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Reviews Written by
Dr. W. H. Konarzewski "Dr W. H. Konarzewski" (Colchester, England)

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The Goldfinch
The Goldfinch
Price: £4.27

3.0 out of 5 stars Good quality writing but slow plot and dreary main character, 30 Jun. 2015
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This review is from: The Goldfinch (Kindle Edition)
I don't normally review books that I haven't finished as it's not really a fair review. But after I was told that approximately half the people who begin the Chaffinch give up before half way, I felt it reasonable to join the reviewers who found the book "well-written but boring". I did enjoy the quality of writing in the opening museum scenes, but the main character Theo totally failed to engage me and when I'd decided I didn't care what happened to him, I moved on to another more readable book, vaguely intending to return to the Chaffinch when I had more mental energy. However I know I'm not going to bother. I loved Donna Tartt's Secret History so I was disappointed.


The Art of Fiction
The Art of Fiction
Price: £4.68

4.0 out of 5 stars Useful resource for students - many excellent and well-chosen illustrative texts, 26 Jun. 2015
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David Lodge covers 50 writing topics in 50 chapters. Each chapter can be read by itself without reference to the other chapters, which I found made it readable and digestible. One of this book's best features is the wide range of writing that goes back to Laurence Sterne and Henry Fielding who both wrote in the Eighteenth Century to more modern writers including himself. I thoroughly enjoyed his selection which covered a vast range of styles and topics. I also found most of his comments interesting and helpful.

The main message seemed to be that the only absolute rule about good creative writing is that there are no rules. And if there are any rules, it's acceptable for established writers to break them. For example, very long sentences and multiple repetitions are discouraged in young writers, but fine for people who know what they're doing.

Occasionally I disagreed with his conclusions, Once or twice he appeared to read more into the text that the author might have intended - particularly with regard to the extract from Ernest Hemingway (he might of course be right but he came across as being slightly too adulatory to the great man).

Apart from that minor criticism, I really liked The Art of Fiction (which was recommended to me by my Open University tutor). It gave plenty of new literary insights and explained some literary devices with which I was not previously familiar. On the whole, this book is a useful resource for students of English Literature and Creative Writing.


Elements of Style
Elements of Style
Price: £0.71

4.0 out of 5 stars A useful tool for writers - recommended by Stephen King, 10 Jun. 2015
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This review is from: Elements of Style (Kindle Edition)
This is a concise and helpful book designed to eliminate clumsy and incorrect usage of English.
To give a few examples:
'Less than ten' is incorrect, whilst 'fewer than ten' is correct.
'This man, who is my friend,' is better written 'This man, my friend,'
'I should like tea' is usually correct, 'I would like tea' is usually not.
'Worthwhile' is best avoided altogether - not exactly incorrect but poor style.
And so it goes on.
I found this book moderately useful, although it does seem to concentrate on American English rather than UK English. Some of the advice doesn't apply on this side of the Atlantic. For example, we tend not to use `most' as an abbreviation of `almost' so we're not going to make the mistake of saying `most everyone' as many Americans do.

Some reviewers commented that the kindle version was hard to read, but I didn't have any problems with it. I think it must have been reformatted as a result of some early negative reviews.

On the whole this is a great book for anyone who's got into sloppy writing habits (like me). Stephen King recommends it in his book `On Writing' - and recommendations don't get much stronger than that. It's probably fair to summarise the message of the book by saying `express yourself in as few words as possible and be as precise as possible'.


English Graffiti
English Graffiti
Price: £7.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A few good tracks but let down by the overall quality of the song-writing., 4 Jun. 2015
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This review is from: English Graffiti (Audio CD)
I quite liked this when I first played it but after that it failed to grow. The music is lively and the sound is good - exciting in places - but unfortunately the songs are, by and large, forgettable with three exceptions. Dream Lover, Minimal Affection and 20/20.are good numbers with catchy tunes. They capture the excitement and fun quality of the two earlier Vaccines' albums. The final track Undercover begins with 20 seconds of silence which I found irritating. Having said that, Dream Lover with its fabulous opening will probably feature on Rock Classics compilations in thirty years time. But I very much doubt if the other tracks will. This is still a vibrant and enjoyable CD and well worth a listen, but it's not in the same class as the two previous Vaccines' offerings. Slightly disappointing.


