Book Review: Deadly Shore by Andrew Cunningham

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Title: Deadly Shore
Author: Andrew Cunningham
Narrator: Greg Hernandez
Publication Date: January 31, 2017

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Purchase Links:

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Deadly Shore
Andrew Cunningham
Andrew Cunningham, January 2017
Narrated by Greg Hernandez
Downloaded Unabridged Audiobook

From the author—

It’s July 5th, and the Cape Cod roadways are clogged with tourists heading home from the holiday weekend and trying to outrun an approaching potentially catastrophic hurricane. But in the blink of an eye, their lives are thrown into chaos when terrorists bring down the bridges to the Cape. Instantly, a half million terrified people have no way to escape. And when the terrorists threaten to release anthrax on the captive population if their demands aren’t met, fear turns to all-out panic.

With time running out, Marcus Baldwin, a private investigator and former CIA operative, and Sara Cross, a disgraced ex-homicide detective, are brought together by a sole clue to the identity of the terrorists. They quickly realize that they may be the only ones with even a chance at stopping the plot before it’s too late.

With Hurricane Chad barreling up the coast on a path for a direct hit on Cape Cod, it becomes frighteningly clear to everyone trapped on what has now become an island – one way or another they are probably all going to die.

A while back, probably 15  or 20 years, there seemed to be a lot of natural disaster novels  and I snatched up every one of them I could find. They’ve been pretty scarce since then so, when I read the description of Deadly Shore, I had to have it and I mean to tell you, this is a good one. Not only do we have an approaching hurricane that keeps growing in strength, we also have a nifty terrorist crime going on. The hurricane doesn’t actually play a large physical role; it’s the looming threat of the storm that matters to the people on Cape Cod.

The hallmark of a good disaster novel is that all kinds of things happen that are beyond the pale, so to speak, definitely over the top and without much basis in reality. To truly enjoy it, you have to be willing to put aside your inclination to look for what doesn’t make sense and just go with the flow. Carrying out the dastardly plot in this book is as disbelief-suspending as it gets from the initial plan itself to the acquisition of the necessary materials to finding just the right group of henchmen to controlling all the pieces parts…well, you get the idea. Oh, and don’t forget the plethora of coincidences that not only bring together a former CIA operative and a disgraced cop but allow them to come across the perfect clues just when they need to. And I loved every minute of it 😉

As for the narration, a funny thing happened on the way to the finish. Usually, I’m very aware of the narrator’s ability to differentiate characters but, this time, I got all the way to the end before I noticed that Mr. Hernandez didn’t do such a great job with voices. And you know what? It didn’t matter. Mr. Hernandez has a really pleasing tone and is easy to listen to plus he has the ability to convey the tension and sense of doom a book like this needs. I might not  be able to quickly identify a character by the voice but Mr. Cunningham’s dialogue is written in such a manner as to let me know who’s talking when.

All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed Deadly Shore and found myself hanging out in my driveway because I wanted to hear what would happen next. That, my friends, is a sign of an exciting audiobook, don’t you think?

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, June 2017.

About the Author
Andrew Cunningham

I was born in England, but have spent most of my life living in the U.S.—including  25 years on Cape Cod before moving to Florida. A former interpreter for the deaf and long-time independent bookseller, I’ve been a full-time freelance writer and copy editor for many years. A 4th-degree Master Blackbelt in Tang Soo Do, I finally retired from active training when my body said, “Enough already! Why are you doing this to yourself?” I’m married, with two grown children and two awesome grandsons. My wife and I spend as much time traveling as we can, and are especially fond of cruising the Caribbean.

​I have been gratified by the response to my books. When I published Eden Rising back in the spring of 2013, I had no idea what to expect. When I sold my first few copies, I was excited beyond belief that someone was willing to take a chance on it. Numerous books and thousands of copies later, I am still humbled by the emails I get from readers telling me that my books kept them up late into the night.

In October of 2014, Wisdom Spring made me an official Amazon Bestselling author, a thrill I never thought would happen. But it still comes down to being able to bring a few hours of escape to a reader. That’s what it’s all about for me.

