Progress report ‘Variations on a Theme’ short story collection

As I may have mentioned in a previous post, I’m working on a collection of short stories and have been for most of this year.

The collection came about because I wad on the train home from a concert last year and started writing ‘first line prompts’. I took one of these, two prompts from a Tumblr blog I follow, and a random picture I liked, and decided to see what I could do.
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It’s bank holiday weekend…

..And I spent it at work.

But not tomorrow.

So tonight I’m getting quite drunk while watching series 1 of ‘Game of Thrones.’ I haven’t seen it yet, or read the books. It’s rather good so far. I really need to get to books. Apparently the series is close to the books with minor sub-plots that aren’t in the books.

Each episode is nearly an hour long and I’m quite tired since I was at work at six this morning and haven’t had a nap today. we will probably carry on with the rest of the series tomorrow. Our library has series two. If I had any cash I’d pop in on Tuesday and borrow the DVD’s for a week.

Review: ‘The Boy who Led Them.’ by George Chittenden

2012

Austin & Macauley Publishers Ltd.

One night in 1792 the cutter that ‘The Boy’, Jacob Swift, Swifty, King of Smugglers, was on came under attack from a 70-gun warship in The Channel just off Deal, Kent. She sank and every man aboard died. But not before Swifty sent a message in a bottle telling his gang where the greatest treasure he ever got his hands on was hidden.

Two hundred years later, and an unhappy young boy called Stanley is contemplating how best to survive the school bully when he spots something odd on the beach. His discovery leads him to the town’s old maritime museum and the curator, Reg Cooper, who has a story to tell. Thus unfolds the tale of Jacob Swift, poor fisherman’s son who rises to lead the greatest smuggling gang in Kent. It is a story of loyalty to friends, adventures on the high seas, running from the law, and brandy.

 

The narrative is detailed and colourful, moving along fairly quickly, and the dénouement, the discovery by Stan of a major treasure, and resulting survival of the museum, is fulfilling. The tale of Jacob Swift’s rise and fall is entertaining, if ultimately sad.

The characters of Jacob Swift and his friends are well developed, but the modern day narrator, Reg, and Stan, are flat characters. Their purpose is to tell the story of their antecedents, rather than it being their story. They do not develop at all. There is very little plot; the plot that does exists is merely a vehicle for a more interesting tale. It works, but in a limited sense.

The author is a local historian and writer from Kent; he should know a fair bit about his own county’s history. What I wonder about is his general grasp of eighteenth century history. There are several anachronisms in his text; I don’t think, though I’m not certain, that balaclavas were in general circulation in the 1780’s or that English smugglers would have used litres to measure how much brandy they were importing. Please, correct me if I’m wrong. I mention these because I’d be trotting along happily reading this novel and then I’d be jarred out of the narrative. Also, there were errors of spelling and grammar, ‘along’ instead of ‘a long’ for instance, small things that an editor should have picked up on and corrected. These faults irritated me slightly but didn’t stop me enjoying the essential story.

 

Review: ‘The Woken Gods’ by Gwenda Bond

Not yet published – Publication date 3rd September 2013

Angry Robot Ltd

Recently I joined www.netgalley.com, as I mentioned in a previous post, and this is one of the first books I have had the pleasure of reading and reviewing. It, like most of the books on Net Galley, is an ARC, or advance reader copy. Therefore I shall restrict this review to the plot and characters, and not discuss any perceived faults in the text, just as the author has asked.  I’m nice like that.

‘The Woken Gods’ is set in Washington D.C. in the near future where all the gods have been woken from an eons long sleep. The Society of the Sun, which effectively rules the world now, as they were the ones who subdued the gods, keeps everything under control, with the help of magical relics.

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