Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Ashfall by Mike Mullin

Alex couldn't wait for his parents and bratty little sister to leave.  This would be the first time he'd be spending summer at home alone.  It was all about World of Warcraft and whatever he wanted to do.  No more nagging from his mom.  No more disinterested looks from his dad.  He couldn't wait....

But that was yesterday.  Today, all he can think about is his family.  His house burned down to the ground.  His eardrums are near to bursting with the sound filling the air for hours on end.  The unending ash from the sky.  No phones, no electricity....this is the new life he'll need to get used to.  A super volcano in Yellowstone erupted, and Alex is now in the red zone.

After seeing the horror of his neighbor defending his home from thugs, Alex has a target in mind.  He's decided to go from Iowa to Illinois to get to his Uncle Warren's home where the rest of the family is.  He has no idea who he'll meet, or what his obstacles are, but he's determined to do this.

Dangers await him at every turn, but the biggest danger of all is the threat of no water or food.  Ash has covered and killed everything, and armed only with a backpack of supplies, Alex knows what starvation feels like.  He also knows the dangers of people now desperate for any food, water or supplies - even if it means killing for it. 

Mike Mullin, welcome to the world of YA!!  For a first novel, this natural disaster adventure book will fill the spot of anyone looking for a thrilling read.  Although at times predictable, it nonetheless has the qualities of a thriller to keep the reader wondering what will happen to the main character.  Very much along the lines of Susn Pfeffer's trilogy, the first book of Mullin's series ends perfectly, without that
cliff-hanger ending that precludes to another book.  It is satisfying and stands on its own easily.  The plot as well as the science behind the super volcano is very well thought out and Mullin's imagination depicts the levels humanity will go to in order to survive.  Recommended

Thursday, May 17, 2012

New book trailer: Blood Red Road by Moira Young

I can't believe I haven't picked up this book yet!  Those of you who are thirsty for more Hunger Games type books will love this one!  The characters are vivid, the setting dynamic, the plot runs smooth. 

The only difference I could find is that this dystopian book is void of technology - the Wreckers, those humans who lived in the past, completely decimated society and their environments.  The characters in this one have to start over from the start.

If you've ever read a book with dialect (think Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain) you'll also find it in this book, but it isn't so difficult to read that you'd put it down.  It only adds to the layer of a future society trying to turn itself around from the ruins of nothing.

Saba is a strong female character who has prowess, cunning and talent she didn't know she possesses.  The people she meets are vile, evil, insane as well as those who are survivors, fighters, and thinkers. 

In this future where the rulers want to make the general population subservient through chaal, a plant with drug-inducing power, it takes a handful of people like Saba to begin the destruction of this corrupt part of civilation. 

Part of this novel reminded me so much of dystopian fiction, but another part of me recognized the hero's journey and instantly thought of fantasy.  There are no mythological beasts, but Saba's crow Nero does play into the story. 
LOVED IT!!  Here's a trailer I created for the book.  It'll be on Youtube shortly....was taking a long time to process.  So here's the link to the one on the NHS Library webpage:
It can be downloaded as well


Youtube link:

BTW, there are currently two covers that I know of for this first book.  The top is the original one - I like it better than the revamped version, personally.  Colors seem to work better for me.


Monday, May 7, 2012

The Strange Case of Doctor Jekyll & Mademoiselle Odile

by James Reese, Roaring Brook Press 2012

The year is 1876, a bloody and bad time for Paris.  First the Prussians invade, causing mass starvation in the city.  Then the Communards fight back, starting a civil war, killing tens of thousands of people.  But it's the first invasion that created a monster... or two, quite by accident.

Odile and her little brother, Grulechon, had sought the refuge of Paris after their parents were murdered for being Cagot witches.  With little else to survive on, a kind woman took in the two orphans.  The only things Odile had of her mother's was a waistlet containing her mother's precious books, and some vials of herbs and other assorted things Odile has no knowledge of. 

Now, years later, Odile is selling rats as food, and running from her latest experiment, which has turned a chimpanzee into a murderous feral animal.  And as she's running away, she runs right into a very young Henry Jekyll, lately of London...

Through as series of coincidences, Odile once again is forced into Dr. Jekyll's path, the latest being an eye infection that is causing her little brother blindness and pain.  Henry offers Odile into his home so he can treat her little brother, Grulechon, and slowly a companionship builds up.  But this companionship quickly turns into the twists and turns of spying and sabotage as Henry sees what happens to Grulechon when Odile takes matters....and witchery....into her own hands. 

Dr. Jekyll very much wants those transforming salts, and when he gets them, and Mr. Hyde comes out, the war in Paris goes from outside to inside the mansion Odile is part prisoner to.  But the salts are running out...what is the secret Odile is hiding, and can she keep Mr. Hyde at bay?  How far will Jekyll/Hyde go to get what they want, and how far is Odile willing to go to keep that secret?

What an excellent mixture of historical fact with historical fiction!  Akin to Oppel's This Last Endeavor, a tweak on a classic becomes a brand new YA fiction book that will lure readers to the classic tale. James Reese relies on all of  to create a newly formed Henry Jekyll in his younger years, and the recounting of what happened before the famous Robert Louis Stevenson classic, where Dr. Jekyll is an older man in England.  With a small cast of characters in a rich background of Paris in turmoil, those YA readers of historical fiction and fantasy will enjoy losing themselves in this book.   Inset of a map of Paris is especially helpful.  Recommended.