#LoveOzYA Reads

The Road To Winter
Yet To Be Titled Series Book One
Written by Mark Smith
Apocalyptic, Survival, #LoveOzYA
Published June 27th 2016
240 Pages
Thanks to Text Publishing
Add to Goodreads
★★★☆
Since a deadly virus and the violence that followed wiped out his parents and most of his community, Finn has lived alone on the rugged coast with only his loyal dog Rowdy for company.

He has stayed alive for two winters, hunting and fishing and trading food, and keeping out of sight of the Wilders, an armed and dangerous gang that controls the north, led by a ruthless man named Ramage.

But Finn’s isolation is shattered when a girl runs onto the beach. Rose is a Siley, an asylum seeker, and she has escaped from Ramage, who had enslaved her and her younger sister, Kas. Rose is desperate, sick, and needs Finn’s help. Kas is still missing somewhere out in the bush.
And Ramage wants the girls back, at any cost.
In the sleepy coastal town of Angowrie, they had thought the isolation would have protected the community from the virus that has spread throughout Australia. As the population diminishes, sixteen year old Finn and his companion Rowdy are surviving off the land while hiding in his small off road abode. In an act of defiance against the new world, Sam finds peace in the turbulent waves in between storm fronts crossing the coast and it's there where he discovers Rose, a girl on the run.

Rose is a Siley, an asylum seeker who arrived in Australia with her younger sister and was sent to work on the mainland. After society begun to break down, Rose and her sister are being hunted by the Wilders, a group of violent, rogue men. Females are scarce, the virus having effected mostly women and girls as it spread across the country which makes the liberated sisters a valuable commodity.

But when Rose falls ill it'll be left to Finn to find Kashmala, before the Wilders take her captive or find Rose first.

My Thoughts

The Road To Winter was a wonderful read that lured me in with it's premise and left me wanting more. Finn is a remarkable young man. Having lost his mother two years ago to the virus spreading across the country, his father passing as a result of a violent outbreak in town, Finn's only company is his canine companion Rowdy and the sound of the waves which beckon him. He's self sufficient, hunting, fishing and trading his fresh catches with a local farmer in exchange for fruit and vegetables. It's a meager existence and he's simply surviving rather than living. Until he meets Rose.

Rose's fear is palpable. She's on the run from the Wilders and escaped when she and sister Kashmala were separated and is desperate to find her before the viscous Ramage and his Wilders find them both. Although weary to share her story, Rose's life has been a traumatic struggle of imprisonment and ownership. Having arrived in Australia as an asylum seeker, the girls were given to a local family while adults were placed in detention centers. Siley's are owned by Australian families, used to work on the land and denied an education or a basic duty of care.

I loved the social messages woven throughout the storyline. It touches on the social injustice of basic human rights and the plight of refugees within Australia, gently and with care. The barren Australian coastline was vivid, a simple existence that captivated with so few words. But as much as I had enjoyed the storyline overall, the backstory felt lacking.

As a reader, I need to know how the portrayed world came to be, why does the virus effect more females than males? Before communication was left abandoned, how far did the virus spread? Finn himself also talks about how his town assumed there would be government intervention, a cure or precautions to help stem the deadly virus from spreading. Were capital cities effected? I can understand that a character of sixteen is unable to provide answers, apart from bigoted speculation that those seeking asylum had brought the virus to our shores. I hope that book two in the currently unnamed series is able to provide more information as the storyline progresses.

Overall, it was a quick, yet entertaining read. Although Finn's character is likable, I wanted to feel an emotional connection to his character but couldn't quite get there. It could be that I tend to find the female perspective more enjoyable as a narrative, but that's simply personal preference. Regardless, a wonderful debut and I look forward to reading the next series installment.



A Toaster on Mars
Written by Darrell Pitt
Middle Grade, Humour, Science Fiction, #LoveOzYA
Published 30th May 2016
Thank you to Text Publishing
Add to Goodreads
★★★
Teenagers on skateboards jumped off walkways, dropped a dozen floors and activated rockets to safely land walkways below. Blake took a deep breath, inhaling something that smelt like a cross between burnt plastic and toffee apple.

Neo City, 2509.

After a series of operational bungles, as well as the accidental death of his partner, special agent Blake Carter’s career at the Planetary Bureau of Investigation is in trouble. To make matters worse, he’s just been assigned a new partner, and the beautiful and brilliant Nicki Steel happens to be a cyborg.

