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Reviews For A Mother's Gift

Name: LadyAlesha (Signed) · Date: 09/16/08 10:46 · For: Winter Snows Challenge #5
Hi Miel!

It’s been a while since I last saw you around here or the forums, but I hope you still read your reviews. I found an old list with story I wanted to review yesterday and this one was right at the top, so here I am finally leaving the review I wanted to leave last year.

This story was a worthy finalist for the Winter Snows Challenge. You capture the hopeless, depressing atmosphere of Azkaban very well. I like the contrast between the warmth of Christmas in the world outside and the dreary cold of Azkaban you start your story with. The coldness and hopelessness of Azkaban are hard to capture, in my opinion, but with this contrast readers can almost imagine what the place is like.

The snow fell softly outside – pure yet cold. This was how she felt. Cold and empty. I also likes this line very much, it describes Mrs Crouch’s feelings very well. I would have liked to see some more detail in the preceding paragraph when the Dementors steel all her happiness, but the result is very well shown here.

Today he grieved, tomorrow he would return to work, the only place left where he had a sense of purpose. It's hardly much of a purpose, but at least it’s still something. This last sentence really hindered my reading, the whole story is written in past tense, yet here you switch to present tense and it was like I stumbled over something while I read it, the flow of the story was broken for a minute. The same happened in the last sentence of the story, which is again in present tense and doesn’t seem to really fit into the story because of it, both these sentences wouldn’t hinder the flow and still express the same things if they were in past tense.

Last but not least I have to say that Barty Crouch Sr. was splendid in the epilogue. His feelings were very vivid and felt real to me. I can see him burying himself in his work in order to avoid the son he has to look after, but whom he blames for taking his wife away from him to live her last year on earth in Azkaban surrounded by Dementors without any joy and comfort. Even the graveyard where her body finally rests, close to Azkaban and the Dementors’ presence as it is, would feel like an escape from his son’s presence. You captured this scene very well and it is a great ending to a great, moving story.

Name: Hansolohpfrk (Signed) · Date: 12/02/07 20:14 · For: Winter Snows Challenge #5
This is such a beautiful story!

The snow fell softly outside — pure yet cold. This was how she felt. Cold and empty. She remembered the reason as to why she was here; She loved her son so much that she was willing to die for him. This knowledge the creatures could not take from her. She no longer felt the joy that this single thought once brought; only acceptance of the fate which she had carved for herself.

This is beautifully written. It shows just how much Barty's mother cares for him, that she would accept a fate that she did not deserve just to save him. Your word choice is simply stunning!

“He is lost to us. Your sacrifice would only be futile. Don’t do this,” his soft voice pleaded as he had for days on end. Yet her resolve had never wavered then, it would not waver now.

The way he speaks here really brings out his character: formal, and cold, even to his "loved ones". It really fits the description given to us by Sirius in GOF.

“Everything will be alright; I will make it all right, as I always have.”

This makes her seem almost...naive. It shows her love for him, but shows that she fails to see that you cannot always make the wounds go away. Like some people in real life. This is beautiful!

The way you characterized in this fic makes me jealous of the way that you write. =D It's simply wonderful!


Name: Red and Gold (Signed) · Date: 05/26/07 2:40 · For: Winter Snows Challenge #5
From a parent's perspective, I completely sympathize with the mother in this story. She may have been misguided in not seeing her son for what he truly was, but what she did, she did out of love. I thought this melancholy tale was wonderfully written and truly heart-piercing. Thank you for writing it.


Author's Response: A mother's love truly knows no bounds. (well most of the time - I'll bet I've really pushed it at certain circumstances *lol* but I've always been forgiven after a bit of groveling .. *giggle*)

I've got to be fearful of a time when I do get to be one in the future ... *shudder* ...

Name: Voldie Schmitt (Signed) · Date: 07/16/06 13:46 · For: Winter Snows Challenge #5
wow. that was a truely amazing peice of work. I was on the verge of tears all through it. you are a truely gifted writer, very nice!! 10/10

Author's Response: Thanks for sayings so. I appreciate your review.

