Quick Book Reviews: Saint Odd

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Saint Odd by Dean Koontz

WARNING: This review contains SPOILERS!

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What to Expect in Future Updates!

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Okay, so I admit I’ve been slacking a bit on this blog lately (I’ve mainly been posting the poems that result from the ‘Wednesday Poetry Prompts’ over on the Writer’s Digest site), this is due to a number of reasons/flimsy excuses: work, tiredness and a general lack of motivation lately, etc (which I’m trying to work on), so this is just a quick post to give you an idea of what to expect in future installments from the Scribblings of Stu – and posting this as a kind of ‘to do list’ will hopefully give me that much needed motivation/kick up the bum. So then – future plans:

  • Continue working on the Pokemon Go-inspired short story I posted a while back (and think of a title) – that is, if people liked what I’d written so far? I’d also be very keen to actually finish a short story, as this is still something I have yet to achieve.
  • In the same spirit, resume work on a short story I started and have had on the back burner for a long while, with the tentative title of ‘Dead Flowers in the Window’ – without giving too much away, it involves talking cats and parallel universes. Sound intriguing? (or downright nutty perhaps) I might post this in installments on the blog if there is enough interest)
  • Put together a new writing timetable so that I actually have time set aside within the week to work on this blog – in particular I want to make the ‘Monday Musings’ posts I kind-of-sort-of-started a regular thing (again, if people liked the ones I have shared so far)
  • As I’ve mentioned before, I am also working on a novel currently, entitled ‘Searching for Sunset’ – I may begin posting extracts from this (or at least the opening chapter) in order to get some feedback and critiques.

So that’s what to expect from me in the hopefully very-near future! Oh and also, before I sign off, something I’m very excited about:

Until next time,

Stu x

Check out my first poetry collection, ‘The Awakening’, available NOW for download as an eBook on Amazon. Check it out here: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B017BZBH6M

Quick Book Reviews: From Baghdad, with Love

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From Baghdad, with Love by Lieutenant Colonel Jay Kopelman

Yes, I’ll admit it – as someone who is very much a dog-person, upon seeing those eyes stare out from me from the charity shop bookshelves, and then seeing the title and the tagline of ‘A heartwarming story of devotion’, my heart was instantly melted by the cover alone, and I bought it perhaps solely because I knew it would be a weepy one for me. It then took a couple of years before I actually got round to reading it (one of many atop an ever-growing pile, hence the giving myself a much-needed kick up the bum and starting the ‘To Read List’), and found that this story – that of a puppy left behind in the aftermath of a military bombing in Fallujah, and the efforts of a US Marine to rescue him by getting him the hell out of Iraq (whom the book is written by, offering quite a brutal, frank depiction of the ravages of war), is indeed an emotional one, and especially tense, as securing rescue for ‘Lava’ proves far from simple – meaning that once the end is in sight in the book’s final pages, the reader is on the edge of their seat, fearing the worst after all the setbacks and near-misses throughout the book, in a chapter that is beautifully written by Kopelman- short, sharp paragraphs combined with the feeling of dread before opening an email – a very effective ending to a well-written account, that shows you another side to the ‘War on Terror’, and succeeds in showing you the human side of those who fought within it. This is not the kind of book I would normally find myself reading, but I am very glad I made the effort to read this. It gets a 4/5 from me.

And, the To Read List has been accordingly updated! Watch this space for more reviews. Until next time folks…

Check out my first poetry collection, ‘The Awakening’, available NOW for download as an eBook on Amazon. Check it out here: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B017BZBH6M

Quick Book Reviews: The Darkening/Heart of Darkness

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A double-whammy of darkness for you today, you lucky people. In the form of two quick reviews of books I have recently finished, namely The Darkening by Chandler McGrew and Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad…I will attempt to do this regularly with each book I read now, as well as crossing them off my ‘To Read List’. Enjoy!

