Tag Archives: england

Review: In the Shadow of Winter

In the Shadow of WinterIn the Shadow of Winter by Lorna Gray
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Source: eARC courtesy of publisher

For some reason, I had a different impression of the blurb. I’m blaming it on my currently permanent status of babybrain. Somehow, I thought the stranger rescued had amnesia… I love this type of stories! He didn’t have amnesia at all so I was a little disappointed but I did quite enjoy the book anyway. I’ve just read A Time of Secrets which is also set in 1940s in Australia which I loved (my blurb). These readings weren’t planned to be back to back but as it happened, of course, I’d automatically compare these 2 historical fiction works… I think I might like this book better if I didn’t read it right after A Time of Secrets.

I loved the descriptive narrative employed by Lorna Gray in In the Shadow of Winter. She’s made nature come alive and I could feel the crispness of the snow, see the cold puffs of horses’ breaths, and oh… those hot cups of tea just sound so divine. I’ve never been to England though I’d like to one day visit nor am I someone who would live on a farm but I do really want to now. Despite the hardship felt by Eleanor (shortage & rations due to WW2), everything sounds beautiful & appealing. This, I believe, is contributed by Eleanor’s love of her surrounding area, her horses, and her highly sympathetic nature. She is an easily likeable character; generous, loving, courageous, funny, and at times, clumsy –in other words, human… a woman who is just like your best friend.

The mystery element was interesting enough. The ending was hardly surprising but I do love following Eleanor and Matthew sleuthing around. There were that combination of tension (of discovery and of romance) that was just lovely. The one surprising thing with this novel is just how clean the romance is! There is barely a kiss and even then, so very circumspect. I’m not complaining as the romance is still quite sweet especially when you consider the world these characters are inhabiting. I’d describe is as just a tad more racy than Jane Austen’s 😉

I could just imagine myself reading this in the middle of winter curled up in a very comfy armchair by a roaring fire with a rug over my lap and a very hot cuppa nearby. It would’ve been just the perfect setting to read In the Shadow of Winter. As it is (we’re in Autumn in Australia), I really had to depend on the author’s words to bring me her world and she truly had me ensconced in British winter. It was a lovely & easy-going read for my busy mummy days.

Thanks to HarperImpulse for copy of eARC via NetGalley in exchange of honest review

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Review: The Screaming Staircase

staircaseThe Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Source: eARC courtesy of publisher via NetGalley

Until the last few years, I rarely read children’s books as I find that I’m usually a bit impatient with them. However, I’m trying to change this habit because I’d like to know what my son will be reading when he’s ready to read on his own. Not only that, I’d like to be able to recommend books to him with the gusto of a contemporary (I’ll probably be one of those really embarrassing mums!). Hence, my picking up one or two children’s books these past few years. The particular reason that this book attracted my attention was the title and the similarity of it to a favourite series I read when I was growing up.

The series was called Alfred Hitchcock and The Three Investigators with the particular title I had in mind being The Mystery of the Screaming Clock. This was a series loved by my family, the screamingbooks were passed from brother to sister, sister to sister, aunt to nephew, etc (I’m not quite sure where they are at this point in time, overseas, but they are a family treasure). The three teen detectives are made up of the quirky chubby genius boy, the not-so-intelligent-but-athletic boy, and a smaller boy who’s very good at research. These characterisation I found to be similar to Lockwood & Co., not necessarily the same but more of a mix-match sort of similarity.

The basis of this story is not something new or totally unique. There are a lot of ghost stories out there and who doesn’t know Ghostbusters? But Jonathan Stroud has successfully created an exciting world full of old wonders and new adventures. It is a world where only the talented young are able to detect these spectres and therefore have the capabilities of banishing them.

The characters were mysterious, appealing, and (some are) quite repulsive. There were quite a few suspenseful moments thought I can’t comment on the level of scariness as I am an adult and I didn’t find it scary at all. However, know that I rarely read horror novels because I am a scaredy cat. There were a few back and forth jumps in time at the beginning of the novel which may make for a shaky start but I completely enjoyed the smooth (though spine tingling) ride later on. This is definitely not a world I would like to live in, for real, but definitely one I love to read.

Needless to say, I absolutely adored The Screaming Staircase. With a great plot, fun characters, and marvellous world building, you will not fail to love this book. I, for one, am impatient to, one day, introduce this to my son and at the same time, will watch for the next instalment of this series so I can read it for my own enjoyment. I highly recommend this book to all adventurous sorts out there (real or vicariously) 😉

Thanks to Doubleday Childrens & The Reading Room for the eARC via NetGalley

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