Name: Masked One (Signed) · Date: 03/29/06 12:25 · For: Winter Snows Challenge #5
You paint the dynamics of the family quite well. It’s easy to see how Barty Jr. ended up the way he did, looking at the coldness of Barty Sr. And yet, I feel compassion for Barty Sr., because he really can do nothing for his son, but his wife still insists that he take him. If there was a hope for Barty Jr., it died when his mother left him alone with his father.

I have a few nit-picks, mostly related to tense errors. The story was written in past tense, for the most part, but it jumped around a bit here and there.

Warmth and joy could not pass through these walls; the creatures that guard this place would not allow this. ‘Guard’ should be ‘guarded,’ and the sentence might sound better with ‘it’ in place of ‘this’ at the end.

Yet, the gloom of this prison would not allow a festive atmosphere; the Dementors ensure this. Ensure should be ‘ensured.’

She smiled as Barty understood her intention, he plucked his own hair and… That comma should really be replaced by a period. Alternately, you might write ‘She smiled as Barty, understanding her intention, plucked his own hair and…’

Today he grieves, tomorrow he would return to work. The only place left where he had a sense of purpose; its hardly much of a purpose, but at least it’s still something. I think it should be ‘Today he grieved, tomorrow…’ ‘The only place left’ etc. might be a sentence fragment - you might attach it to the first part with a comma. ‘Its hardly’ should be ‘It’s.’

I think I’ve thoroughly nit-picked at you now, so I’m going to go back to pondering the Crouch family relationship. Excellent story!

Author's Response: Thanks for the review and all those corrections Mask. *wince* this is another one of my self-betas -- I will perfect that self-betaing skills one of these days ... just not anytime soon... (given the way I've blotch up most of those self-beta attempts) :)

Name: wendelin the wierd (Signed) · Date: 03/09/06 7:57 · For: Winter Snows Challenge #5
A very good story but i qwuite agree with starmaiden. I went through some of the enteries in december and for the secret gift challenge they were quite mushy. I see i do not have to write much because starmaiden seems to have said it all but i really liked your story. It has flow, good characterisation and a good plot. I really like the way you potrayed barty's mother and i think that it was probably the character JK had in mind. Overall a good job!

Author's Response: *lol* twisted isn't it? Sweetness and mushy is coming to be a cliche in thhat specific catagory. My twisted sense of humour just couldn't help but send some sort of anti-mush type of story although the challenge called for it. Funny -- no one mentioned the sweet motherly sacrifice *kidding!* ^_^

Name: Starmaiden (Signed) · Date: 01/08/06 12:36 · For: Winter Snows Challenge #5
First, this is a fascinating take on the Secret Gift Challenge. I’m sure almost all of the entries were mushy. This is very cool.

There’s one fairly consistent problem that is fortunately also easy to fix.
On this dark island, even the white blanket of snow failed to cover the darkness that lies within. Warmth and joy cannot pass through these walls; the creatures that guard this place would not allow this. There’s some trouble with tenses here. “On this” is present tense, while “failed” is past tense. Also, “cannot pass” is present tense, but “would not allow” is past. You could fix this pretty easily by just switching to one or the other.

Yet, the gloom of this prison will not allow a festive atmosphere; the Dementors ensure this. Again, this sentence is in present tense, and you probably want this to all be past tense. There’s one other place, the first paragraph of the epilogue.

It was a time for joy, a time for families to get together. It was the coldest time of the year, yet warmth permeated everywhere - except for one place. This makes sense, but it doesn’t flow quite right. Perhaps if it was rephrased to: “…a time for families to get together. Warmth produced by this love [or some similar phrase] permeated everywhere – except for one place.”

Hm. The third paragraph comes across clearly enough, but again, the flow is just the least bit off.
Within the shadowy corridors of Azkaban three figures walked. I think this should either be reversed (“three figures walked within the shadowy corridors”) or simply add a comma (“…corridors of Azkaban, three figures walked.”)

The young man up front was an Auror, tasked to escort the couple behind him. It works, but up front always sounds to me something like a desk in front of a lobby or something. “In front” or “in the lead” would work as well.

He hoped that this would be a quick visit, for he could not stand this place. He once again wondered if the overtime pay and possible promotion was worth this. It sounds a little formal to me for a young Auror. How about: “He hoped that this would be a quick visit – he couldn’t stand the place. He wondered again if the overtime pay and a possible promotion were worth this.” I’m pretty sure you need a “were” instead of “was” for that, but I’m not positive.

