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The Gifts of Life

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A multi-award winning debut akin to The Hunger Games, Game of Thrones and Deltora Quest, creating a modern fantasy adventure fuelled by survival with a new twist on extraordinary powers.

Inside this book hides a magical world that is celebrating something special! It's that time of year where every major city gathers for another Ascension Day. But this year it's different.
Inside, awaiting and resting, are Perry's powers. On this day, he, his friends and everyone else who lives and breathes, can use their powers through the ceremony of a godlike light. But this day is different!
Inside the White City there is an evil army. After the destruction of his home, Perry finds himself lost with his best friend, his sister and their servant, Bailey, an Ever who leads them to safety.
Outside, on their journey, the group is forced to use their powers. But as time fades, so does their humanity. Releasing their gifts of life to the world, only leads to mutation. And what was, may never be, but this time it's different.
From the plains of the White City, Kelton Whide, to the forest of the Green City, Everbreen, nature takes its course. And where the Panda talks, a Masked Man mumbles and many white orchids turn to red, what is sacrificed inside this book leaves this magical world truely in awe!

540 pages, Paperback

First published July 21, 2018

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About the author

Oliver Smuhar

4 books67 followers
A young Australian award winning author living in Sydney, NSW. He recently finished a Bachelors of Communications' Journalism at the University of Technology Sydney. In 2018 he published his first book 'The Gifts of Life' and aims to create a series as well as many other novels within the upcoming years. In 2019 he was awarded the 'Reviewers Choice Award for Best Book Written by an Author Age 18 or Under' and the '2018-2019 Global Award' for Australia.

Where you can find me:
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Displaying 1 - 16 of 16 reviews
Profile Image for Oliver Smuhar.
Author 4 books67 followers
June 1, 2020
Well, what can I say! I was pretty young when the first edition of this book was publishing. Now older and wiser I've added improvements with grammar, 37 new drawings for chapters, 12 new paintings to add depth to characters, 2 new city maps and 4 floor plans, which help make the world live and breath. However, these additions were not the point of this rerelease!

The Gifts of Life: Colourful Edition is an invitation to everyone. We are going to go on a new journey. Something that has never been done before. That much I can promise.

It is the beginning to my own little magnum opus. However, unlike Robert Jordan or Brandon Sanderson, as my characters grow from 16, to 19, to 23 and so on, so will I. I’m going to learn and age with my characters and my audience and as this happens my writing will improve and be more rewarding.

This isn't just the new edition, No, this is the start of a long evolution of not only Perry and Faith's lives, but of my life as a writer, storyteller and creator. I put as much effort as I could muster to create this book and am taking the criticisms and feedback into consideration while editing this book's sequels.

If you've read this book please let me know you honest opinion so I can improve my craft and make better stories. That is my ultimate goal and I believe that this is a fantastic beginning to a story that will be filled more more twists and turns, more hardship, more philosophy, more tales of friendship, originality and adventure.

So come join me on this journey and let's grow together, laugh together and maybe learn something along the way.
Profile Image for Dianne.
6,765 reviews579 followers
June 11, 2020
Prepare to leave reality behind and enter the world of THE GIFTS OF LIFE by Oliver Smuhar. Written for young adults, this author has nailed the dialogue, the attitude and the unsinkable strength of youth.

On a day of celebration, the one day all can use their magical powers, evil has entered the city and death and destruction turns life into a nightmare. With nothing else to do but leave, a group of teens will embark on an incredible journey of discovery, change and sacrifice.

Definitely geared for young adults, perhaps from a specific geographic area, I admit I had a bit of a time with the dialogue, which sometimes through me out of the story. The characters are mostly well-written and developed, growing throughout a story that, at times seemed to be just a little too detailed.

Oliver Smuhar knows his audience and has done a wonderful job in creating a world of possibilities for younger readers to enter!

I received a complimentary copy from Oliver Smuhar! This is my honest and voluntary review.

Publisher: Mountain Blue Publishing (July 23, 2018)
Publication Date: July 23, 2018
Genre: YA Fantasy
Print Length: 578 pages
Available from: Amazon
For Reviews, Giveaways, Fabulous Book News, follow: http://tometender.blogspot.com
Profile Image for Amanda.
193 reviews45 followers
May 17, 2020
I would like to thank the author for my copy of the ARC, due to this kind gesture I have decided to leave an honest review.

I have sort of struggled with what rating to give The Gifts of Life. The book is written extremely well and the world-building is amazing but the story wasn't really for me as it was a tad on the younger side of YA. I have decided to go on 3 stars.

