Book Review: Sea of Strangers

Jeanette leaves Topeka, Kansas, and her fiance, Dr. Phillip Wayment, to attend nursing school in New York, in order to escape her Uncle Rod.

Amelia C. Adams, author of the bestselling Kansas Crossroads series, also brings us the Nurses of New York series. Book one, Sea of Strangers, follows Jeanette from Topeka, Kansas, to New York, where she will study to become a nurse under Dr. Frank Russell, a friend of her fiance Dr. Phillip Wayment.

My Thoughts on Sea of Strangers

Well-researched with perfectly formed sentences and immaculate editing, not to mention a high rating on Amazon, I struggled to pinpoint the reason I didn’t connect with Sea of Strangers better.

I’ve always enjoyed reading historical fiction, especially those that take place in the mid to late 19th century in the United States. Pioneers, the gold rush, early politics, Coal miners, North versus South, it all interests me. I was the middle-schooler who wanted to know the stories of the Oregon Trail characters, especially the banker. I usually connect well with the stories, but this time I felt something was lacking.

I easily dismissed the problem as coming from poor editing or a lack of writing skill. As stated before, the technical aspects of the book were great. But I still found myself wanting to put it down.

In the end, I determined I didn’t connect with the characters. To me, they felt flat. Jeanette has no fault. Sadie, her friend, sweetly rambled. It was the same with every character, though, one characteristic, but nothing more.

On top of that, we know nothing about Uncle Rod, the antagonist, except that Jeanette chased him away with a gun at some point not featured in the book. Perhaps that lack of knowledge comes from not reading the Kansas Crossroads series, in which case, more information should have been provided in this series.

The story follows Jeanette, but the action, especially the rise and fall of the plot is minimal. I as read, I continued to feel as if I were listening to a Barbie or Strawberry Shortcake cartoon. The book consists of mostly dialogue, which often comes across as wordy as opposed to natural. I struggled to picture the characters’ movements. Even when they were described they seemed stiff or cartoon-like in my mind.

Still, I find value in the book. I know. How can I write such a slanted review and then turn and say I find value? As an adult, this book isn’t for me. It doesn’t capture my attention. However, a middle grader or early high schooler interested in historical fiction (and I was greatly interested in historical fiction at that age), may find the book has great merit. It’s short enough to be read quickly. It has plenty of easily-read dialogue. The action isn’t graphic, and there is no swearing. Even more, the end has a great moral to it.

Sometimes we look at books and think only of what they are to us. We can’t do that. Most well-written and moral books have a place in society; we just have to find it. I truly believe this is the case with Sea of Strangers. Though I’m unsure, I believe Adams wrote this story with all audiences in mind, but for adults more than children. Nothing on the Amazon or her website deters from that surmisal, but I suggest Sea of Strangers be read by middle graders.

The Official Blurb

Jeanette Peterson left behind the man who loves her to go to nursing school in New York, promising to come back in six months and marry him. His love is the only thing that sees her through the trials ahead. When the time comes to make the toughest decision of all, will she choose justice or mercy out of many shades of gray?

From Amelia C. Adams, bestselling author of the Kansas Crossroads series, comes this novella about one girl’s desire to follow her dreams and the man who encourages her from miles away.

More info

Purchase your copy of Sea of Strangers on Amazon.

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Novella Review: The Visitor

Waiting at home for her husband to return on Christmas Eve, Old Mrs. Langstrum soon finds herself visited by a stranger in The Visitor by Ti Ca.

Waiting at home for her husband to return on Christmas Eve, Old Mrs. Langstrum soon finds herself visited by a stranger in The Visitor by Ti Ca.

Published by Patritus LLC., The Visitor is written by Ti Ca, an author I would love to introduce you to, but whose Amazon biography runs more like an ad for her publisher. The Patritus website states they represent authors who prefer their privacy. Though unusual, I hope both publisher and author the best.

My Thoughts on The Visitor:

At the beginning of The Visitor, we meet Mrs. Langstrum, an old woman who waits for her husband to return from the store with food on Christmas Eve. Through her eyes, we learn the heat is out, probably because of the breaker, and the cabinets are bare. In time, she pulls out a worn note written by her husband instructing her to take two pink pills when she’s hungry. She does so.

At this point, I found myself wondering if I was reading a science fiction novella or if Mrs. Langstrum struggled with some sort of a condition. The Visitor isn’t science fiction.

Mrs. Langstrum opens the door, after hearing a knock, and finds a stranger on her porch. Allowing him in to wait for her husband, the two begin to talk and share their stories.

