Monday, October 08, 2012

Review + Guest Post: Ashen Winter

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I’m incredibly excited to have Mike over the blog today seeing as he’s a freaking mastermind! He’s here to talk about how to survive a post apocalypse, and first you an read my very enthusiastic review of Ashen Winter!

Ashen Winter
Mike Mullin
Series: Ashfall, #2
Publication date: October 16th 2012
by Tanglewood Press

 

It’s been over six months since the eruption of the Yellowstone supervolcano. Alex and Darla have been staying with Alex’s relatives, trying to cope with the new reality of the primitive world so vividly portrayed in Ashfall, the first book in this series. It’s also been six months of waiting for Alex’s parents to return from Iowa. Alex and Darla decide they can wait no longer and must retrace their journey into Iowa to find and bring back Alex’s parents to the tenuous safety of Illinois. But the landscape they cross is even more perilous than before, with life-and-death battles for food and power between the remaining communities. When the unthinkable happens, Alex must find new reserves of strength and determination to survive.

*A copy was provided by Tanglewood Press for review purposes*
Ashfall – one of my favourite books of all time – could not have had a better sequel in Ashen Winter. Picking up 6 months after Ashfall’s ending, we are thrown into a deep desolation; the dark, cold aftermath of a Supervolcano eruption.

Alex and Darla, the fabulous couple who met in Ashfall are leaving the routine and relative safety of the farm to go find Alex’s parents. What we have here, friends, is a non stop–and I mean, zero freaking breaks!–action packed thrill ride that will leave you so exhausted with excitement that you might literally just find yourself breathless. Every single page of this novel is filled with intense suspense. Not the type of suspense that leaves characters as little more than words on a page, this series is suspenseful and will make your heart literally backflip because of its characters. You care about them, you want them to live and find their loved ones. Darla and Alex are the perfect team who are both amazingly competent and determined. Their strength makes me feel incompetent! The emotional investment in these people is so poignant that I found myself mimicking their state of minds; Their pain was my pain, their fatigue was my own. I honestly felt their unrelenting weariness from being thrown into their shoes while reading this novel.

A Supervolcano eruption is no unrealistic event. Sure, if it even erupts at all, it probably wouldn’t happen for decades–or maybe it will. Ultimately, mother nature does as she pleases. The aftermath of such a disaster that has been created in this book and it’s predecessor is unlike anything I’ve ever read. Sure we have dystopians and zombie novels, but nothing makes a story more compelling than one that could happen at any moment. One that makes you truly fear the possibility of this world invading our reality. Mullin doesn’t sugar coat it either. It’s gory, it’s raw, it’s violent to no end; it made me squirm and grimace. Ashen Winter is not for the faint of heart. Blood will be the least of your worries. It’s the end of the world, ladies and gentleman, get ready for it!

What this unhindered reality gives us is an in depth, realistic look into humanity. Some people, after a disaster to such degree, after having seen their friends and families die without being able to do a thing about it, after living with a hunger so deep that it affects your mind, will become nothing more than savages. Cannibals. It definitely makes you think on what people will do to survive. In a world where everyone is struggling to see the next day, the worst side of human kind will show its face. And it’s not pretty, people. It sickens me, and the worst part: I completely believe it.

This series is one you simply Can. Not. Miss! It’s completely, unbelievable fantastic. Even the author’s notes left me a little unsettled. The only thing missing, is a number for a much needed psychologist.

Bravo, Mike Mullin, you are a genius at life!

5 Hot Espressos
Guest Post by Mike Mullin
The Ultimate Survival Tool

I’ve read disaster and post-apocalyptic novels since I was about eight. So it was natural to write
one—my debut novel, ASHFALL, is about a teen struggling to survive and find his family after
the Yellowstone supervolcano erupts. And the sequel, ASHEN WINTER, deals with the long
volcanic winter that follows. So I’ve spent a fair amount of time thinking and reading about how
people survive disasters.

What’s the ultimate survival tool? This?

No.

This? (A hand-pumped water filter.)

No.

Here’s the ultimate survival tool:

Your brain. What you know and how well you can think under pressure is the ultimate survival
skill. Consider this guy. He starved to death within an easy hike of a cabin stocked with food—
in part because he was eating berries that he didn’t know were poisonous. This guy died because
he didn’t know the people he was with were carrying emergency water and didn’t recognize the
signs of deadly dehydration. And here’s a guy who died, arguably, because he believed what he
saw on TV.

Anyway, the point is, if you’re in a dangerous situation, here are the first three things you should
do:

1) Stop
2) Calm down
3) Think

Alex, the protagonist of ASHFALL, makes a lot of mistakes because of his impulsiveness, but
somehow manages to muddle through anyway. In the sequel, ASHEN WINTER, he’s grown and
matured, but the challenges facing him are even more difficult. How does he survive? You’ll
have to read it to find out.


Giselle: Thanks so much for dropping by, Mike! It’s true, really, intelligence will win in most situations. And those news stories were kind of sad for so many reasons O_O

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.