The story is very promising, starts well and there are many characters, the issue I had was they all were very similar so I was getting mixed up with who is who. The book is told by Perry & Faiths POV and I would also get mixed up who was narrating if I put the book down.

I didn't really connect with any the characters so I find this was one of my huge issues. I genuinely think this was due to the book being more set for an older middle-grade/very young adult audience. I found Perry extremely frustrating and very self-entitled. The way he was with Bailey I just can't, actually the way he spoke to everyone grated on me lol. I did, however, have an extremely soft spot for Tea.

The book could feel a bit disjointed at times and it would completely confuse me, but it was actually really easy to get back into the swing of it. The story shows great friendships, teens finding themselves sprinkled with magic and adventure!

Was this a bad book, certainly not. I believe Smuhar is just at the start of a very successful career as an author. His ideas are fresh and enticing. I do believe this is going to be a huge hit with older middle-graders moving into their young teens and I do look forward to reading more from this author!
Profile Image for Natasa.
1,163 reviews
May 7, 2020
This novel was provided free of charge by the author in exchange for an honest review.

“The Gifts of Life” takes readers on a magical adventure. The storyline is unique, and the world author has made has been established through a lot of time, and with plenty of details, with strong fantasy plotline and elements, it’s a story of survival, discovering and learning how to work together to find freedom, friendship, and strength.

I find this book to be a fascinating read and I’m looking forward to reading more from this author.
Profile Image for Siobhan.
4,407 reviews463 followers
November 5, 2019
I hate being the first person to leave a review that is not glowing, but in the case of The Gifts of Life the book simply wasn’t for me. I’m sure it will be for many others, as there are plenty of things that will leave readers happy to power through the book, but in my case it wasn’t the kind of book I’m crazy about.

I think the biggest thing is that the book was much younger than I expected. I’m extremely picky about my young adult reads, as I prefer it when books deal with heavier issues and are darker, and in this case the book didn’t fall into the category I enjoy. It was too young adult, making it great for other readers but meaning I was not lost to it. As it was, I found I could not get invested in the characters even though I was curious about the development of the story.

As I said, however, this is just me. The book wasn’t quite for me and due to that I found myself skimming at points, which I hate to do. For others, I’m sure the book will be great, as there is no denying there is potential for Oliver Smuhar’s future.
Profile Image for Amazeballs Book Addicts.
2,770 reviews239 followers
January 12, 2020
The Gifts of Life is a good read. I generally like quick books that don't take too long to read. When I decided to read this one, I haven't realized how long it was. I was afraid that the story wouldn't be interesting enough to keep my interest through all the pages but that wasn't the case. Once I started reading the story kept pulling me back in.

It's told in Perry and Faith's POVs. I liked the dual POVs but I had to make sure I didn't put the book down in the middle of a chapter so I wouldn't forget who's POV it was in but other then that I moving from different POV went smoothly. I really liked Perry. He was my favorite character in the story. A lot of the characters were very likable. Sometimes the characters seem just like normal kids but this is a fantasy read so they are much more the normal teens.
Profile Image for Ryan Buckby.
640 reviews83 followers
June 14, 2020
Thank you to the author who sent me a free copy of the book in exchange for a review, all opinions in this review are my own.

actual rating: 3.5/5 stars

I liked Oliver's debut novel and this story follows Perry and his friends who on 'Ascension Day' are all able to use their powers at a heightened state.

I did have a few little misgivings with the dialogue in the beginning of the book and did have trouble getting through it but in the end i managed to get through that patch and really enjoy the story. The world building is really good as well with everything described so i had a perfect imagine in my head of what the world looked while i was reading it. The characters also were all fleshed out and grew with the story which i liked.

I do believe however some parts of the story were a little to detailed and could have been dialled back in the aspects of story and characters.

Oliver really knows how to target his book however which i believe would be perfect for the for Late teens and Young adults and i believe they would enjoy the story being told.

Once again thank you to the author who sent me a free copy of the book.

