Category Archives: Angry-Robot

The Blue Blazes

TheBlueBlazes-144dpiThe Blue Blazes by Chuck Wendig

Series: Mookie Pearl #1

Genre: Adventure, Fantasy, Adult

The Plot
The Blue Blazes draws together the criminal, gangster underworld and supernatural happenings to give a rather unique take on an urban-fantasy novel. There may be creatures of the dark that haunt your nightmares, but the key feature of the novel surrounds drugs. The ‘blue blazes’ that provide supernatural strength, endurance and enhanced senses is the drug everyone wants to have on their side in battle. However it isn’t that only drug that everyone is searching for, as the main character Mookie uncovers.

Mookie Pearl is a man involved in both the supernatural and gangster underworld, but his family life also crosses over between the two and the novel follows him, and his spats with his daughter that adds yet another dynamic to this urban-fantasy novel.

The Review

 

Chuck Wendig is an author that not everyone will appreciate, but I read the first two books in his Miriam Black series and enjoyed them, I was curious to test out another series by him. However, like with the Miriam Black series he does not shy away from the violence and brutality, harsh language and rather grumpy, sometimes dislikeable characters that characterised the Miriam Black series. Nevertheless, he has a fantastic imagination, and if you don’t mind those sorts of things, delving into The Blue Blazes is an exciting, unique journey that served to keep my interest!

The Blue Blazes is not to me the typical urban-fantasy novel, which I think sets it head and shoulders apart from its genre. Wendig takes on something a little more adventurous and more applicable to modern day and succeeds with flying colours to craft it into a believable, exciting and scary fantasy world. After all, we have drugs in our world, why can’t there be ones that bring about supernatural changes?

Mookie Pearl admittedly is not an easy man to like, he doesn’t make the best life choices and his conflict with his daughter and seeming ignorance of her life makes him seem like a poor father figure. Throughout the novel he doesn’t really seem to make real attempts to mend the broken relationship and whilst his daughter and her wild attempts on her father’s life when she opposes his gang seem to make such things difficult, he still seems to be a rather harsh character. However, he does undergo some character development in terms of sorting out his family relations that redeems him in my eyes. He’s also not the typical main character that usually stares in the books I read and I enjoyed exiting from my comfort zone. Especially since he has a strong sense of identity developed and he is a hard-man with a lot of gruff, ready-to-roll style.

The Blue Blazes has a lot to offer in terms of fantasy and criminal underground dynamics that makes it unusual. It’s exciting, tense and it has tonnes of potential for the future series. I am definitely intrigued to know more about the origins of the drugs, what will happen with them all and especially the gang dynamics after things collapse a little at the end of The Blue Blazes. One thing this novel was not, was predictable and I will definitely be looking out to get my hands on the second instalment of the Mookie Pearl series. This might not be your usual type of book, but definitely take a leap of faith and try The Blue Blazes, as I think any fantasy fan can appreciate Wendig’s innovative slant on the criminal underground!

Historical Survival Chances

I have been contemplating for a short time now, how I rate books, and whilst I might give this book a solid 4.5 stars, will it last into the future? Will people in 20-30 maybe even 100 years time be reading Chuck Wendig like we read Mary Shelley or Dickens?

Wendig is innovative and creative enough that I think in the genre of urban-fantasy, he might stand a strong chance of being read well into the future. So I will be applying a survival chance percentage and an expiration date to the novel when I think people might no longer hold interest in these types of things.

Survival Chance: 65%    

Expiration Date: 2064

Favourite Quotes

“The Blazes are like that: the blue stuff doesn’t merely tear aside the facade to reveal the monsters, but when on it, the whole of the Underworld pulses with a different kind of energy.”

“The saying goes that there is more below the streets of New York City than there is above them. An exaggeration by those who say it, perhaps, but they don’t known just how accurate that statement truly is. Hell’s heart, as it turns out, has many chambers.”

