Review: The Road to Winter by Mark Smith

The Road to WinterThe Road to Winter by Mark Smith
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

ARC kindly provided by Text Publishing in exchange for an honest review.

Review

‘The Road to Winter’ definitely deserves the full four stars I’m giving it. It was a solid debut by Mark Smith and the only reason I didn’t give it a five star was because I felt that it didn’t have that something extra which would have made it better.
If you’re into adventure, an apocalyptic setting and hope, well then definitely give this novel a go. There was something about the storytelling that grew on you the further and further you went in. Instead of gripping you straight away, it slowly, gently dug its claws into your heart and your mind, never letting go.
I enjoyed the world this author created and this exploration of the effects of global warming on humanity. The catalyst for this world was the warming climate which sprung a deadly virus wiping out more women than men, with women becoming the most prized possession to the crumbling dystopian society.
The idea wasn’t all too original and felt as if it was a reused combo that was worn thin. The author could have introduced something special or different which would have made the novel stand out amongst its peers. This was partially the reason for my four star.
However what made the novel so good was how well it was written and its ability to convey moment and emotions with pristine clarity. Every moment I spent with this novel was like being submerged in a new world without choice or sliding into the shoes of the characters.
Finn was quite the character! Solidly created and flawlessly designed to slowly worm his way into your heart. I guess what I didn’t like about him was his unoriginality. Even though he was so well written, and seemed spectacularly like a real person, he too was an archetype too obvious and plain.
I enjoyed the pace with which the plot was set. It was definitely steadily paced and there was this consistency in it that I enjoyed but which others might bore with. I can’t say that there was much to be surprised with because there wasn’t. There weren’t any significant plot twists, revelations or surprises that I noticed. The ending was predictable but I enjoyed it nevertheless.
The way the novel ended left room for a sequel and some of my questions were definitely left unanswered. ‘The Road to Winter’ would be a series I’d gladly return to. This novel was a great foundation for one!
I’d definitely recommend this to any YA fan who’s into a quick read or would like some heroics and adventure without the deep, dark and depressing stuff most common to the dystopian or apocalyptic genres.
Congratulations to Mark Smith on a solid debut! Worthy of a sequel!

Rating Plan
1 star : Strongly did not like the book, writing and plot was bad. Idea of the book was against my liking.
2 star : Didn’t like it, didn’t find it interesting or gripping. Seemed to drag on to me.
3 star : An average book. Wasn’t bad or good. Everything else was well done. Original idea.
4 star : Like a 3 star but has potential to it as a series or the book grew on me as it progressed and certain scenes captured me. I Enjoyed it and read it in one sitting.
5 star : I LOVED IT! I stayed up late until 3 am. Author is a genius, characters, plot, idea, development, EVERYTHING was EXCELLENT. Nothing else can possibly be said except that its 5 STAR!

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Review: My Last Continent by Midge Raymond

My Last ContinentMy Last Continent by Midge Raymond
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

ARC kindly provided by Text Publishing in exchange for an honest review.

Review

‘My Last Continent’ is BEYOND description! Do you know those novels? The ones that you see and they instantly intrigue you with their something mysterious, secretive and very compelling? And you know beforehand that you’re going to have a love-hate relationship with this novel, but you deny it, deny it, deny it. And you know there is going to be a sad ending…but you convince yourself otherwise.
That was what ‘My Last Continent’ was like for me. I knew all this, but I refused to admit it. Some of you may consider this a spoiler, but I think of it more as a warning, a word of caution. This book is going to emotional destroy you, wreck you, DEMOLISH you, unless you are prepared. And somewhat fortified. I never was. And this is probably why I hate it so much…you know, in a loving way.
What drew me first was definitely the setting. I haven’t come across too many novels set in the frozen land of Antarctica. It sounded and seemed like such a brutally beautiful environment to me…something beyond my comprehension. And the atmosphere this novel exuded was beyond compare! The writing carried across every bit of emotion; every pang of loneliness; every pull of that blissful obsessiveness. It made you feel as the characters would, and I made you believe and understand, no matter how hard you resisted.
My beginning experience with the novel was one of enchantment, definite confusion, some disgust and a sprinkle of prejudice and judgement. I felt all these things about Deb, whose perspective this tale was told from. Deb’s scientific career battles with my own understanding and expectations of being woman, yet I felt bonded to her because I understood this battle she was fighting, regretting. In one part of the novel, one of the minor characters told Deb, “It’s either science or a family. A woman can’t have both”. This continues to plague me today.
What I found fascinating was that ‘My Last Continent’ was told in frequent flashbacks all given a time respective to a major event, which I will not give away. It used these moments to brim up some important issues and themes, yet did not dominant the novel with them. There was a very good mixture and balance of everything a reader could ask for: love, emotion, thought-provocation, meaning and romance.
Boy, the ROMANCE. I believe this is the part of the novel that I had most grievance with. Deb and Keller were both perfect and not for each other. There were so many issues between the two of them, let alone with themselves, but I always kept hoping, hoping, hoping. And when the book ended, I kept asking myself, “What if?”.
Congratulations to Midge Raymond on publishing the stupendously original and heart-wrecking novel, ‘My Last Continent’! Readers, don’t pick it up, and you’ll be doing yourself the WORST favour imaginable!

