Monday, July 1, 2013

The Dragondain by Richard Due

Title: The Dragondain (Moon Realm #2)
Author:Richard Due
Pages: 304 
Published: December 7th, 2012
Summary: It's the middle of the night, you need to send your brother to the Moon Realm, and he won’t wake up. So you improvise. . . .

When a confused Jasper awakes, he's convinced he's dreaming. But by the time he meets Greydor, Jasper understands that this is no dream. In fact, persuading the King of the Rinn to work with the men of Dain to defeat their common enemy is a nightmare. Then there’s the other side of the coin: convincing Tavin and Dubb that saddling a Rinn isn’t certain death. (“It’ll be fun!”) And perhaps even a greater worry: can he make friends with Dubb’s daughter Darce before she punches his lights out?

Lily has problems, too. There’s a little mousie scratching in her closet. Or at least, it sounds like a little mousie. Oh, and her second confrontation with Curse, and trying to form her first peerin. (Don’t you have to be from Dain to do that?) And where’s Ebb?

One thing’s for sure: now that Lily and Jasper have entered the Moon Realm, nothing can ever be the same again.

Review:

A feisty sequel to The Moon Coin, The Dragondain is a fun and suspenseful adventure into the nine moons of the Moon Realm. Beginning precisely where The Moon Coin left off, Jasper is transported into the moon of the Rinn and he must figure out what is going on if he is going to survive his trip to the Moon Realm.  Jasper has his own part in all the madness that has become finding his uncle on these moons that rotate around each other and Lily does as well, but this time, she may not realize her follies until it is too late.

Mr. Due has a way of crafting a world around us with every flip of the moon coin and every clang of a sword he makes us, all at once, relive our dreams and hopes as children, wanting nothing more than to have adventures of our own. In The Dragondain, that all seems possible once again. Each moon crafted and molded into a fine balance of beauty and adventure, it dances across our senses never pausing for a moment in their ability to stun us and usher us into worlds beyond the one in which we live. The characters of The Dragondain are just as boisterous and creative as the moons on which they live. The Dain, humans so to speak, are just magical enough that the reality of it makes us put up our own fingers in front of our faces to make a peerin of our very own. And maybe, just maybe if we concentrate hard enough we will see something fantastic.

And while this title is considered middle-grade fiction (ages 7-12) due to the ages of its protagonists,  it is so much more than that. It is an addictive drug for those of us who have lovingly flipped through its pages. It is the fantastical story you dreamed of while waiting to fall asleep. It is youth brought to life. It is all the things I still wish I could do. Things like have adventures of my very own.

With an ending that will surprise you, Mr. Due leads us to places and through a story that makes us think we may burst with the intensity of it all, leaving us wanting so much more than we ever thought we could. A book for all ages, The Dragondain does not disappoint. A cliffhanger waits at the end if this sequel, but not so much that you're frustrated as much as you simply feel satisfied for what you have read, grateful to wait for what comes next. With many questions still left at hand, the release of the next book in the Moon Realm series cannot come soon enough.

5/5 stars

Find Richard Due:


Friday, June 28, 2013

Bloglovin - I'm back....sorta

Hey everyone! I know you haven't seen me in forever. I blame pregnancy and then, of course, what follows pregnancy. ;)

Anyhow, I'm back on the wagon, as best I can be, and I'm attempting to do some more posts. From my understanding, Google reader is going out, but I've found I heartily prefer Bloglovin over Google Reader. Anyway, if you'd like to follow me on Bloglovin, it's really quite user friendly and the platform is so much easier to manuver. Hope to see you there! :)

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Guest Post - Darynda Jones - Wrap up to Don't Fear the Reaper Read-a-Long

This week wraps up our Don't Fear the Reaper Read-a-long with Charley Davidson. I hope you all had a blast and enjoyed Charley and Reyes as much as I did. ;) Below is our Q&A with Darynda Jones.

P.S. Reyes is MINE! JS.

