Ashfall by Mike Mullen

Ashfall by Mike Mullen
Ashfall by Mike Mullen


In Ashfall by Mike Mullen, Alex is left  behind in Iowa for the weekend when his parents and younger sister head to Warren, Illinois for a visit. Alex is happy to be left on his own until the super volcano under Yellowstone erupts and sends the whole world into chaos. After his home is destroyed, Alex decides to head into the ashfall aftermath to find his family. The journey is becomes increasingly dangerous as food and supplies run low and the the worst side of humanity begins to show its face.

I would recommend this book for older teens– probably 15 and up. The story is detailed and can be a bit gory because of the realism the author strives to maintain. It’s not a book for the teen reader who wants light, fun fiction because this is a story that could actually happen.

Tibetan Peach Pie

Poor Tom Robbins. He can’t help himself. He just runs on and on.

“My antipathy for golf is no doubt due to a certain prejudice against the men most often associated with amateur golfing: county-club types who use the links to make contacts, seal deals, swap information, in in general advance business careers without seeming to be conducting business; and, more recently in our social history, the kind of blue-collar round-the-clock sports nuts who consider the Super Bowl the crowning achievement of Western Civilization, and for whom golf, unlike hockey, say, or football, is an opportunity to participate personally in a sport in which “real athletes” also perform.”

I got about 1/3 through the book before I realized it tired me out to keep reading.

“Bittersweet” by Miranda Beverly-Whitemore

Bittersweet “Bittersweet”centers around the wealthy Winslow family and Mabel Dagmar, an outsider. When Mabel’s college roommate, Ev, invites her to spend the summer at the Winslow ‘compound’, Mabel grabs the opportunity to to have a magical summer. What she finds instead are sordid secrets and twisted family ties. Although the novel has a few fast-paced events, it mostly is slow-moving and dragged out. The almost 400-page book could have been edited more. An interesting plot on which to base a story that was not superbly executed. I am somewhat ‘bittersweet’ at the hours and time spent reading this less than radiant book.

“The Buddha in the Attic”

Julie Otsuka’s “The Buddha in the Attic” was published in 2011.  This small book in size and length is a wonderful picture of the life of Japanese picture brides.  Beginning in the early years of the twentieth century, Otsuka poignantly captured the anxiety and anticipation of young Japanese women who were sailing to San Francisco to meet their future husbands.  These women were given pictures of the men they would marry by their Japanese matchmakers.  The pictures and information about these men were for the most part fiction.  They weren’t young and well-off, but much older and field workers or fishermen.  In spite of their disappointment, these women stayed with these men, slept with them, bore their children, and worked side-by side with them in the fields and at sea.

“The Buddha in the Attic” follows these women from their first days at sea to the beginning of WWII.  Julie Otsuka weaves her extensive research of this period with a real understanding of Japanese culture.  Written as almost a litany of experiences, Otsuka was able to capture the despair, loneliness, and inner strength that helped these women survive.

BuzzKill by Beth Fantaskey

41AFqVHaK6L._AA160_This YA novel by Beth Fantaskey was refreshing because it didn’t aspire to more than it was. Millie Ostermeyer is a high-school senior who discovers the bludgeoned body of Honeywell High’s not-so-beloved football coach while covering a story for the school paper. Her father, the mayor and the assistant football coach, quickly becomes the prime suspect because apparently being the head football coach is every man’s grand life ambition. Millie sets out to discover who murdered the coach with the aid of the hot quarterback Chase Albright, a young man with his own mysterious past that Millie wants to unravel.

This was a funny book and really cute. I really enjoyed the fact that the tone was very appropriate to the age group. It also mentioned Nancy Drew and Millie had “her librarian,” Ms. Parkins, to help guide her in her information searches and in life. I’d give it a solid B.