Rating Plan
1 star : Strongly did not like the book, writing and plot was bad. Idea of the book was against my liking.
2 star : Didn’t like it, didn’t find it interesting or gripping. Seemed to drag on to me.
3 star : An average book. Wasn’t bad or good. Everything else was well done. Original idea.
4 star : Like a 3 star but has potential to it as a series or the book grew on me as it progressed and certain scenes captured me. I Enjoyed it and read it in one sitting.
5 star : I LOVED IT! I stayed up late until 3 am. Author is a genius, characters, plot, idea, development, EVERYTHING was EXCELLENT. Nothing else can possibly be said except that its 5 STAR!

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Review: The War That Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

The War that Saved My LifeThe War that Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

ARC kindly provided by Text Publishing in exchange for an honest review.

Review

‘The War That Saved My Life’ is a great read for upper primary children! It embodied most of the themes that I loved to explore as a tween! Told in simple yet effective language, this really is a book worthy of its awards for me! Pick it up and read it, you’ll love it, no matter what age you are! Excellent for speed readers, too!
The beginning didn’t sit all that well for me. There wasn’t anything remarkable about the way the book was written, so the writing didn’t really capture me or pull me in. I couldn’t sense anything unique or special about this novel; it was just another one of those average, three star novels perfect for primary children who’d enjoy a simple read.
Yet as I delved deeper and deeper into the story, I genuinely started to enjoy it and would often find myself thinking about it: about what would happen next and if events turned out the way I hoped they would. I definitely turned into one of those thought provoking, simple stories which enamoured its reader.
What I enjoyed most, is probably the interaction between the characters and how Jamie, Ada and Miss Susan Smith all explored what it is to be a family; having a place of belonging and identity; as well as hardships and difficulties during a hard time in human history. I was wary of this novel becoming too difficult in the sense that it delved too deep and darkly into these issues, but I really shouldn’t have feared anything. ‘The War That Saved My Life’ explored it with a delicacy and enlightenment that warmed my spirit.
It’s written entirely in first person narrative in past tense from Ada’s perspective. The novel also travelled at a slow but steady pace for me, mainly because it was told in chronological order. I’m not sure whether I dislike this or not, as it seemed a good fit for this tale.
The pace definitely picked up towards the end! I believe this is where I enjoyed it most! There was more excitement and EVENTS that occurred, which is what probably left such a positive opinion in me.
This is definitely a book you’ve got to stick with. The more you read, the more you’ll come to love it!
It definitely touches base on some mental illnesses such as PTSD but in such a discreet way, I almost didn’t notice it!
There was nothing overly original about ‘The War That Saved My Life’, but if you’re up for a light read that warms your soul and uses some historical events, it’s a great one!
Congratulations to Kimberly Brubaker Bradley on publishing a highly-recommended read for upper primary children!

Rating Plan
1 star : Strongly did not like the book, writing and plot was bad. Idea of the book was against my liking.
2 star : Didn’t like it, didn’t find it interesting or gripping. Seemed to drag on to me.
3 star : An average book. Wasn’t bad or good. Everything else was well done. Original idea.
4 star : Like a 3 star but has potential to it as a series or the book grew on me as it progressed and certain scenes captured me. I Enjoyed it and read it in one sitting.
5 star : I LOVED IT! I stayed up late until 3 am. Author is a genius, characters, plot, idea, development, EVERYTHING was EXCELLENT. Nothing else can possibly be said except that its 5 STAR!

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Review: The Life of Elves by Muriel Barbery

The Life of ElvesThe Life of Elves by Muriel Barbery
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

ARC kindly provided by Text Publishing in exchange for an honest review.

