on about this or that thing we’ve been watching. Maybe it’ll be a review of a show or a rant about stupid characters or a glowing recommendation for a new movie. Whatever it is, there will be gifs. Like this one.

You don’t have to be a fan of True Blood to appreciate that gif. The Skarsgard can be appreciated by everyone, especially when he’s jamming out to techno music in a stolen car with a bunch of dead bodies in the backseat. He’s a universal source of blond goodness. Enjoy the gif. I’ll wait for you to return.

Now that you’re in a happy mood, let’s move on. In this inaugural What We’re Watching post, I’m going to focus on an ending of a series and the beginning of a new chapter in a different series. First up, let’s talk about True Blood. Be warned. There are spoilers for the finale (like, big ones) and all other episodes.

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Where Have I Been: A Story in Gifs

I've kind of been missing for a little while, haven't I? Have you missed me? Well, if you've been wondering where I've been the last six weeks or so, pull up a chair, get a cup of tea and listen to my story.

In early July I woke up one morning unable to bend my wrist or straighten my fingers. I don't mean it hurt to do either of those things. I physically could not bend my wrist or straighten my fingers. Considering I dealt with carpal tunnel in both wrists during college, I just put on a brace and went on about my business. About a week later, my wrist could bend about 60% of its normal bendiness and my fingers could straighten more or less. I figured that was a good sign and decided I just needed some more brace time.

Soon after I went to the doctor for a completely unrelated issue, but brought up my wrist. Mr Doctor Man poked around on my arm until I nearly screamed and declared that, nope, not carpal tunnel, it's severe tenndinitous starting from my tricept, down my forearm and into all my fingers. This led to the following exchange, recreated here in gif format:

And scene.

The problem was that avoiding computers for any length of time was an impossibility. I make my living being on a computer 9 to 10 hours a day, five days a week. The "compromise" ended up being no extracurricular computer use for at least six weeks.

But I kinda need use of my hand and arm for the long term, so I followed his instructions.

And avoided any extracurricular activity on a computer, instead watching Pitch Perfect a few too many times.

This meant giving up Working for the Mandroid, email, social media not done on my phone, everything.

Fast forward to now: I have been given a (semi-) clear bill of health!

As long as I use my brace and I don't start losing feeling in anything, I can once again return to the world of the internet. I'm returning to over 2,000 emails, a list of books to review as long as my brace-covered arm, a shelf of new arrivals and an extreme determination to conquer everything. I hope anyone who has stuck around during the impromptu hiatus will stick around a few more days. We are almost ready to return to your normally scheduled Mandriod ramblings. So...

 

I think it's nearly impossible to determine who creates gifs now, so all these gifs belong to their creators. If one belongs to you and you'd like me to remove it or give you specific credit, I would be happy to comply.

Review: Robogenesis by Daniel H Wilson

Robogenesis
Daniel H Wilson

Doubleday
I received an e-ARC of this book from the publisher in return for an honest review.
Released June 10, 2014
384 pages
Sci-Fi / Post Apocalypse / ROBOTS!

Find it on Goodreads

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Indie Bound

The stunningly creative, epic sequel to Wilson's blockbuster thriller and New York Times bestseller Robopocalypse

"The machine is still out there. Still alive."

Humankind had triumphed over the machines. At the end of Robopocalypse, the modern world was largely devastated, humankind was pressed to the point of annihilation, and the earth was left in tatters . . . but the master artificial intelligence presence known as Archos had been killed.

In Robogenesis, we see that Archos has survived. Spread across the far reaches of the world, the machine code has fragmented into millions of pieces, hiding and regrouping. In a series of riveting narratives, Robogenesis explores the fates of characters new and old, robotic and human, as they fight to build a new world in the wake of a devastating war. Readers will bear witness as survivors find one another, form into groups, and react to a drastically different (and deadly) technological landscape. All the while, the remnants of Archos's shattered intelligence are seeping deeper into new breeds of machines, mounting a war that will not allow for humans to win again.

Daniel H. Wilson makes a triumphant return to the apocalyptic world he created, for an action-filled, raucous, very smart thrill ride about humanity and technology pushed to the tipping point.

I had absolutely no idea there was going to be a sequel to Robopocalypse. I found it completely by accident, scrolling through Edelweiss on my phone when I needed to waste a few minutes. When I saw it, well…

After staring at the cover for several minutes, waiting for my brain to reboot, I immediately requested it from Doubleday and I’d like to say I made a nice, polite request to receive access to Robogenesis, but that would be untrue. Instead I think I ended up writing something that was somewhere between begging and total incoherency. If I could have put the written equivalent of puppy dog eyes in an email, that would have been my request.

Okay, those are turtle eyes, but you get the point. Despite my extreme excitement, once Doubleday took pity on me and gave me access to an e-ARC, it took me months to finally open it. I was afraid. Robopocalypse was everything I could want in a nightmare-fuel evil robot book and I didn’t know if Wilson could match up with a sequel.

Daniel H Wilson is the king of my nightmares and that is not a title he intends to relinquish easily. I finally gave in and started Robogenesis.

Once I finally dived in, he had me yet again in his creepy clutches and I had a difficult time tearing myself away from the book to do silly things like sleep and go to work. Didn’t the rest of my life understand there were ROBOTS FIGHTING?

So my actual review?