WebsiteFacebookTwitterGoodreadsAmazon

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About the Narrator
Greg Hernandez

For more than 20 years I worked as a radio news reporter and news writer.  I spent half of my broadcasting career at ABC News Radio in the Washington, D.C., bureau.  I covered all the federal agencies as well as Congress and the White House.  I reported on a wide range of stories during my career, including financial and entertainment industry news.

I have worked as a federal government spokesman at three separate agencies for more than 20 years.  At the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA, U.S. Commerce Department), I introduced podcasting in 2005 just a few weeks before Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast of the United States.  The 19 podcasts I narrated and produced from August 2005 to June 2007 were downloaded more than 600,000 times during that period.  They’re still online at the following link.

http://www.noaa.gov/podcasts/podcast-archive.html

I enjoy narrating audio books because it gives me great satisfaction bringing to life books of all genres, especially mysteries and thrillers.

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Play an excerpt here.

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Follow the tour:

Jun. 21st:
Kristina Stanley (Spotlight + Audio Excerpt)

Jun. 22nd:
Dab of Darkness (Review)
Buried Under Books (Review)

Jun. 23rd:
CGB Blog Tours (Spotlight + Audio Excerpt)
The Bookworm Lodge (Spotlight + Audio Excerpt)

Jun. 24th:
A Book and A Latte (Review)

Jun. 25th:
Lomeraniel (Review, Spotlight + Audio Excerpt)
Jorie Loves A Story (Review)

Jun. 26th:
Between the Coverz (Review, Spotlight + Audio Excerpt)
Bound 4 Escape (Review)
Audio Audits (Review)

Jun. 27th:
Hall Ways (Review, Spotlight + Audio Excerpt)
The Book Addict’s Reviews (Review, Spotlight + Audio Excerpt)

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Teeny Reviews: The Sister Pact by Stacie Ramey, Home By Nightfall by Charles Finch, Powerless by Tim Washburn, The Ark by Patrick S. Tomlinson, and Merry Mary by Ashley Farley

The Sister PactThe Sister Pact
Stacie Ramey
Sourcebooks Fire, November 2015
ISBN 978-1-4926-2097-6
Trade Paperback

From the publisher—

Who holds your secrets?

Allie is devastated when her sister commits suicide-and it’s not just because she misses her. Allie feels betrayed. The two made a pact that they’d always be together, in life and in death, but Leah broke her promise and Allie needs to know why.

Her parents hover. Her friends try to support her. And Nick, sweet Nick, keeps calling and flirting. Their sympathy only intensifies her grief.

But the more she clings to Leah, the more secrets surface. Allie’s not sure which is more distressing: discovering the truth behind her sister’s death or facing her new reality without her.

I never had a sister and my brother and I were too far apart in age to be close when we were growing up—although that changed later in life—but I think losing a sibling through suicide must be so devastating it’s nearly impossible to recover. What an inordinate amount of pain and confusion the survivor must feel, especially as a teen! Ms. Ramey writes this story with an incredible empathy and understanding that brings it to life for teen readers but also for those of us well past those years.

A major side effect of any death is the discovery of the things you didn’t know about that person’s life and that’s the essence of Allie’s journey through all the pain and betrayal and the questions that go with any death but especially a suicide. Her trauma leads her down some dubious paths and I found myself both sad and appalled as I watched her struggle with truths she might not have wished to learn.

I’ve dealt with, and still am dealing with, a lot of grief this year and The Sister Pact has made it all just a tiny bit easier even though my “events” haven’t been due to suicide. Thank you, Ms. Ramey 🙂

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, December 2015.

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Home By NightfallHome By Nightfall
A Charles Lenox Mystery #9
Charles Finch
Minotaur Books, November 2015
ISBN 978-1-250-07041-8
Hardcover

From the publisher—

It’s London in 1876, and the whole city is abuzz with the enigmatic disappearance of a famous foreign pianist. Lenox has an eye on the matter – as a partner in a now-thriving detective agency, he’s a natural choice to investigate. Just when he’s tempted to turn his focus to it entirely, however, his grieving brother asks him to come down to Sussex, and Lenox leaves the metropolis behind for the quieter country life of his boyhood. Or so he thinks. In fact, something strange is afoot in Markethouse: small thefts, books, blankets, animals, and more alarmingly a break-in at the house of a local insurance agent. As he and his brother investigate this small accumulation of mysteries, Lenox realizes that something very strange and serious indeed may be happening, more than just local mischief. Soon, he’s racing to solve two cases at once, one in London and one in the country, before either turns deadly.