 

Rating: 4.5 / 5 Stars

Goodreads ~ Amazon UK / US ~ Author’s Website

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Filed under 2013 Publication, 4.5 Books, Adult, Adventure, Angry-Robot, Chuck Wendig, E-book, Fantasy, Uncategorized

The Mad Scientist’s Daughter

Mad Scientist's Daughter

The Mad Scientist’s Daughter by Cassandra Rose Clarke

Genre: Science-fiction, Romance, Adult

Expected Publication: February 7th 2013 by Angry Robot

The Plot.

“Cat, this is Finn. He’s going to be your tutor.”

He looks, and acts human, though he has no desire to be. He was programmed to assist his owners, and performs his duties to perfection. A billion-dollar construct, his primary task now is to tutor Cat. As she grows into a beautiful young woman, Finn is her guardian, her constant companion… and more.

But when the government grants rights to the ever-increasing robot population, however, Finn struggles to find his place in the world.

The Review.

The Mad Scientist’s Daughter is a novel that moved me to tears. I truly did not expect to feel so emotional about a robot. I mean a robot to me has always been metal pieces controlled with complicated electronic circuits inside and sometimes, occasionally the robot may have a system that allows responses. However, Finn is a robot like no other. He was human, he felt human to me and ultimately I couldn’t displace him as not being human and this humanity that surrounded Finn made his story all the more heart-breaking because whilst our protagonist is following Cat growing up from a very young age to her later years which works surprisingly well across the novel, I felt that there was a strong focus through the novel on Finn and that viewing the world through his eyes would have really changed the workings of the novel because I would love to get into his mind and delve further because he has a complex character that is still hard to pinpoint by the end of the novel. I am frankly enamoured with Finn and this is probably why I sobbed quite a lot when reading The Mad Scientist’s Daughter.

“His eyes loomed steadily in the buzzing light of the porch. His skin was much too fair, sallow beneath the swath of black hair that flopped across his forehead.”

Don’t get me wrong, this novel is far from being faultless, but I did really enjoy the novel. The Mad Scientist’s Daughter is a gritty novel that whilst it delves into the world of science-fiction, it touches on friendship, relationships, loss, grief and a changing world. It isn’t full of flowers and happiness, Clarke shows her versatility as an author as she takes on loss of close family relations, abusive relationships and coming to terms with your feelings for others and the meanings that truly lay behind these. I think the cover perfectly encapsulates the kind of desolation that The Mad Scientist’s Daughter delves into and the moon that becomes a very vital part of the story. If you are looking for a happy novel, then The Mad Scientist’s Daughter is not it and I suggest you run far away. However if you want something that’s gritty, emotional and an all around rollercoaster, but still manages to end of a moment of hope and love then pick up The Mad Scientist’s Daughter because I don’t see how it cannot fail to wow.

Cat is the protagonist of this tale and she’s a very complex character. Her relationship with her parents is rather turbulent, but I am thankful to say they are not absent. They show concern for her and whilst they aren’t always present they genuinely care for her welfare and their actions dictate that they only endeavour to give her the best with pushing her. Despite all of this, Cat is not a happy character and she comes with her fair share of her problems. Personally, her isolation as a child with only her robot tutor, Finn, for company and then her friendship group of rather unstable, gothic junkies through high-school lead me to say that this clearly influences Cat’s rather wild behaviour. She’s not an easy character to get along with and whilst I can’t say I liked her, I could connect with her and I found her issues and feelings moving and turbulent. She clearly felt conflicted throughout the novel about Finn and what he can actually be to her, after all, he is a robot and she can’t fathom his nature. It’s rather sad their relationship and the pushing and pulling that takes place and it’s always one of my favourite aspects of a romance to see a rocky path to love and these two take a real roller-coaster. Cat through the end of it, manages to stick to her beliefs after being a very flighty and indecisive character throughout particularly when she lost herself. I did like that she seemed to have matured and found a semblance of who she truly was by the end of the novel and this allowed me to like her more by the end.

“You’re welcome.” He regarded her with his dark eyes. Cat crawled forward on her bed and reached across the chasm between them to pull the chair, with him in it, closer to her.”