Much of the book is written in first-person as the characters share various stories but switches to third-person when they are together in the present. Often times, the stories, which overlap throughout the book, come at the start of a chapter and, if you’ve stopped reading for a time, you may struggle to remember who is speaking. This can make the overlapping stories confusing.

The stories deal with several related topics: father and son, husband and wife, depression, uneducated to educated, as well as Mrs. Langstrum and the visiting stranger. Each story leaves you wanting to hear more until they all come together.

I found myself trying to understand the ending, and I’m not sure I got there. Though I like books that make me think, this one left me feeling similarly to how I felt after watching the last episode of LOST.

Still, the writing, vocabulary, and editing are impeccable. I’ve read many indie books that do not come close to Ti Ca’s perfection in these areas.

My suggestion to those interested in reading this novella is to read it in one sitting. Doing so will give you a better shot at following the various storylines.

The official Blurb:

It’s Christmas Eve but the furnace has gone out, the breaker needs to be reset, and the cupboards are empty. As Mrs. Langstrum shivers in her cold, dark house, waiting for her husband to arrive from his quick trip to the store, an impending snowstorm descends in earnest. Realizing her precarious situation, Mrs. Langstrum decides to get help. But who should she ask? Neither the Millners nor the Wylers appear to be home, either caught by the storm or other unforeseen events. Just as she determines to make her way into the town, a knock arrives at her door. It’s a visitor. He’s a stranger, likely a salesman. But before she can shoo him away, he tells her that he has news of her husband.

More Information:

Purchase your copy on Amazon
Visit Patritus LLC

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Book Review: Unforgivables by Tabi Slick

Circuses attract unusual performers, but the Beaumont Bros. Circus may attract the most unusual bunch of misfits the world has ever known, in the novella Unforgivables by Tabi Slick.

Tabi Slick

Tabi Slick, the author of the Tomkin’s School Trilogy, brings us the e-book novella Unforgivables, winner of an Indies Helping Indies Book Review Project Recommended Read award. In this award-winning story, people with unknown powers, like Emma, are hunted by people without. This time though, London’s most revered detective jumps on the case and puts Emma and her new friends’ abilities to disappear to the test.

My thoughts:

I read several kinds of genres and have always been a fan of the stories that include paranormal elements. Something about unexplained powers and phenomena tingles my imagination. The same is true of Tabi Slick’s newest novella.

Unforgivables takes place in London during the 1800s. I noticed immediately that the author built the setting from that time period well, which was shown not only in her descriptions but also in her word choice and sentence structure. She keeps this tone through the entire story and does a great job of creating a circus-feel. I never realized such a thing was possible until reading Unforgivables with imagined carnival music running through my head the entire time. The action starts on page one and moves right along all the way to the last word, so pages are not bombarded by slow passages that cause readers to lose interest. In these ways, Unforgivables is extraordinary.

However, I did find myself struggling through much of the novella. Upon reflection, I believe most of my struggle comes from a lack of connection to the characters. I often felt the writing told me how to feel by sharing exactly how the characters felt, instead of letting me make inferences. By the time I felt ready to start connecting with someone, the story ended.

Unforgivables also switches between third-person point of view (various characters) and first-person point of view (Emma). The first time the point of view switched, it jolted me and I stumbled, trying to figure out what had happened. After that first occurrence, I expected the change and rather enjoyed the setup.

All in all, I think there are plenty of people who would enjoy this book. I, personally, need a connection to the characters and just couldn’t get pulled in that direction. If you like fast-paced, paranormal novellas that keep you on your toes, Unforgivables is a good choice.

Official Blurb:

Emma seemed an ordinary girl, but she had secrets. Not only did she have the ability to transform into a winged monster, she was also wanted for murder. After a series of unlikely events, she finds herself on the run from London’s most revered detective with only a circus filled with paranormal misfits to keep her company. Emma must find her way to freedom, but will she be able to do what is necessary to leave her past behind once and for all?

More info:

Read Unforgivables by Tabi Slick on Kindle Unlimited or purchase your e-copy on Amazon.

Unforgivables is the prequel to Tompkin’s School Trilogy, but can easily be read as a stand-alone novella.

Follow Tabi Slick:  TabiSlick.com  Goodreads  Facebook  Twitter

Read more reviews and writing fun from me at kameomonson.com, where you can download your free copy of Sometimes A Bird Has to Fly.

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for this review. All opinions are my own.

 

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