WFTM Podcast Episode 25.1: Adult Faerie Tales & Terrible Black Widows

Leslie & Fernando return to talk books and comic news, including the release of Black Panther concept art, what President Obama bought on Small Business Saturday, and where you can read a free horror comic online. We also discuss Naomi Novak’s Uprooted, Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel and the new YA novel appearance of Black Widow, Forever Red by Margaret Stohl.

Download it from the iTunes store here!

Review: Allegiant by Veronica Roth

Allegiant
Veronica Roth

Katherine Tegen Books
Released October 22, 2013
526 pages
YA / Dystopia / SciFi

Find it on Goodreads

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Book Depository | Indie Bound

The faction-based society that Tris Prior once believed in is shattered—fractured by violence and power struggles and scarred by loss and betrayal. So when offered a chance to explore the world past the limits she’s known, Tris is ready. Perhaps beyond the fence, she and Tobias will find a simple new life together, free from complicated lies, tangled loyalties, and painful memories.

But Tris’s new reality is even more alarming than the one she left behind. Old discoveries are quickly rendered meaningless. Explosive new truths change the hearts of those she loves. And once again, Tris must battle to comprehend the complexities of human nature—and of herself—while facing impossible choices about courage, allegiance, sacrifice, and love.

Told from a riveting dual perspective, Allegiant, by #1 New York Times best-selling author Veronica Roth, brings the Divergent series to a powerful conclusion while revealing the secrets of the dystopian world that has captivated millions of readers in Divergent and Insurgent.

I have been putting off reviewing this book for about a month now. I debated not reviewing it at all, but thought maybe it would be cathartic to share my thoughts on one of the most anticipated books in 2013. I knew it had caused a bit of a kerfuffle in the book blogosphere, but I managed to avoid spoilers and had convenience myself that it couldn’t be as bad as Twitter made it seem like it was. And then slowly, one by one, people I know in real life read Allegiant and one by one they came back to me with looks of disappointment.

This did not bode well.

My relationship with the Divergent series has been a mixed bag. I was more or less indifferent to Divergent. It was over hyped and I guess I expected too much. I also read it directly after finishing Dearly, Departed, which instantly became one of my favorite YA books of ever. I wasn’t impressed with Tris, but Four saved the book and I carried on to Insurgent when it was released. Now that book rocked my face off and I threw it across the room at the conclusion because OMG WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?!

I’ll tell you what happens next – a lot of exposition and not much else. You get a look inside the mysterious Four’s head, a place you never want to go into if you want him to remain A) mysterious, B) interesting , C) smart and clever, and/or D) something other than a mopey emo boy who is the complete opposite of the person that he was in the other two books that was so appealing. Tris returns to being insufferable and the Smartest Girl in the Room who is Always Right and Everybody Else is Wrong™.

I have to give Veronica Roth some credit though – she gives us answers. She gives us giant boatloads of answers full of philosophical musings and science-ish explanations. She answers things that probably would have gone better unanswered and then she answers things that nobody even asked about. There are a lot of answers. It’s building a world outside Chicago in the course of 500 pages and it gets pretty boring.

But the worst part of the whole thing?

GIANT MASSIVE ENDING SPOILERS AHEAD

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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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Random Tuesday: Science, Book Lists & Wreck-It Ralph

I'm partially tempted to do Trailer Park Friday today instead of Random Tuesday because some freakin' awesome trailers have come out over the last 48 hours. Alas, a part of me is waiting on the City of Bones sneak peak trailer to be released on Friday to put all the crazy awesome together. So instead, have some randomness like...

The Nine Circles of Scientific Hell courtesy of a real actual science journal article. io9 rocks my socks with their daily awesome.

Which also includes their book lists, such as the 20 Essential Books About the Next Step in Human Evolution. It's a nice mix of science fiction and non-fiction titles, though the only one I've read is Amped and that was pretty awesome.

It's been awhile since I've posted a piece of Gingerhaze's artwork. I will now remedy that. She is still awesome and she loved Wreck It Ralph as much as I did.

I don't know how much I agree with this 10 books that define the Millennial generation from Teleread, but what do I know?

Flavorwire has a list of 10 movies that were impossible to turn into movies that inevitably got turned into movies anyway. I've actually seen a few of these movies (Watchmen and Lolita) and they were both pretty good.

 

And now Fernando wants dinner, so do you guys have random things to share?

Learn How to "Breathe": Author Sarah Crossen Discusses the Writing Process

Today has been full of coincidences. Finding messages from people identical to the ones I intended to send to them. Starting a project only for my boss to come in a few hours later to announce he has a new idea that is exactly what I'm already working on. Wearing the same shoes as a co-worker.

But the best coincidence of the day is the lovely people at HarperCollins emailing me about Breathe by Sarah Crossen on the same day I'm featuring the very same book as my Waiting on Wednesday pick. Though Breathe doesn't come out until October 2, but Crossen put together a video to talk about the process of writing this dystopian title where a corporation manages the distribution of oxygen in a dead world.

2012 Science Fiction Reader Challenge: August Link Up

You guys are awesome. Here I am having difficulty linking up my own reviews and you guys keep posting like clockwork. A million thank yous to those of you actively participating in this challenge. You guys are pushing me to get more organized and prepare more for the second incarnation of this challenge (Yep, already planning for 2013 and it's August).

Anyway, in July there were 17 reviews linked up by everyone with someone reading Robopocalypse, a book I read earlier this year and loved despite it giving me nightmares, and another reading Amped also by the brilliant Daniel H Wilson. Everything linked up covered 10 out of the 12 catagories, and a lot of you read books that I've loved so I hope you guys have been enjoying your reads.

