It’s review time … please be gentle.



A new site and a new approach.

Please post your review and/or your thoughts on the May/June 2016 CW competition here below in the form of a comment.

Ideally your review would be on your own site blog page with a link to that page posted here. But if that is difficult for any reason then the whole review could be posted here.

The new approach to the reviews? Well the picture might give a clue.

But for those taking a more robust view of what a critique should really be like … don’t be shy, get out the hobnail boots. 🙂

27 thoughts on “It’s review time … please be gentle.

  1. Thank you Bleda for your kind and thoughtful comments, I’m sure there would have been a lots of kindness behind any shrugging of your shoulders that would have been gratefully perceived, congratulations on setting up the bar and everything else you’ve done for us all


  2. As always, a personal view, and not to be taken too seriously, but I feel rather guilty about missing a few reviews lately so I’ve made some sort of effort this month.

    Expatangie: Onions make you cry
    It is the cynic in me that prevents my full appreciation of Angie’s stories, primarily because they are very often ‘feel-good’.
    Not that there is anything wrong with feeling good, but experience of life suggests that it is when one is feeling good, some disaster often lies in wait just around the corner … so when reading I am waiting for the disaster that never comes.
    But for all that, a pleasant well rounded story, nicely told and with enough locations along the way to satisfy avid users of google maps.

    Peter: Myfanwy
    I kept the link to google maps open for this story as well, which was a shame really because it interrupted the flow, and the last thing that one should do when reading Peter is to lose concentration.
    My love of music even side-tracked me to Utube where I found this little gem to share … 🙂
    Peter so obviously loves the written word I sometimes feel that he loses himself in the use of it. So anxious is he not to waste one syllable, this can blunt the continuity of the storyline and the final impact. Acceptable perhaps in a book, but in an essay I think that it slows the tempo and detracts from the excellent prose, it becomes a dissertation rather than a short story.
    But writing comes in many forms, and this is only my somewhat churlish opinion. Perhaps the real reason is that I am simply jealous of the quality of Peter’s writing … so I will leave it at that.

    Colmore: Night Journey
    If I am not mistaken I think that this may have been entered in a previous month. There is nothing in the rules to prevent that of course, but it did make it difficult for me to include it in my voting considerations.
    A good story competently written (perhaps a little overwritten in places), and things worked out well in the rounded ending.
    Here is much that one looks for in a short story, and it is a rewarding read, but for me just a pity about the déjà vu.

    ChesterBGoode: Boy’s Journey
    Stylishly written and moving at a pace, this was my one pointer that could easily have been a three … it was that close.
    Chester has a refreshing way of writing that never fails to open the mind, at least it does mine. Maybe understated at times but never lacking in integrity. And how’s this for an interchange to stir the pictorial senses … “How come you don’t got no shoes?” asked one – and he answered, “Just don’t, I guess” … just perfect.
    I found this to be an interesting and thought provoking read, and I’m still not quite sure that I have the ending worked out correctly, but well done Chester.

    Lostinwords: Let the good times roll
    A somewhat topical tale that perfectly illustrates the horrors that can, and occasional have, come from deep seated racially motivated ignorance and fear. Coincidentally, only last evening I watched a film in which the murders of three men in Mississippi back in 1964 featured in the storyline, and Lost’s story, and his choice of setting, was bang on target, though around the mid-sixties I doubt that a black couple from New York would be quite so cavalier as to traipse around the deep south as did George and Jill.
    Well up to Lost’s consistently high standard and worth a lot more than the single point that it received in the voting … even if that was one of Giselle’s votes.

    Seadams: The Pivotal Summer of Lennox L (with apologies to JP Donleavy)
    Last month’s winning story, though second in my choice of three.
    I think that what probably tipped the scales against it for me was the dithering of the lovers, though perhaps that’s the way it happens in the highlands and the islands.
    An interesting and wandering tale, nicely told and rounded off with a good if somewhat frustrating twist, (I’m sure that Angie could never have left them in separate rooms, and certainly not with “ a beautific smile on his freshly shaven face”, Mamma mia! ).
    It was not quite enough to my liking to get my five points but it was a close run thing, and certainly there was nothing wrong with the writing.
    And an overall winner is a winner, and a runaway winner at that, so well done seadams.