Discussion Schedule:
August 2nd: Chapters 1-5 hosted by Love of Books
August 9th: Chapters 6-10 hosted by Babbling About Books and Stuff
August 16th: Chapters 11-15 hosted by In the Closet With a Bibliophile
August 23rd: Chapters 16-20 hosted by Rainy Day Ramblings
August 30th: Special Guest post with Darynda Jones and Prize Winners

Q&A With Darynda Jones and Charley Davidson

1. Can I have Reyes? ;D

Why certainly! Charley might have a problem with it though. :)

2. Does Darynda have her own Green Chili recipe (it's a southwestern thing and in the book... ) :) ?

Do you mean green chile stew? Charley makes it without actually measuring anything, but here is a pretty good recipe. The only difference is Charley uses WAAAAY more green chile than this recipe calls for. She often uses an entire 16 oz tub of Bueno green chile. But this will give you a basic idea.

NM Green Chile Stew
Ingredients:
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 pounds cubed beef stew meat (or chicken)
1 onion, chopped
1 (10 ounce) can diced tomatoes with green chile peppers
1 1/2 cups beef (or chicken) broth
1 (4 ounce) can chopped green chile peppers
1 tsp. garlic salt
salt to taste
ground black pepper to taste
2 large potatoes, peeled and cubed

Directions: In a large pot over medium heat, heat the oil and brown the stew meat (or cook the chicken fully) and the onions until onions are translucent; about 5 minutes. Pour in the diced tomatoes with chiles, beef (or chicken) broth and chile peppers. Stir in the garlic salt. Salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 1 hour. Add a little more beef broth or water if needed during  simmering. Stir in cubed potatoes to the mixture and simmer for an additional 30 minutes or until  potatoes are tender. This is a New Mexico favorite and is delightful made with either beef or chicken. Add a bit of Devil’s Dust to spice up this warm dish even more.

3. What inspired you to write Charley's character?

I was wracking my brain trying to come up with my next story. I knew I wanted to write paranormal and I knew I wanted it to feature a strong heroine, but what KIND of heroine? There are so many. I decided almost immediately that I wanted her to be fun and to not take life or anything in it too seriously. I wanted her to live in a paranormal world but I didn’t want her to think of it as this huge burden. (I can’t stand whiners. LOL) I wanted her to enjoy it and have fun with it and treat it as just an everyday thing even when it does turn dark and serious. I also knew I wanted her to be a little bit Buffy and a little bit Lorelei Gilmore from the Gilmore Girls. Just sassy with a comeback at every turn. (This is SO not like me. I am not witty in the least, unfortunately.) And giving her ADD just seemed like the right thing to do.

4. How did Reyes know when she will be born?

I just left that up to the fact that he is a supernatural entity and has access to certain kinds of information our there in the universe that we do not. In my mind, I envisioned him seeing her as she was sent to Earth and he knew it was her time.

5. Questions for Charley: Who was your first boyfriend?

I somehow don't see you with a straight A student who's aiming to be the next president of the US :D
Wow, that’s so weird. You seem to know me so well. Hehehe. My first boyfriend was a kid named Charles. I was five. He was six. And since our names were almost identical, we knew were destined to be together forever. We were hitched for two weeks before he moved. I didn’t find out until much later that his parents had abandoned him and the state sent him to stay with a foster family down the street from us until a permanent home could be found. I think he was sent to live with an aunt. I never saw him again, but I’ve never forgotten him. The first time we met, he had a black eye, and I was in love. I seem drawn to the tortured ones.

6. Why can't you trust the man you love more?

I think I have trust issues in general. Growing up, every time I’ve trusted someone with who I am, what I am, it’s almost always backfired. Then again, the man I love IS the son of Satan. I don’t think my hesitation is unwarranted. :)

7. I love how witty and sarcastic Charley is, I would love to know if Darynda is that way too in real life or if Charley was based off of anyone she knows?

I can be a tad sarcastic, but I don't see myself as witty at all. I’ve never had that quick wit I’ve always longed for. I think people like that have some kind of supernatural power. My mind just doesn’t work like that. Odd that Charley’s does.

8. Also, this might be answered somewhere else already (like on her blog) but I would like to know how many books there will be in the series?

The series is open-ended, so the sky’s the limit! LOL.

9. The breasts and ovaries names are Star Trek and Lost in Space throwbacks..why did you pick those particular names?

I am a huge science fiction fan and wanted to share a bit of my obsession with Charley.

