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351 Public Reviews Given
Public Reviews
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51
Review of Nature of Wrens  
Review by Beholden
In affiliation with Rising Stars of WdC  
Rated: E | (5.0)
I love this piece. I love its matter-of-fact tone, its dealing with such an apparently mundane subject with imagination and elegance and I love the handling of free verse. This giant fence (although that may be an exaggeration) would so often be a cause for friction between neighbours but you use it for delightful speculation of its need in the eyes of your neighbour. And to introduce wrens, a favourite of mine ever since, as a child, I read that they are the smallest of British birds (and I can only presume, having since read that another tiny tweeter lays claim to that crown these days, that the wren has grown slightly in the intervening years), it is inevitable that I should be moved to applause over your wonderful poem.

Oh, I nearly forgot. The detail of your images is so endearing too (stale bread balling like dough). Entirely masterful. Bravo!


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
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52
Review of Superman No More  
Review by Beholden
In affiliation with Rising Stars of WdC  
Rated: E | (5.0)
Nice take on a retiring superhero. I don't usually review rhyming poetry but the title attracted me (I write a fair bit about superheroes myself) and I was richly rewarded by reading your poem. Of course, I get the point that, while wondering why the hero is losing his powers, we suddenly realise that the piece is really about a father getting older. He is a superhero in the eyes of his kids but, as they grow up, this fades and he becomes merely human, ultimately to be old and frail, dependent on the kids who once had so much respect for him. Ah, the tragedy of life.

Very well done.


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
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53
Review of Oneiric  
Review by Beholden
In affiliation with Rising Stars of WdC  
Rated: E | (5.0)
Wonderful! Not only a great little poem but a sense of humour too. Deserves to win in my book. I was a bit worried that entries were not coming in for this one but your poem sets my mind at rest.

Oh and by the way, I had to look up the meaning too.
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54
Review by Beholden
In affiliation with Rising Stars of WdC  
Rated: E | (5.0)
I don't normally review rhymed poetry but this drew me in and insisted I not stop until I reached the end. There is no doubt that humour is appropriately conveyed in rhyme and I must thank you for reminding me of that. The poem is certainly supplied with enough clever rhymes ("truth" and "couth", "prism" and "cynicism" for instance) to tickle the old funny bone.

As for the sentiment (that truth can too often be painful for both deliverer and receiver), it's true of course. The trick may be in having the subtlety to speak the truth in such a way that it does not hurt. And that may require a degree of tact that most of us are not capable of!


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
55
55
Review of Foresight  
Review by Beholden
In affiliation with Rising Stars of WdC  
Rated: 13+ | (5.0)
I don't think I really understand the story entirely but that hardly matters as it's so well written. Drawn in by the atmosphere and urgency, I ignore the clamour of my brain trying to work out what is going on and I press forward regardless. Yes, it's about time travel but the changed times and variously aged characters confuse any attempt to nail the thing down.

None of that matters in the end. It's a wonderful tale, told with a sure hand and unfailing skill and the note of hope at the end perfectly fitting. Bravo!


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
56
56
Review of Hope in Season  
Review by Beholden
In affiliation with Newbies + Poetry Group  
Rated: E | (5.0)
For the reviewing section of the Newbies + Poetry Group

I find this strangely beautiful and I'm not sure why. There are echoes throughout that draw me on and infuse the words with meaning beyond dictionary definition. This is poetry of the highest order.

The first few lines are particularly intriguing - I can't get the image of a rectangular island with poles at each end out of my head. Then we get to what we in Britain would call gardening and your words become Robert Frostlike, so expressive in their evocation of work with soil and plants. And so to the physical effects of your labour on the body, again brilliantly expressive.

I love your ending and wish that I had thought of the concept of "edging back into the grip of summer." The poem is completely beautiful (a necessary repetition) and nothing I can suggest would improve it. You have made it impossible for me to rate it with anything less than five stars.


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
57
57
Review of Caravaggio  
Review by Beholden
In affiliation with The Talent Pond  
Rated: E | (5.0)
Caravaggio? Caravaggio is so good, he should have been a Dutchman. Wonderful to see that I'm not the only one who loves great paintings. And your poem describes exactly Caravaggio's mastery of light. Well done.
58
58
Review by Beholden
In affiliation with The Talent Pond  
Rated: 18+ | (4.0)
This is my review of Shirley Suspicious, as requested. Remember that this is my opinion only. Although I have done my best to be honest and accurate in the points made, I am not infallible, make no claim to be a professional critic and how you receive it is entirely up to you. I am honoured that you asked me to review the story.

Initial Impression: I was pleasantly surprised by my first reading. The realisation that it was a "two views of the same event" story made me fear for its future (it's a trick that has been done a few times, rarely successfully). In reading it, however, I understood why you had done it in this way and have to agree that it increases the impact and power of the story. Very well done indeed.