Oh, and after all that criticism, paragraph 4 is perfect. I love it.

Yet her resolved had never wavered then, it would not waver now. It should be just “resolve.” Also, the punctuation is a bit odd. I think it should be either “…never wavered then, and it would…” or “…never wavered then. It would not waver now.” The second is more definite than the first.

Yet, the gloom of this prison will not allow a festive atmosphere; the Dementors ensure this. Again, this sentence is in present tense, and you probably want this to all be past tense.

“Barty? It’s me,” she whispered, while her gentle hands cupped his paled, haggard, and unshavened face, “Everything will be alright; I will make it alright, as I always have.” If you just say “pale,” it will have the same effect. Also, “all right” is two words.

I like the way that Barty Jr. looks at his dad, not his mum. It shows that single-minded madness that he displays in the book.

“Bartemius,” her voice strong despite her frail countenance. “I know what I’m doing.” This is a bit confused-sounding. You should either use a two commas: “Bartemius,” her voice strong despite her frail countenance, “I know what I’m doing.”; or use two periods: ‘ “Bartemius.” Her voice was strong despite her frail countenance. “I know what I’m doing.” ’ (One more thing, “countenance” refers generally to the face or expression of the face. Which is fine, if that’s what you meant; if not, you could mention her frail “frame” or “figure.”)

All in all, excellent. I know I nitpicked, but there were no serious plot/character flaws. Very nice work.

Author's Response: Wow. That's a really long review. Thanks for pointing out all my errors *lol* I do find to tough to beta my own works ^_^ .... surprised it got validated at all given the errors *lol* I guess Christmas makes mods more charitable on those errors ^_^.

Thanks again for the review. I'll be off to correct this story. ^_^

Name: kumydabookworm (Signed) · Date: 01/03/06 22:10 · For: Winter Snows Challenge #5
All right, I'm officially depressed. You see, I entered a story into this category, and reading yours...well, anyway, it was a interesting piece of writing. First off, because the story was sort-of already written for you as part of Potter-verse, but you managed to spin it into something new, which I liked. I liked the interpretation of Barty Crouch Sr. Some things I noticed: the mother's last line. I don't know, something about it struck me. "Merry Christmas, Barty. Your mother's final gift..." It was melodramatic to a fault (I do that a lot too). Kind of made me laugh, no idea why, but definitely not the reaction you want at that moment in the story. Second, I would think that Barty Jr. would say more: he is being driven mad by the dementors...this is total personal interpretation, but Barty seems the type to be the berserk madman rather than the deathly still one. That's totally your choice however. Last, I like how you pulled off the balance between Barty Sr's practicality and love for wife. However after his wife died, Barty got sentimental in the fiction. While in canon, Barty (after falling from power and wife's death) grew even more anal and work-driven before. The fiction-side and canon-side didn't work together in that part. Whew! Trust me, I really liked this piece, otherwise I wouldn't have written as much as I did. Great writing.

Author's Response: ^_^ Being more of a humour writer I always do like it when I make people laugh … :) … okay maybe it shouldn’t be the case here *grin* I’ll try to fix that. Thanks for the constructive criticism.

On Barty, I guess it’s more on the interpretation. Madness is different for every person in various occasions.

On B. Sr. I’ll try to fix that too ^_^.

Author's Response: Corrected it all ^_^ Thanks again!

Name: Lurid (Signed) · Date: 12/19/05 20:19 · For: Winter Snows Challenge #5
WOW, MieL! Amazing! You can tell you really got into the mood for this, you could sense the sadness Barty Snr. I felt the change over from the auror's mind to the Crouches was done weel, it just flowed naturally, much like JKR's own writing. Well done, Imp, I hope you win this!!

Author's Response: Thanks Steph. Actually I was and still am in a giddy Christmassy mood. I'm still not sure how I ended up with this. Was thinking that the best non-material gift I've got was my mum's unconditional support. Somehow I ended up with this dark and twisted tale. (unfortunately it's not something my mum will like) *lol* so much for dedicating this one to my mother. Off topic - although I did ended up writing a nice sweet poem for her.

Thanks for your faith and support. I can't wait to see who wins. ^_^

Author's Response: Yes! This one's a finalist on its category (sort of like 2nd place). ^_^

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