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143 Public Reviews Given
Public Reviews
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76
76
Review by Beholden
Rated: E | (3.5)
411th Entry -
Once upon a time there was a troll (his name was Grundlebletch von Hoogenspit) who lived deep underground in a cave. Yes, he was a cave troll and, accordingly, he had no time at all for forest trolls, considering them flighty and irresponsible with silly ideas of going out in the daytime, unprotected from the harsh light of the searing sun.

Every day Grundle (as his friends called him) would wander through the tunnels radiating from his cave, searching for the worms, burrowing beetles and larvae that formed the basis of his diet. He had never tasted the flesh of creatures that walked above the ground, protected by the sunlight as they were, so he did not yearn for anything more tasty than his daily fare.

But do not think that Grundle was devoid of imagination. Cave trolls are a serious bunch and they think profound thoughts regarding such things as the decomposition time required for a leaf to turn into soil, why dirt dislodged from the roof of a tunnel always falls downwards rather than any other direction, what makes the mole run from a troll in such obvious terror. Cave trolls, indeed, are the intellectuals of their species.

One day Grundle discovered an unexplored tunnel. It was right at the edge of his range (which explains why he had never seen it before) and he stood immobile for long minutes while deciding whether to see where it led. Grundle was exceptional amongst cave trolls in that he sometimes allowed curiosity to get the better of him and so he set off up the new tunnel.

After some time he became aware that the tunnel was heading upwards, not steeply but steadily. The thought occurred to him that he might be on his way to the outside. Because of that he stopped and pondered for a while, wondering if he was being led astray. His curiosity won in the end, however, and he continued on his way.

There began to be a faint glow of light in the darkness but Grundle’s eyes were fixed on the floor, avoiding intrusive roots and protruding rocks. Then suddenly he was at the end of the tunnel. Still concentrating on the floor, Grundle kept going until finally he was right out there in the open. He stood in horror as he realised the terrible thing he had done. The sun shone powerfully overhead and he knew he had only minutes before he would be shrivelled up like a dead leaf. He must find shelter quickly!

Now, you and I would know that all he had to do was turn around and walk the few paces back to the tunnel but trolls don’t think like that. Their thought processes proceed in straight lines and do not countenance deflection from their chosen path. This is why any company of orcs and goblins will always put the trolls in the front of the column. If anyone is going to walk into an ambush, let it be the trolls - they won’t stop.

There was, therefore, only one way for Grundle to go. He began to run forward. Well, I say “run” but trolls don’t really run. They accelerate slowly into a lurching, swaying sort of stumble that is, surprisingly, a lot faster than you would expect. And Grundle was spurred by his growing fear of dehydration and mummification by the sun.

Ahead of Grundle there was what we would describe as a river. Grundle did not even consider what it might be, seeing only that there was a stone arch that crossed the water thingy (as he later named it). Under the arch he could see darkness, darkness that offered shelter and survival. With a desperate last effort he threw himself forward and landed with a mighty splash in the water flowing under the bridge. Darkness enveloped him and he lay back in relief in the water, not caring that the stony bed of the river was uncomfortable (to say the least).

In his subsequent examination of his situation, Grundle realised that he was rather limited in his options. He was forced to spend daylight hours in the shadows under the bridge and at night he dared little more than brief food foraging expeditions as close to the bridge as possible.

Eventually, Grundle accepted his lot and even began to enjoy it. Memories of his cave faded until he imagined that he had dreamt the place. There came a day when a female forest troll walked into Grundle’s home under the bridge and they became friends. In time they were married and, a bit later, they produced a brood of baby trollettes.

And that, of course, is how bridge trolls came about. Take my advice and cross bridges quickly, especially the arched kind made of stones.
By Beholden
77
77
Review by Beholden
Rated: E | (4.0)
Had a Boxer once - used to steal food bowls from other dogs in the neighborhood. She'd bring them home and line them up next to hers. I think she figured that we'd have to fill them too...

So I saw the punchline coming because I once owned a Boxer (I've since heard that this is quite common in the breed). But that didn't spoil the enjoyment. It's a clever little tale with good flow and pace. Just one minor quibble: "what our key eye witness Mr. X saw on this dark day.

It was an average day like just any other day, and the sun was high up in the sky." You had me a bit confused - was the day dark or average with the sun shining high in the sky? If I were you, I'd change "dark" to something like "fateful".

A pleasant and amusing read.
78
78
Review of Harry's Prairie  
Review by Beholden
Rated: 13+ | (4.5)
Ah, the best-laid plans of mice and men...

I'm no gardener but I know just how Harry must have felt when viewing the devastation. Sometimes good intentions are not good enough.

Well, I had to look up "xeric" so your story has supplied the something I was fated to learn today. Your story is good with just the right amount of detail and believable dialogue. The pace is right and everything flows without interruption to the end. I'm just wondering whether you should take pity on the reader by adding a note to explain our friend, "xeric". Still, I guess it gives Google something to do. ;)
79
79
Review by Beholden
Rated: E | (4.5)
Lovely story - I really enjoyed it. And, for what it's worth, I believed Bill right from the first!