On Writing
On Writing
by Stephen King
Edition: Hardcover

3.0 out of 5 stars Valuable advice, well written and enjoyable to read - but it doesn't teach anything really new, 3 Jun. 2015
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This review is from: On Writing (Hardcover)
I enjoyed reading this book which is part autobiography and part advice to aspiring writers. And it's always worth listening to advice from an author who has sold 350 million copies of his books worldwide. The autobiography section was fascinating - it adds to the meaning of someone's books when you understand their background and the things that have influenced them in life. However, there are a large number of books written on the subject of writing and Stephen King doesn't really say anything that hasn't been said many times before and will doubtless be said many times again. Perhaps the best reason for buying this book is that Stephen King reinforces good writing rules - such as avoid adverbs and the passive tense wherever possible - and he does so in a vigorous and memorable way. He also praises writers like John Grisham who are often dismissed as hacks by elitists - and he explains the secret of their success and why he thinks they're brilliant.
On the down side, some of his advice is perhaps challenging and even off-putting to some writing students - such as the necessity to write for 4-6 hours each day, putting out 2,000 words. Many young writers have jobs and families and might not be able to achieve such targets.
Overall, this is good book and fun to read. But ultimately it probably won't teach you anything new unless it's the first book you read on the craft of writing - in which case it's not a bad place to start.


Four Seasons of Creative Writing: 1,000 Prompts to Stop Writer's Block (Story Prompts for Journaling, Blogging and Beating Writer's Block)
Four Seasons of Creative Writing: 1,000 Prompts to Stop Writer's Block (Story Prompts for Journaling, Blogging and Beating Writer's Block)
Price: £0.00

3.0 out of 5 stars An excellent concept and worthwhile exercise., 27 May 2015
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This book is a great idea for stimulating thoughts and creativity. My guess is that it's targeted at younger writers. I didn't find any suggestions in it that really worked for me but that's just a personal thing. I've no doubt this book will appeal to quite a few aspiring authors. Also it's free at the moment on Kindle so it's well worth a look.


Building Your Book for Kindle
Building Your Book for Kindle
Price: £0.00

5.0 out of 5 stars Easy to follow instructions in plain English, 26 May 2015
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This book has easy to follow instructions written in good simple English. I actually learnt quite a lot about the features of Microsoft Word as well as how to publish on Kindle. Strongly recommended and it's free.


2m x 10m Garden Netting
2m x 10m Garden Netting
Offered by Stewart and Gibson Ltd
Price: £3.65

4.0 out of 5 stars Cheap and effective but slightly unsightly, 18 May 2015
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This review is from: 2m x 10m Garden Netting
I bought this to keep pigeons from stripping the leaves off my plum and cherry trees. It is cheap and effective but slightly awkward to handle. My wife finds it unsightly although I'm not too bothered by what it looks like so long as it keeps the pigeons from destroying the trees.


Wilder Mind
Wilder Mind
Price: £10.78

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Different from two previous albums but still a good strong distinctive sound., 16 May 2015
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This review is from: Wilder Mind (Audio CD)
We were warned this album would be different and it is. It's got some good strong songs with interesting lyrics and catchy melodies. The banjos may have gone but that's not a problem for me. Music evolves. Bands move on. Bob Dylan created a scandal when he started having electric guitars backing him. But he survived and the fans got used to it. I don't think Mumford and Sons will lose many fans as a result of this and they might gain a few. I'm glad I bought it and I'm enjoying it although it doesn't quite have the pure genius of Babel and Sigh No More. I might upgrade to five stars after a few more listens. Excellent music for diehard fans and recent converts.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 1, 2015 7:15 PM BST


TekBox® Digital Handheld Sports Stopwatch / Sport Stop Watch Time Clock Alarm Counter Timer - With Neck Strap
TekBox® Digital Handheld Sports Stopwatch / Sport Stop Watch Time Clock Alarm Counter Timer - With Neck Strap
Offered by TEKBOX LTD
Price: £4.97

3.0 out of 5 stars Acceptable display - lack of instructions, 11 May 2015
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This is fine as a stopwatch and the display is reasonably large. Unfortunately there were no instructions - apart from a rather incomplete set written on the back of the box. I was unable to set any of the displays other than the stopwatch function - which wasn't a major problem. However I have the days of the week flickering rather pointlessly above the timer. For the price this is an acceptable product if you only want to use it as a stopwatch.


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