10. What can fans expect from Darynda Jones in the future?

Besides more Charley books, I have a new YA series coming out starting in October. The first of the Darklight trilogy, Death and the Girl Next Door, drops October 2nd. It’s about a girl whose life is irrevocably changed when the Angel of Death starts high school in her small town.

11. Who was your real life inspiration for Reyes?

In reality, I just see that archetype as the ultimate alpha hero, though I will admit, the scene where  Charley thinks back to when she first met him, when he was being abused by Earl Walker, I very much had in mind actor Jason Behr. I think he’s super pretty.

12. Will Reyes continue to be difficult or as the reader put it... a bastard?

Um, probably, yeah. Although in Fourth Grave Beneath My Feet, his actions are more justifiable and we begin to understand exactly what he is up against. Trying to keep Charley alive is a full-time job and he does what he has to to keep her that way.

13. Do you come up with the t-shirt and bumper sticker quotes?

Some are mine but most are actual bumper stickers and T-shirts. I only wish I were that funny all the time.

A huge thanks to Darynda for stopping by today and answering all your questions! I hope you are as eager as I am for more Darynda Jones Charley Davidson books and her new YA series! You can find out more about Darynda on her blog, website, Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter and be sure to check out her Street Team.

A big thank you again to everyone for joining in the read along. I wish you could all receive prizes!

The winners are:
Third Prize and a copy of Second Grave on the Left: Heather@Bewitched Bookworms
Second Prize and a copy of Third Grave Dead Ahead:Jennifer@Some Like it Paranormal
First Place the coveted Fourth Grave Beneath My Feet: Amy@Book Goonie
Big Congratulations to the winners!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Questions Week 4 Chapters 16-20 Don't Fear The Reaper

Welcome to Week 4 of our read-a-long! I hope you've had as much fun as me! Look out for next weeks post with all the fun Darynda questions. ;)

Discussion Schedule:
August 2nd: Chapters 1-5 hosted by Love of Books
August 9th: Chapters 6-10 hosted by Babbling About Books and Stuff
August 16th: Chapters 11-15 hosted by In the Closet With a Bibliophile
August 23rd: Chapters 16-20 hosted by Rainy Day Ramblings
August 30th: Special Guest post with Darynda Jones and Prize Winners

PS:  If you have any questions for Darynda, Charlie, Reyes or Cookie post them in the comments!  Darynda has agreed to answer you pressing questions: aka how can we get some of those sexy dreams for ourselves? Anytime you think of one leave it during the read-a-long--we will gather them up and send them along to Darynda!

Questions Week 4
Chapters 16-20

1.  One of my favorite aspects of this book are the witty snippets at the beginning of every chapter.  I especially like the t shirt quotes.  My favorites are:
Jenius
Sarcasm. Only one of the services offered.
Do not disturb.  Already there.
What is the funniest t shirt or bumper sticker you have encountered? If you had a t shirt that best described you what would it say?
I can't for the life of me remember the funniest sticker or shirt I have ever seen because my memory sucks. That being said, the best shirt or bumper sticker that best described me would probably say




All from NoiseBot

2. Charley is constantly helping ghosts throughout the book.  Would you like to be able to talk to ghosts and bring closure to their loved ones?  How would you feel about all the ghosts popping up at all times day or night?  Would you like to have a ghost like Mr. Wong in your house?
No. Freaked out. And no. LOL! I'm a scardey cat. Like hard core wimp. Anything ghost related scares the heeby geebies out of me. I mean, I can't even watch scary movies, it's that bad. So, I wouldn't like it at all. I'd probably have been committed. 
3.  Kim reveals some rather shocking and sad details about Reyes' past.  Do you agree with her decision to adhere to her promise and not intervene?  Would you be willing to keep your word and let a loved one die if it was their wish?
Probably not. I'm kind of a wench like that. I don't understand certain situations where people think they need to die. That being said, there are some situations when I do understand. In Reyes' instance, I don't. I agree with Charley. I'm glad Charley does what she does. 
4. In Chapter 19 Charley confronts the bad guy and finds herself in yet another situation where she gets her ass kicked.  Do you like the fact that Charley consistently ends up getting her butt handed to her?  What are your overall thoughts on Charley?
 I do because it shows that Charley is damaged and by far imperfect. It makes her so much easier to understand and compare to because she is so totally human. I love her for it. I love her humor and her ability to pick herself back up. Her wit cracks me up and her ability to play stupid in situations where I know she really knows what is going on really makes me giggle. I just love everything about her. 

