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

WFTM Podcast 20.1: You're Gonna Need a Lot of Red Crayon

Fernando and Leslie discuss the increase sales of red crayons now that Game of Thrones and Outlander are coloring books, along with some news about Google Books, when it’s weird for a new author to take on another author’s series posthumously, and the next Shadowhunters book cover. The they finish up talking about the robot anthology Robot Uprisings, edited by Daniel H Wilson.

Download it from the iTunes store here!

We’re now on Stitcher as well!! If Stitcher is your chosen app of podcasting choice, listen to the Working for the Mandroid podcast here

So what’s in Episode 20.1?

Where we just talk about books and comics!

News:

Federal appeals court deems Google Books project as fair use

Two More Girl with the Dragon Tattoo Books

Lady Midnight cover revealed - next book in the Shadowhunter universe

Game of Thrones and Outlander coloring books coming out next week

What We’re Reading:

Robot Uprising edited by Daniel H Wilson

·       Nanonauts! In Battle with Tiny Death Subs! By Ian McDonald

·       Of Dying Heroes and Deathless Deeds by Robin Wasserman

·       The Robot and the Baby by John McCarthy

·       We Are All Misfit Toys in the Aftermath of the Velveteen War by Seanan McGuire

·       Spider the Artist by Nnedi Okorafor

·       Small Things by Daniel H Wilson

What We’re Reading This Week:

Leslie: I will eventually finish Uprooted by Naomi Novak and move on to Alias by Brian Michael Bendis & Michael Gaydos

Follow us on Twitter @WorkforMandroid and @fernborrego

Email your questions, concerns, thoughts and comments to WorkingfortheMandroid@gmail.com


Intro & Outro Music is “Robot Army” by Quiet Music for Tiny Robots, provided via freemusicarchive.org through a Creative Commons License

 

WFTM Podcast Episode 19.2: How Many Zombies Can We Fit In This Scene?

It’s been a busy week, so not much television was watched, but our fearless heroes take a trip to the sun with Sunshine (dude, it’s old, you don’t get spoiler warnings) and face the most zombies ever with The Walking Dead season 6. But first there is a lot of news to cover, including new webisodes of DC Superhero Girls, television adaptations of comics, some Star Wars stuff and more.

Download it from the iTunes store here!

We’re now on Stitcher as well!! If Stitcher is your chosen app of podcasting choice, listen to the Working for the Mandroid podcast here

So what’s in Episode 19.2?

Where we just talk about television and movies!

News:

First two webisodes of DC Super Hero Girls are available and they’re *adorable*

Batgirl Has a Voice in the upcoming LEGO Movie spinoff!

Is Y the Last Man Getting an FX Show?

io9’s list of the best comics to turn into television shows not movies

The Star Wars: The Force Awakens trailer will come out on Monday!

Defiance has officially been canceled – is anyone sad?

What We’re Watching:

Fernando isn’t enthusiastic about the 2007 movie of Sunshine, while Leslie lacks much emotion about the season premiere of The Walking Dead

Our Favorite Thing We Watched This Week:

Fernando: Arrow, except for the silly flashbacks

Leslie: Supernatural, except for Castiel getting beat up by stupid angels


Follow us on Twitter @WorkforMandroid and @fernborrego

Email your questions, concerns, thoughts and comments to WorkingfortheMandroid@gmail.com


Intro & Outro Music is “Robot Army” by Quiet Music for Tiny Robots, provided via freemusicarchive.org through a Creative Commons License

WFTM Episode 19.1: Don't Trust a Roomba

Fernando and Leslie talk about some comic book news before delving back into Robot Uprisings and figuring out whether Beautiful Darkness is a book safe for children. Spoiler alert – it really, really is not.

Download it from the iTunes store here!

We’re now on Stitcher as well!! If Stitcher is your chosen app of podcasting choice, listen to the Working for the Mandroid podcast here

So what’s in Episode 19.1?

Where we just talk about books and comics!

News:

Superman Has a New Identity

Howard the Duck & Squirrel Girl Are Getting a Comic Crossover

Captain Marvel Is Getting Her Own YA Prose Novel

What We’re Reading:

Robot Uprising edited by Daniel H Wilson

·       Executable by Hugh Howey

·       The Omnibot Incident by Ernest Cline

·       Epoch by Cory Doctorow

·       Human Intelligence by Jeff Abbott

·       The Golden Hour by Julianna Baggott

·       Sleepover by Alastair Reynolds

·       Seasoning by Alan Dean Foster

Beautiful Darkness by Fabien Vehlmann & Kerascoët

What We’re Reading This Week:

Fernando: Locke & Key audio play and Star Wars: Dark Disciple by Christie Golden

Leslie: Uprooted by Naomi Novak and Alias by Brian Michael Bendis & Michael Gaydos

Follow us on Twitter @WorkforMandroid and @fernborrego

Email your questions, concerns, thoughts and comments to WorkingfortheMandroid@gmail.com


Intro & Outro Music is “Robot Army” by Quiet Music for Tiny Robots, provided via freemusicarchive.org through a Creative Commons License

WFTM Podcast Episode 18.1: Robots Hate Their Boss, Too

Robots! So many robots! This week Leslie and Fernando discuss some of the short stories from Robot Uprisings along with Last Song Before Night, a potential sequel to the original Civil War comic event, Locke & Key becoming a free audio play, Patrick Rothfuss’ Lionsgate deal, and another bizarre project from Mark Z Danielewski.

Download it from the iTunes store here!