While it didn’t have the novelty of the first one and the parameters of the robots in Wilson’s world were formed, Robogenesis was everything I could have hoped for in a sequel. It took me a little bit to remember all the players and how things ended up at the end of last book, but once things started coming back to me, I was hooked. It picks up just days after the end of the war when a false sense of hope that humanity can start living again starts sneaking in and carries through the next 11 months as everything starts falling apart yet again.

Once again the book is formed through the point of view of several characters after the events of the Robopocalypse have finished. The narrator, who provides small paragraphs of context at the beginning of each chapter, has found another historical recording of the events in key players’ lives and is transcribing the memories from neuron patterns accessed through remaining technology. This narrator splits the stories into three parallel set of events, claiming he’s trying to understand how everything happened in the “True War” that makes up the plot of this new volume.

There’s new tech, new types of robots, new super creepy things that crept into my dreams. A new threat starts creeping in around the edges of humanity, a new computer that claims to be a smarter and cleverer predecessor of Archos-14, the computer program that caused the original war. From the first page, an ominous atmosphere is set in place and Wilson uses his knowledge to flesh out the technology that makes up this world. While some of the newer pieces of tech start veering into the realm of fantasy rather than being real world based, that didn’t stop the world from jumping off the page.

The plot is not nonstop action with slow moments allowing for the world to be added onto while trying to match three different plotlines along the same timeline. Most of the heroes – or at least the ones who are still alive – from the original Rob war reemerge and begin piecing together that danger hasn’t disappeared completely. There is a lot of walking in this book, but there is enough new elements thrown in to make each of the long journeys more interesting. And of course, there are a couple of truly horrifying moments that will stick with me for a long time.

Unlike Robopocalypse, Robogenesis is wide open for a sequel, more or less setting up a giant confrontation between multiple big bads with the good guys finally teaming up to try saving what little remains of the human race. I look forward to seeing what other things Wilson has in his head that he will implant into my nightmares. I won’t doubt him again. I mean, he is a doctor.

I received an e-ARC from the publisher in return for an honest review. All squee is my own. Gifs belong to those who created them, but they've been spread across the interwebs and I couldn't track their owners.

Thinky Thoughts: What Age Is "Too Old" for YA?

This article posted on Vulture.com about a 30-something year old woman “coming clean” about her love for YA fiction took over my Facebook feed for a while last week, and while it’s only one of a dozen that have popped up recently on major(-ish) online media outlets, for some reason I read this one. Then I read the comments. Then I became sad and a little concerned for my lack of emotional growth and maturity.

Apparently adults who read YA are in a state of arrested development, according to the experts who like to hang around slamming people on Vulture articles all day. Only adults who have never grown up or remain in a constant state of adolescence could possibly enjoy these books aimed at teenagers. Considering the number of articles that come out on a daily basis about Gen Y/Millennials having that same “arrested development” issue, it’s really starting to give me a complex.

I am not a teenager. I have a full-time job, pay a mortgage and am in a long-term committed relationship. I purposely ignored the invites to all 10-year high school reunion events. I eat 4 to 7 servings of vegetables and fruit a day when I really wish I could just stuff my face with Doritos and cupcakes. While I do not have any spawn of my own, I am often entrusted with the well-being of others’ spawn for hours at a time and I (usually) return them (mostly) unscathed. So even though I often pack my lunch based on ideas I get from what moms put in their toddlers’ lunch boxes, I’d say I count as a grown up.

I’m not sure where the line was drawn that Adult = No Imagination or No Adventure or No Fun, but these Vulture reading-habit psychologists seem to think so. I read adult books, but they’re science fiction, horror and fantasy, so I imagine that would be yet another sign of my stunted mental and emotional development. I read YA and watch television “targeted” at a YA audience because it’s fun, it’s imaginative and it’s full of adventures I would never experience in real life. I don’t care about first times or the power of youth or whatever reasons were spouted in that article. I want to experience things I can’t experience in my every day boring life, and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. If wanting adventures and imagination means I’m stuck in a juvenile state of mind, well, at least my head is filled with more fun than yours.

 

Despite all that I do have a age-related conundrum with YA, but it’s a little different.  

At what point does it become uber creepy for me to cheer for the love lives of fictional teenagers?

I mean, if I felt the same sort of attachment to real live teenagers and had the same level of concern for the state of their relationship, I probably have several restraining orders on me. To avoid the creeps of “watching” romantic encounters between teens, I seem to automatically age up characters in my head. This gives me a slightly less squick factor when I look back and think, “I loved that make out scene with whatshisname and whosthatgirl.” That’s also why I avoid outright YA romances because any graphic – or even just insinuated – sexual situation would give me the creeps and make me feel like a creepy old lady. And even though I’m not a teen, I’m not *that* old either.

 It’s probably why I rarely latch on to male book characters to the extent of referring to them as “book boyfriends”. I can only think of one that is top of mind and he’s a zombie, which brings up a whole other set of psychological issues I may or may not have…

But despite all the weirdness I get from the teen romance thing, I continue reading YA. It's adventure and fun and involves all sorts of things that will never happen in my life. If that means I'm refusing to "grow up", then I guess I'm okay with that.

So if you’re an adult reading YA, how do you cope with the romance levels in these books? Do you age characters up like I do or do you have some other trick that keeps you from feeling icky?

 

Note: I have no idea who made any of these gifs as I found them on Tumblr, so thank you anonymous gif makers. You are awesome.

 

Linked up at Oh, Chrys' Let's Discuss post. Find other great discussion posts here.