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

Author Blog Tour: Review of Positive by David Wellington

Welcome to the Working for the Mandroid stop on David Wellington's blog tour for his epic zombie adventure story Positive. This tour is hosted by Pump Up Your Book tours and we're happy to have a review for you and later today we'll have a guest post from David himself! If you're into zombie fiction and are looking for a book with a young, naive teen boy narrator suddenly thrust into a wild and unfamiliar world with danger around every corner, Positive could be the book for you! You can see additional dates of the tour at the end of this post.

Positive
David Wellington

Harper Voyager
I received a copy of this book from the publisher in return for a honest review.
Released April 21, 2015
448 pages
Thriller / Suspense

Find it on Goodreads

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Indie Bound

The acclaimed author of Chimera and The Hydra Protocol delivers his spectacular breakout novel—an entertaining, page-turning zombie epic.
Anyone can be positive . . .
Years after a plague killed 99 percent of the population, turning them into infectious zombies, Finnegan and his family live in a barricaded New York City. But Finn's sheltered life fractures when his unsuspecting mother falls sick with the zombie disease—latent inside her since before her son's birth.
Finn, too, can be infected. If he remains healthy for the last two years of the potential incubation period, he'll be cleared. Until then, he must be moved to a special facility for positives, segregated to keep the healthy population safe.
Tattooed with a plus sign on his hand that marks him as a positive, Finn is exiled from the city. But when marauders kill the escort sent to transport him, Finn must learn how to survive alone in an eerie, disintegrated landscape. And though the zombies are everywhere, Finn discovers that the real danger is his fellow humans.

Oh, zombies. Will we ever tire of you? David Wellington has created an expansive novel that crosses much of the country 20 years after the fall of civilization caused by a zombie virus. What many authors would have cut into three novels, Wellington puts into one rapidly paced adventure ride where zombies are the initial drive of the plot, but become a bit of an afterthought by the end. Because, as with all zombie epics, people are always the real enemy.

Positive felt very much like a mash up of a lot of different things I’ve seen or read or consumed recently. It has long sequences that feel straight from Mad Max: Fury Road without the helpful addition of Furiosa. Other sequences could have been pulled straight from The Walking Dead and still others could be straight from any number of books or movies that involved long treks and starving through a terrible winter. Some elements of Positive stand out, but so much felt like it’d been taken from something else that the book never truly begins to soar for me.

Finn is our everyman hero. He’s a nineteen-year-old, post-apocalypse war baby, who doesn’t understand why everyone in his parents’ generation are all so paranoid and acting like they’re just ready to die already. He’s lived in the safe zone on Manhattan island all his life, fishing in the subway tunnels and living a fairly safe life. Then one day over a disappointing dinner, his mother turns into a red-eyed zombie and Finn’s best friend has to shoot her. As one would expect, Finn’s life is never the same.

Wellington’s zombie mythology is unique to the genre – or at least as far as my experience with the genre goes. While a virus caused the mass majority of people to turn into flesh-devouring, red eyed monsters 20 years ago, the remaining population must worry about a potential 20 year incubation period after exposure to the virus, whether that’s through exposure to blood or other bodily fluids both of zombies and those who may be infected, or being bitten. For example, main character Finn is pushed out of his community because his mother turns into a zombie 19 years after he was breast fed, so he potentially carries the virus. Considering this book takes place about 20 years after the initial zombie apocalypse, it makes you wonder why everyone isn’t a Positive, considering I can’t imagine a zombie situation where everyone didn’t have exposure to a zombie at one point in time. Or at least exposure to someone who was exposed. And wouldn’t each new exposure restart your 20 year clock? But this is a zombie novel, so some hand waving is allowed.

After Finn’s exile, book one starts. This is the “survive in the wilderness” story full of looters and crime lords with big SUVs covered in war paint and barbed wire. Finn gets picked up by a driver who happens to keep a harem of pre-teen and teenage girls in tow to help him loot houses and “keep him company”. This is the Mad Max portion of the program.

Book two starts when Finn finally reaches the “medical camp” he was meant to go to all along. The 20 year incubation period has left a great number of the remaining survivors exiled from the walled cities protected by the remains of the US Armed Forces and into work camps that are closer to gulags than anything one would expect to see on American soil. Suddenly zombies are an afterthought and we get a story about military control and political unrest.

Book three is a survival story involving a not-quite forced march through questionable terrain, starting a new community and learning new skills and trying to create a sense of safety. Think of this as the story of pilgrims with all the hopeful rhetoric and posturing that one would expect. There is one group of zombies that appear during this sequence. We see no other zombies after this.

Then finally we have book four, which involves a battle with the real enemies of the world – other humans. Because humans are the worse.