The private detective I’ve come to know and love so well is back and in fine fettle as he balances his life between the occasionally seedy world of criminal activity and the aristocratic society he and his wife, Lady Jane, are part of. In this latest adventure, Charles Lenox is pulled in two directions, intrigued by the case of a missing celebrity but also needing to help his recently widowed brother in his grief and get to the bottom of a series of odd events in his childhood home.

Charles Finch is one of a handful of authors who, quite simply, never let me down and that holds true here. Lenox is a man who believes he can make a difference in people’s lives and he has great compassion in addition to intelligence and a perceptive mind. That’s the core of a truly good detective, don’t you think?

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, December 2015.

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PowerlessPowerless
Tim Washburn
Pinnacle, October 2015
ISBN 978-0-7860-3653-0
Mass Market Paperback

From the publisher—

Nothing Can Prepare You. . .

It strikes without warning. A massive geomagnetic solar storm that destroys every power grid in the northern hemisphere. North America is without lights, electricity, phones, and navigation systems. In one week, the human race is flung back to the Dark Ages.

Nothing Can Save You. . .

In Boulder, Colorado, weather technicians watch in horror as civilization collapses around them. Planes are falling out of the skies. Cars are dead. Pandemonium and terror grip the Northern Hemisphere. As nuclear reactors across North America face inevitable meltdowns, the U.S. President remains powerless in a heavily guarded White House. From London to Boston to Anchorage, there is no food, no water, no hope. It’s every man for himself. . .and it will only get worse.

Survival Is Everything.

Only one man–army veteran Zeke Marshall–is prepared to handle a nightmare like this. But when he tries to reunite with his family in Dallas–across a lawless terrain as deadly as any battlefield–he discovers there are worse things in life than war. And there are terrible and unthinkable things he’ll have to do to survive. . .

I really do wish this hadn’t been written in present tense because it was an annoying distraction, not an enhancement to a story premise that I usually look forward to. I enjoyed this, in spite of the choice of tense, and in spite of the hyperbole in the book’s description (only one man is prepared to handle a nightmare like this? seriously?). Zeke is a character I came to respect and like very much and the depiction of the devastation is evocative and realistic.

I’m not a particular fan of the Department of Homeland Security but I can’t help but wonder…has any author presented them in a positive light? In Powerless, as in every other thriller I’ve read that features them, incompetence and obstructionism seem to be their strong suits and, to be honest, I’m tired of it. With all their failings, I just don’t believe that this agency is so completely wrong.

All in all, while I felt this was rather simplistic in spots, lessening the tension too much, I do recommend Powerless to anyone who appreciates a good disaster novel.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, December 2015.

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The Ark 2The Ark
Children of a Dead Earth #1
Patrick S. Tomlinson
Angry Robot, November 2015
ISBN 978-0857664846
Mass Market Paperback

From the publisher—

Humankind has escaped a dying Earth and set out to find a new home among the stars aboard an immense generation spaceship, affectionately named the Ark. Bryan Benson is the Ark’s greatest living sports hero, enjoying retirement working as a detective in Avalon, his home module. The hours are good, the work is easy, and the perks can’t be beat.

But when a crew member goes missing, Benson is thrust into the centre of an ever-expanding web of deception, secrets, and violence that overturns everything he knows about living on the Ark and threatens everyone aboard. As the last remnants of humanity hurtle towards their salvation, Benson finds himself in a desperate race to unravel the conspiracy before a madman turns mankind’s home into its tomb.

Oh my goodness, I SO enjoyed this book! It’s got so many of the elements I look for in a good crossgenre—a nifty mystery with the ultimate locked room (can’t get any more locked room than a spaceship racing towards humanity’s hope of a new home), a man who loves his job as a detective (largely because it’s really, really easy), a dark scenario and yet some light humor and a potential end to our species. What more could a girl want?