Tone is excellent. I feel as if you saw me coming and wrote this just for me, the way you speak so easily and naturally to me. Good pace too (not rushed or dragging). Dialogue unforced and the flow was excellent. All in all, you've left me nothing to criticize. Well done!
80
80
Review of Dimitriou  
Review by Beholden
Rated: 13+ | (3.5)
Great little story. In my typical , gullible fashion, I didn't see the end coming in spite of all the clues along the way. Which means you succeeded in the aim of the short story - to have a twist in its tail. Well done.

If I have a criticism, it would be that you supply a little too much detail. To cut out some of the descriptions would help the tale to flow more evenly. It's about pace, really. And a short story needs to be just that - long enough to include everything essential but short enough to reach the point quickly.

Remember, it's my opinion only. The story is strong and I suggest only a minor improvement.
81
81
Review of Choices  
Review by Beholden
Rated: E | (3.5)
Sometimes the obvious is just too easy...

Nice little tale, no explanations given and none needed. Some would be full of questions but I like the uncertainty of the world Martin suddenly finds himself in. The writing is good too, pace slick and background effectively scrubbed by painting everything white. Can't fault it.
82
82
Review by Beholden
Rated: 13+ | (5.0)
Ah, I love the smell of cannibalism in the morning...

I like that you're prepared to look at such a taboo subject. Someone has to do it, after all. I can't fault the writing (and probably wouldn't dare anyway) and must thank you for an enjoyable read. :)
83
83
Review by Beholden
Rated: ASR | (5.0)
Good story, strong writing, nothing for me to criticise really. Some would cry out for a twist in the ending but I'm happy to accept a tale of dogged determination rewarded at last by the achievement of the goal. Nothing wrong with happy endings, after all. ;)
84
84
Review by Beholden
Rated: E | (3.5)
I love it! Noted quite early that the relevant cow was named Daisy and so was likely to be the one the dog found so amusing. But I missed the importance of the bovine boyfriend's name until the very end. A lovely little piece.

Just one minor quibble: Are Friesian and Freshen the same animal? I was somewhat suprised to find the unknown Freshen being regaled near the end.
85
85
Review by Beholden
Rated: 18+ | (3.5)
Well, you captured me. I don't usually review poetry but I thought this deserved a chance at least. I read the first stanza. At first the ancient song of rhyme repelled me but the words began to draw me in. They're well chosen, after all.

And then the two words of the final verse come like a sudden lift into the unusual. This is more my kind of thing, I think. A few more verses and I am lost, completely forgetting to be irritated by rhyme and reaching forward to those last two words waiting to pounce. Ultimately I am forced to admit - this is good stuff. Well done indeed, Kåre!
86
86
Review by Beholden
Rated: 13+ | (3.5)
A pleasant little tale. I especially like the way the pace changes as Susan's view of the place is challenged and then defeated. I think we all yearn for a return to simpler times and wholesome activities. My only concern is that the story may need a little more conflict to be truly engaging. It does seem a little too easy, too effortless a transformation. Nothing wrong with the writing, however.
87
87
Review of The Lion's Roar  
Review by Beholden
Rated: E | (4.0)
Ah, Africa. Your story reminds me of something similar that happened to me in Gorongosa, Mozambique. More than anything else, however, it brings into sharp relief the amazing generosity of spirit of African peoples. Time and time again I have seen them give generously in circumstances that would have made most of us resentful and surly. A better man than I am, Gunga Din, indeed.

This is the kind of thing that people who have never been to the dark continent absolutely lap up. They love the exotic and dangerous feeling that an African piece gives and we can cash in on this. To me, who grew up in Africa, it was just normal life and ordinary therefore. It took an old and recently deceased American friend to show me that our memories can be fascinating to others.

If I may offer a suggestion regarding what is already a well written piece, you might try throwing in a little more detail of the heat and dust and sweat of Africa. It all helps to put the reader right there beside you.
88
88
Review of The Librarian  
Review by Beholden
Rated: E | (5.0)
Superb. If I just read it as I read most things (quickly), I feel the thoughts and emotions of the observer and the rigid rules and regulations imposed by the librarian. But then, if I read again, I notice the capital assigned the first word of the last line of the first verse. Which leads me to see that the other lines have no capital. Of course - the last line can also be the first! Clever. My mind is being messed with here.

More wary now, I read on and see the bracketed words that can live on their own. But apart from the cleverness, this is an accomplished and effective poem. It reaches us at a very deep level and awakens feelings long buried. Wonderful stuff!
89
89
Review of Creation Science  
Review by Beholden
Rated: E | (5.0)
Excellent article and a thoroughly interesting explanation of the facts. Although I don't feel competent to enter the argument, I have always felt that there need be no conflict between the Bible's description of creation and evolutionary theories. One can easily be seen as descriptive of the other.

Your writing is clear and flows very well. It is ideal for the task you have set yourself. I guess I'm going to have to mark you as a favourite.