Title: Unsure about the title. Was "Shirley suspicious"? I don't think she was. Oliver certainly wasn't, having found an excellent way to avoid the guilt of what he had done. It may be worth having another think about a fitting title. Something as blunt and straightforward as "Jennifer's Death" may be better preparation for what follows.

Content: This is a marvellous tale, told with great skill and understanding. Like all good short stories, it hides its sting in the tail until the very end, surprising the reader even as the narration draws to a close. I love the detail and depth of the feelings explored in the piece - a rare thing indeed in a short story. Both versions of Oliver's and Shirley's histories are well told, without any preference for one side or the other being shown by the writer. Most importantly, I am impressed at the imagination that has produced the plot and devised a way to tell it to greatest effect.

Style: Your style is largely very clear, easy and attractive to the reader. Just occasionally you get too involved with explaining something and sentence construction becomes too complex, leading to confusion for the reader. For example, take this passage: "My only hope was that Oliver would not eventually abhor me the way Tyrone did for just being myself. My tensions faded away when he walked up to me one day with great alacrity in his eyes and said something that I least anticipated. "I need to end everything with Jennifer", he said. I confirmed with him to make sure that he was talking about the end of the marriage and not her life, but I was wrong. I brought up the agreement between the couple in case they get divorced, but I did not expect Oliver's reaction."

The language in this paragraph is a bit odd. The word "abhor" is probably too strong in the context. "Hate" would be sufficient, I think, or even "despise". "I confirmed with him..." is strange, almost too official a process for what Shirley was doing. It's probably better to avoid the word and just say, "I questioned him..." Another odd word is "alacrity" in "with great alacrity in his eyes". Merriam-Webster defines it as "cheerful readiness" which, I think, is both hard to detect in a look and goes against the tone of your story. Something a bit more cautious may be appropriate - the guy has decided on murder, after all. Be aware, too, of the words that begin each sentence. You end the paragraph with a flurry of sentences all starting with "I". On rare occasions, such repetition can provide emphasis to an important point but, generally, it should be avoided as it can lead to tedium.

I know that I am the worst offender in my next point but this also makes me more aware of it. Don't try to squeeze too much meaning into a sentence. Two sentences are easier to read when things get complicated, rather than a longer sentence in which it's possible to get lost.

Flow/Pace: Flow is good, everything introduced in a logical order that does not confuse the reader. Pace is interrupted sometimes by explanations of the more complex emotions and events but this is necessary and not too intrusive.

Suggestions: I think I've dealt with this earlier. Just one thing: this is a great story, well told and effective. Polish it a little and you'll have a masterpiece.

Overall Impression: A well-planned and skillfully-written tale. I enjoyed it immensely.


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Beholden


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
59
59
Review by Beholden
In affiliation with The Talent Pond  
Rated: 18+ | (5.0)
Hi Wrider,

One of the most shocking scenes in a movie I remember was in Sam Peckinpah's Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid. In the scene, Billy has just escaped fromn his cell and arrives on the balcony of the jailhouse. Below him, the sheriff is on the way back to the jail. Billy shoots him without a thought or a word, not even giving him a moment to see his impending doom. It was terrible in its cold, offhand manner of execution.

Your story, Sasha's Safeway Stop, reminds me of that scene. The bag boy's unfeeling murder of Sasha without reason or care is chilling in a way that motivated murder is not. It makes us realise how any of us can be targets purely from being in the wrong place at the right time. And that, I'm sure, is what you wanted to achieve with this story. You have succeeded excellently.

The story flows without stumble and I detected no errors in grammar. Altogether, a fine piece of writing.


Small photo
Beholden


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
60
60
Review of Buzz  
Review by Beholden
In affiliation with The Talent Pond  
Rated: 18+ | (4.5)
Hi Phoenix,

Thank you for saving my bacon this morning. As an assignment, I have to do two reviews of newby short stories and I was thinking I'd never find anything until I ran across your delightful Buzz. It seems almost all the newbies are writing teenage angst or poetry at the moment. Anyway, here we go. Remember, it's just my opinion and I'm not yet completely infallible.

Initial Impression: Your title to the story is excellent, with just the right amount of intrigue over what you mean and thoughts of bumble bees. Very clever. The "sex toys" in the description might put a few oldies like myself off but hey, I got past it. And then the story itself was a pure delight. After wading through acres of despair and gloom, how wonderful it is to find something genuinely funny and well written.

Content: You're on a winner here. Not everyone can write entertainingly of toilet brushes, plungers and vibrators. An original idea is more than half the battle in writing and this story has it!