The one thing that I didn’t like about The Mad Scientist’s Daughter is that we had very little background to the state of the world and what had happened. Clare seemed to skip straight  over this and I was always hoping that we get some idea of what this “destruction” was and the extremes temperatures they had which all led to the robots being brought in to rebuild the world. I felt we had a great lack of world building for the past and this was Clare just seemed to drop. Everything else about the novel excelled because it was so character driven with fantastic, primary and secondary characters, but the history of the world seemed to vanish. For me, with this, Clare’s novel would be in a whole other league, but nevertheless I still enjoyed it immensely.

Finn is a robot and that will not change no matter how much humanity you apply to him and this was an interesting concept to deal with. I can see how this may make some people uncomfortable in reading because of that, but if you look at the perspective of his behaviour and his feelings then he’s not just a hunk of metal. You need to push aside him as a robot, and look at the romance and Finn as a person because he can be moving and he raised emotions in me. He was a character I grew to respect and love and he’s the reason I kept crying. If it were not for Finn, I do not think The Mad Scientist’s Daughter would be quite the same and I’m afraid my favourite Star Wars robot, C-3PO has been replaced by a new one who’s after my heart. Clare clearly excelled with Finn’s character and I think she worked wonders on the angle of the robot. She also followed this up with protests and underground groups working to gain rights for robots and the changing environment of the world meant that robots were being accepted and I liked the political aspect of the novel and Finn’s character because he was clearly entangled with these elements.

“I can’t tell you what it means to be the only one of my kind,” he said. “I can’t… There is a lack in myself. But your thesis almost filled it in. It was… a start.”

Clare does a fantastic job of building up secondary characters and relationships outside of Finn and Cat because the novel does focus on their relationship it does not solely revolve around it. Clare builds a world up around Cat, so we can only see the world and the people that she connects with. Outside of this we are blank, but because Cat seems to run into lots of people it actually works surprisingly well because we don’t feel confined to just a few characters. The strongest characters I feel are Cat’s parents and in particular her father who plays the strongest secondary character in the novel, but this is probably important because he is the “Mad Scientist”. I didn’t think this aspect of the novel was played on strongly enough about him being the “Mad Scientist” because whilst Cat dealt with issues from other teenagers it was never truly explored. The meaning of this name is implied, but it’s never stated obviously and I think Clare could have explored it a lot further to a greater advantage of her novel.

Through The Mad Scientist’s Daughter Clare presents her versatility of an author to broach both into Young Adult fiction and Adult fiction as you may more commonly know her as the author of The Assassin’s Curse and this novel is incredibly different. I like that the two novels were very different and reflected two entirely different meanings and that she didn’t try to apply the style of The Assassin’s Curse to The Mad Scientist’s Daughter because she made them two entirely different things. If I’m honest, I enjoyed The Mad Scientist’s Daughter more because I thought it was more developed in meaning, but that The Assassin’s Curse has the stronger world foundations. Either way I recommend both novels without reserve, but suggest if you prefer young-adult that you stick to Clare’s The Assassin’s Curse.

Overall, whilst I can nit-pick at The Mad Scientist’s Daughter and I do not see it as a perfect novel, it is one that I could connect and enjoy despite my emotional outbursts and this is what makes it one of my favourite releases of the year so far. Perfection does not always equate to enjoyment in my opinion, so I think despite the few points of contention that you may have with The Mad Scientist’s Daughter or people’s queasy reaction over Finn as a robot, you shouldn’t disregard this novel because it is definitely a stunner in the making. There are lots of brilliant elements that The Mad Scientist’s Daughter manages to encapsulate with the emotion, the characterisation, the politics and the pacing that whilst this novel pushes being quite lengthy keeps it moving and kept me reading. I’ll be looking out for more works from Clare because she’s an author to watch out for.

*quotes taken from an uncorrected arc e-copy provided by Angry Robot via NetGalley.

5 books 

 

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Filed under 2013 Publication, 5 Books, Adult, Angry-Robot, Cassandra Rose Clarke, E-book, Romance, Science-Fiction

Mockingbird

Mockingbird

Mockingbird by Chuck Wendig

Series: Miriam Black #2

Genre: Fantasy, Horror, Thriller

Published: August 28th 2012 by Angry Robot

The Plot.