For a book so steeped in the fear of becoming a zombie, there aren’t that many zombies in this book, especially in the second half. I think that oscillation between “ZOMBIES! VIRUS! AAAAH!” and “The bad guys are really other people” kept me from really gelling with this book. There is a nice highlight about a third of the way when Finn comes across one of the few other people with their morals still intact in the whole book and I wish there could have been some more of that. Instead I got Finn becoming increasingly more self-important as he dictated new rules and not-so-serendipitously kept running into someone that was set out to be his nemesis but never seemed that menacing.

I don’t like classifying books by a gender, but perhaps this is more of a “boy” book because it’s told from the first person perspective of a teenage boy who lacks much maturity. His inner monologue, while possibly accurate for someone in that situation, often bothered me with its repetitiveness, immaturity and total lack of perspective. I’ve found with other books like this, people who had once been teenaged boys were less bothered by it than I am.

Positive is a take on a zombie world that felt very cobbled together from other things, though a few original ideas would have helped it soar much more if they’d been explored and expanded on. I know it’s wrong to demand logic of zombie books, but I need a little more of a solid foundation to truly follow along with Finn on his adventures. Instead I kept coming back to my questions about the logic of the whole thing. This could be an exciting adventure through post-apocalyptic America if you’re not as sensitive to those kinds of things.

About the Author:

David Wellington was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where George Romero’s classic zombie films were shot. He is the author of an online zombie serial, the Monster Island trilogy; Thirteen Bullets, a serialized vampire novel; and the Jim Chapel missions, including the digital shorts “Minotaur” and “Myrmidon,” and the novels Chimera and The Hydra Protocol. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

For More Information

Visit David’s website.

Connect with David on Facebook and Twitter

 

Full Tour Schedule

 November 24

Book featured at 3 Partners in Shopping

Book featured at Bibliophile Mystery

Book featured at Around the World in Books

Book reviewed at Cheryl’s Book Nook

November 25

Book reviewed at Read Love Blog

Book featured at Authors and Readers Book Corner

Book featured at My Book Fairy

November 26

Book featured at Crystal’s Chaotic Confessions

Guest blogging at Bound 2 Escape

November 27

Book featured at Chosen By You Book Club

Book reviewed at Books, Food and Me

November 30

Book reviewed and Guest blogging at Romancing the Darkside

Book reviewed at Books that Hook

Book featured at Dawn’s Reading Nook

December 1

Book featured at Harmonious Publicity

December 2

Book reviewed and Guest blogging at Working for the Mandroid

December 3

Book featured at Bent Over Bookwords

December 4

Book featured at Archaeolibrarian

December 7

Book featured at The Dark Phantom

December 8

Book featured at Voodoo Princess

December 9

Book reviewed at Deal Sharing Aunt

December 10

Book reviewed and Interviewed at The Cosy Dragon

December 11

Book reviewed at Bea’s Book Nook

December 14

Guest blogging at Write and Take Flight

December 15

Book reviewed at Kristy Centeno

December 16

Book reviewed and Guest blogging at Natural Bri

Book reviewed at Bloody Bookish

December 17

Book reviewed at A Room Without Books is Empty

Book reviewed at I’m Shelf-ish

December 18

Book featured at Teatime and Books

Book reviewed at A Book Geek

Book reviewed at Ashley’s Bookshelf

 

WFTM Episode 21.1: Terrible People Doing Terrible Things

This week Leslie and Fernando discuss Scott McCloud’s expansive graphic novel The Sculptor before Leslie goes into a rant about thrillers about terrible people doing terrible things so readers can get enjoyment from schadenfreude. For news, we have book cover reveals, open submission period over at Angry Robot (if you have a scifi, fantasy or WTF novel collecting dust), and new Tolkien papers.

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 21.1?

Where we just talk about books and comics!

News:

Angry Robot Preparing for Open Door submission period - Dec 1, 2015 through January 31, 2016

New novella collection of Newsflesh stories by Mira Grant

risenewsfleshcollection.jpg
thelaststar.jpg

Map of Middle Earth annotated by JRR Tolkien found

What We’re Reading:

The Sculptor by Scott McCloud

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

What We’re Reading This Week:

Fernando: Looking forward to finishing Star Wars: Dark Disciple by Christie Golden

Leslie: Finishing up The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins and move on to Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel and Alias by Brian Michael Bendis & Michael Gaydos (for real this time!)