Style: I love your conversational and confidential style, as though you are speaking to only the reader and no one else. You have tremendous confidence and ability in writing and the lack of errors (I spotted one typo somewhere - I'll try to find it again when I get to "Suggestions") speaks of someone who knows what she's doing.

Flow/Pace: Just the right pace, neither hurried nor lagging. Everything flows along smoothly without hiccup.

Suggestions: Ah, now the typo. Couldn't find it but noticed an "its" that should be an "it's" - "Its going to be great."

Overall Impression: The bright spot in my morning. This little story revived my belief that comedy is possible in serious things like writing communities. You handle it like a professional, leaving the reader with a grin and better attitude to life. Thanks for a really great read.


Small photo
Beholden


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
61
61
Review by Beholden
In affiliation with The Talent Pond  
Rated: 13+ | (4.0)
Hi Hullabaloo,

As an assignment, I have to write a couple of reviews of stories written by newbies, using a template designed by myself and a signature, also self-designed. I came across your story in the Read & Review feature and pounced on it (Most of the stuff by newbies in there is poetry at the moment). Remember that this is my opinion only and I'm not quite infallible yet!

Initial Impression: I liked this a lot - your last line made me smile. As old as I am, I can remember what it was like to be young and in the grip of raging emotions so I was able to identify with your protagonist.

Content: Great idea, to have the young lady performing surgery on her own heart and emotions. A fresh take is always a good place to start with a story (or a poem, as I've discovered). I have a little worry that some readers might assume that it's the normal teenage angst complaint and move on before they've finished. But we all have to take risks sometimes, don't we?

Style: You write well but I did notice a few habits that jarred me somewhat. Twice you have used "in to" as two words where correct usage would be "into". I know that there are occasions where "in to" is correct but I'm pretty sure that the instances mentioned require "into". Then there's my old bugbear, "lay down" instead of "lie down". Yes, it's a local thing (in Britain too) but when writing we need to use standard forms unless deliberately writing in dialect. And there's a typo at "I want he wiped clear from my thoughts." Pretty sure you meant "I want him".

Flow/Pace: The piece flows well at a steady pace.

Suggestions: Can't think of any.

Overall Impression: This a good story with an original take on the subject. It follows the age old advice to "write what you know." You can't go wrong with that.


Small photo
Beholden


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
62
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Review of Speak Easy  
Review by Beholden
In affiliation with Newbies + Poetry Group  
Rated: E | (5.0)
For the reviewing section of the Newbies + Poetry Group

This is beautiful. I love its evocation of experience and place in such simple words so carefully chosen and placed. My experience of a misty St John's morning is zero (but my wife knows it) yet you have taken me there and let me feel it.

Poetry's power is in its ability to share emotion powerfully. You have made me nostalgic for Newfoundland even though I've never been there. Can't say better than that.


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
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Review of Short poems  
Review by Beholden
In affiliation with Newbies + Poetry Group  
Rated: E | (3.5)
For the reviewing section of the Newbies + Poetry Group

I think you have a way with words and an ability to inspect and dissect your own feelings that is quite rare. I don't really have a favourite amongst these poems since it seems to me they're all dealing with the same thing - your emotions. This is fine but does tend to group your work with the hundreds of others who spend their time staring at their own navels. You're better than that, as shown by your command of language. You are able to get the point across with very few but well chosen words. This is the essence of good writing, particularly in poetry.

Now let's expand this ability by looking beyond your emotions to the world outside. Write some poems about seemingly ordinary things that yet mean a lot to you - perhaps a hastily written note from someone else, a dried but preserved flower, a drop of water on a leaf, light reflected in a cool drink in a glass.

If I can add a minor quibble about your third poem, "Not Your Fault", I think you should change the last line to read, "You could and could not do." The use of "they" in the line stopped me dead with the question, "Who are 'they'?" The title tells me the poem is about "you" so let's not complicate the issue with these interlopers labelled "they".

You can write, young lady (I can say that because I'm ancient), so I insist that you keep writing! *Smile*

Beholden


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
64
64
Review of Under My Thatch  
Review by Beholden
In affiliation with Newbies + Poetry Group  
Rated: E | (5.0)
For the reviewing section of the Newbies + Poetry Group

I'm not entering this one ("loggia" is too hard a word) so maybe I can get away with doing a review of this. I think it's absolutely beautiful (brilliant use of "loggia" too). More than anything else, the choice of illustration is perfect. I love anything medieval so maybe I'm a little biased, but not much. It's so clever how the picture sets up the poem and the poem refers back to the picture.

Haven't read the others yet so I would be guessing to predict a winner. But this entry certainly deserves at least a joint win. I think. And I'm not judging until tomorrow so it doesn't matter what I say about today's contest! *Wink*


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
65
65
Review by Beholden
In affiliation with The Talent Pond  
Rated: E | (5.0)
Got me! Didn't see that coming at all. I really like this story and, if you hadn't written it, I'd steal the idea!