    Araminta: Old Sam.
    Well written though this was, this story seemed in some way to be incomplete … yet it had a beginning and an end. So it must have been the content, or more accurately the lack of it.
    Yet there was a story there, but some embellishment was required to draw the reader in and give a point to it all … it was a vignette rather than a story. Which was a pity really, because this could have had much more impact. Next time perhaps.

    Giselle: 969 Miles.
    I made this my 5 pointer almost entirely for the quality of the writing.
    I thought that the storyline itself, though interesting, was highly improbable … what woman in her right mind would have embarked on such an unlikely jaunt with a stranger? And, to my way of thinking, a dodgy stranger at that. Still, It did give me ample opportunity to turn on ‘google maps’ again.
    All the signs were wrong but she pressed on regardless, it seemed almost as if she felt that she owed him something. And perhaps she did in her own mind, but her seemingly uncontrolled desperation for that incomprehensible something, and his almost vagabond attitude to life, made for uneasy reading.
    Only the quality of the writing won it for me, and as is so often the case, Giselle’s craftsmanship shone through enough to corner my five points.
    And with sufficient points from other voters adding up to second place overall, perhaps I am not at risk of becoming a ‘groupie’ after all. Well done Giselle.

    DanTheMann: The long road to Sjreadalsholm.
    I wasn’t quite sure whether this was Sjreadalsholm or Hellzapoppin, both seemed to me as being of the same genre.
    There was a good sense of atmosphere, and the writing was quite surreal in places with characters all with their own ideas on self-preservation, not to mention the potential for procreation. But part of something longer I suspect.
    It polled quite well in the voting (archie liked it, so no surprise there), but it was a bit too ‘off the wall’ for my liking, and I couldn’t quite get my head around comments such as “What do you mean? Those little things that look like mushroom clouds?”
    I’ve seen a few pictures of nuclear clouds over the years, and ‘little’ is hardly the adverb that I would have used. 🙂
    But as I say, it polled well and it was certainly entertaining.

    AmericanMum: The Searcher
    I think I got it.
    An American version of ‘brief encounters’ without the soppy love stuff.
    Not a word wasted and an object lesson in brevity, even including the dialogue.
    I do understand that not every story has a right to expect marks in a competition, but I am astonished that this didn’t get any … I thought that it was nicely rounded, competently written, and as briefly entertaining as anything on HBO.

    Furryfeatures: Sixteen Pills
    A sad story in many ways.
    A story of a humdrum existence in a humdrum world with limited horizons.
    The title suggests that our long distance lorry driver sees rather more in the pills than just medication … perhaps a release, an escape.
    But our character is trapped, and he knows it, the road stretches ahead but with no particular destination in mind.
    Hardly an uplifting tale, but all the words are in the right order and it is a readable character study of sorts. It might even have the makings of an Eddie Stobart documentary episode but I doubt that HBO would buy it.

    Archie: Backstory
    I’m sure that Archie did not mean this to be an entry, but I included it because it was such a refreshing change for me to read something from Archie that was not Sci-fi, and I was hooked by the door that needed to have its roots done. 🙂
    A few quibbles, (I doubt a Yorkshire man would refer to the lavatory as ‘ the john’).
    And it wasn’t anywhere near the topic,
    Plus the fact that, as with most of Archie’s entries, it was only an extract of something larger.
    But I do wish that Archie would do more like this.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. What interesting and profound reviews of the stories. Thank you for mine, very helpful. The impending disaster was at the beginning of the story, the children’s parents were on the verge of divorce and they had had a challenging life change. Sally was trying to get close to the children so she could help them see that life’s challenges can be taken in your stride. I’m sorry I didn’t get that across in the story, The older woman who seemed boring and staid to the young teenage Ellie was gently trying to help her become stronger and see that life even though it sends us difficulties is an adventure that is helped by sticking together, Sally wanted to equip the youngsters with inner strength by stimulating their curiosity and blablabla, sorry!
      It wasn’t really a feelgood story there were a lot of hidden dangers.