We’re now on Stitcher as well!! If Stitcher is your chosen app of podcasting choice, listen to the Working for the Mandroid podcast here

So what’s in Episode 18.1?

Where we just talk about books and comics!

News:

Locke and Key has been turned into a radio showand it’s currently FREE!

Patrick Rothfuss signs deal to turn The Kingkiller Chronicles into a Movie, a TV Show and a video game

Mark Z Danielewski’s The Familiar - a 12 part serialize book, part 2 comes out on October 27 (read a review of part 1 on NPR here)

New Civil War comic event in Spring 2016?

What We’re Reading:

Robot Uprising edited by Daniel H Wilson

·         Complex God by Scott Sigler

·         Cycles by Charles Wu

·         Lullaby by Anna North

·         Eighty Miles an Hour all the Way to Paradise by Genevieve Valentine

Last Song Before Night by Ilana C. Meyer

What We’re Reading This Week:

Fernando: Robot Uprisings

Leslie: Uprooted by Naomi Novak and Robot Uprisings

Follow us on Twitter @WorkforMandroid and @fernborrego

Email your questions, concerns, thoughts and comments to WorkingfortheMandroid@gmail.com


Intro & Outro Music is “Robot Army” by Quiet Music for Tiny Robots, provided via freemusicarchive.org through a Creative Commons License

 

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

Leslie's Favorite Movies from Summer 2015

I have to admit it. This summer was filled with a number of lackluster movies for me. I’ve become bored by summer blockbusters that don’t provide anything new or interesting to the usual formula. Because of that, we skipped several of the big tent pictures that most people would assume we would see. At the same time, the ones we did see, generally left me unimpressed and wishing I’d spent the time binge watching something on Netflix instead. I’m honestly shocked that this was apparently the second best summer for box office numbers. But there were a few standouts this summer, so here are the top movies I actually enjoyed.

Please note that I’ve had to count April as “summer” just so I could get four for my list.

Ant-Man

I had no expectations for Ant-Man, which could be why I enjoyed it so much opposed to Age of Ultron. Paul Rudd is a charismatic actor, but a movie needs more than that to keep me entertained for two hours. Luckily Ant-Man is full of humor, sight gags and interesting action sequences. Even all the CGI didn’t bother me like it did in Ultron because Paul Rudd’s face was covered. I adored Scott’s relationship with his daughter, his grudgingness to do the wrong thing in order to do what was right and the training sequences. The only thing this movie could have done better was not force the romance between Scott and Evangeline Lily’s Hope van Dyne at the end of the film, which felt forced and unearned. Not every superhero needs to romance his badass leading lady, guys.

Mission: Impossible – Rouge Nation

The dialogue is this movie is so stupid and Tom Cruise lacks any depth whatsoever, but this movie is still fun. The stunts are amazing and the scenery is gorgeous. Though I have to admit that this film makes the list because of Rebecca Ferguson’s Ilsa Faust, who not only can hold her own in a fight, but also takes off her unreasonably high heels before running, climbing or fighting someone. Practicality in a femme fatale is rare and I appreciate it so much. Simon Pegg is delightful as always and Alec Baldwin did some nice scenery chewing too. This thing isn’t going to win any awards, but I didn’t feel like I wasted my time watching it either.

pitchperfect2.jpg

Pitch Perfect 2

It’s not as good as the first one, and it’s has some seriously problematic stereotypes it leans on for jokes, but I still laughed. The music is great and I imagine the re-watchability of this one will be nearly as high as the original. I have no idea how they’re going to shoe horn a third movie into the series, but I’ll go see it just for more of Anna Kendrick’s Beca being an awkwardly amazing badass.

Ex Machina

Technically it came out in April, but it has been one of the most enjoyable films we’ve seen this year. It’s a quiet, creepy little drama about a boy, his robot and the boy he uses to test his robot until it all falls apart in the end. All the performances from Domhnall Gleeson, Oscar Isaac and Alicia Vikander are nuanced and subtle, words rarely used with summer films. This film made me think, kept me captivated and gave me the creeps all at the same time. It really deserved more attention than it received.

The Biggest Disappointment: Age of Ultron

I have a hard time putting my issues with Age of Ultron in words that haven’t been said a million times over. It had way too much crammed into a short amount of time. Subplots of Clint and Natasha to “humanize” them left me cold and often annoyed. Thor’s jaunt into a random supernatural hot tub made absolutely no sense. The twins were little more than cyphers of supernatural abilities. It felt like something tying it all together was curled up on the cutting room floor, and I just left the theatre sad that I didn’t love it like Winter Solider or Guardians of the Galaxy. Maybe after a rewatch, it’ll sit with me better, but this was the first sign to me that the Marvel Universe had gotten too big and too unwieldy to cram all into one movie.

Other big disappointments could have been Mad Max: Fury Road or Jurassic World, but I had no expectations for those and being incredible bored (or car sick in the case of Fury Road) was unsurprising.


Looking through the movies that came out the last few months, the only one I didn’t see but could have possibly rounded out this list to a full five would have been Me and Earl and the Dying Girl. I think it looked too YA drama for Fernando to go with me, and it was only playing at our local indie theatre for two or three weeks. I look forward to seeing it when it comes out on DVD.

I’m hoping that this fall and winter will bring far more films worth my time and money. With Star Wars: The Force Awakens, The Martian and Mockingjay Part 2 still to come later this year, perhaps there will be some more blockbusters worth my time before the year is out. What films did you enjoy this summer and which ones are you looking forward to this fall? Share in the comments!