Review: Unforgotten by Jessica Brody

Unforgotten
Jessica Brody

Farrar, Straus & Giroux
I received an advanced ARC from the publisher in return for an honest review.
Released February 25, 2014
416 pages
YA / SciFi / Time Travel

Find it on Goodreads

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Indie Bound

Some memories are better left forgotten...

After a daring escape from the scientists at Diotech who created her, Seraphina believes she is finally safe from the horrors of her past. But new threats await Sera and her boyfriend, Zen, at every turn as Zen falls prey to a mysterious illness and Sera’s extraordinary abilities make it more and more difficult to stay hidden. Meanwhile, Diotech has developed a dangerous new weapon designed to apprehend her. A weapon that even Sera will be powerless to stop. Her only hope of saving Zen’s life and defeating the company that made her is a secret buried deep within her mind. A secret that Diotech will kill to protect. And it won’t stay forgotten for long.

Packed with mystery, suspense, and romance, this riveting second installment of Jessica Brody’s Unremembered trilogy delivers more heart-pounding action as loyalties are tested, love becomes a weapon, and no one’s memories are safe.

I’m not sure how well I can review Jessica Brody’s Unforgotten. It’s the sequel to Unremembered, which I enjoyed last year. Unfortunately I was in the middle of the book when the parameters of my life drastically changed and a death in the family took all thoughts of reading from my mind for over a week. This reading gap makes it unfair and a bit difficult to review this book, but I’m going to try anyway.

SPOILERS FOR UNREMEMBERED

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Trailer Park Friday: Movies I'd Never Heard Of & Don't Watch Television with Sherlock

My usual trailer watching was supercharged this week due to this handy list of 65 science fiction and fantasy films set to come out in 2014. After a somewhat weak year in movies last year, I'm getting excited at the potential before me. Don't let me down, movie people!

I had never heard of Welcome to Yesterday until I read through that list on io9, but it's an indie comedy about teenagers building a time travel machine. It looks pretty predictable, but there's a tiny piece of me that hopes it's as good as Chronicle, which it keeps getting compared to. It will be released (probably limitedly) on February 28.

And another movie that somehow I had never heard of before now. It's called Under the Skin and it involves Scarlett Johansson playing an alien. It comes out April 4 and it looks bizarre.

Kite is an anime adaptation that I had (yep) never heard before, but it follows in the trend of teenage girl assassin movies soon to be coming out. It has Samuel L Jackson in it and exploding heads. One of my guilty pleasures is watching girl ninjas as lead characters of your standard action fare, but even this looks more like an internet parady video than a legitamate movie. The trailer and some clips are below (originally posted on Bloody Disgusting). There isn't a release date for it scheduled yet.

And finally to lighten the mood - what it would be like to watch television with Sherlock. It was created by Leigh Lahav and, after the twist at the end left me giggling like a mad woman, now I want to watch everything she's ever created. Warning: there are spoilers for other shows like Breaking Bad and Mad Men, but no spoilers for Sherlock. Spoilerphobes watch with care.

And that's it from me this week. What interesting videos or trailers have you come across this week? Link 'em up in the comments.

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Trailer Park Friday: Divergent, Time Travel, Getting Chased By Dinosaurs & More

Yay it's Friday! I hope everyone has an enjoyable weekend and for those of you in the states lucky enough to have Monday off, enjoy your long holiday weekend. Eat lots of ice cream. Because weekends are always good for eating lots of ice cream.

Earlier this week a full trailer for Divergent came out. It includes some footage that wasn't seen at Comic Con and makes me wearily excited for this movie. It comes out March 21.

About Time has a silly title and it's kind of like The Time Traveler's Wife except hopefully not so sad. The trailer aired before our screening of City of Bones last weekend and it looks like a fun rom-com time travel type thing. It comes out November 1. I will be watching Ender's Game.

Here is a clip from the upcoming fourth season of The Walking Dead featuring Michonne being a badass. The show returns October 13.

And now for a few videos that aren't trailers for anything, but were fun videos I stumbled across this week. This one is in Japanese or possibly Korean, so you don't even really need sound to watch it. It's quite possibly the best prank I've seen in some time. It's a pretty awesome costume.

