Review of “On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft” by Stephen King


Title
: On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft
Author: Stephen King
Genre: Nonfiction
Pages: 351
Published: 2001, Hodder & Stoughton
My Grade: 5 out of 5

GOODREADS’ DESCRIPTION

Part memoir, part master class by one of the bestselling authors of all time, this superb volume is a revealing and practical view of the writer’s craft, comprising the basic tools of the trade every writer must have. King’s advice is grounded in the vivid memories from childhood through his emergence as a writer, from his struggling early career to his widely reported, near-fatal accident in 1999 – and how the inextricable link between writing and living spurred his recovery.

MY REVIEW

Many many years when I discovered Stephen King, all thanks to my grandpa who gave me Dreamcatcher for Christmas (and my mom who scolded him for giving a young child a horror book by Stephen King, haha). I can’t have been very old and I probably waited a few years, until 2007, before reading it and that changed so much. I think I fell in love. Or maybe I became obsessed. I wanted to read all of his books, he was such a good writer with such an incredible imagination. And he wrote horror, which I loved at that age. Back then I compared him to the adult version of R. L. Stine. Or rather, the author who wrote adult versions of Goosebumps (which was one of my favorites series when I was a kid). I got obsessed and my early organize traits popped up. I wrote a list of every book he had ever written and which I had and hadn’t yet. I updated that list like a slave even if I perhaps didn’t buy them directly. I got mom’s collection of all his books up until Needful Things, when I think she got me and didn’t read as much anymore, and I have been filling up my King bookshelf ever since. Slowly getting to the full collection. Anyway, long intro. On Writing was unfortunately one of his books that I didn’t want to read, because it was nonfiction. I probably wouldn’t have enjoyed it even if I did read it, but wow did I enjoy it now!

I’ve never read a biography before, but it was interesting to see how much he really wanted to become an author and eventually ended up being one of the most successful ones ever. The second hafl was full of concrete tips on how to write and it ended with him describing his near fatal accident in 1999. So well-written throughout and even if I knew he would survive, I still got sad and upset while reading it.

Much of what he is saying is making a lot of sense and I felt proud and smart and really good about myself when I realized that I was doing and thinking a lot like he says you should as an aspiring author. I got the feeling that this book was aimed at asipiring full time authors. I have a full time job and want to fullfil my spare time with writing so I’m listening to his advice, but only part time. For example, he writes 2 000 words per day, every single day of the year and that way he finishes the first draft in a season (3 months, 180 000 words). For me, I could put up a goal of maybe 500 and be satisfied. But it’s the routine that’s important. Write every day!

He gives a lot of help and I’m not going to write all of it here as that would be spoilers, I guess? But one other thing that he writes, that made me really happy, is that an aspiring author cannot not read. How can you write something if you don’t read? I love to read and that’s why I’m myself writing now, because I wanted another challenge but still with fictional worlds. 4 hours per day for reading and writing. I think I could do 2. If I can cut down on playing with my phone at bedtime I could probably get 1 hour of reading there. 1 hour of writing any other hour of the day shouldn’t be too hard to squeeze in. It’s all about priorities and I’m getting pretty far in my book now and really want to finish it. Or at least finish the first draft soon. And when I start on the second I want to have this routine in my bones.

This turned into a long review, but if you are an aspiring author, or a published one: read it! Much of it I knew because it was logic, but it felt good to hear it from someone else with his amazing words. If you are not an aspiring author yet, it might make you want to become one. Or perhaps just read everything but chapter 4 which is the tips on writing. Easily 5 out of 5!

Review of “Metro 2035” by Dmitry Glukhovsky


Title
: Metro 2035
Author: Dmitry Glukhovsky
Translator (Swedish): Ola Wallin
Series: Metro #3
Genre: Science Fiction, Dystopia, Post Apocalyptic
Pages: 622
Published: 2017, Coltso
My Grade: 3 out of 5

GOODREADS’ DESCRIPTION

World War Three wiped out the humankind. The planet is empty now. Huge cities became dust and ashes. Railroads are being eaten by rust. Abandoned satellites hang lonely on the orbit. Radio is mute on all the frequencies.

The only survivors of the last war were those who made it into the gates of the Metro, the subway system of Moscow city. It’s there, hundreds of feet below the ground, in the vaults of what was constructed as the world’s largest air-raids shelter that people try to outlive the end of the days. It’s there that they created a new world for themselves.