One tiny question that may be the result of our separation by the Atlantic. In England the plural of "hypothesis" is "hypotheses". Is it not the same in the States? I need to know because sometimes I write in American. ;)
90
90
Review by Beholden
Rated: E | (3.5)
It seems you have a small problem, Jim. In fact, we all do. Everyone has times when they don't feel confident about writing anything. But be of good cheer - it's just a matter of finding what you're good at (and you seem pretty good at getting your thoughts down on a piece of paper). Let me tell you a story that might help.

I had a friend who wrote the most marvellous stories of his eventful life. He told them in a way that made us feel we had been there with him. And that was fine by me for a time. My focus was more on fiction and I felt that no one would be interested in my memories.

Then another friend declared that something I'd written was "nearly as good as one of Harry's". It was said in jest but it stung deeply. I resolved to beat Harry at his own game.

It didn't take long to decide on a memory from my youth that combined a red dog, the rain in Africa and the fantasy world that was building in my head. To my surprise, it was easy to write and impressed everyone. After that story I realised that I had plenty of memories that might interest others. I had an African childhood, after all, and what seemed quite oridinary and humdrum to me was often fascinating to others.

Be sure that you have as much residing within you as any one. It's only a matter of finding it.
91
91
Review of The Crystal Heart  
Review by Beholden
Rated: 18+ | (3.5)
A well written story with good pace and just the right amount of detail. Just a couple of niggles in the Epilogue. "A lock of celebrities hair" should surely be "celebrity's hair" and, in "would way far less on her conscience", I think you mean "weigh far less". But an enjoyable tale nevertheless with a nice twist in the end.
92
92
Review by Beholden
Rated: 13+ | (3.5)
Nice. We've all had that feeling of not being understood or appreciated and your story conveys this very well. I confess that I was taken by surprise at the ending, just as you intended. As I got closer and closer to the end, I began to think that there would be no twist but you managed it all in the last few words. Very neatly done.

I have a minor quibble. When they entered the kitchen, I was a bit surprised that it was full of chickens and cows. "Wow, this guy really is fond of barnyard animals," I thought, my imagination populating the room with cows mooing and hens clucking. It was only as I read on that I realised that we were talking of decorations. It's something that jerked me out of the story for a moment but perhaps I'm a bit too literal. As I said, a very minor thing.
93
93
Review by Beholden
Rated: E | (4.0)
Wonderful story. Inventive, humorous, a brilliant reflection on the insanity of modern culture. There is serious intent lurking behind the surface as well - grappling with such things becomes more commonplace to us as time goes on. I liked it a lot (as you may have guessed by now). Of course, this might be because I've always been a dog lover...
94
94
Review by Beholden
Rated: E | (3.5)
The heart of the Gospel indeed. Even today we find it hard to accept that we are saved by grace. Our natural inclination is always to perform in order to receive reward and yet we know that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. To have faith in grace is to trust God and His word.

Thank you for writing this excellent reminder of the wondrous mercy of God.
95
95
Review by Beholden
Rated: 18+ | (4.5)
Ouch. I'll be 71 in a few days time. That is one scary letter, Tyler.

Having said which and by your impressive resumé, you hardly need me to pick apart your excellent letter. Just let me say that, at our age, the occasional vacation is inevitable. Even the young need occasional refueling.
96
96
Review of The Dream  
Review by Beholden
Rated: E | (3.5)
Nice. The punch held back for exactly the right moment. If I have a quibble at all, it is those quotes around "family togetherness" and "check things out". I see no reason why the first can't be stand without the quotes. Presumably the second is in quotes because of a vague feeling that it might be slang or too cliched for the piece. Either risk it or think of another way to say the same thing, I say.

Otherwise, it's a good, tight piece of writing.
97
97
Review of Father of Mine  
Review by Beholden
Rated: E | (5.0)
Best thing I've read on this site so far (not claiming to have read a huge amount however). Beautiful picture of a son connecting with his father in a new and unexpected way. You have brought something not seen before into focus and touched us all profoundly. It's so hard to find anything to criticize so I'll just mention this: "...the television playing sometime that was probably an old Western". Shouldn't that be "something"?
98
98
Review of The Escape  
Review by Beholden
Rated: ASR | (3.0)
You caught me out a little with this one. I thought it was a short story and was surprised by there being no resolution at the end. All became clear when I saw that it was a first chapter.

There are a few technical points that I could mention but I don't want to discourage you. The story is strong enough to entice the reader but beware of providing too much detail and information. Let the reader do some of the work.
99
99
Review by Beholden
Rated: ASR | (3.5)
Interesting thoughts on what makes us human. The question of whether Christopher is changed and doesn't realize it or whether Brianna's excuse for the exercise is true is not answered and I like this. We are allowed to ponder further on the matter and come to our own conclusions. The final paragraph is exactly right for the story, wrapping up in a blanket of relief and comfort, while the last sentence contains just the right tone to alert our suspicions. "You almost got me there..."

If I have a criticism, it's about pace. Everything happens just a little too fast for my taste and we are not given much time to decide whether we like Christopher or not. It's always the difficulty in the short story genre - how much time to spend on character development as opposed to plot.

Altogether an enjoyable read.
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