This is a fan trailer for Man of Steel 2. It's spliced together clips from a bunch of movies in an attempt to justify that maybe Ben Affleck isn't such a bad choice for Batman. I'm still unconvinced.

And finally a really interesting stop motion paper animation about human anatomy. It's more entertaining than it sounds.

The Human Body (stop-motion!) from kellianderson on Vimeo.

That's all I have for this week's Trailer Park Friday. What interesting videos have crossed your path this week? Link up in the comments!

Review: Untimed by Andy Gavin

Untimed
Andy Gavin

Mascherato
Released December 17, 2012
325 pages
Sci-fi / Time Travel / ROBOTS!

Find it on GoodReads

Order it from Amazon

Charlie’s the kind of boy that no one notices. Hell, even his own mother can’t remember his name. And girls? The invisible man gets more dates.

 

As if that weren’t enough, when a mysterious clockwork man tries to kill him in modern day Philadelphia, and they tumble through a hole into 1725 London, Charlie realizes even the laws of time don’t take him seriously.

Still, this isn’t all bad. In fact, there’s this girl, another time traveler, who not only remembers his name, but might even like him! Unfortunately, Yvaine carries more than her share of baggage: like a baby boy and at least two ex-boyfriends! One’s famous, the other’s murderous, and Charlie doesn’t know who is the bigger problem.

When one kills the other — and the other is nineteen year-old Ben Franklin — things get really crazy. Can their relationship survive? Can the future? Charlie and Yvaine are time travelers, they can fix this — theoretically — but the rules are complicated and the stakes are history as we know it.

And there's one more wrinkle: he can only travel into the past, and she can only travel into the future!

Last year I had the luck to review Andy Gavin’s The Darkening Dream, which turned out to be a seriously creepy horror novel with proper vampires and interesting religious mythology that I wish I had more personal background knowledge regarding. So of course when it was brought to my attention that Gavin’s next book involved time travel and CLOCKWORK ROBOTS, I was all in, head-first.

Gavin handles the time travel elements and plot points well enough to make a satisfying book. It’s his narrator that drove me crazy. Perhaps I wasn’t in the mood to deal with the sex-soaked thoughts of a 15-year-old boy or maybe I’m prudish enough that the sexual relationship between the 18-ish year old Yvaine, who lives with a band of thugs, is a teenage mother and pickpockets in 18th century London and a modern day 15-year-old boy made me want to throw the book across the room and wash my hands.

At no point does the writing become graphic, but there’s something about hearing about it from the point of view of a teenage boy that squicks me out in a way that having it filtered through most YA female protags doesn’t (though I think the stark age gap would still bother me if the narrator was female). Perhaps if the same events had happened from a 3rd person POV, it wouldn’t have had the same effect. Then of course there’s chauvinistic references of ownership of Yvaine making my eye twitch and my need for someone to slap Charlie upside the head on a regular basis.

So basically I had issues with Untimed and they are all my issues, not the book’s. While Untimed doesn’t feel as polished or as well-knitted as The Darkening Dream, the world’s mythology is a lot of fun and the time travel rules make for some interesting conundrums more often than not. There are actual and obvious consequences to Charlie’s meddling and the more he pushes to set things right, the more he destroys his own future world. The clockwork mercenaries are suitably creepy and interesting, though it’s still unclear their origin, and the malevolent purpose seems a little two-dimensional to be the whole story.

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Blog Tour Review: Keeper of the Black Stones by PT McHugh

 

Welcome to the Working for the Mandroid stop on PT McHugh's blog tour to promote his upcoming book,Keeper of the Black Stones. This book combines fantasy elements of time travel and superpowers with historical fiction taking place during the War of the Roses in 15th century England. Thank you to Pump Up Your Books for having us as a host on the tour. You can find the rest of the tour dates on the tour page.

 

Keeper of the Black Stones
PT McHugh

Glass House Press
Releases February 26, 2013
369 pages
YA / Fantasy / Time Travel

Find it on Goodreads

Preorder it from Amazon 

Jason Evans, a shy, introverted high school freshman, thought that his mundane life was all there was – girls, golf, physics, and the occasional bully. Until he found out about the secrets his grandfather had been keeping from him … a set of stones that allowed them to jump through time … a maniacal madman who used the stones to shape history to his liking … and Jason’s role as one of the few people in the world who could stop that man.