The stations of Metro became city-states, and its citizens, torn apart by religions and ideologies are fighting for the now scarce commodities: air, water, and space. This tiny underground world can only remind humans of an immense world they once were the masters of.

It’s been twenty years past Doomsday, and yet the survivors refuse to give up. The most stubborn of them keep cherishing a dream: when the radiation level from nuclear bombings subsides, they will be able to return to the surface and have the life their parents once had.

But the most stubborn of the stubborn continues to search for other survivors in this huge emptiness that once was called Earth. His name is Artyom. He would give anything to lead his own people from the underground onto the surface.

And he will.

MY REVIEW

The Metro trilogy has come to an end. It started out real strong with 2033, came out flat with 2034 and ended a little confusing and complicated with 2035.

I honestly love this setting, and that alone will make me recommend this series to people. And I would probably say something like: yes, read the first one, it was amazing! The second, not so much, but if you’re anything like me, then you won’t be able to stay away because you want to know what the author has to say. The third is very similar to the first. What happened with the second, I don’t know. Probably just read them all.

But other than the really cool setting and the reality of it (except for the black ones in Metro 2033)… it was Russian, that’s for sure. One thing I found really hard to follow were all the names and nicknames every character had. I had no idea who was who. I guess that’s a cultural thing?

Some parts were very confusing, but I guess that was because Artiom was rambling in his radiation sickness? It was also confusing with what was real or theories. But that’s not a bad thing. That’s the author being very true to his character. You only get to follow Artiom and only his thoughts and ideas and perspective. So when he is certain of something, the reader gets certain of it too. But in the end?

Kind of a big reveal at the end and the reactions from everyone are not surprising, yet maybe a little. A good ending. I want to read Metro 2036 (if Dmitry ever decide to write that book) because it would be very, very different from the first three.

I recommend it, but only to get a proper ending to Metro 2033 which was incredible!

Review of “The Atlantis Complex” by Eoin Colfer

Title: The Last Guardian
Author: Eoin Colfer
Series: Artemis Fowl #8
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 328
Published: 2012, Puffin Books
My Grade: 4 out of 5

GOODREADS’ DESCRIPTION

It’s Armageddon Time for Artemis Fowl

Opal Koboi, power-crazed pixie, is plotting to exterminate mankind and become fairy queen.

If she succeeds, the spirits of long-dead fairy warriors will rise from the earth, inhabit the nearest available bodies and wreak mass destruction. But what happens if those nearest bodies include crows, or deer, or badgers – or two curious little boys by the names of Myles and Beckett Fowl?

Yes, it’s true. Criminal mastermind Artemis Fowl’s four-year-old brothers could be involved in destroying the human race. Can Artemis and Captain Holly Short of the Lower Elements Police stop Opal and prevent the end of the world?

MY REVIEW

A lot of finished series lately. Game of Thrones TV show, Marvels Avengers, Throne of Glass. This series ended in 2012 though, but for me it ended today. And compared to all the other finales, this didn’t make me feel empty. Eight books in a really entertaining book series was good. It was enough and the ending was satisfying. Perhaps a reason is that Artemis Fowl will be a movie in 2020. That is something to look forward to, I think and hope. The first filmatization usually goes wrong though (for example A Series of Unfortunate Events before it got turned into a Netflix series that was amazing, The Golden Compass, Eragon), but it is Disney, and it is 2019. I don’t really see how it could go wrong. But we will see. The first film will cover the first two books: Artemis Fowl and The Arctic Incident.

Like I said, the series ended in a good way. Opal Koboi had the ultimate plan to destroy all of humanity. It was a good plot, and it was in line with the first six books (I wasn’t too impressed with number seven honestly, perhaps not two either). There were ancient magics in play, exploatation, deaths.

Did you like the rest? You will enjoy this one too, it doesn’t deviate too much. But it is an epic battle end. 4 out of 5!

Back home

This trip felt both long and short at the same time. Short because I am now back in my own bed, in grey Sweden. Long because we have done so many things. It feels good to be home, but I miss it and the thought of going back this summer already had hit me before standing on Swedish ground.

It was a long last day, but I don’t feel jetlagged at all. The last two times I have flown back from California, I’ve been on 6am flights and I’ve been so dead when I got back. This time we flew out at 5pm and I have unpacked everything, taken a long shower, did some grocery shopping and even calculated how we should divide the car rent and gas. Not all done, but still. A very productive first night back. I might be tired tomorrow at work though, but I’m sure everyone will understand.