5.  Chapter 20 is a big, hot, smoking chapter.  We finally get some answers on Reyes.  Does the revelation change your opinion of him?  Do you think he can overcome his "nature" and be a good person or is Charley in big trouble?  
No, I still have the same opinion of him, but I don't know if he can overcome his nature. After book one I would have said yes, but after book 3 I want to bash him in the head. I just feel like Charley is in big trouble, but not necessarily because of Reyes. I think she gets herself into all kinds of trouble. She doesn't like people helping her much and I think that's going to hurt her more than she thinks. 
6.  Did you enjoy this book?  Will you be continuing the series? 
So much it's not even funny. I already have continued and I most definitely will continue with book 4. The audio books are amazing. Everyone should try them.!!



Prizes:
Everyone who signs up for the read-along and participates each week will be entered for a chance to win one of three prizes. Best part: there will one winner per prize! Grand Prize is a copy of Book Four Fourth Grave Beneath My Feet,  First Runner Up wins a copy of Second Grave on the Left, and Second Runner Up [also] wins a copy of Second Grave on the Left.

International Participants: You are eligible to participate and win in the prizes as well. (And trust me when I say you'll want to;))

Wanna join us?
Scroll to the bottom of this post and add your name to the linky located there. Make sure to grab the first set of discussion questions for week one, hosted by Love of Books (they're below or on her blog!)

About the book:

Charley sees dead people. That’s right, she sees dead people. And it’s her job to convince them to “go into the light.” But when these very dead people have died under less than ideal circumstances (i.e. murder), sometimes they want Charley to bring the bad guys to justice. Complicating matters are the intensely hot dreams she’s been having about an Entity who has been following her all her life...and it turns out he might not be dead after all. In fact, he might be something else entirely.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Questions Week 3 Chapters 11-16 Don't Fear The Reaper

Welcome to Week 2 of our read-a-long! Sorry I couldn't participate last week, I had some family things come up. But, I'm glad to be here for this week and looking forward to the rest! I love me some Charley! ;)

Discussion Schedule:
August 2nd: Chapters 1-5 hosted by Love of Books
August 9th: Chapters 6-10 hosted by Babbling About Books and Stuff
August 16th: Chapters 11-15 hosted by In the Closet With a Bibliophile
August 23rd: Chapters 16-20 hosted by Rainy Day Ramblings
August 30th: Special Guest post with Darynda Jones and Prize Winners

PS:  If you have any questions for Darynda, Charlie, Reyes or Cookie post them in the comments!  Darynda has agreed to answer you pressing questions: aka how can we get some of those sexy dreams for ourselves? Anytime you think of one leave it during the read-a-long--we will gather them up and send them along to Darynda!

Questions Week 3
Chapters 11-16

1. I do have a soft spot for Charley's Aunt Lilian. She is sweet and soft while somehow also being a little dirty and I find that hilarious in an aunt. Do you have any relatives dead or alive that remind you of Aunt Lillian? If not, tell me about your favorite deceased relative. 

My grandmother! LOL! My father’s mother was a hoot. She was eerily close to having a personality like Aunt Lilian. She was eccentric and funny while still being loving and kind. See, her first husband died really young, like in his forty's so she used to go out whenever she could to the navel bases in the area (she lived in South Carolina). She loved to dance and apparently the naval bases provided.  At 53 she remarried to someone who was 20 years younger than she was and he happened to be a member of the navy. She was a spitfire, up until she was bedridden. She died about 10 years ago.

2.  In these chapters, we get a little closer to Reyes and his secrets. Neil, the warden at the prison where Reyes is currently incarcerated - and a high school mate of Charley's - tells a story about how Reyes ended up in the Coma and something he witnessed. What do you think of the story? What does this lead you to think about Reyes?

Honestly, the story was awesome while also creeping me out. I love how it lets us in on a little more background of Reyes and makes us unsure of not only if he should be in jail, but what the hell he really is.