Miriam is trying. Really, she is.

But this whole “settling down thing” that Louis has going for her just isn’t working out. She lives on Long Beach Island all year around. Her home is a run-down double-wide trailer. She works at a grocery store as a check-out girl. And her relationship with Louis–who’s on the road half the time in his truck–is subject to the piss and vinegar Miriam brings to everything she does.
It just isn’t going well. Still, she’s keeping her psychic ability–to see when and how someone is going to die just by touching them–in check. But even that feels wrong somehow. Like she’s keeping a tornado stoppered up in a tiny bottle.

Then comes one bad day that turns it all on her ear.

My Review.

Chuck Wendig’s sequel to Blackbirds in the Miriam Black series took to a different direction than I expected in Mockingbird and I didn’t quite connect with it as much which is unfortunate to say. Blackbirds unexpectedly surprised me and I was looking forward to starting Mockingbird however it was a little more dark and twisted than I expected and maybe could stomach. Miriam seemed to kick up the violence, language and lonely solo act in this novel and I didn’t appreciate the move away from the romance that kindled in the previous novel which I think represented a light of hope in the novel. However, I felt things were really strained in this novel and they took a lot darker approach in the aspect that the characters really looked inside themselves.

I think my main problem came with Mockingbird in that I didn’t actually like Miriam’s character as much. Before she was bad-ass problematic woman who was a little eccentric. However, Miriam pushed everybody away in this novel, she seemed to be hating on the entire world and she took a trip into the past. I think I’ll be more intrigued to witness the resolving off the issues that Miriam has in the next instalment because we’ll finally be getting to the core of her issues. I just felt like as a character she didn’t make a lot of progress in this novel, she seemed to bounce of walls and fire insults at everybody. She did make some character connections with new people, but these were all underlying with foreboding and death which makes my stomach churn at the thought in nervous anticipation. I can appreciate that Wendig does not creep around the idea of death and destruction and he shows this through Miriam pretty brutally which is why I didn’t like her character for this novel because she became a little harder and colder. However, he has to be applauded for stepping where other authors tend to shy away from.

“Each song of an album, each page of a book, every panel of every comic, they’re all doorways, little escape hatches where Miriam can flee the sad shadows of this life.”

Louis is a character that seemed to make some development in this novel with uncovering some of his issues with Miriam. However again, we’re still not at the bottom of his problems and I hope he returns to resolve these because just like Miriam his life is full of problems. Wendig certainly doesn’t sprinkle fairy dust over people and Louis has lots of demons I feel still left to fight, so I hope we haven’t seen the back of him.

Nevertheless what I did love was the return of the crass humour and eccentric behaviour that occurred in Mockingbird that so reminded me of Blackbirds which was a new venture for me into a book I probably wouldn’t usually read. Mockingbird is not for the faint-hearted and if you are a little queasy or put off my bad language, death and lots of violence I would suggest avoiding this series all-together. However if you want something that delves into the darkness of humanity, something crazy with talking-birds, visions, death warnings and all kinds of crazed happenings then Mockingbird and Blackbirds are the perfect book for you. I think Wendig manages to develop his very own genre with these two books that isn’t alike anything I’ve read and this unique nature that he brings is a reason that I still manage to enjoy this book.

One thing I did love about Mockingbird were the chapter titles. They always manage to make me chuckle and I think Wendig has something very new and encapsulated Miriam’s character perfectly who is our protagonist and narrator and I think this engages your attention before the chapter even begins to keep reading and explore further into the mind of Miriam Black.

“Lords of Google, Hear my Plaintive Cries.”

Despite not enjoying Mockingbird as much as the first novel in the Miriam Black series, I will be continuing with it and looking out for what exciting adventure comes next because dark and gritty this series is and I think it still manages to be innovative and exploring into the dark nature that lays latent in so many books.

*quotes taken from an uncorrected arc copy so may change on the original version provided through NetGalley from Angry Robot.