Our last day in California consisted of beach volleyball. The sun was hiding the whole morning and I was so bummed about leaving and the wind was its strongest today, so I wasn’t really in the mood to play today. That sucked, but I played a bit and I really got a hang of serving in the wind. I had so many aces and that was fun.

W

e returned the car and got an Uber straight to the airport where we changed into not-sandy clothes. Caught some Pokemon, just relaxed. I bought a new perfume. And this is INSANE! The normal price (as it always says on the tags at airport stores) for a 100ml DKNY Eau so Blush was $67. But it was $40 something I think. And then there was a huge discount on it, so I only paid $19.50. That’s a third of the price that I would have paid back home in a normal store. The thing is though, when I got back, I realized that this was 100ml and what I compared to was the 50ml bottle. So I bought this perfume for a 6th of the price back home. Crazy!

The first flight to Munich was 10.5 hours. And it went surprisingly smooth. I watched two movies, Bad Times at the El Royale and The Meg. Then I actually slept for a long while. Not well, and I remember moving around more than actual sleeping. But I must have gotten some quality sleep since I didn’t pass out right when I got home. During that flight, just when I thought it was time to go to sleep at around 10pm, there was a huge fight on the two rows before me. They were at it for probably an hour a day the flight attendants were there and it was so loud. Fortunately, they were done when my movie was done and I could get some sleep. Apparently one guy had felled his chair and the guy behind him had pushed that chair forward in annoyance. Such a childish thing to do. But that’s how involved I got. Super stupid. These people were also the ones holding up the boarding when they stood in the aisles chatting instead of sitting and letting people pass easily. French people.

The second flight was not even two hours and went by really fast too. I slept a little, watched an episode of Störst av Allt (Quicksand in English) on Netflix and then actually wrote a little bit on my book.

Mom picked us up and when I got home I was greeted by my two furries. I’ve missed them and from the way they were clinging on me, I think they have missed me too.

When I got home, I found this in the sink. Super weird!

Two days in SLO

My last full day in California is over. I am really excited to go home if I’m to be completely honest (like I miss eating healthy, even if I have enjoyed every single bite of everything delicious I’ve had here, and I also miss not being this ridiculously tired all the time). But other than those two things, I don’t want to go home. From what I’ve understood, Sweden had better weather than California this past week. I didn’t get tan, but this was not a sunbathing trip though. We have done so many things. And lying on the beach, just soaking up the sun is only fun for so long.

So this vacation ended with a roadtrip. Me and the Elin who is sharing a flight with me tomorrow drove up to San Luis Obispo, my SLOME (SLO-home). It was 3.5-4 hours each way. Up was not a big deal, but going down tonight was rough.

The first Elin flew back home yesterday and the last thing the three of us did together was going to UCLA campus for a pie contest. Miriam’s sister told us about it, and free sampling from the baking competition sounded nice, so we stopped by there to get some free pie. But the tasting didn’t open until 3pm and with the 3 hour drive, it wouldn’t work. And perhaps that was for the best. We had leftover cheesecake for breakfast that day, haha!

We arrived at like 6pm and started with a “fika” at SLODOCO (San Luis Obispo Donut Company) with Rachel, my former roommate. It was so nice to see her again. She still lives in SLO, she managed to get a good job there. I am happy for her, SLO is the cutest city. And it was also nice to see Slodoco again. I have missed their chailatte so much!

Elin and I then drove to Pismo Beach where we had clam chowder soup for dinner and then down to Santa Maria and Steven where we were staying for the night. We watched the last two Game of Thrones episodes. Such a great evening!

This morning it was raining, so we took a slow breakfast at Kreuzberg in SLO. Their acai bowl is amazing! We also did some shopping at Victoria’s Secret.

The weather cleared up and was perfect hiking weather after that. So we parked on campus and did the serenity swing. I love that hike. It is only 6km roundtrip. My calves don’t like it, since it is always going upphill, but for the amazing views, it is totally worth it. Here’s a 3D pic of the swing.

Right after, we met up with my former WOW-leader (Week of Welcome) for lunch at Firestone Grill in downtown. If I have to be honest, it was not as good as I remembered. It was good, but the pulled pork was not as shredded as I remember it being. Very nice to meet Sam again.

I would have loved to go to Montaña de Oro State Park, but it was a 30 min drive up north, and it was already getting late. So we skipped it. Bought some donuts at Slodoco and I also got a picture of the chai powder they are using. If I could get a bag of those somehow, I would be so happy. We will see how that works out.