These people have been floating around out there for something like 200 years and Mr. Tomlinson does an excellent job creating a believable but also intriguing setting which really is a character in itself. Benson is a likeable man and his detecting skills are on high alert now that he has a murder to work with. Can he solve the crime before his fellow travelers meet an untimely end? Well, yes, we know he’ll have at least some success because there’s a second book coming but his detecting is entertaining all the way.

The second book in this duology, Trident’s Forge, will be out in April 2016 and I can barely stand to wait. Time needs to move faster 😉

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, December 2015.

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Merry MaryMerry Mary
Ashley Farley
Leisure Time Books, September 2015
ISBN 978-0-9861672-3-2
Trade Paperback

From the author—

A young woman longing for a child stumbles upon a Christmas miracle. Investigative journalist Scottie Darden is photographing the homeless for her Lost Souls series when she makes a discovery that could change her life forever. Under a makeshift tent in subzero temperatures in a downtown city park, she finds a woman’s dead body with her infant child. Without her cell phone to call for help, Scottie makes the split-second decision to take the baby home. Her initial instinct is to provide the baby with food and shelter until her family can be located. But as her fondness for the baby grows, she finds herself facing a life on the run or worse—prison time for abduction. Curl up with Merry Mary this holiday season. A heartwarming story of the powerful connection between a caring soul and an innocent child in need.

I’ve been a fan of Ms. Farley‘s work for quite a while now but, for the first time, I have to say this one doesn’t work for me. I won’t go into a lot of detail because I think Merry Mary will appeal to others; suffice it to say I didn’t like Scottie and that’s pretty important when it comes to connecting with a story. Scottie seems to be unusually clueless and her behavior is senseless, particularly when she decides to take the baby home with her for some very thin reasons. There are also some noticeable plot holes.

At any rate, I think this is just a misstep for me personally and it certainly won’t put me off Ms. Farley‘s future books. In fact, the author is working on a full-length novel featuring Scottie and I’m looking forward to getting to know her better and, perhaps, understand her.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, December 2015.

Book Review: Rocked by Gina Marie Long

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Rocked: A Chelsie Valdar Saga, 1
By Gina Marie Long
Publication: February 16th 2013
Genre: YA Paranormal Thriller/Urban Fantasy

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RockedRocked
A Chelsie Valdar Saga, 1
Gina Marie Long
Gina Marie Long, February 2013
ISBN 978-1482383690
Trade Paperback

From the author—

The Apocalypse is coming…in one week. Chelsie Valdar and her brother are modern-day Viking warrior teenagers. They must find a mystical sword belonging to their ancient ancestor and flee to safety at a secret shelter, if they hope to survive. As the clock ticks, several Bigfoot and an outcast werecat become invaluable friends helping with the search for the sword and offering supernatural protection. Misfortune haunts their every move. Conflicts delay their progress. Especially when a devious and deranged enemy is infatuated with Chelsie and hungers for the sword, desperate to escape to the shelter with Chelsie by his side. Time is running out.

I must have telepathized (is that a word?) what kind of books really ring my chimes right into Gina Marie Long’s mind and that’s why she wrote Rocked. Natural disaster apocalypse? Check. Dark fantasy with supernatural creatures? Check. A strong female character? Check. Young adult? Check. The fun sort of science fiction? Check. A light romance but no insta-love? Check.

But bigfoot shapeshifters? Seriously??

Well, yes, so it would seem and, after my initial incredulity and a little sneering, they actually started to grow on me and, when you get right down to it, why the heck not? Rocked has the usual werecats, werewolves and vampires but “the usual” is just what they are so maybe it’s time for a new and different critter shift. It doesn’t hurt in the least that my favorite bigfoot, Bo and Lucas, are heroic, goodlooking as all get out and just plain nice guys. Chelsie herself is human but perhaps not 100% since she’s descended from Viking warriors and she and her brother and dad are the rightful owners of a very powerful sword. Still, compared to the shapeshifters, Chelsie, Ash and their dad are about as normal as you can hope to find in a novel where supernatural creatures exist alongside humans but are known only to some.

