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!

Review of “The Atlantis Complex” by Eoin Colfer

Title: The Atlantis Complex
Author: Eoin Colfer
Series: Artemis Fowl #7
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 357
Published: 2010, Puffin Books
My Grade: 3 out of 5

GOODREADS’ DESCRIPTION

Young Artemis has frequently used high-tech fairy magic to mastermind the most devious criminal activity of the new century. Now, at a conference in Iceland, Artemis has gathered the fairies to present his latest idea to save the world from global warming.

But Artemis is behaving strangely – he seems different. Something terrible has happened to him . . . Artemis Fowl has become nice.

The fairies diagnose Atlantis Complex (that’s obsessive compulsive disorder to you and I) – it seems dabbling in magic has damaged Artemis’ main weapon: his mind. Fairy ally Captain Holly Short doesn’t know what to do. The subterranean volcanoes are under attack from vicious robots and Artemis cannot fight them. Can Holly get the real Artemis back before the robot probes destroy every human and life form?

MY REVIEW

It’s been a while since I read The Time Paradox and I don’t think I misremember when I think back on the five previous books as really good ones. But while reading this, pretty early on, I felt that this was not in the same class as the rest of the series.

I love everything that has to do with underwater environments so The Atlantis Complex has always been a book in this series that I looked forward to. But, small spoiler alert, it doesn’t have much to do with Atlantis. And it didn’t really feel like the typical Artemis Fowl book where Artemis had a goal, a heist to complete, but rather circle around events that doesn’t really impact the rest of the story (the last book in this series).

In other words, it kind of felt a little bit uneccessary for the whole Artemis Fowl story. But what do I know? It might be of importance that Artemis developed an OCD-like complex in this installation.

Still entertaining, but I have higher hopes for The Last Guardian. It gets 3 out of 5.

Review of “Kingdom of Ash” by Sarah J. Maas

Title: Kingdom of Ash
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Series: Throne of Glass #7
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 984
Published: 2018, Bloomsbury Publishing
My Grade: 5 out of 5 worlds

GOODREADS’ DESCRIPTION

Aelin has risked everything to save her people―but at a tremendous cost. Locked within an iron coffin by the Queen of the Fae, Aelin must draw upon her fiery will as she endures months of torture. Aware that yielding to Maeve will doom those she loves keeps her from breaking, though her resolve begins to unravel with each passing day…

With Aelin captured, Aedion and Lysandra remain the last line of defense to protect Terrasen from utter destruction. Yet they soon realize that the many allies they’ve gathered to battle Erawan’s hordes might not be enough to save them. Scattered across the continent and racing against time, Chaol, Manon, and Dorian are forced to forge their own paths to meet their fates. Hanging in the balance is any hope of salvation―and a better world.

And across the sea, his companions unwavering beside him, Rowan hunts to find his captured wife and queen―before she is lost to him forever.

 

MY REVIEW

I don’t like finishing series. Especially not one of my all time favorites. Many years ago one of my mom’s friends told me about this series. At that time, there were only two or maybe three books published and Maas had a long way to go before this series was done. Fortunately for me, and all other fans, I didn’t have to wait unreasonably long between each book (unlike other great authors who can’t seem to keep the years between releases under a decade). And when it was teo years between, she released a book in her other series A Court of Thorns and Roses which is also one of the best I have ever read! And on that note, before I start reviewing this thousand page brick, she managed to intertwine these two series in a perfect way. It was a spoiler, but I guess I knew that would happen anyway. But it was fun that she did that, the characters of the both series briefly meeting and helping each other, or at least one helping the other.

This book was long, 273k words to be exact. That is insane. No wonder it took me forever to finish it (also because I have been writing non-stop during November-January instead of reading). But it was worth every page. There was so much to be wrapped up and she did it really well. Many battles, many plot twists, many unpredictable saves. It was exactly what you’d expect after reading all of the other books in this series.

I still think that it is kind of silly that all main characters end up together as couples and all the relationships starts with trouble but turns out to be destined to be. It doesn’t really feel like that fits with reality right now, if that makes sense. But I did like that the focus was more on the events this time, not the trying-to-write-sexy-thing she did a few books back where the sex scenes just became a bit awkward.

Something that I have noticed, but not quite sure if if bothers me or if it is really, really smart of her as an author, is that she doesn’t write everything. She leaves out huge parts where Aelin for the most part, is plotting and making plans and they are not even mentioned the slightest until it saves the day. It makes it very unpredictable, but after seven books, you kind of know that Aelin’s secret plans will save the day, somehow.

But overall, the ending was great, all thousand pages of it. I am sad that this was the end and I truly hope Maas will write a new similar series. I get the same kind of cozy fantasy feeling from both Throne of Glass and A Court of Thorns and Roses and I hope that she will find some new inspiration toward a new series with the same feeling. It is new, it is original. I call it good-feeling-fantasy and this is what I am trying to aspire in my own book that I am currently writing. This feel-good sensation while it at the same time feels hopeless and you can’t stop wondering how more messed up the plot can become.