3.  One of the things I love most about Ubie and Charley's relationship is that Ubie aka Uncle Bob has absolute faith in our Charley. Maybe it's because Charley's been solving murder cases for ages and Ubie knows that Charley knows things. If you could pick a super power, which one would you choose? Seeing the dead? Invisibility?

Let’s be honest, I’m a wimp and scared of a ton of things. So, that being said, seeing the dead probably wouldn’t be me best weapon. I’d probably run and scream. The mental ward would have a room with my name on it. So, I think I’ll take time travel and international travel. LOL! ;)

4.  Okay, in my opinion, there is nothing better than walking into your living room and seeing the god-like creature  of your dreams standing there waiting for you. If you were in Charley's shoes, who would be standing in your living room??

Problem is, I’m going to probably have to go with fictional character. I’d choose Barrons or Curran. If you don’t know who those people are, you are lost in a world of sadness.

5.  We get a surprise visit from Rosie's husband and we find out some information about Reyes...that he and The Big Bad are the same guy. What are your thoughts? Were you surprised about Rosie's husband or did you feel that one coming? What about Bad Reyes, had you already made the connection?

I was super surprised to see Rosie’s husband. That man turned out to be worse than I ever expected. As for Reyes, I’d pretty much already made that connection before Charley did. LOL! Guess I’m a quick one. ;)  

(hey everyone, I'm kind of having issues with the link display and I don't know why. I'm trying to fix it now.)



Prizes:
Everyone who signs up for the read-along and participates each week will be entered for a chance to win one of three prizes. Best part: there will one winner per prize! Grand Prize is a copy of Book Four Fourth Grave Beneath My Feet,  First Runner Up wins a copy of Second Grave on the Left, and Second Runner Up [also] wins a copy of Second Grave on the Left.

International Participants: You are eligible to participate and win in the prizes as well. (And trust me when I say you'll want to;))

Wanna join us?
Scroll to the bottom of this post and add your name to the linky located there. Make sure to grab the first set of discussion questions for week one, hosted by Love of Books (they're below or on her blog!)

About the book:

Charley sees dead people. That’s right, she sees dead people. And it’s her job to convince them to “go into the light.” But when these very dead people have died under less than ideal circumstances (i.e. murder), sometimes they want Charley to bring the bad guys to justice. Complicating matters are the intensely hot dreams she’s been having about an Entity who has been following her all her life...and it turns out he might not be dead after all. In fact, he might be something else entirely.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Don't Fear the Reaper Week 2 Chapters 6-10

Welcome to Week 2 of our read-a-long! Sorry I couldn't participate last week, I had some family things come up. But, I'm glad to be here for this week and looking forward to the rest! I love me some Charley! ;)

Discussion Schedule:
August 2nd: Chapters 1-5 hosted by Love of Books
August 9th: Chapters 6-10 hosted by Babbling About Books and Stuff
August 16th: Chapters 11-15 hosted by In the Closet With a Bibliophile
August 23rd: Chapters 16-20 hosted by Rainy Day Ramblings
August 30th: Special Guest post with Darynda Jones and Prize Winners

PS:  If you have any questions for Darynda, Charlie, Reyes or Cookie post them in the comments!  Darynda has agreed to answer you pressing questions: aka how can we get some of those sexy dreams for ourselves? Anytime you think of one leave it during the read-a-long--we will gather them up and send them along to Darynda!

Chapters 6-10

1.   Shiny objects and old family stories are told in this chapter, including an old nickname for our dear Charley. What was the nickname her uncle Bob gave her when she was little? Do you have an old nickname from when you were a kid? You can share it, and if it's really embarrassing we won't mind. *wink*

I actually listened to this book originally and it was awhile ago so I can't remember the name Uncle Bob gave Charlie, although I swear I'm going to have to look it up now. LOL! 

I don't really have any nicknames. My real name is Jennifer, so everyone calls me Jen or Jenny. Growing up my dad used to call me Nikki because my middle name is Nicole. That's as crazy as it gets.
2.  In this chapter we met someone. A really special guy named Rocket. Now, my memory is not what it used to be, and I just can't remember what makes him so special. Can you tell me what makes this particular ghost unique among all the others? And how about you? What can you do that makes you special? Anything? Jump on one foot for a really long time counts. *giggle*

Rocket can basically see everyone's lifeline. If they are alive, he knows when they'll die or whether or not it's their time to go. If their dead, he knows when they died. 