3.5 books

Extra Nerdy

Chuck Wendig has a rather awesome blog that runs under the name terribleminds and there are lots of cool features over there with short stories he has free and all about his other work in the world of gaming, writing novels and short stories and screenplays. A very cool guy. He also has lots of interesting, awesome pictures on his blog too. terrible minds

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Filed under 2012 Publication, 3.5 Books, Adult, Angry-Robot, Chuck Wendig, E-book, Fantasy, Horror, Thriller

The Assassin’s Curse

The Assassin's Curse

The Assassin’s Curse by Cassandra Rose Clarke

Genre: Fantasy, Young-Adult

Series: The Assassin’s Curse #1

Expected Publication: October 2nd 2012 by Strange Chemistry

Ananna of the Tanarau abandons ship when her parents try to marry her off to an allying pirate clan: she wants to captain her own boat, not serve as second-in-command to her handsome yet clueless fiance. But her escape has dire consequences when she learns the scorned clan has sent an assassin after her.

And when the assassin, Naji, finally catches up with her, things get even worse. Ananna inadvertently triggers a nasty curse — with a life-altering result. Now Ananna and Naji are forced to become uneasy allies as they work together to break the curse and return their lives back to normal. Or at least as normal as the lives of a pirate and an assassin can be.

Review:

It took me a while to come to my conclusion on this story, but then I realised that I really adored the novel. This book really left my thoughts in a muddle because it was entirely unexpected. We start out seemingly simplistic with a runaway girl on a camel and then the story blossoms into one of wit, adventure, magic and most of all friendship. It’s truly stunning! Not only that, but this is a novel where the cover doesn’t deceive you about the story, it is truly beautiful and captures the essence of the tale.

My connection with the main character was instantaneous; I truly found it hard not to love her. Ananna has to be one of the best female characters I’ve read! She was independent, strong, fiery and her humour really had me giggling away. Since she took on a more dry, sarcastic tone to her humour, I found that I could really appreciate her character.

“Well, I think we should discuss the matter further.” I stood up. “This don’t just effect you, you know. I had plans. And they didn’t involve tiptoing around so some assassin wouldn’t get a headache.”

When you first meet Naji, it seems that he holds much of the power in his hands being some great assassin and having all these abilities that he’d be above Ananna. But when she talks to him, she brings him to her level and thus we watch their friendship evolve and blossom over the novel. There is an undercurrent of romance, but most of this falls on Anaana’s side, since it’s in first person perspective, it’s hard to gauge Naji’s response whilst he remains so elusive. The romance in this story takes a very back seat and even by the end of the novel we still seem to be waiting for more. Since this is part of a series, I expect future development on the romance to take a stronger tone to the future novels. However, it doesn’t take anything away from not having a strong romance and I think this shows the versatility of the young-adult genre.

Naji was a very mysterious and confined character. It seemed like getting any information from him would be like pulling teeth, so Ananna’s humour was very much needed to balance out his surely behaviour. Particularly when he became difficult.

“We’re close,” Naji said.
“Close to what?” I was hoping he’d trip and give me some kind of hint as to where we were headed.
“The canyon.”
“And what’s in the canyon?”
“A river.”
I didn’t even care that he was weaseling out of telling me anything important. “A river?” I said. “Water?”
“Water generally comprises a river, yes.”

Whilst he might have been a little bit abrasive and surely, he was cute and insecure and I really wanted to cuddle him and beat the bitch who was mean to him with a broomstick. The poor lad was besotted with the river witch and I didn’t like her one bit. Although, my view was probably ever so slightly influenced by Ananna’s hatred of her too. 

Naji thought he was a strong “hero” but didn’t overtake the story with swooping in so many times, since Ananna was equally capable of saving him. Therefore I felt Clarke really brought a balancing act to the novel between their characters.

I though the plot was fast, action packed and thrilling. The setting changes were exciting from the dessert on a camel, to the canyon on a river boat or on an island full of dangers. There wasn’t a moment where we were simply drifting in boredom. I appreciated the ever changing setting and pace of the novel from fights to magical cures and emotional trauma.

“Maybe he’s turned into a fern and I was ripping him into shreds in my fear. I dropped the fern and I stepped back, almost stepping into the fire.”