I have to say though, that intertwining of her two series was a true delight, so I suggest you read all of those books before reading this. Otherwise you will miss it and just have an amazing book behind you. The whole series gets a five out of five! Easy!

Review of “Only Human” by Sylvain Neuvel

Title: Only Human
Author: Sylvain Neuvel
Series: Themis Files #3
Genre: Science Fiction
Pages: 336
Published: 2018, Del Ray
My Grade: 3 out of 5

GOODREADS’ DESCRIPTION

In her childhood, Rose Franklin accidentally discovered a giant metal hand buried beneath the ground outside Deadwood, South Dakota. As an adult, Dr. Rose Franklin led the team that uncovered the rest of the body parts which together form Themis: a powerful robot of mysterious alien origin. She, along with linguist Vincent, pilot Kara, and the unnamed Interviewer, protected the Earth from geopolitical conflict and alien invasion alike. Now, after nearly ten years on another world, Rose returns to find her old alliances forfeit and the planet in shambles. And she must pick up the pieces of the Earth Defense Corps as her own friends turn against each other.

MY REVIEW

5, 4, 3. That’s my judgement of how these books unfortunately went. Don’t get me wrong, I loved all three books, but the first was by far the best, the second was slightly less sharp and the third was promising until the end that made the whole book kind of feel a bit unneccessary and very flat. Let me explain why.

If you haven’t read the first two, then here comes spoilers, but I can’t really write this review without it since all the books are connected. The second book ended with the main characters ending up on the planet whose inhabitants created Themis, the Ekts. Super cool. I love other people’s fantasies on how different planets might look. It is somehow different than fantasy where it kind of feels like it is Earth, just another version of it. I loved Esat Ekt and how Neuvel managed to describe the world and the people in depth through files, mostly conversation logs between the characters.

The book starts with the characters coming back to Earth and every chapters now and then was to look back at what had happened there. Sure, it was smart and kept it interesting, but I also think that it would have been better to have put the focus on Esat Ekt and only written a small part of what happened back on Earth after, in normal and logical chronologial order. And the ending should also be completely different. No, wait, I changed my mind. It should be as it is, it is clever. But the ending should have been different! More interesting and not so flat. It was almost anti-climactic. Siri Pettersen had a gigantic cliffhanger at the end of her Raven Rings trilogy, that exact ending would have worked perfectly here too. Just saying.

Even though I mostly wrote about the flaws now, it is a good book and I really enjoyed reading it as well. But when compared to the two prequels, it just doesn’t feel right to give it a higher grade than 3.

Review of “Waking Gods” by Sylvain Neuvel

Title: Waking Gods
Author: Sylvain Neuvel
Series: Themis Files #2
Genre: Science Fiction
Pages: 325
Published: 2017, Del Ray
My Grade: 4 out of 5

GOODREADS’ DESCRIPTION

As a child, Rose Franklin made an astonishing discovery: a giant metallic hand, buried deep within the earth. As an adult, she’s dedicated her brilliant scientific career to solving the mystery that began that fateful day: Why was a titanic robot of unknown origin buried in pieces around the world? Years of investigation have produced intriguing answers—and even more perplexing questions. But the truth is closer than ever before when a second robot, more massive than the first, materializes and lashes out with deadly force.

Now humankind faces a nightmare invasion scenario made real, as more colossal machines touch down across the globe. But Rose and her team at the Earth Defense Corps refuse to surrender. They can turn the tide if they can unlock the last secrets of an advanced alien technology. The greatest weapon humanity wields is knowledge in a do-or-die battle to inherit the Earth . . . and maybe even the stars.

MY REVIEW

After the cliffhanger in Sleeping Giants I couldn’t wait and picked up the second book in the Themis Files trilogy right away. Waking Gods is written in the same way as Sleeping Giants, in interview form. But I have to admit, that it was harder to follow the story in this one, there were more logs than interviews and it was hard to understand exactly what was going on when the characters talked into a mic during the action-packed event. And also when several people were involved in one recording. Like who said what exactly? Not that it actually matters, because you get the idea anyway. I think I am just used to everything being super clear in “normal” books with detailed descriptions and who says what. But to understand what is going on, that is actually not needed and Neuvel proves that very well.

In the first book, you were always sitting on the edge of your reading place, you had no idea what was going to happen, and it took so many surprising turns. The second was more action-packed. Instead of getting previous events explained through interviews, you were there and were told through recorded mission logs. I think I preferred the interviews. But I also see why the author chose to do it. Not gonna spoil it, I promise.

The ending, and I mean the very very last sentence. Extreme cliffhanger! But I had figured that out a long time ago and wasn’t as surprised or dropped my jaw like in the first one. Still, hell of a cliffhanger!

So, lots of action, long time jumps, many deaths, not as many interviews equals to a grade of 4.