'The Gifts Of Life' is a promising story and a very good start for Oliver who i believe will had a good career out of this.
Profile Image for Clint (thebooksandpages).
23 reviews9 followers
November 16, 2020
“To be what we truly are we often lose the things that makes us normal.”
- Oliver Smuhar, The Gifts of Life

This book is about a world name Euphoria and it is where people have this celebration every year which they call Ascension Day. During this annual celebration, they light a beacon to temporarily use their powers. Each citizen of Euphoria has different crests on their wrist. Each has different colors and different animals. The colors on their wrists represents which city they came from. A day after the Ascension Day, the people was attacked. With many people lost— Perry, Teala, Faith, and Bailey went on a journey to Everbreen for safety. That is when they are forced to use their powers.
Ok I don’t even know how I’m going to start this review but here I go. First can I just say how the idea of this book is so unique. I have never come across a book that has this kind of storyline. Not only does it have a beautiful storyline but the characters— all I’m going to say is damn they are so well written. I loved Perry and Faith so much even the side characters are also interesting. Though starting this book was a bit confusing, but as I continue reading, I slowly understood everything and how everything will be tied up at the end. What I like about this book is that it doesn’t focus on the romance much, but rather it focuses more on the plot and the depths of each character, which I absolutely loved. Most of the books I’ve read always revolves around romance— how the love interest affects the flow of the story, but in this book, it doesn’t go that way. Yes, it does have romance in it, but it is sprinkled all over the book. The romance is also a slow burn kind of romance which I enjoyed. It made me giddy every time it happened. This was such an enjoyable read, with so many twists and turns that I wasn’t expecting. The funny thing is that when I went to bed after reading some chapters, everything that happened in that chapter kept appearing in my dreams, and I was able to visualize everything more easily. I just can’t stop thinking about this book. I can’t believe this book is not getting the attention it deserves, I highly recommend this book if you want to read about a magical world that is not heavy on the world building. This was a 10 out 5 stars for me. This has become one of my favorites.
Profile Image for books are love.
3,131 reviews24 followers
December 10, 2019
Received in exchange for a honest review.

For this being Oliver Smuhar’s first foray into writing, he has written a intriguing tale. The world building is wonderful and the philosophical thoughts on life really have you thinking and questioning things. The descriptive writing isn’t too much and not too little. It helps you to visualize what is going on and where these kids are. The characters and their story draw you in and you want to know what will happen next.

Perry is the main character and he and his sister and friends are now on their own trying to survive. their town has been attacked and their powers are growing. They are trying to get to Perry’s sister. Along the way they encounter some obstacles and these obstacles help them mature and grow. We see Perry mature and learn to lead. We see them find their way and navigate through danger as ell. Every time they use their powers they are evolving and morphing. To use their power has them lose something that we take for granted. Something we need. Something we will miss. At one point this group, takes a stand and fights back. When they do we see how much danger everyone is in and not just these kids but everyone.

Told from multiple view points and at times it is hard to distinguish whose POV it is. I love the philosophy and friendship we see. WE see loyalty and a little romance. Characters mature and so does Smuhar’s writing. That isn’t to say their are areas that don’t show that these are still kids. We get mannerisms, actions and phrases that show we are dealing with kids. Scared kids who have lost so much and yet they are seeing they have gained much as well. They gained love and loyalty amongst each other. They gained maturity and confidence. they gained a family amongst themselves and empathy for others. Perry and his friends gain a sense of right and wrong and the desire to fight back. We see where differences dissolve and people come together for a common goal. We see Perry and his friends learn and grow but also come together and protect and love one another as they fight fiercely to survive and thrive. A great story on survival, maturing, finding oneself and learning who to let go of prejudices and learn to work together to find freedom, peace and strength.
Profile Image for Kri Wood.
91 reviews7 followers
August 20, 2020
Received by Smuhar in exchange for a honest review. A indepth look can be found at thetiredbuyer.wordpress.com

The Gifts of Life is Smuhars first peak into writing and this one is quite the tale. How Smuhar creats the world around you is stunning and the philosophical tibits on life gets you REALLY thinking. What really helps draw you in is the descriptive writting which is over done and gets you knowing where the characters are in this story. They all just draw you in and you want to keep going.. till you finish the book.

We are introduced to Perry -- Main character-- with Faith, his sister, and their friends as they are on their own just trying to survive in this breath taking world Smuhar created. Against all odds, obstacles included, they mature before our eyes while getting acquainted wit their powers. We see them find their way and navigate through danger as ell. Every time they use their powers they are evolving and morphing. To use their power has them lose something that we take for granted. Something we need. Something we will miss. At one point this group, takes a stand and fights back. When they do we see how much danger everyone is in and not just these kids but EVERYONE.