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Canadian blogger, wife, mother, coffee lover, and sarcastic at heart! She has had a love for all things bookish since before Amazon and eReaders existed *le gasp*. You can also find her organizing tours and other fun things at Xpresso Book Tours.
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27 Responses to “Review + Guest Post: Ashen Winter”

  1. Danny

    *giggles* * I love the list of survival tools and especially the brain!!! If I would find myself ever in this sitatuion (which I desperately hope will never happen) I’m sure you mostly you have to use your brain. But, a pistole certainly would help too :)

  2. Jac (For Love and Books)

    Ok, I’ll be honest. Yellowstone scares the bejeebus out of me!! And so this book? Well, I’m not sure if it’s for me…

    But it does sounds absolutely fabulous, and 5 Espressos? That usually means I’ll like it too. Maybe I should just prepare myself to go without sleep for awhile?

    -Jac @ For Love and Books

  3. Christina

    I just knew you would love this one, Giselle! I liked it a lot too, though I didn’t think Alex and Darla were quite the perfect team. That boy should never freaking ever be given a weapon, because he just drops them. He’s so much better at hand to hand combat. Every time they gave him a precious gun, I would cry, because then two minutes later he’d drop it for his enemies to pick up. lol.

  4. Ems

    I’m reading Ashen Winter right now and loving it. I think it might be better than Ashfall so far, which is saying something because I loved Ashfall. Mike Mullin is a brilliant author. Love his survival tips!

  5. Jennifer Messerschmidt

    Last time I was hear for an interview and I was totally talked into trying this series! So great to hear the sequel is such an action packed thrill ride! I still say I would never survive lol I think a gun and water filter are very important. Whenever I watch disaster movies I’m like grab the gun! I am not one who can stay calm. It depends. If I’m detached and it is happening to others I can step in and be calm. When a disaster is happening to me?! No way! I’d be freaking out thirsting to death within an hour. And yet this is six months later?! Yup no way! Great review and guest post! Thanks for sharing!

  6. Amy

    Great review and guest post!! I am super excited to get to this book. I loved Ashfall too. It was so great!! You have made me even more excited for this!!

  7. Mary @ BookSwarm

    I absolutely adored this first book–passed it directly into the hands of a fellow science teacher, as a matter of fact! The survival tool list is awesome. Definitely don’t go forgetting that brain (though we tend to do that when it’s a matter of survival and the adrenaline is pumping!).

  8. Eileen

    Haha you’re so enthusiastic about this series! :) And also, I never thought my brain would ever come in handy lol. If we all are in a Supervolcano, consider myself moving to Mike’s house indefinitely O_O Or maybe I’ll run to the bookstore and buy all the survival books and then think “WAIT I NEVER SPENT ALL MY GIFT CARDS AND I NEVER BOUGHT TAYLOR SWIFT’S ALBUM!” but that’s totally besides the point.

    Great guest post and review Giselle! I also really liked Ashen Winter, especially since I agree about you really caring about the characters throughout the story :)

  9. Nick

    Wow! Beautiful review, Giselle. I’ve heard great things about this series, but I had no idea it was THIS good. It seems like I’m really missing out.
    I need to check it out as soon as I can!
    The guest post is pretty freaking brilliant. I agree that the brain is a necessity! :)

  10. Unabridged Bookshelf

    I loved Ashfall, and Ashen Winter was even better if that is possible. The Ashfall series will probably one of my all time favorite, because it is just that amazing. GREAT review!! Love the survival list, and really your brains are the best tool!

  11. M.A.D.

    Mike’s bio is one of the best I’ve ever read! Which is hardly surprising, as his novel Ashfall is one of the best apocalyptic stories I’ve ever read <3

    The human brain – spot on! (I’m doomed)(we’re all gonna die) lol

    Yeah, I’ve got a sister out in Utah, and we’ve discussed, among other topics, Yellowstone. And, if I’m not mistaken, I think California also has a semi-super volcanic/caldera.

    Anyway, I’m in the Midwest. Near the New Madrid EQ fault system. I think Mike should make THAT his next writing project! ;)
    Mary DeBorde M.A.D.

  12. Chel

    Giselle, I am soooo glad you loved Ashen Winter! Ashfall was one of the most shocking books I read last year so I really can’t wait to get my hands on this. ;)

  13. russell1200

    I have both but haven’t read yet. I have a little (o.k. a lot) of catching up to do.

    Will Weaver’s Memory Boy was a good (whatever they call middle school age books) book, and has a sequal now.

    Susan Pfeffer’s YA series Life as We Knew is a classic, and it is the volcanoes that do most of the long term civilization crushing. No sun – eventually no food. Except for maybe mushrooms.

  14. Soma Rostam

    I have heard a lot about Ashfall and Ashen Winter.
    Even thinking that something like that can happen anytime in the world is so scary but yet so realistic..
    I love the covers and blurbs, too.
    Using the brain is definitely the most important survival technique ever! LOVED the guest post.
    Thanks Mike and Guselle for the AWESOME post.
    Your constant reader,
    Soma
    http://insomnia-of-books.blogspot.com/

  15. Jenni @ Alluring Reads

    YES! NON STOP! I freaking loved this book and at numerous times throughout I felt like I was holding my breath because I cared so much about the characters. I had no idea about the possibility of all of this and I mean a potential ICE AGE, definitely something to keep in the back of your mind.

    Love the guest post, so true! Alex is so quick to jump the gun and Darla is all about using her head. Though I will admit he did pretty good in this one… but then again he wasn’t really alone that long.

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