Let's see, what's special about me?? Uhhh, I can curl my tongue into a clover. I also do stained glass, which may not be that special. I seriously can't think of anything super cool. I'm double jointed, LOL! Does that count? ;)

3.  Charley is really *cough* not your ordinary girl. She does something that, well, there's no way around it. She named parts of her body and the names are... oh crap, I forgot. Just my luck. *sigh* But I'm sure you guys can say what part of her body she named and what the names were. And, since we are on the matter, have you ever named a part of your body? If so, what was it and what was the name? Come on, don't be shy. *wink+crooked smile*

LOL! She named her boobs. One is Danger and the other is Will Robinson. She also named her belly button, but I believe that's in a different book all together. I seriously love this chick. And, no, I have never named anything. I'm odd, but my weirdness lies elsewhere. ;)

4. We all have our little secrets. Things we don't tell anyone, not even our bff. Char (we became close :P ) is no different, but in this chapter she shared her little (big) secret (S) with her bff. What did you think about her reaction? What would be yours?

I think Cookie's reaction was genuine and it only made me love her more. It's not often someone tells you what Charley says and you not only believe her, but you're like okay, we can deal with this. Yeah, Cookie freaks out a little bit, but who wouldn't? I love that chick!

5.  In this chapter, Char continues her heart-to-heart with her BFF and comes up with some theories about our fave badboy/possibly ghost. What do you think of it? Can it be? What do you think about him? Hot? Double chocolate hot? Super duper caramel chocolate cake with a cherry on top hot?
I'm a cheater, I've listened to all 3 books on audio so I know exactly what Reyes is. I will not be a spoiler and tell anyone here, but YUM! Which kind of makes me feel evil, but what ever. I really liked Reyes in this book and I'd pounce him....if it were possible....which it's not. But still....a girl can dream. :)

Questions Week 3
Chapters 11-16

1. I do have a soft spot for Charley's Aunt Lilian. She is sweet and soft while somehow also being a little dirty and I find that hilarious in an aunt. Do you have any relatives dead or alive that remind you of Aunt Lillian? If not, tell me about your favorite deceased relative. 

2.  In these chapters, we get a little closer to Reyes and his secrets. Neil, the warden at the prison where Reyes is currently incarcerated - and a high school mate of Charley's - tells a story about how Reyes ended up in the Coma and something he witnessed. What do you think of the story? What does this lead you to think about Reyes?

3.  One of the things I love most about Ubie and Charley's relationship is that Ubie aka Uncle Bob has absolute faith in our Charley. Maybe it's because Charley's been solving murder cases for ages and Ubie knows that Charley knows things. If you could pick a super power, which one would you choose? Seeing the dead? Invisibility?
4.  Okay, in my opinion, there is nothing better than walking into your living room and seeing the god-like creature  of your dreams standing there waiting for you. If you were in Charley's shoes, who would be standing in your living room??

5.  We get a surprise visit from Rosie's husband and we find out some information about Reyes...that he and The Big Bad are the same guy. What are your thoughts? Were you surprised about Rosie's husband or did you feel that one coming? What about Bad Reyes, had you already made the connection?


Prizes:
Everyone who signs up for the read-along and participates each week will be entered for a chance to win one of three prizes. Best part: there will one winner per prize! Grand Prize is a copy of Book Four Fourth Grave Beneath My Feet,  First Runner Up wins a copy of Second Grave on the Left, and Second Runner Up [also] wins a copy of Second Grave on the Left.

International Participants: You are eligible to participate and win in the prizes as well. (And trust me when I say you'll want to;))

Wanna join us?
Scroll to the bottom of this post and add your name to the linky located there. Make sure to grab the first set of discussion questions for week one, hosted by Love of Books (they're below or on her blog!)

About the book:

Charley sees dead people. That’s right, she sees dead people. And it’s her job to convince them to “go into the light.” But when these very dead people have died under less than ideal circumstances (i.e. murder), sometimes they want Charley to bring the bad guys to justice. Complicating matters are the intensely hot dreams she’s been having about an Entity who has been following her all her life...and it turns out he might not be dead after all. In fact, he might be something else entirely.