      1. What I would have liked to have come across in the story was that Sally’s tears were maybe for her lost youth, for all the people and countries she had met on the way, for any sadness or pain in her life but that she was using the on the road story to show the children that life was an on the road adventure and that it was important to have the right company on the way and give your best to all that comes your way .So whatever happens with their parents and their change of school etc, she will be there for them.,


      2. Our ‘feelgood’ filters are obviously set at a different level Angie. 🙂
        But thanks for your comprehensive response, this is just the sort of interchange of point of view that we all learn from during this ‘wash-up’ part of proceedings.


      3. I’ve re-read your story Angie, and yes all the little aggravations were there and your intentions are clear for all to see. But it all came right in the end and left (me certainly) feeling that “all’s well that ends well and so that’s alright then!”.
        It left me feeling good (hence the feelgood), and the children (particularly Ellie) had each learnt a lesson about how each of us have a life of our own and it’s not all about me,me,me.
        Faced with the truculent Ellie, there was a time when I would have shrugged my shoulders and retorted “That’s OK young lady, go your own way, you’ll learn in time … but it will be the hard way!”
        But if I’m not mistaken I would guess that you would never dream of reacting in so churlish a way … we are programmed differently. 😉


    2. Dear Bleda, thank you so much for your kind comments and for suspending disbelief for long enough to read to the end of my story! I intended to portray my characters in midlife crisis, on the rebound from marriage and career breakdown, lonely but ill-suited to one another, and not quite knowing what to do with themselves. The idea for (Help for) Heroes actually came from seadams’ Bowie theme, but I couldn’t complete my story; Emma is Adrian’s ex (he of Goldstone Avenue), and it was Lost’s road trip that gave them something crazy to do. G X


    3. Hi Bleda.

      Thanks for the reviews. It’s always interesting and informative to read the different viewpoints.

      Fair comment regarding my entry – it really was a rushed job, and needed work. I really must try to find the time to write something a little longer!

      Still, I’m pleased to have managed something, so better time management is the answer, although easier said than done.


  3. I find this whole WordPress and Facebook set up confusing. I wonder if a separate internet account might work as long as you can control the access. I am keen to remain as a member but I find the process of getting in tedious.


    1. Hi colmore,
      I haven’t used the group facebook page too much, but I do use other facebook pages and when you get used to them they are pretty easy. They are also quicker to respond when interacting with others than is WordPress, which is why I think that it would be a better host for Bleda’s Bar. Last week’s interchange in the bar was like conversing by pigeon post.
      As to this group site, I am now beginning to get more familiar with it’s workings and can see some light at the end of the tunnel although am still very much a novice.
      I think that if you persevere, then with practise (as with most things), it will become clearer. Of course, practise requires a lot of time and error, something that not all of us have, but please don’t give up.


  4. Wonderful stories.

    “Onions Make You Cry” by Expatangie

    This story was both sweet and funny, with an unexpected ending. One expects that it is a tale of long-lost love that made her cry. Your characterization of the teenaged Ellie was wonderful and added to the lightness and humor of the story.


    “Myfanwy” by Peter
    The walk along Offa’s Dyke becomes a mystical journey of remembrance and lost love. Tenderly told.


    “Night Journey” by Colmore
    This is a reworking of an earlier story, and I think it was not an improvement. The suspense of the “night journey” is now buried in a rambling narrative in which it becomes, not the climax, but another in a series of episodes. The penultimate episode in which they sit around drinking cocoa (or something) for a while and then are told they should move down the mountain further because they are still in range of a German bullet strikes me as nonsensical. One wouldn’t stop until one was safe.


    “Boy’s Journey” by ChesterBGoode

    This gentle story is generously punctuated with tender glimpses into the trip that the boy and his canine companion make. No time period is expressly given, but the sense throughout is that it was a hundred years or more in the past. We do not know, in the beginning, why he is on the journey, and like the boy, we don’t know exactly where he is going. Maybe California, maybe Little Rock. The bittersweet ending with the boy, dog still in tow, but no longer alone,visiting the grave of a sister who loved him and raised him, brought tears to my eyes.

    “Let the Good Times Roll” by Lostinwords

    I find your story somewhat improbable. It probably should have been placed further back in time. I graduated from an integrated High School in Kentucky in 1973 and was living in deep-south Georgia by 1980 and find your tale of brutal, blatant racism perhaps not impossible, but definitely unlikely for the time period.