The magical aspect of this novel was strong, and Ananna’s naivety of magic and sometimes the boundaries was really amusing. However I felt like we could have delved more into the magic aspects and the spells and Naji’s assassin’s world. However, Clarke explains the secrecy, but I feel like I really need to know more about this to understand Naji as a character. For me, it would be interesting to view the world through his eyes for the second novel because I feel like then we’d uncover more of the world and the magic that surrounds it.

I may have a desire for knowledge of more about the worlds and the magical spells that Naji performs, but the writing itself was beautiful. Clarke crafts a scene that brings the smells, the streets and the sea to very life and it wraps you up and really drags you into the pages of The Assassin’s Curse.

Clarke has set up a thrilling debut here, with a lot of potential for more in the second novel. I urge you to pick up this fantasy novel when it hits the shelves because pirates, magic and adventure can be found in abundance and the novel is not corny at all.

My Rating:

4 books

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Thank you to NetGalley and Angry Robot for providing me with a copy of this in exchange for my honest review.

* Quotes are taken from and uncorrected proof copy and may change in the final draft.

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Filed under 2012 Publication, 4 Books, Angry-Robot, Cassandra Rose Clarke, E-book, Fantasy, Young Adult

Blackbirds

BlackbirdsTitle: Blackbirds

Author: Chuck Wendig

Series: Miriam Black #1

Genre: Adult, Fantasy, Thriller

Published: April 24th 2012 by Angry Robot

Plot: Miriam Black knows when you will die. She’s foreseen hundreds of car crashes, heart attacks, strokes, and suicides.
But when Miriam hitches a ride with Louis Darling and shakes his hand, she sees that in thirty days Louis will be murdered while he calls her name. Louis will die because he met her, and she will be the next victim.
No matter what she does she can’t save Louis. But if she wants to stay alive, she’ll have to try.

Review: After seeing some very positive reviews I was determined to like this book, for the first quarter of the book I hated the language, the violence, but I stuck with it. I’m so glad I did because once I finished this book I really enjoyed it.

Miriam is one of the strongest female leads I’ve seen in a while. She stuck to her character traits. She was sarcastic, full of bad habits (smoking, drinking, swearing), didn’t care about people (in general) and was the ‘lowlife’ of society and yet I still managed to love her! Her character came a full cycle around from start to end and I really saw the journey. The story is told through her, but it’s in a third person narrative which worked really well! This enabled Wendig to take us out into the tales of the other characters and develop the secondary characters.

Louis was not a character I really expected to swoon over. He latched onto me and didn’t let go! For me, he was the ultimate strong, caring man who was tormented by his past, but believed in the good of people. He was the ‘swoony’ male of the story for me and his character despite the horror, gore and action of the story brought an essence of romance that I really wasn’t expecting. It wasn’t overly in your face and soppy, it worked naturally into the flow of the book.

There were some things I strongly disliked about this book however:

  • The explicit language became too much for me at times in particular reference to certain words that I find offensive. However it was part of the character’s traits and I learned to get along with it.
  • The gore. Some of it made me shudder, but it was definitely part of the book.

They were a core essence to the book and despite how they turned me off the book at times, it didn’t take away from the thrilling journey the book could give you!

This book really has an effective mixture of fantasy and reality, because it has some brutal scenes that reflected the harsh reality and then we were thrown into dream spaces and visions that really heightened the fantasy side. It was an enjoyable mixture that worked really well.

I can defiantly say I’m excited for the future of Miriam Black and the series that Chuck Wendig will be taking her on. Nothing about this book is predictable and the ending was simplistic and effective. It undermined every great ‘plan’ I expected and worked fantastically well!

This book hasn’t been out long and I did receive it as an ARC from Netgalley but never managed to get around to reading it until after the date. However, I would urge you all to go flock and buy this now! If you enjoy a horror/fantasy story, this one is really for you! It’s got a kick-ass female lead all the way until the end.

*This was provided to be by the publisher via NetGalley*

Rating:

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Filed under 2012 Publication, 4 Books, Adult, Angry-Robot, Chuck Wendig, E-book, Fantasy, Thriller