Monday, July 30, 2012

Mike Mullin Interview & Giveaway - All Male Review Challenge



Today, as a part of the All Male Review Challenge, I am very excited to welcome Mike Mullin author of Ashfall to the blog. I read Ashfall this year as part of the All Male Review Challenge and I must say, it was a fabulous read. If you haven't read it, I highly recommend it. Mike, thank you so much for visiting and answering my inane questions. :)

Thanks for inviting me to visit your blog!

Ashfall is told from the perspective of Alex Halprin, a 16 year old boy who is trying to find his family in the aftermath of the volcano. Why did you choose Alex as your narrator?
Before ASHFALL, I wrote a young adult horror novel in two points of view—one male and one female. Nearly every person who read that novel panned my teen girl voice. It will probably be a drawer novel forever—I only sent queries for it to three literary agents, and two of them quit the business forever. So when I started drafting ASHFALL, I decided to work in one—male—point of view.

Alex himself is inspired in part by someone I met just before I started writing ASHFALL. I knew my protagonist needed to be special, but I wanted to write an intensely realistic book one without magic, superpowers or—heaven help me—vampirism. So I decided my protagonist would be a martial artist. There are teens who are fabulous martial artists—some of them even win Olympic medals.  The only problem: I didn’t know the first thing about martial arts.

I signed up for taekwondo classes at Indianapolis ATA Black Belt Academy. There I met Ben Alexander, a third-degree black belt. He was extraordinarily patient and kind to the bumbling white-belt author who’d stumbled into his dojang.  But during Friday Night Fights—when we strap on pads and spar—he could pretty much kick the crud out of me despite the fact that I have at least 6” in height and 80 lbs. on him. So I thought, aha! Here’s the perfect model for my main character in ASHFALL, and Alex was born.
 
How difficult is it to write from the perspective of a 16 year old boy? 

I can tell from the question that you probably haven’t met me. I’m incredibly immature. Yeah, not nearly as hard as it should be.

Alex's martial arts training saves his butt on many occasions. I know you are also proficient. Have you ever had to use it to defend yourself in real life situations?

No, thank God. And even though I’ve now earned my black belt, my first choice in any real-life situation will be to run away. In a real fight, even the “winner” gets hurt.
So, I love Darla. She's such a strong and smart character, plus she is almost 2 years older than Alex. (hubba hubba) How did you come up with her character? Why did you make her older?

Darla is partly based on my wife, Margaret. She’s just as tough, loyal, and smart as Darla. (Although she can’t fix our cars, darn it!) I made Darla older in part because Margaret is a year and a half older than I, and in part because I knew from the beginning that Alex and Darla would become romantically linked. The whole guy-wants-to-get-into-girl’s-pants trope is kind of clichéd and boring, so I figured I’d flip it around. Darla being older than Alex makes that more plausible, I think.Darla’s mechanical abilities are based on my brother, Paul. In fact, I emailed him every time I needed Darla to do something MacGyverish. “Um, so Paul, all the power is out and you need to recharge some batteries. How would you do it?” So Darla is sort of a weird amalgam of my wife and brother. I really hope Paul doesn’t read this.

What are some of your favorite books told from a male P.O.V. or written by a male author?

Unwind by Schusterman, Holes by Sachar, Ender’s Game by Card, Charlotte’s Web by White, Where the Wild Things Are by Sendak, The Chronicles of Narnia by Lewis, The Lord of the Rings by Tolkien, The River Between Us by Peck, BZRK by Grant, You by Benoit, Epitaph Road by Patneaude, The Uplift War and Startide Rising by Brin, and Dune by Herbert. I’m sure there are more I love—those are just a few favorites off the top of my head. 

It's the Apocalypse! What three items do you want to have with you? What three items can you NOT live without?

I don’t have a go-bag or any kind of well-thought out plan for an apocalypse.  Actually, that’s not true—my plan for a supervolcano eruption like the one I depict in ASHFALL is really simple: die. My only priority is to find Margaret, my wife, and we do have a plan about where to meet if we’re separated in a disaster. In starvation situations, men tend to die off much faster than women (we have more muscle and less fat than women on average, so we need more fuel and start with less) and people over 35 die off much faster than younger people (we’re superfluous from an evolutionary standpoint). So I’m doubly doomed.