    “The Pivotal Summer of Lennox L (with apologies to JP Donleavy)” by Seadams
    Playful, lovely characterization of two middle aged single people who are tentatively searching for romance. The the shifting point of view structure works marvelously to create tension and humor.

    “Old Sam” by Araminta

    Poignant story of fading strength in a changing world. Old Sam experiences a death of sorts and a revival at the hands of his son and dog, but the vivid dream of Mollie is like a tug to another realm.

    ”969 miles” by Giselle

    The structure of the story was elegant and effective. The characters are distinct and pull us into their flawed existences. Lovely, a very authentic sense of incompleteness.

    “The Long Road to Sjreadalsholm” by DanTheMan

    Welcome back. This was a stellar story to return to the group with. I loved the scenario which unfolded skillfully and gradually: the assumption of the worst, the gnawing anxiety, the reason for the concern exposed only after the tone has been set. That Alex and Kate can’t get an answer to their fears right away adds to the building tension. Alex’s imagination run amok in a post nuclear world is superb. I loved the authentic feel of this “apocalyptic” tale and best of all, the mundane conclusion. Welcome Back!

    “Sixteen Pills” by Furryfeatures

    This is a cautionary tale about the true value of money. It is one I have tried to tell my students who assert that they can make $50 an hour welding. No amount of reminding them that they will have to move to a distant state, deal with uncertain and uneven employment, and that it isn’t worth it if they don’t enjoy it will convince them to reconsider. It is easy to make stupid mistakes when you are young, a point you have made brilliantly.

    “Backstory” by Archie
    You often tease us with fragments, Archie, and this is a prime example. You are an apt writer, but I believe you are mostly engaged in other projects. If we want the full story, we will have to buy the book!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Really interesting reviews as always, AM. I always enjoy reading your thoughts on the stories.

      Thank you for your kind words on “Old Sam”. It was very rushed, I admit, but so far, it’s been rather better received than it probably deserves.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Thanks very much for your kind review. At a period when I’m generally struggling to find time to write, your words are a great encouragement!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Here are my comments on the stories, I enjoyed reading all of them very much.

    Myfanwy by Peter Barnet. A lovely story full of the music and the beauty of the Welsh hills, a pleasure to read and a joy to imagine these lovely places.

    Night Journey by Colmore
    A gripping wartime adventure story with vivid descriptions of a journey over the Pyrenees to safety. You kept the tense atmosphere going really well and the sense of danger and camaraderie, a great read.

    Boys Journey, Chester B.Goode. A sad and very moving story, a whole range of emotions in a short time, beautifully told about a little boy who is adopted by the governor of Little Rock. Lovely.

    Let the Good Times Roll, Lostinwords
    The story started off happily and lulled the reader into a false sense of security, happy flower power atmosphere about a young couple on the road, then we discover they are black and their camper breaks down and the story becomes frightening and terrible.

    The Pivotal Summer of Lennox with apologies to J:P:Donleavy
    A lovely romantic tale of the love blossoming between Shirley the hairdresser and Lennox with the mobile library. A happy romp through the beautiful Scottish countryside and lots of kind and interesting characters.

    Old Sam by Araminta
    A lovely atmospheric story about Sam coming home from the pub and being rescued by his son. Very gentle story you have a great talent for expressing much love with just a few words.

    969miles by Giselle
    Highly original and beautifully told story of Emma and Simon travelling from Lands End to John O Groats. We followed their journey and as they progressed so did their capacity to heal their wounds. As always a privilege to read your excellent stories.

    The Long Road to Sjreadalsholm by Dantheman
    Another interesting story about a fascinating part of the world, the end of the world in Norway and the end of the road for Alex and Kate. Well written and made me want to keep reading, perhaps another chapter later on?

    The Searcher by Americanmum

    Nell the bored waitress meets Jim the travelling salesman. beautifully written and delicately told story of an age old dilemma.

    Sixteen Pills by Furry Features
    Long distance lorry driver who makes lots of money but is lonely and has no time for relationships. Great descriptions of life on the road your story was certainly true to the topic of the month.

    Backstory by Archie,
    interesting and well written story, always a pleasure to read your stories.

    Liked by 2 people

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