The reviews break down as such:

- 1 YA/MG Science Fiction

- 1 Adult Science Fiction

- 1 Hugo Winners

- 2 Robots/Cyborgs/Androids

- 1 Steampunk

- 1 Spaceships/Aliens

- 4 Time Travel/Alternate History/Parallel Universe

- 2 Apocalyptic/Dystopia/Utopia

- 1 Cyberpunk

- 3 Mad Scientists/Genetic Testing/Environmental Disaster

My plan was once again completely obliterated by circumstances only partially within my control. I read The Time Machine to cover the classic catagory (though forgot to link up, bad Leslie!). With Comic Con, I read far less than I wanted to and now have yet another giant pile of books to read. I didn't get to any of the other books on my list (Slaughterhouse Five, Dr. Jekyl & Mr. Hyde or Dearly, Beloved). Instead I made a tiny dent in my review stack by reading The Peculiars by Maureen Doyle McQuerry and Glitch by Heather Anastasiu, though I haven't written reviews for either of them yet.

By this point I've figured out it's pretty much pointless to pick books that I plan to read this month, but I'll do it anyway. The Olympics have put a huge dent in my reading time, but hopefully my desire to watch sports will lessen soon. This month's book club title is Feed by Mira Grant, so that's on the docket as is some other review books I have, including Origin by Jessica Khoury and maybe even Innocent Darkness by Suzanne Lazear. We'll see what actually comes to pass.

Whatever you have planned for August, I hope you enjoy it. I'm looking forward to making time out to check out everyone's reviews. If for some reason you posted up a review in July that didn't make it onto the link up post, feel free to link it this month. I'll be doing the same.

For a reminder, the challenge is to read at least one science fiction book for each of the following 12 categories:

YA/MG Science Fiction

Adult Science Fiction

Hugo Winner

Science Fiction Classic – Pre-1950s

Science Fiction Modern Classic – 1951-1992

Steampunk

Robots/Cyborgs/Androids

Spaceships/Aliens

Time Travel/Alternate History/Parallel Universe

Apocalyptic/Dystopia/Utopia

Cyberpunk

Mad Scientists/Genetic Testing/Environmental Disaster

If you need ideas for any of the categories, just ask or check out the sign up page for additional ideas.

And now here is the linky for July.  Tell me what you’ve been reading or plan to be reading soon.  I look forward to chatting about even more science fiction as we explore the genre together!  When you link up your review, please put it in the format of Name (book title) category, so when I review Fever, I’d submit it as “Leslie @ WFTM (Fever) Dystopian”.  That worked out pretty handy with my tracking.

2012 Science Fiction Reader Challenge: July Link Up

The year is officially half way over. How did that even happen? Jeez... needless to say, I've gotten very far behind in a couple of my own reader challenges so I should really start working on that.

You know what else July means? COMIC CON! This blog is going to be a bit obsessive about Comic Con for most of the month and I can't wait to see what books and other crazy sci-fi things are presented at what my brother calls the "annual geek pilgrimage". So. Excited.

In June we had 13 new link ups, including two people who read the book that got me into sci-fi in the first place - Ender's Game. Someone else read Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children which has a surprising sci-fi twist that I wasn't expecting from it. You guys are awesome at linking up, unlike me who apparently forgot to link up all the sci-fi books I read this month. Oops...

Anyway, your reviews broke down to:

- 2 YA/MG Science Fiction

- 1 Adult Science Fiction

- 1 Science Fiction Modern Classic – 1951-1992

- 2 Hugo Winners

- 2 Spaceships/Aliens

- 1 Time Travel/Alternate History/Parallel Universe

- 2 Apocalyptic/Dystopia/Utopia

- 2 Mad Scientists/Genetic Testing/Environmental Disaster

My plan last month was to read Dearly, Beloved by Lia Habel, Kingdom by Anderson O'Connell and The Strange Affair of Spring-Heeled Jack by Mark Hodder. I got to 2 of those 3 and surprisingly the one I haven't gotten to is Dearly, Beloved. I want to have a nice empty weekend to devour that book and one didn't arise in June. I also read Insurgent by Veronica Roth (which I will review tomorrow), Fever by Lauren Destefano, and I started Erasing Time by CJ Hill, which I actually just finished.

I have a scary pile of books on my living room table, but most of them are fantasy. I do need to read HG Wells' The Time Machine for book club. I have the Hugo, Pre-50s Classic and Modern Classic categories left to fill, so I'm going to push my self to also read Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut and Dr. Jekyl & Mr. Hyde to fit in some of those holes. If I can fit Dearly, Beloved in there, well, that would be super crazy magic fantastic, so we'll see.

Whatever you have planned for July, I hope you enjoy it. I'm looking forward to making time out to check out everyone's reviews. If for some reason you posted up a review in June that didn't make it onto the link up post, feel free to link it this month.

 

For a reminder, the challenge is to read at least one science fiction book for each of the following 12 categories:

YA/MG Science Fiction

Adult Science Fiction

Hugo Winner

Science Fiction Classic – Pre-1950s

Science Fiction Modern Classic – 1951-1992

Steampunk

Robots/Cyborgs/Androids

Spaceships/Aliens

Time Travel/Alternate History/Parallel Universe

Apocalyptic/Dystopia/Utopia

Cyberpunk

Mad Scientists/Genetic Testing/Environmental Disaster

If you need ideas for any of the categories, just ask or check out the sign up page for additional ideas.

And now here is the linky for July.  Tell me what you’ve been reading or plan to be reading soon.  If you're headed to San Diego in 10 days for Comic Con, let me know!  I look forward to chatting about even more science fiction as we explore the genre together!  When you link up your review, please put it in the format of Name (book title) category, so when I review Fever, I’d submit it as “Leslie @ WFTM (Fever) Dystopian”.  That worked out pretty handy with my tracking.