 

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The Darkening (Chandler McGrew)

I picked up this book as an impulse buy, attracted mainly by the cover and the title. McGrew is actually a horror writer that hails from Maine, but sadly I have to say that he’s not quite Stephen King. The book is enjoyable enough, but the main problem is there’s quite a lot of build-up without too much pay off. Despite the end-of-the world/’world slipping into darkness’ situation touted in the book’s blurb, the stakes don’t ever really feel high enough, and I found the descriptions became somewhat confused and muddy as the book went on. It’s not terrible by any means, just merely passable. I’d say about a 3/5 from me.

 

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Heart of Darkness (Joseph Conrad)

I was well aware of this book’s reputation as a classic, so I was quite eager to discover it for myself. I must confess, however, that I found it extremely hard-going – the style of writing often makes it confusing just what exactly is going on, and the narrative can often be difficult to follow. As one reviewer on the Goodreads page points out, however, it would seem the book is intended more as an allegory or essay on the human condition rather than a conventional story. To read it with this mindset may make it easier to understand, I suppose. I was struck by two passages in particular, however, that really tap into the darker urges of man;

…They only showed that Mr Kurtz lacked restraint in the gratification of his various lusts, that there was something wanting in him – some small matter which, when the pressing need arose, could not be found under his magnificent eloquence. Whether he knew of this deficiency himself I can’t say. I think the knowledge came to him at last – only at the very last. But the wilderness had found him out early, and had taken on him a terrible vengeance for the fantastic invasion. I think it had whispered to him things about himself which he did not know, things of which he had no conception till he took counsel with this great solitude – and the whisper had proved irresistibly fascinating.

(p.83, Penguin Popular Classics edition)

This proclamation about the struggle of life, and then the emptiness and futility in the face of death is also particularly chilling…

Droll thing life is – that mysterious arrangement of merciless logic for a futile purpose. The most you can hope for is some knowledge of yourself – that comes too late – a crop of unextinguishable regrets. I have wrestled with death. It is the most unexciting contest you can imagine. It takes place in an impalpable greyness, with nothing underfoot, with nothing around, without spectators, without clamour, without glory, without the great desire of victory, without the great fear of defeat, in a sickly atmosphere of tepid scepticism, without much belief in your own right, and still less in that of your adversary. If such is the form of ultimate wisdom, then life is a greater riddle than some of us think it to be.

(p.100-101, Penguin Popular Classics edition)

Again, I think this gets a 3/5 from me.

And, the To Read List has been accordingly updated! Watch this space for more reviews. Until next time folks…

Check out my first poetry collection, ‘The Awakening’, available NOW for download as an eBook on Amazon. Check it out here: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B017BZBH6M

Pokémon Go inspired short story (opening)

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So unless you’ve been living under a rock the past few weeks, you’ll know about the resurgence of the Pokémon craze in the form of mobile game Pokémon Go, where you can catch monsters that appear in the area around you thanks to GPS technology. I must confess to being bitten by the bug myself, having the app running while walking to and from work, to town or to the gym etc, and trying to ‘catch ’em all’. While Pokémon never went away, exactly (there have still been games made since the originals on the Game Boy, and the anime is on something like over 800 episodes now, and will probably outlive us all), it hasn’t been this much of a craze since its inception in the 90’s. Feeling inspired, I started to write a short story relating to the Pokémon Go craze, the beginning of which I am now posting here for your reading pleasure. Let me know what you think, and should I continue with it? Might be cool to post it in installments if there’s demand for it 🙂 Anyway, enjoy, and any critiques/comments/feedback are welcome – that’s how us writers learn and improve, after all. Without futher ado…

Pokémon Go inspired short story (no title yet) – Opening

As he neared the dark and foreboding alley, he was starting to wonder if this had been such a good idea after all. This is where the monster was supposedly lurking, if the rumours and mumblings had been true; yet his device had seemingly still not detected it. He hoped this would not turn out be a fool’s errand; he was alone, a mere child, deep in the heart of what was most certainly not a good neighbourhood. Continue reading