Then a small stop at Target to get some things to bring back home and then we hit the road. At 9:30pm we arrived back home in La Habra. I can barely keep my eyes open. But everything is packed and I am ready to spend the morning at Huntington Beach playing beach volleyball. I don’t look forward to the flight at 5pm…

Tons of beach volleyball

This cold of mine is not getting better, not even with DayQuil. I definitely would have stayed home from work with this, but since I am in California and don’t want to miss out on anything I am pushing myself through, pretending I am not too sick. It was perhaps a bit stupid to play a lot of beach volleyball today for example. But I had so much fun. And honestly, it was cold sitting by watching. It was very overcast and perfect weather for beach volleyball. One of the Elin’s made a friend the day I was at WSP and we met up with him and a friend of his. This friend had supposedly lived in Sweden for 3 years but when we met him, he had the Stockholm accent and told us he had lived in Sweden since he was three years old and in California the past year. He was born in Iran. He was nice and we had a great day of more than 4 hours of play. I didn’t play all of that time, I took breaks.

The Swedish guy then accompanied us for the rest of the afternoon and we sat down for lunch together in Huntington. Poke bowls and they were so good! He then showed us a super cool bar called Bungalow which was basically many living rooms put together. Just couches and even fireplaces. Such a cool and cozy bar! And then some shopping in Huntington and we ran into a crowd of Trump -followers who screamed straight out at people with other backgrounds than themselves that they should go to hell and all kinds of horrible things. I got so surprised. Does that seriously happen?? In California? So scary!!

O

ur night plans were Cheesecake Factory. The whole gang was gathered all 9,5 of us. Me, the two Elin’s, Miriam, our two hosts, Miriam’s brother and sister and her husband and kid. It was such a nice evening but now my stomach hurts, so bad. So much food! But it was worth it, so delicious!

We spent half an hour in the jacuzzi with some champagne in Panda Express cups. The day couldn’t have ended better! Now I feel feverish and will get some proper good nights sleep. I hope I will feel better tomorrow when me and Elin W is going up to SLO. I am so excited to go back there as well. This whole vacation has been a trip down memory lane. I really like California, this is home.

San Diego day 2

Two days in San Diego just flew past. I can’t describe the feeling when I drove on the I5 South toward San Diego and drove past all of the exits in Carlsbad and lower, remembering things from each of them. I still remember how to drive places and what things look like. Insane! But so much fun. The feeling of home has never been stronger.Miriam and her brother didn’t want to spend the full day today in San Diego, so they took the train up to Fullerton this morning. So we drove them to Oceanside and said goodbye and directly after found a breakfast place that was incredible: Petite Madeline. I ordered crepes with white chocolate mousse and strawberries and a french toast on the side. They gave me the wrong crepe (with whipped cream and raspberries) and shortly after came out with the right one. I’m not the one to pass down a crepe or let it go to waste, so I ate both. So delicious! So stuffed!After the intense 26k step day yesterday we just drove down to La Jolla Shores and stayed there for the day. Since I have gotten a pretty bad cold, surfing was out of the question. Everyhing but laying on the beach reading was out of the question. Muscle soreness in our butts from yesterday’s hike is revealing itself more and more for each hour. So all three of us just laid there. It was cloudy like no other days, but it was still warm. If it was sunny I think it would have been unbearable. We only stayed until 3pm and since those 4 hours flew past I guess that I must have fallen asleep pretty hard right there because I got burned. Pretty bad on my stomach. Even after putting on SPF 30 twice!We then drove to Fashion Valley, the prettiest shopping center I know of. I wasn’t planning on getting much, and the one thing I really wanted, they didn’t have. But I somehow managed to spend over $100. I wanted to get new panties from Victoria’s Secret, but they for once didn’t have any nice ones, so I skipped. I did however buy two new bras. I have many, but honestly I should throw many of them away since they don’t fit well anymore. These two though, oh my! They were perfect!I also got a pair of summery jeans from Forever 21 and SPF 50. Also som Dayquil. I hope this cold goes away. I don’t feel too well. I wonder if I can take this as a sick day instead of a vacation day. I I felt like this at home, I’m not sure that I would have gotten into work honestly. I’ll have to check when I get back home.Last night when I was talking to my hostparents, they told me the sad news of Famous Dave’s in Vista (San Diego). The restaurant had permanently closed. Fortunately for me, it is a chain and is open in Irvine, so we drove there, it was on the way back home to La Habra, and had a really late dinner. It was as delicious as I remember. Oh my goodness!It was great being back in San Diego. I already miss it, but I am also very excited to go up to SLO this Sunday.