Against impossible odds, a fourteen-year-old boy must take up his legacy, learn everything he needs to know within one short day, and travel helter skelter into the Middle Ages, to join Henry VII’s fight against Richard III, end the Dark Ages, and stop the man who now holds his grandfather captive. In this romp through history, Jason and his friends must race against time to accomplish not one, but two missions.

Save his grandfather.

And save the world.

Keeper of the Black Stones is an interesting book that seems to live in between the spaces of several categories. It’s equal parts fantasy and historical fiction with its roots feeling as though they are firmly implanted in the lore of King Arthur fables. Perhaps it was the marathon watching of Merlin while recovering from bronchitis, but the second half of this book had me firmly implanted in an epic journey full of mystery, intrigue and the possibility of magical moments happening at every turn despite the entire book taking part in our own world. I had a hard time deciding if this is middle grade or YA, probably because Jason and his friends read as actual 15-year-olds rather than the wise-beyond-their-years protagonists of many YA titles these days.

Jason’s story starts when he accidentally grabs his grandfather’s bag instead of his own. Inside is his grandfather’s journal, filled with fantastical tales of time travel back to the Dark Ages in attempt to maintain the historical results of the War of the Roses, a conflict being manipulated against history by a psychotic modern man who goes by the name of Dresden. As most normal teenage boys would, he thinks his 70-something year old grandfather has gone a bit mental and is quickly headed down the road of senility. It’s not long though before Jason and his best friend Paul discover the secret stone beneath the shed that can actually transport people to the 15th century. When the stone starts talking to him and showing him visions, Jason finds himself and his friends on an epic journey through the British countryside while foes chase them from all sides.

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Review: Obsidian Mirror by Catherine Fisher

Obsidian Mirror
Catherine Fisher

Dial
Releases April 23, 2013
384 pages
Middle Grade / Fantasy

Find it on Goodreads

Preorder it on Amazon

Jake's father disappears while working on mysterious experiments with the obsessive, reclusive Oberon Venn. Jake is convinced Venn has murdered him. But the truth he finds at the snow-bound Wintercombe Abbey is far stranger ... The experiments concerned a black mirror, which is a portal to both the past and the future. Venn is not alone in wanting to use its powers. Strangers begin gathering in and around Venn's estate: Sarah - a runaway, who appears out of nowhere and is clearly not what she says, Maskelyne - who claims the mirror was stolen from him in some past century. There are others, a product of the mirror's power to twist time. And a tribe of elemental beings surround this isolated estate, fey, cold, untrustworthy, and filled with hate for humans. But of them all, Jake is hell-bent on using the mirror to get to the truth. Whatever the cost, he must learn what really happened to his father.

This is a middle grade book, right? For some reason I thought the characters were older teenagers, but it all read very young. Other than that, Obsidian Mirror is a hodgepodge of story plots jammed together and tied by a obsidian piece of glass. There is time travel, fae, a potential apocalypse, a few pages of boarding school intrigue, Victorian drama, mad scientist type people, a kidnapped boy, a plot to change time, and many other things. Looking back, I’m not sure how it all fit together, but the story reads well and somehow manages to fit together into a book with a lot of characters for a middle grade book.

It all revolves around Jake, a distraught boy with a missing father who has just attacked a fellow student to get sent back to England to live with his hermit god father. Somehow his teacher, an ex-military man who now teaches drama to privileged school boys, gets roped in and sent back with Jake. They arrive at Oberon Venn’s house soon after a runaway named Sarah has climbed through Venn’s study window after being chased by a wolf and creepy soldier. Venn lives as a shut in with his servant, who makes random mention of being owned by Venn. Another man, named Maskelyne, seems to be around every corner, hoping to get a hold of the mirror while Rebecca, a townie, pops up regularly when she’s not necessarily wanted. Then there’s Gabriel, Summer and some assorted fae characters wandering in an eternity summer forest in the middle of the Venn estate, currently disappearing beneath an epic blizzard.

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