The device of seeing the reflection in the puddle is brilliant. And the building of tension as we read on to find out what happens is quite masterful. This story is a little gem.


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
66
66
Review by Beholden
In affiliation with The Talent Pond  
Rated: E | (5.0)
This reminded me of the Philadelphia Experiment where members of the crew were said to have become stuck with limbs partially buried in the ship. Your version is interesting in that doesn't result in the death of the protagonist. Yes, it would be useful to be able to travel through walls!

The piece is also an excellent view of the birth of a superhero. Altogether a clever piece well written and without flaw that I can see.


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
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Review of Unmasked  
Review by Beholden
In affiliation with The Talent Pond  
Rated: 13+ | (5.0)
Ah, you caught me there, sir. Part of the joy of reading short stories is the attempt to discern the twist before the writer gets to it and you have beaten me with this one. A delightful tale, especially in the descriptions which have to be so brief in flash fiction. I love the clouds spilling moonlight across the courtyard. The whole thing is a tour de force.


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
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Review of Night Walk  
Review by Beholden
In affiliation with The Talent Pond  
Rated: E | (5.0)
Good story, well told. Your descriptions really got to me - I'm not great at them. I love the dog's "stilted shadows of their legs" and "his high-beams bored a passage through the cathedral of night".

I didn't suspect about Jack until Jan said, "I'm sorry about Jack." The story had me totally involved and I wasn't really expecting a surprise in the ending. Nicely done.

Altogether a fine piece of writing.


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
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Review of Balancing Act  
Review by Beholden
In affiliation with Newbies + Poetry Group  
Rated: E | (5.0)
For the reviewing section of the Newbies + Poetry Group

Nice idea, to record your feelings with a couple of lines after every four. Achieves a sense of balance, I might even say!

It's an unusual prompt and your response is a perfect response to it. Meets the criteria but retains your right to make comments too. The urge toward independence remains within the American heart!

Most enjoyable. Even though I'm not crazy about rhyming.


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
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Review of The Dying Game  
Review by Beholden
In affiliation with The Talent Pond  
Rated: 18+ | (5.0)
That's pretty nasty. In the best way possible, I mean - it's supposed to be nasty. Trouble is, now I have to get that image out of my head. Which means it's good horror. I know it's your specialty but sometimes you excel yourself and this one certainly does that. Great story, finely constructed and expertly delivered. I guess that means five stars.


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
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Review of Impromptu  
Review by Beholden
In affiliation with Newbies + Poetry Group  
Rated: 13+ | (5.0)
For the reviewing section of the Newbies + Poetry Group

Truth is truth no matter what age we are. It takes courage to allow writings like this to be seen - they are very telling about the person creating them. But it's honesty where great art lives and so you're on the right track.

I think everyone feels like this at times when they're young (oldies have other things in common) but you take a step beyond the rest because you know exactly what you're doing. You're fully aware of what people will say but you continue regardless, knowing that it has to be said.

The best writing I've ever done was when I opened up my soul for people to a have a peek. Doesn't happen often, needless to say. *Wink*


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
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Review of Old Mermaids  
Review by Beholden
In affiliation with The Talent Pond  
Rated: 18+ | (5.0)
What an excellent story! I enjoyed every second of it. It's well written (of course) but what I really love is the philosophy behind it. This little story contains more wisdom than the weightiest tome and the most famous dogmas. Mermaids without tails or fins - the concept that brings enlightenment!

Kudos to the Riding Hood.


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
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Review of Her First Time  
Review by Beholden
In affiliation with Newbies + Poetry Group  
Rated: E | (5.0)
For the reviewing section of the Newbies + Poetry Group

Ah, Zeke, you tell us not to jump to conclusions, knowing that we would. You even had me fooled (just a little bit) for a while. I was ready for the punchline but that may be because that's what short story writers deal in - the surprise ending. The reading public may be lured in more easily.

Well written and a nice idea. Can't fault it.


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
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Review by Beholden
In affiliation with Newbies + Poetry Group  
Rated: E | (5.0)
For the reviewing section of the Newbies + Poetry Group

Wow, better and better! This one is really great - I love the statements of how perfection would be so far above us, mounting up higher and higher until the collapse of the last verse. Brilliantly done and true, true, true!

This one's a real gem, Zeke.


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
75
75
Review by Beholden
In affiliation with Newbies + Poetry Group  
Rated: E | (5.0)
For the reviewing section of the Newbies + Poetry Group

A wonderful love poem. Simple, no nonsense and honest, it speaks so clearly to your wife. This, again, is a type of poetry that I find very hard to write - it requires so much openness and vulnerability. You seem to be good at all the things I find impossible!

Truly great poem.


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
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