Review

‘The Life of Elves’ was everything I had – COULD have – hoped it could be! Unbelievably enchanting, I fell in love with it within the first sentence. This was one of my most wanted-to-read novels in my review-copy pile, and I must say, that it has probably surpassed them ALL!
What I really loved about the novel was the standard of the writing. This is what I always look for whenever I open a book. And I was BEYOND thrilled to read such a high quality piece! The writing was incredibly complex and it took me a little while to get used to the change of sentence structure in some sentences, but when I finally adopted the rhythm, BOY DID I LOVE IT!
And the whole idea behind the story was overwhelmingly beautiful and poetic. I cannot describe how magical and surreal it was to read this astonishing novel! It was a pure treasure in my hands; one I intend to read over and over again.
I thought the plot was spectacularly laid out. Everything just made sense in the way it was laid out and presented. It pulled and made you curious then it revealed and you were in stunned awe. I thought the pace could have been picked up a little more as the middle progressed a tiny bit too slow for me. Otherwise, I have no qualms with the plot.
I was – and currently very much AM – in love with the way the novel was written. It was written in second narrative. And oh my gosh it was to DIE for! It brought an interesting depth and took place NOW and wouldn’t let you go. And the change of perspectives made it all the better. The novel didn’t just stick with Maria’s and Clara’s perspectives, it constantly changed to the ones around them, and this is also what made it so special.
The supporting characters themselves were nothing to be pushed aside. Rich, vibrant, compelling, and very, VERY real, they were beyond the creations of a pen. They were real people.
This is not a young-adult book, but I would recommend it to anyone over the age of ten. It is too spectacular to miss out on. Too much of a treasure to be passed by and left unread.
But what made it so unforgettable was the quite, powerful and awe-inspiring atmosphere that exuded itself from the novel. ‘The Life of Elves’ is truly a masterpiece, not only in the way it was written, but because it made you feel and it explored the power of nature and art to its fullest.
Congratulations to Muriel Barbery on publishing a contemporary classic! I cannot wait for the sequel!

Rating Plan
1 star : Strongly did not like the book, writing and plot was bad. Idea of the book was against my liking.
2 star : Didn’t like it, didn’t find it interesting or gripping. Seemed to drag on to me.
3 star : An average book. Wasn’t bad or good. Everything else was well done. Original idea.
4 star : Like a 3 star but has potential to it as a series or the book grew on me as it progressed and certain scenes captured me. I Enjoyed it and read it in one sitting.
5 star : I LOVED IT! I stayed up late until 3 am. Author is a genius, characters, plot, idea, development, EVERYTHING was EXCELLENT. Nothing else can possibly be said except that its 5 STAR!

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Review: Fever at Dawn by Peter Gardos

Fever at DawnFever at Dawn by Péter Gárdos
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

ARC kindly provided by Text Publishing in exchange for an honest review.

Review

What I fell in love with ‘Fever at Dawn’ was the strong sense of love and hope that I felt RADIATING and EXPELLING itself from the blurb. I am an absolute SUCKER for romance stories, especially historical ones. Don’t even get me started on those based on true stories, and without exception, those full of letters. I really felt like everything was going to line up for me with this novel and I wasn’t wrong.
I was intrigued with the writing style which the author used, and the way the actual novel was written. It was written in third person narrative and all told from the author’s point of view! Due to the novel being based on the letters of his parents, it should have made sense but I originally thought that the novel would probably be told from his parents’ perspectives. I thought this was a nice surprise and it really added this sort of wider view of everything. As if you were the sole person this story was taking place for!
What I loved, and what originally appealed to me ALOT, was that the story was so full of hope and love in the aftermath of a war that brought hopelessness, hate and loss. World War Two really was horrific and I was actually afraid that the novel would get TOO deep for me and that it would show the troubles and problems and issues that SO MANY NOVELS LIKE THIS DO! I was mentally prepared to emotionally tear myself apart…
Yet to my yet ANOTHER lovely surprise, ‘Fever at Dawn’ wasn’t like that at all! It was all about finding after losing and the struggle to find oneself and love again despite all the odds.
I HIGHLY recommend this novel to those who are in want of an easy, light read that still captured the very essence of war novels.
I thought the pace was good and the way that the author revealed everything surprisingly gentle and patient. You could FEEL the love that the author was not ONLY trying to carry across, but the meaning it held to him through every word, letter and full stop.
Despite all, I believe what let me down in the end was the plot. Whilst this was a good story and the romance so heartbreakingly sweet, it didn’t really pull me in and EMOTIONALLY connect with me. I wanted this story to wrap me up and pull me in. I wanted to cry and laugh and shiver in anticipation for every single moment.
Unfortunately, I think part of the problem WAS the way ‘Fever at Dawn’ was told: through the author’s perspective. It didn’t allow me as a reader to connect myself to the characters and experience the story as they were experiencing it.
Great translating by Elizabeth Szaz from the Hungarian language on behalf of Peter Gardos! Beautiful prose and grammar!
Congratulations to Peter Gardos on publishing a unique and enthralling novel, ‘Fever at Dawn’!