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

 

Review: Cut Me Free by JR Johansson

Cut Me Free
JR Johansson

Farrar, Straus, Giroux
I received an ARC from the publisher.
Released January 27, 2015
YA / Real Life / Thriller

Find it on Goodreads

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Indie Bound

Seventeen-year-old Charlotte barely escaped from her abusive parents. Her little brother, Sam, wasn't as lucky. Now she's trying to begin the new life she always dreamed of for them, but never thought she'd have to experience alone. She's hired a techie-genius with a knack for forgery to remove the last ties to her old life. But while she can erase her former identity, she can’t rid herself of the memories. And her troubled history won’t let her ignore the little girl she sees one day in the park. The girl with the bruises and burn marks.

That’s when Charlotte begins to receive the messages. Threatening notes left in her apartment--without a trace of entry. And they’re addressed to Piper, her old name. As the messages grow in frequency, she doesn’t just need to uncover who is leaving them; she needs to stop whoever it is before anyone else she loves ends up dead.

Oh man, this was not the follow up book I needed after The Rule of Three: Fight for Power. I was already paranoid and hating humanity. Then I start reading this story about a 17-year-old girl, who was running from her abusive past only for it to continuously hunt her down. By the end I just wanted all of the world to die in a fire. Cut Me Free is a brutal book to get through for someone with a highly sensitive empathy switch. There were several times I had to put the book down and walk away, but that’s more a testament to the rawness of Johansson’s writing.

Charlotte spent most of her life locked in an attic, physically and mentally abused by her parents and not even existing as far as the rest of the world was concerned. After one particularly traumatic incident, she managed to escape and run halfway across the country to start a life in a world she’s never known. She contacts a forgery expert who is conveniently a very attractive teenage boy to help her start her new life and hide away from any remnants of her past that might track her down.

After saving a small girl from a similar situation, Charlotte finds her new life quickly falling to pieces as threatening notes start arriving at her apartment. Rather than run and give up the life she has built for herself, Charlotte faces the terrors of her past and the unknown horrors that might be surrounding her.

Johannson doesn’t shy away from details of child abuse. While she doesn’t relish in them either, there’s enough setup and enough implied that I felt physically ill from time to time, especially in any real-time scenes. It’s all pretty horrifying, real-life stuff that my brain can only handle a little bit at a time. Once everyone’s background is out in the open, the more thriller-based aspects of the story start roaring along and Cut Me Free becomes more of a general thriller story with a creepy bad guy.

This was one of my attempt to read outside my preferred genre and while it was a difficult read due to subject matter, it’s a well-crafted story with characters that I genuinely feared for and a plot that moves rapidly from bleak to bleaker before everything explodes into one massively heart-pounding scene. Everything was a little too “it happens in real life” for my comfort, but it’s a well-written book that easily put me out of my comfort zone. If you’re into contemporary crime thrillers, Cut Me Free is worth giving a shot.

 

I received a free ARC of this book from the publisher in return for an honest review. Thoughts are all my own.

Review: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Gone Girl
Gillian Flynn

Crown Publishers
Released June 5, 2012
419 pages
Thriller

Find it on Goodreads

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Indie Bound

On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick’s clever and beautiful wife disappears. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn’t doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife’s head, but passages from Amy's diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media—as well as Amy’s fiercely doting parents—the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he’s definitely bitter—but is he really a killer?

Oh man, I actively avoided this book in 2012 when it was the big “It” book of the summer. I do things like that – purposely avoid things that are popular. I’m not really sure why, but in this case, a thriller about married people just did not press any of my buttons. I didn’t read much about it or know anything about the plot. For some reason I thought it was about college a missing college student for a while.

But then they made it into a movie and the previews looked very intriguing. So several years late, I got the book from the library and dived in. I figured a change from my usual YA / science fiction / fantasy rotation would be good for me. So how’d the change work out for me?

BIG GIANT SPOILERS FOR THIS BOOK – LIKE THE BIGGEST OF ALL THE SPOILERS

Read More

Mini Review: Free to Fall by Lauren Miller

Free to Fall
Lauren Miller

HarperTeen
I received an ARC through the Around the World ARC tour.
Releases May 13, 2014
469 pages
YA / SciFi / Thriller

Find it on Goodreads

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Indie Bound

What if there was an app that told you what song to listen to, what coffee to order, who to date, even what to do with your life—an app that could ensure your complete and utter happiness? What if you never had to fail or make a wrong choice?

What if you never had to fall?

Fast-forward to a time when Apple and Google have been replaced by Gnosis, a monolith corporation that has developed the most life-changing technology to ever hit the market: Lux, an app that flawlessly optimizes decision making for the best personal results. Just like everyone else, sixteen-year-old Rory Vaughn knows the key to a happy, healthy life is following what Lux recommends. When she’s accepted to the elite boarding school Theden Academy, her future happiness seems all the more assured. But once on campus, something feels wrong beneath the polished surface of her prestigious dream school. Then she meets North, a handsome townie who doesn’t use Lux, and begins to fall for him and his outsider way of life. Soon, Rory is going against Lux’s recommendations, listening instead to the inner voice that everyone has been taught to ignore — a choice that leads her to uncover a truth neither she nor the world ever saw coming.

