Monday, June 20, 2011

Interview with Rachel Karns

I have an interview with Rachel Karns, author of Gray, over at the Examiner:

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

Karns is a mom, a runner, an indie author. Go ahead and read the interview. Then read the rest of the stuff I write over there. My birthday is in 16 days, it'll be an early present for me.

I'm an Amazon Associate now. If you click on the Amazon links & buy anything I might make a tiny bit of money.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Gray--Rachel Karns

Title: Gray
Author: Rachel Karns
Publisher: Self-published through, April 7, 2011
Pages: 221 p.
Source: The author
Compensation: None

Gray opens up with a brief preface about a broken man on his way to a blind date who gets hit by a car. The main story starts with a nineteen year old girl Maggie celebrating her birthday alone. Maggie's parents are vacationing in Europe and all her friends have moved on to college, leaving Maggie alone to work in her Dad's jewelry store and reflect on her empty life. She becomes obsessed with a John Doe in the newspaper--a man who is in a coma after recently being hit by a car--and feels a connection with this unclaimed man. On her 19th birthday she does something crazy and decides to visit him in the hospital. The only way she can get to him is by claiming to be his fiance. Her presence helps him and what started out as a one time visit turns into a full blown relationship. He wakes up, they fall in love, but there's a problem. He's 32. And she's lied about everything. There's a subplot about Peter's job studying the reintroduction of wolves into Idaho that is interesting and helps highlight the differences between the grown-up Peter and still teenaged Maggie.

Although this sounds like a romance story, it's really not romance. This is a coming-of-age story. Maggie is young and needs to do a lot of growing up. She needs to find herself and her own identity, outside of her parents and "John Doe". I wanted her to be happy and found myself agreeing with her actions and wanting her to be with Peter, her "John Doe", but author Karns does the right thing and gives her characters what they need and not what we want. The surprise twist at the end was actually pretty predictable, but still satisfying.

Gray is a short quick read that will mostly appeal to girls, especially the young confused ones who don't know which direction their lives should take. There's nothing revolutionary or groundbreaking, but it's an enjoyable story. And Maggie likes to run, which *always* makes stories better.

I'm an Amazon Associate now. If you click on the Amazon links & buy anything I might make a tiny bit of money.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Ashfall--Mike Mullin

Title: Ashfall
Author: Mike Mullin
Publisher: Tanglewood, expected pub date October 2011
Pages: 472 eGalley
Source: Netgalley courtesy of the publisher
Compensation: None

I read this back in May, but May was not a good month for me so I am just now reviewing it. 

Alex is a normal high school boy living in Cedar Falls Iowa when a super-volcano erupts. Although the volcano is at Yellowstone, it's a SUPER one so it causes lots of problems for people all over the country. Unfortunately for Alex, he is alone in his house when the volcano hits it--literally. A piece of rock flies hundreds of miles and destroys part of his house. His parents and sister are visiting family in Illinois, so Alex is completely alone. He starts out staying with his neighbors while the volcano continues to cause havoc and deafening thunderous booms, but quickly decides he needs to get to Illinois to be with his family. There's no public transportation or working cars because of all the falling ash so all Alex can do is walk. Luckily he finds a pair of his father's skis in the garage which makes the walking slightly quicker. Along the way Alex finds helpful people and murderous people. He spends the bulk of his journey with a young girl named Darla, a MacGuyver-type resourceful farmer who teaches him how to survive off the land.

As with most "post apocalyptic" books (and movies), in Ashfall the worst in human nature often comes out. Most people are just out for themselves and are not above killing and raping to get what they want to survive. But author Mullin does a good job of balancing the dark forces of humanity with some genuinely good people who help Alex and Darla on their mission. He also does a good job of showing how truly connected we are as a nation--the volcano physically affects neighboring states but it also has a severe impact on the nation's economy and the food supply. Money is useless if there's no food to buy.

Alex is a little naive at times but he grows up quickly on his journey. He's a good kid and we want him to reach his family. He and Darla fall in love, but it's done realistically and slowly. They endure horrible events together and it matures them in ways that most teens don't go through. Romance is not the crux of the story however and it will not be enough to turn off boys. The main story is survival and adventure. This is not a boy book or a girl book. It will appeal to both. Boys will like the harsh survival story. Darla is a strong character and girls will like reading how she is just as crucial to their survival as Alex.

The book ends how we expect it to with a little twist and sets Alex and Darla up for further adventures. Readers will be happy to know the sequel, Ashen Winter, will be published in the fall of 2012.

I'm an Amazon Associate now. If you click on the Amazon links & buy anything I might make a tiny bit of money.

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Angel Dust Blues available as eBook

In case you're interested:

Todd Strasser (author of many YA books that I read before my blogging days) has released his very first YA book, back from 1979, as an eBook. I wrote a tiny bit about it over at the examiner.

I'm an Amazon Associate now. If you click on the Amazon links & buy anything I might make a tiny bit of money.

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