When universe famous criminal Bartholomew Badde steals a weapon capable of destroying whole planets at a time, Blake and Nicki must work together to recover it, an investigation that takes them to all corners of the weird and wonderful galaxy. But things get serious when Badde kidnaps Blake’s teenage daughter, Lisa. Can Blake prove he’s still a first rate agent, not to mention father, and save Lisa in time?
Blake works as an agent for the Planetary Bureau of Investigation, solving temporal crimes that are beyond the realm for the local law enforcement. A recent divorcee, middle aged and balding, Blake works in the busy metropolis of Neo City where his career has been spent trying to capture notorious criminal Bartholomew Badde, who aspires to be history's greatest villain.

Badde plans on using a device to wipe out all technology and electrical devices on Earth, plunging the planet into a Dark Age unless his demands are met. But after his last investigation resulted in a near death experience, Blake will be forced to take on a partner and none other than Special Agent Nikki Steel.

Nikki is no ordinary agent, she's a cyborg, with golden skin and a thirst for fighting crime and it isn't long before the two agents discover that Badde wants more than monetary gain when he takes Blake's daughter Lisa captive. To secure her release, Blake and Nikki must break into a secure underground facility where they are to steal a computer super virus simply known as Maria.

Along with the help of his former wife, Blake and Nikki have but only days to pull off the impossible heist or risk losing Lisa forever.

My Thoughts

A Toaster on Mars was a satirical and fun space adventure that will appeal to lovers of slapstick comedy. Set in the year 2509, it follows the storyline of Blake Carter, middle aged gruff agent who investigates universal temporal crimes and those beyond the capabilities of local law enforcement. Seeing Blake isn't all that likable as a character, thank goodness for his new partner, cyborg Nikki Steel. Nikki is a tough, no nonsense agent who plays by the rules. Thrown together, the two must hunt down the galaxy's most notorious criminal who plans to annihilate Earth through destroying all technological advances. But when Badde kidnaps Blake's daughter, they must work together with wanted villain or his daughter faces a life of torture.

'That's right', Badde said.
'I have an entire box set of The Brady Bunch and I'm prepared to use them.'

Although written as a middle grade slash early teen adventure, the main character is a middle aged, gruff man and his cyborg sidekick and unfortunately I tended to lose interest throughout. The reader experiences brief glimpses of Lisa's point of view as she's being held captive, but the main focus was placed on Blake's interstellar adventure. Like most readers, children and teens also enjoy being able to place themselves within a storyline and I feel as though that probably isn't the case here.

The humour is silly slapstick, groan worthy dad jokes and eye rolling cliches but if the intended middle grade audience can forgive the abundance of adult characters, it's still an enjoyable read. With the only likable character being the villainous Badde, the humour didn't work for me unfortunately. I did enjoy the simplistic world building, especially Elvisworld, where Elvis impersonators have been imprisoned.

But strictly for the intended audience though I'm afraid.

9 comments

  1. You read mightily fast, Kelly! These books - interesting, though as they were - might be tough to come by up here in my neck of the woods. I'm glad you enjoyed them, nonetheless and I'm looking forward to reading more from this hashtag. Lol.

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    1. These were pretty short and snappy reads Joy, probably more so suited to a young teen audience as I found both a bit lacking unfortunately. But I'm excited to see where The Road To Winter will lead. Pardon the pun.

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  2. Thanks for sharing! I really do need to try more Aussie lit. I've heard great things and I've read some awesome books by Aussie authors in the past. I'm glad to see you enjoyed both of these.

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    1. Australian young adult is absolutely rocking this year, so many blended genres and the depth of author talent is amazing!

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  3. Double #LoveOzYA !!!

    Rowdy! What an awesome dog name, I'm seeing him as a cattle-dog cross in a muddy brown colour.

    I tend to find it easier to connect with a female narrator / protagonist as I tend to see myself (well a variation of myself) as the character (if that makes sense).

    I love slapstick and bad dad jokes! I'll have to check both of these out on Goodreads :-) :-)

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    1. I do too Sarah. I think the female perspective allows me to also connect emotionally with a character as well.

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  4. Okay, I want to read both of these. I just need to go on a Aussie reading binge.

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    1. You totally do Christy, would love to see you picking up a few Aussie reads to enjoy. If you're looking for something specific, I have a tab if you scroll up that has all of the Aussie reads I've reviewed so far and their links.

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  5. LOL oh man those dad jokes in A Toaster on Mars kind of sounds hilarious, but I am quite intrigued by the premise. I'm looking forward to reading A Road to Winter particularly with the social messages and the survival aspect of it.

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