I really wish I kept notes while reading books. That way, when some huge life event pulls me away from writing reviews and completely overtakes my day-to-day existence for a chunk of time, I don’t come back to my queue of review books and have nothing much to say about a book I read a month ago. The problem is that I don’t have specifics for Free to Fall, mostly I just remember the way it made me feel.

I remember being leery of the cover, which makes it looked like a non-descript fluffy contemporary romance. I remember being stupid giddy multiple times as pieces fell into place in just the perfect way. I remember heaving a huge sign of complete satisfaction when I came to the end and a sudden overwhelming desire to read Miller’s other book Parallel, which has been sitting on my bookshelf with its similar fluffy contemporary romance cover since before it came out last year. I remember thinking it was amazing that, after a dull 2013 reading, I’d managed to read enough amazing books, including Free to Fall, to possibly make up my top 10 for 2014 in the first two months of the year.

What I do remember about Free to Fall is the science fiction world of the future that was only just out of reach of current technology. Everyone uses Lux to make their decisions for them, which makes life easier and society is just a bunch of sheep following the decisions of some tech geek masterminds who programed Lux in the first place. When Rory goes off to an elite boarding school, she meets a slacker townie, who refuses to follow everyone else and avoids Lux. Together they fall down a rabbit hole of conspiracies and everything gets progressively more sci-fi thriller and exciting. There are secret societies, creepy faculty members and mysterious disappearances.

I loved this book and had I written this review a month ago, it would be all sorts of babbling about how brilliant it is. Rory is smart and intuitive, forced to discover difficult truths and essentially shatter her life to find truth. North is the adorable rebel punk with a Mohawk and an attitude towards authority figures, but is really just a super softy. Free to Fall had everything I could want in a book hidden beneath a generic and unappealing-to-me cover. It’s a standalone that is so completely satisfying from beginning to end that I immediately wanted to go back and read it again. Highly recommend.

 

I received an ARC through the Around the World ARC tour in return for an honest review. The book has long since left my possession.

Author Blog Tour Review: Find Me By Romily Bernard

Welcome to the Working for the Mandroid stop on Romily Bernard's blog tour for Find Me, a suspense filled novel starring teenage hacker Wick and the trouble that insists on following her around. We are pleased to take part in the tour, hosted by The Fantastic Flying Book Club. Find Me comes out on September 24 and in celebration there is going to be a Twitter party hosted by Nova Lee Zaiden (@novablogder) starting at 7PM EST on Tuesday with Romily giving away signed hard copies of Find Me every ten minutes!

Also make sure to enter the contest at the end of our stop to win a copy of Find Me from the author!

Find Me
Romily Bernard

HarperTeen
I received an e-ARC of the book as part of participating in this tour.
Releases September 24, 2013
307 pages
YA / Suspense

GOODREADSAMAZON - BOOK DEPOSITORY
BARNES & NOBLE - INDIEBOUND

“Find Me.”

These are the words written on Tessa Waye’s diary. The diary that ends up with Wick Tate. But Tessa’s just been found . . . dead.

Wick has the right computer-hacking skills for the job, but little interest in this perverse game of hide-and-seek. Until her sister Lily is the next target.

Then Griff, trailer-park boy next door and fellow hacker, shows up, intent on helping Wick. Is a happy ending possible with the threat of Wick’s deadbeat dad returning, the detective hunting him sniffing around Wick instead, and a killer taunting her at every step?

Foster child. Daughter of a felon. Loner hacker girl. Wick has a bad attitude and sarcasm to spare.

But she’s going to find this killer no matter what.

Because it just got personal.

This book has no monsters, no spaceships, no time travel, no alternate realties, and no superpowers. Everything that happens could possible happen in real life and all the characters could truly exist. In other words, this isn’t my usual sort of book and yet everything about it pulled me in. Something about a teenage hacker with a chip on her shoulder hunting down a killer who toys with victims with the assistance of a boy from the wrong side of the tracks pulled me away from my fantasy worlds and dragged me into the stark light of realty. And I’m glad it did.

Bernard has crafted a tightly woven thriller with a realistic protagonist with trust issues, who desperately wants to belong and yet can’t bring herself to separate from the bleak past in the shadow of a drug dealing father. Even from the relative safety of an upper middle class foster home with kind foster parents, she spends her nights doing investigative work via hacking for jilted housewives and angry business partners to make enough money to run away with her younger sister when this moment of safety inevitably falls apart.

Read More