Told from multiple view points and at times it is hard to distinguish whose view we are seeing it from. Smuhar is pretty clean as we see loyalty and a little romance with characters maturing and so does Smuhar’s writing as things progress. A great story on survival, maturing, finding oneself and learning who to let go of prejudices and learn to work together to find freedom, peace and strength.
Profile Image for Amy Shannon.
Author 98 books118 followers
September 21, 2020
Fantastical story

Smuhar pens a grand story in The Gifts of Life. I haven't read anything from this author before, and I really enjoyed this story. The characters were well-developed and very likable. The author's writing style fits this story. There is a great chemistry between the characters, and a depth that makes them realistic and flawed. I'd say it's a unique story, that is not just fantasy and for the young adult, but also for the young at heart. There is a magical tone to it, yet there is also inspiration and faith and beliefs of the characters. This story was definitely an enjoyable journey. This author's characters develop and interacts well with the other characters. Smuhar writes, "So, what is the meaning of life? Well, in other words, what do you think it was?" I look forward to reading more stories by this author. This book is a definite recommendation by Amy's Bookshelf Reviews.
Profile Image for Reader Views.
1,977 reviews56 followers
December 12, 2018
Reviewed by Skyler Boudreau for Reader Views (12/18)

In the fantastical debut novel, “The Gifts of Life,” author Oliver Smuhar brings readers on an adventure across a vast world rife with danger and obstacles. After a mysterious attack on the only city they’ve ever known as ‘home,’ young protagonists Perry and Faith must embark on a quest for answers in a faraway land called Everbreen. Their only guide is Perry’s friend Bailey, who has not seen Everbreen in several years.

Smuhar provides an interesting blend of fantastical and modern elements for his novel’s setting. Though he has crafted various fictional countries for his protagonists to explore, the setting includes references to modern conveniences, such as Facebook and wireless earpieces. These unexpected additions add a delightful sense of familiarity in an otherwise strange and mysterious setting.

In “The Gifts of Life,” everyone has some form of magical ability, whether it be the power of teleportation, the ability to manipulate glass, or even the creation of fog and other weather phenomenon. There is, however, a catch. These powers are only permitted for use one day a year in an annual celebration called the ‘Ascension Ceremony.’ Using them outside of that time is ‘breaking Taboo.’ This detail is both an intriguing and uncommon limit placed upon magic users in fantasy novels.

One area I would like to have seen more of is in character development. Many of the characters lack distinctions between each other, and it’s very easy to mix them up. The narrative is told through dual points of view in first person, switching back and forth between Perry and Faith. They read similarly, and it often feels as though there is only one narrator. Other times the point of view shifts from first person to third person and describes events separate to what the intended narrator is experiencing.

There are also times when the pacing of the plot shifts dramatically. On chapter covers a few day-to-day events, but then the following chapter skips ahead several months. It gives the overall story a somewhat disjointed feeling and makes the timeline difficult to follow.

With this lengthy debut, Oliver Smuhar proves he has great potential as an author. He can only improve his craft as he gains experience. Middle-grade readers and beginning young adult readers are sure to enjoy “The Gifts of Life,” a new, fantastical adventure from a promising young author!



Reviewed by Megan Weiss, Young Adult Reviewer for Reader Views (10/18)

Oliver Smuhar’s “The Gifts of Life” takes readers on an otherworldly adventure. Perry Caduca is the hero of the story. After a devastating and fiery attack on their city during the year’s most important festival, Perry, his little sister, Teala, and their two friends Faith and Bailey, he must leave his home and travel hundreds of miles to a strange land in order to find safety again.

The plot line of “The Gifts of Life” is unique, and the world Smuhar has created has clearly been built through a lot of time and stitching together of little details. When creating a story that takes place in a different kind of world from our own, it’s always important that this world has one special difference from our own reality. This manifests in “The Gifts of Life” in the form of abilities. Each person has a special talent. Back home, the use of these abilities is strictly forbidden. During their travels, Perry, Faith, Bailey, and Teala learn how to harness these abilities, but each pays a price in order to strengthen them. Having spent so many years wishing they could freely experiment with these abilities and talk about them, they learn quickly that we all need to be careful what we wish for. Our wish might just come true, but what must we give up in return?