If I thought the disaster were something short term—i.e. survivable—my first priority would be water, second warmth, and third medical care. Lack of those things will kill you a lot faster than lack of food. If I had a go-bag, I’d probably put a hatchet, a pan, and a plumber’s spark lighter in it. Then I have fire and the means to boil water. The fourth thing would be all the spare medicine in my cabinet.

If post-volcanic-eruption Alex could tell his pre-volcanic eruption self only one thing, what would it be?

If you see a guy with a big target tattoo on the back of his head, run the other way. Fast!

What is Alex most afraid of in this new world he's been forced to acclimate to?

Alex’s biggest fear is himself. He’s not self-aware enough to verbalize it quite that way, just as I wasn’t at his age. But both of us struggled with an inner rage and propensity to violence. Both of us were forced to cope with the self-loathing and fear that is the aftermath of violence. What if I hadn’t stopped fighting? One of the defining moments of Alex’s childhood was when he walked away after kicking his sister’s bully in the face, rather than continuing to fight. One of the defining moments of mine was when I held another boy’s head in my hands and somehow found enough self-control not to smash it against the sidewalk. Even after a supervolcano, there are no monsters beyond us as terrifying as the monsters within.

In Ashfall, Alex confronts a world in which he must use violence to survive.  One of the pivotal moments in the story comes when Alex has an opportunity to kill a man who has severely wounded him. Alex chooses to flee instead, searching for a place where he can die in peace.  When given a stark choice between survival and retaining his humanity, Alex chooses his humanity.  But instead of dying, Alex meets Darla and discovers a new reason to value survival.

I love seeing similarities between authors and their characters. What do you and Alex have in common? What about you and Darla?

Alex is Ben Alexander on the outside and my teenage self on the inside. I’m not much like Darla—she’s based on my wife and brother.

Quickie Q&A

Favorite ice cream?

Häagen-Dazs Pineapple-Coconut.

Place you'd most like to see/visit

I’d love to go back to northeast Brazil—Recife, Fortaleza, and Natal.

Weirdest thing you've done?

I taught my niece some taekwondo once. Not weird, you say? The impromptu class was conducted on the roof of my 2-story Victorian house.

Favorite words?

The End (I finally finished a draft!)

Thanks again Mike, for doing this!! I appreciate it very much. :)

Thanks again for hosting me, it was a pleasure!

Loved Ashfall! Looking forward to Ashen Winter.

Hope you enjoy ASHEN WINTER—it’s available to bloggers on NetGalley now, and it’ll be out October 8th. There’s a big party in Indianapolis on October 7th and you’re all invited!

Mike Mullin’s first job was scraping the gum off the undersides of desks at his high school. From there, things went steadily downhill. He almost got fired by the owner of a bookstore due to his poor taste in earrings. He worked at a place that showed slides of poopy diapers during lunch (it did cut down on the cafeteria budget). The hazing process at the next company included eating live termites raised by the resident entomologist, so that didn’t last long either. For a while Mike juggled bottles at a wine shop, sometimes to disastrous effect. Oh, and then there was the job where swarms of wasps occasionally tried to chase him off ladders. So he’s really hoping this writing thing works out. 

Mike holds a black belt in Songahm Taekwondo. He lives in Indianapolis, Indiana with his wife and her three cats. ASHFALL is his first novel.
Many visitors to Yellowstone National Park don’t realize that the boiling hot springs and spraying geysers are caused by an underlying supervolcano. It has erupted three times in the last 2.1 million years, and it will erupt again, changing the Earth forever.
Fifteen-year-old Alex is home alone when the supervolcano erupts. His town collapses into a nightmare of darkness, ash, and violence, forcing him to flee. He begins a harrowing trek in search of his parents and sister, who were visiting relatives 140 miles away.
Along the way, Alex struggles through a landscape transformed by more than a foot of ash. The disaster brings out the best and worst in people desperate for food, clean water, and shelter.  When an escaped convict injures Alex, he searches for a sheltered place where he can wait—to heal or to die. Instead, he finds Darla. Together, they fight to achieve a nearly impossible goal: surviving the supervolcano.
 Excerpt
The first two chapters are available on my website: www.mikemullinauthor.com.


I have ONE hardback copy of Ashfall to giveaway! 
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