Rating Plan
1 star : Strongly did not like the book, writing and plot was bad. Idea of the book was against my liking.
2 star : Didn’t like it, didn’t find it interesting or gripping. Seemed to drag on to me.
3 star : An average book. Wasn’t bad or good. Everything else was well done. Original idea.
4 star : Like a 3 star but has potential to it as a series or the book grew on me as it progressed and certain scenes captured me. I Enjoyed it and read it in one sitting.
5 star : I LOVED IT! I stayed up late until 3 am. Author is a genius, characters, plot, idea, development, EVERYTHING was EXCELLENT. Nothing else can possibly be said except that its 5 STAR!

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Review: Iris and the Tiger by Leanne Hall

Iris and the TigerIris and the Tiger by Leanne Hall
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

ARC kindly provided by Text Publishing in exchange for an honest review.

Review

‘Iris and the Tiger’ is one of those small, hidden, national treasures you stumble upon quite randomly and end up falling in love with. This is my third work read by the wonderful, fellow Aussie and author, Leanne Hall. I knew to expect something quite new, refreshing and definitely magical, fantastical and somewhat bizarre. And I was NOT disappointed!
‘Iris and the Tiger’ is probably my favourite novel out of the three the author has already published. It was bright and gave me a very, VERY colourful reading experience. But I’ll talk about that later. I’d strongly recommend this novel for kids of nine years to fourteen, though some teens and tweens may not find it AS enjoyable since this novels main target audience is children.
I loved the author’s writing. There has always been something…that indescribably beautiful, engaging and intriguing thing…that just wouldn’t let me go! The writing is so smooth and flowing it’s probably smoother than a baby’s BUM! And so, so, so professional! It just SCREAMED maturity, talent and skill!
The blurb really doesn’t do the novel justice. It only gives you the barest of hints as to what the novel is ACTUALLY about. So let me tell you: ‘Iris and the Tiger’ is about twelve-year-old, half Aussie, half Chinese, Iris who has been sent by her scheming and ambitious parents on a ten-day trip to Spain. Found in Spain is her wealthy, land-owning and slightly crazy great-aunt who Iris’s parents are certain is on her death-bed and this means that Iris needs to convince her great aunt Ursula that she is the one who should inherit the money and sprawling estate. But during her ten-day stay, Iris notices something different, special and almost magical is happening on those estate grounds. And when Iris discovers a mysterious painting called “Iris and the Tiger” she is intent on figuring out its origins and why the painting has no tiger, and realises that maybe, there’s more to life than just her parents and an inheritance.
Yet another thing I loved were the characters. They are SO amusing and special and unique and very Spanish-ly extravagant! I loved their actions and personalities and thoughts! They touched my soul at times and at other made me furious. They scared me and MADE ME CARE! I have never met characters like these before, and that’s a fact!
The setting was absolutely beautiful! Spain must be such a lovely country and this novel really made me want to go and see it, to discover its hidden, untouched places. I loved that the language the author used really helped to carry this across and paint this in my minds eyes.
The plot was well laid out and there was nothing especially unique about its structure. I enjoyed the third person narrative it was written in from Iris’s perspective as it allowed for me as a reader to kind of take in ALL and everything.
There wasn’t much in the way of a great big conflict, but that was okay because…
THE ENDING MADE IT ALL BETTER! I loved how satisfying it felt and the way it wrapped everything up so cleanly! It brought a kind of deep calm and happiness to me when I finished the novel. I am ENAMOURED with this novel!
Congratulations to Leanne Hall on publishing a spectacular children’s standalone.

Rating Plan
1 star : Strongly did not like the book, writing and plot was bad. Idea of the book was against my liking.
2 star : Didn’t like it, didn’t find it interesting or gripping. Seemed to drag on to me.
3 star : An average book. Wasn’t bad or good. Everything else was well done. Original idea.
4 star : Like a 3 star but has potential to it as a series or the book grew on me as it progressed and certain scenes captured me. I Enjoyed it and read it in one sitting.
5 star : I LOVED IT! I stayed up late until 3 am. Author is a genius, characters, plot, idea, development, EVERYTHING was EXCELLENT. Nothing else can possibly be said except that its 5 STAR!

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