Jessie, a werecat with disabilities, is a charmer and her description as a housecat is so similar to my daughter’s Trixie that I couldn’t help but love her. If I ever come across a werecat, I hope she’ll be another Jessie 😉

Finally, there’s Alex, the bigfoot who is stalking Chelsie for more than one reason and who is apparently willing to harm or even kill others to get what he wants. The real question might be what does he want most, Chelsie, the sword or Worthy One status, and finding the answer takes the reader some time. With all his dastardliness, Alex is actually one of my favorite characters and his mental issues make him even more interesting because we never know when he can be trusted—or not.

As for plot, I do love a natural disaster and it’s cool that everybody knows that the Yellowstone Caldera is going to explode and the Chosen Ones and the Worthy Ones have just a week to get to shelter. The idea of Chosen Ones and Worthy Ones smacks of a common dystopian trope and I suspect we’ll find out more about that in future volumes but what becomes more and more painful is what Ash calls the Stranded Ones. If there is anything I don’t care for about Chelsie, it’s her nearly unquestioning acceptance of this predetermined selection of who will be allowed to survive and I really hope her sense of justice—or injustice—will come into play in the next book.

Rocked is the first installment of Ms. Long’s trilogy and I’m already looking forward to the next book. I do hope we won’t have to wait too long 😉

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, May 2013.

About the Author

Gina Marie LongGina Marie Long is an author of paranormal thrillers, urban fantasy, and young adult novels. She has written the Unknown Touch-Werewolf Series and Rocked – A Chelsie Valdar Saga.

Gina’s fiction stories are inspired from her interest in the supernatural, science fiction and fantasy world. She enjoys reading, watching evening TV shows, movies and listening to music. Writing indulges her passion for the entertainment arts, giving her active mind a playground of possibilities to explore. She stays active on social media sites and blogging, making connections with others who share the same interests.

She writes about werewolves, vampires, witches, werecats, Bigfoot, an occasional demon, psychics, Vikings, and riveting human characters. But not ALL in the same book! In addition, a light romance is included to spice things up (come on-every book, movie and TV show has some sort of a love story in it). The books do not fall under the romance category…just enough in the storyline to satisfy the girls. And the boys can breathe easy with the knowledge that they’re not reading a romance novel but a paranormal thriller, instead. Depending on which series, the ages of the main characters are 16 through 30. Most are on the younger side.

“It’s exciting to create strong characters that the readers fall in love with…or want to strangle! Writing books about other beings, such as werewolves and vampires, allows rules to be broken concerning life and the world as we know it. The idea to have these supernatural species living and breathing among us is so wickedly intriguing. Having close contact with them, developing relationships, and dealing with the good vs. the evil – it sweeps you away into another reality – an escape from real life. You wonder and worry about what the characters will stumble upon next. Or, what horrific tragedy knocks them flat on their faces.”~~Gina

She lives in Highland, Illinois, with her husband and Jessie Cat.

Author Links:

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Book Review: The Way We Fall by Megan Crewe

The Way We FallThe Way We Fall
Megan Crewe
Disney Hyperion, January 2012
ISBN 978-1-4231-5322-1
Ebook
Also available in hardcover

From the publisher—

When a deadly virus begins to sweep through sixteen-year-old Kaelyn’s community, the government quarantines her island—no one can leave, and no one can come back.

Those still healthy must fight for dwindling supplies, or lose all chance of survival. As everything familiar comes crashing down, Kaelyn joins forces with a former rival and discovers a new love in the midst of heartbreak. When the virus starts to rob her of friends and family, she clings to the belief that there must be a way to save the people she holds dearest.

Because how will she go on if there isn’t?

Islands have frequently been a favorite setting for fiction involving some sort of disaster, natural or otherwise, and the reason is simple—the reader knows there is a likelihood there will be no rescue from the outside and the islanders must fend for themselves in the best way possible. That distinctly ratchets up the anxiety level for the characters and the reader. Such is the case with The Way We Fall and the author has created a really good story with moments of both frustration and suspense that builds as tension increases. [Note: this book is frequently categorized as a thriller but that is really not accurate as the pacing is, at times, rather slow.]