“The Gifts of Life” certainly has a lot of potential, though there are aspects of the book that could see some strengthening, such as characterization. At some points, I could really see defining moments that brought out each character’s personality, but there were also times when they all seemed to act almost too much alike. Another suggestion I have would be to strengthen dialogue. Dialogue can be tricky to write even for the most experienced writers, and at times the dialogue in the story seemed a little too formal for a little girl and three teenagers to be using. A book needs to have a careful balance of exposition and dialogue, and I think at times the dialogue took away from what was going on in a particular scene. Also, as a reader, I would have found the story easier to follow if it had been broken up into sections. It was hard at times to figure out the pacing of the story. Sometimes it went day-by-day, and other times it skipped weeks or months at a time. This in itself is not a problem, it just needs to have more context for why time is moving the way it is.

“The Gifts of Life” is certainly targeted towards a young-adult or even middle-grade audience. The novel would be a great read for fans series such as The Hunger Games or Divergent. Prospective readers should buckle up and prepare themselves for an adventure that is fueled by a fight to survive after witnessing tragedy and losing all you’ve ever known. I think 17-year-old author, Oliver Smuhar, has a very bright career in store for him.
Profile Image for Lili  Marcus.
714 reviews404 followers
May 5, 2020
Let me start with the title. I must admit I was hesitant to read this book because of the title, The Gifts of Life. It just doesn't sound like a YA Fantasy novel, more like a serious book and I'm avoiding reading them while in isolation. But anyway, I'm thankful I gave it a chance.

The Gifts of Life is a fascinating book. It is set in a fictional world called, Kelton Whide and Everbreen where people have magical powers. Sound cliche? No. Because unlike in other fantasy novels, the people in this book can only use their powers in one day every year. Perry and his friends attend Ascension Day to use their powers, silently wondering about the truths that their powers bring. A chance to find answers to their questions came in a tragedy that forced Perry, his sister, and friends to go into a wonderful and magical journey.

It is indeed magical. The concept of magic in the world of The Gifts of Life is very refreshing. It's new and really fascinating because I haven't read any fantasy novel that uses the kind of magic in this book. Each person has a crest of some animal and it glows. Their powers are of some variety and as I already mentioned they can only use them once a year. But when Perry and her friends are on their journey, they learned more and more about their powers but there's a stake, they evolve, they morph and they lose something that we often take for granted in life.

That's why in a way, this book is philosophical. I kind of already expected that because of the title. But anyway, I loved reading it. More so because the characters are mere young adults. I really like Perry. I liked his character arc, enjoyed reading him as he matured, learn more about himself and became the person his group needed. The other characters, like Faith, are also unforgettable though I'd love to see more development in their characters. I also like that the romance didn't take over the main plot. Don't get me wrong I love romance, but even though in this book, it's little, I'm fine with it. I'm more interested in the journey the characters are taking anyway.

My issue lies in the pacing. It's not really consistent. Sometimes, I find it fast, sometimes slow. I also find the paragraphs a little too long that sometimes, it seems likes info-dumping. But really, sometimes, it really does info-dump.

Aside from that, I find this book a fascinating read and I'm looking forward to more from this author.
Profile Image for Amber Elizabeth.
52 reviews63 followers
February 2, 2021
Color me impressed. There were moments while reading this book that I forgot that it was written by someone as young as Oliver (like, hello he’s only 19!). The fact that someone so young can even write a book is impressive.

Check out my full review of The Gifts of Life on my blog: https://amberrybooks.wordpress.com/20...
4 reviews
August 19, 2018
A very enjoyable read. It allowed my imagination to enter a different reality, whilst it kept me enticed and interested in their journey of discovery. The characters of the book were ‘common’, yet in the same breath ‘uncommon’. Some of their personality traits, we can all relate to, but others were so quirky it made them individual and fascinating. By the end of the book, you felt as though you really did know their souls and yet again, they continued to surprise you. Can’t wait to see where the next book takes you!!
Profile Image for Anie.
963 reviews44 followers
September 3, 2020

The gifts of life read like a classic fantasy novel, with a slow pace, amazing world-building, and interesting magical system. It's a massive book. :)

When everyone gathers for the most special days of the year, they get attacked. Perry, his sister, and friends must find their own way. And use their power outside of that one day.

I found the writing to be very unique and quite different from what I've read recently.

It's very descriptive, so when you read you feel like you are right there in the middle of the story. I liked the storyline very much, I wish at some part for the story to be a bit more condensed. It was a bit of a struggle to get into the story, but after about a third way in, things started to flow very well and I started to fall in love with it.

I found the magical system to be very interesting in this world everyone has some kind of magical abilities, but are only allowed to use them once a year. That must really suck. :)

I had trouble connecting to the characters in the story. I didn't feel that chemistry between the story and me...

received from author
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