The idea that teens would be the ones to develop a foraging and distribution system for food, medications and other necessities is certainly not new but I think it works better in this novel than in some others. In the event of an epidemic, it would be very natural for the adults with expertise, education and certain skills to concentrate their attention on the most pressing details which, in this case, is the unidentified virus and its extremely high death rate. This scenario also works because the island is initially well-provisioned with food and other needed items and it’s not until the electricity fails that the adults become more cognizant of the world outside the hospital doors.

As you might expect, there are islanders who take advantage of the situation but this was one area in which I felt something of a void. I really would expect some of the miscreants to be adults and that there would be far more looting and violence. In a way, although some readers might see this as a means of making the story more appropriate for younger readers, I just felt it showed an unrealistic mildness, with an almost  dumbing-down effect.

Kaelyn is a well-rounded character and we see her compassion, intelligence, strength and self-reliance, as well as some indications of very natural fear and a longing for a grown-up to take charge. Tessa also is an appealing character, as is Gav, but I definitely felt a desire to know them better and I hope Ms. Crewe will offer more in the next book. Other characters were less developed and, as a result, didn’t generate much empathy on my part with the possible exception of Kae’s brother, Drew. I must say, though, that it was very refreshing to find a central character who is biracial and another who is homosexual but the author does a nice job of showing how a person who is different is regarded without hitting the reader with a two-by-four.

The one character that I felt was decidedly lacking was Kaelyn’s father. I just don’t believe that, even though his expertise made him crucial to the work of identifying and treating the virus, he would be so neglectful of his own family. It was as though he took the “needs of the many” much too far, with dire effects.

Overall, The Way We Fall is an entertaining story and, although it certainly has some slow passages, it still manages to be a quick read. I’m looking forward to reading the next book in the trilogy, The Lives We Lost, due out next February.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, June 2012.

Book Review: Ashfall by Mike Mullin

AshfallAshfall
Mike Mullin
Tanglewood Press, October 2011
ISBN 978-1-933718-55-2
Hardcover (e-ARC)

Alex, a fifteen-year-old living in Cedar Falls, Iowa, is alone for the weekend, having browbeat his parents into letting him stay home while they take his little sister to visit relatives in Warren, Illinois. He’s looking forward to doing his own thing (mostly geek stuff) for a few days but, after several hours of online questing on World of Warcraft,  Alex’s life changes forever.

Nine hundred miles away in Yellowstone Park, the supervolcano has exploded and Alex’s house is shattered by what feels and sounds like incoming artillery. Digging himself out, he struggles to escape the blaze and finds shelter with neighbors. The noise, the continuous explosions, the fear of the unknown are nearly overwhelming. All telephone communication is out so Alex has no way to reach his family.

Then the ash begins to fall. And the darkness comes with it, along with a sulfurous stench. Two days later, water flow is gone. Finally, the first looters come and the resulting terror and devastation give Alex the resolve to find his family no matter what it takes. The journey ahead will be long and fearsome, a nightmare Alex will face alone until he meets 17-year-old Darla who has a maturity far beyond her years. Will these two survive the journey or will this nightmare prove to be too much?

I have a particular fondness for post-apocalyptic and disaster-related fiction and have, I think, developed a discerning taste over many years of reading such novels. Ashfall is one of the very best I’ve read and is more remarkable because it’s Mullin‘s first book. His descriptions of the conditions, environmental and human, that will most certainly follow such a cataclysmic event have the ring of truth and he maintains a level of intensity and despair, as well as strength and hope, that are difficult for many writers to convey without being “over the top”. It’s a compelling tale with dystopian elements and what could be an overpoweringly dark story is alleviated by flashes of humor and a bit of romance. In fact, the way Mullin handles the developing relationship between Alex and Darla was especially appealing to me as it is realistic and tasteful. Parents should not be concerned when their teens pick up this book—it was written with them in mind.

Ashfall is the first of a trilogy and I’m looking forward to Ashen Winter in October 2012. In the meantime, I’m waiting till Ashfall is released so I can buy a copy for my bookcase and I’ll be including it in my list of Top Five favorite books for 2011. I strongly recommend it to adults and teens alike.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, August 2011.