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Many Strange Women (Sins of the Flesh Book 1) Kindle Edition
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"Children of Blood and Bone"
Tomi Adeyemi conjures a stunning world of dark magic and danger in her West African-inspired fantasy debut. Learn more
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1) Hyper unrealistic – One might wonder why this is a “pro” and not a “con”. For me it was a pro because the collected weirdos making up the cast of characters was SO outlandish, I remember thinking halfway through the book “there is not a normal one in the bunch”. But this almost gave the story a speculative-fiction type feel, because although the characters were all humans, their personalities were so extreme that they easily could have been a collections of aliens sitting in a Star Wars cantina. Still confused why this is a “pro”? Because when an author misses “normal” by a hair’s breath, it feels “off” and grates on the reader like a splinter in a piece of wood. But when an author swings for the fences and shows this collection of over the top people all together, it creates this magical place, like the perfect storm or a fifty-car pile-up. Any one of these characters taken alone is not outside the realm of human possibility. What makes this story really “click” is that all these oddballs (there is at least one in every family) are all pull together through their life situation into one big extended family. The result is positively fascinating and unique.
2) Great story-weaving – Anyone can write, but few can write well. Most people can tell stories, but “weaving” a tale is quite different than just telling a story. I’m a story teller, and I can tell an interesting tale with the requisite twists and turns to make an enjoyable read. This is different. The intricate layers Cole embroiders into this story and the skillful and timely release of information really kept me reading even through parts where the pacing seemed to slow. Writers want their readers asking questions. It is what keeps them reading. Unfortunately most Indies leave the reader with the burning question “Why am I still reading this?” That was not the case with Many Strange Women. Cole dropped enough hooks early on to catch the reader and pull them through the story, and even at the significant twist points in the story still left enough out there to keep them going. Not a lot of authors can truly “weave” a story, and I think this is a strength of Cole’s storying ability that sets her apart.
3) Romance not smut – Cole does a good job of keeping the romance elements alive without taking the low road of peddling softcore porn. Most “romance” novels draw readers with the same elements R rated movies do, appealing to the base and depraved nature of man (hence the success of things like 50 shades…) I appreciated Cole’s treatment in keeping the romantic element present and in clear view while avoiding material for the most part that would tarnish an otherwise wonderful tale.
1) Writing issues – In any book there are the normal editing typos, missed words, etc that plague published work. In a 50k+ word novel, it is almost impossible even with a team of editors to catch everything. These types of things were a bit more numerous in this work than on average, so I would encourage Cole to have a serious word with her editor before any future releases using that same editor. Beyond that, though, there were some more serious issues. This work is riddled with passive voice and weakening words like “seem”, “began”, etc that just detracted from the quality of the prose. In addition, there were way too many misused words that stuck out like a glowing neon sign. This cannot be laid at the feet of an editor, as the word choice lay with the writer. A solid content editor should have caught this before the book ever released, but still it was the author who put them there in the first place. As writers we often have to research and write areas with specific terminology with which we are not fully familiar, but it is the author’s job to make sure what you are writing is accurate. In this case, we are not talking about industry or trade specific words either, but the normal prose showed many instances of misused words.
2) Faith elements a bit heavy-handed and poorly-paced – One of the recurring problems in most Christian fiction is poor handling of faith/conversion elements. While I talked above about how well the story elements were woven into this book, I wish I could say the same about the faith elements. For over half the book, they are almost non-existent, with us hearing more about this invented cult the parents of the male protagonist had started worked than anything substantive to do with Christianity. Then at the end, suddenly it is rushed into the story and a whirlwind faith transformation comes about. Now in all fairness, there did seem to be a contemplative element running through both the male and female MC’s contemplating whether God was truly answering their prayer. So I cannot say it wasn’t there at all early in the story. But it was like a logarithmic curve where this subtle, almost non-existent thread suddenly mushroomed into a major factor in the resolution of the book. Granted, sometimes it can happen that way, and perhaps this was the author’s vision for continuing the over-the-top quirkiness of the story. I’m just saying from an outsider looking in, there could have been a more skillfully woven, more gradual transition to the faith elements. Basically as written this would be a polarizing story, with believers cheering and unbelievers turning away in scornful disgust. That is ideally not the reaction we want the faith elements in our stories to have if we have any hope of them being a witness and skillfully bringing words of truth into generally unbelieving or resistant ears. The hardcore anti-Christians aren’t going to like the book if you only mention the name Jesus once in passing. But that is not what we are talking about. We want the work to be accessible to those who are at least open to faith elements presented as germane to the story. I think this one missed the mark on that point.
All in all, it was hard to rate. From the quirky fascinating elements I would have given this story 6 stars if possible (a bonus star for being able to keep me fascinated with anything in the romance genre for an entire book). But the writing elements were bothersome enough to warrant 2 stars. So if I add them together and divide by two, I wind up with 4 stars which is the rating I gave it. If the writing issues weren’t there, I could easily put this book into my top 20 enjoyable books of all time, so I would definitely be open to reading other works from Parker J. Cole. If future works can divest themselves from the writing issues, I would quickly be getting my Parker J. Cole fanclub membership card!
One thing I really appreciated about this story was how the language of each character was consistent to the character. That's not an easy thing to do! Beautiful book!
The story itself is amazing. Kind of typical (don't we all hate ourselves in a way?) but told in a completely new light. The thing I liked best about the story was that it started out with a real good cliffhanger. I kept reading because I wanted to know why the main characters did what they did and how all their friends and family would react. I was NOT disappointed. There were some really funny moments in the first few chapters as everyone adjusted to the new life Solomon and Celeste embarked upon. I loved the chapters about Solomon's nightmares. They were extraordinarily well written and described and I never would have conceived using candy or sweets as torture devices. When Solomon's secret is revealed, it all became so clear and I liked the concept even more. His secret, admittedly, is the LAST thing I thought it was going to be! Well done! Solomon turned out to be my favorite character, which was a surprise. (THE REST OF THIS REVIEW IS FOR THE WRITER!)
I will admit, there were a few things about the writing that were difficult for me. After a while, Celeste's language kind of wore me down. It might have been nice to see her loosen up the language as she began to fall in love with Solomon. It would have made her growing love a little bit more clear. Gonzo disappeared for too long as Solomon tried to win Celeste's love. It was built up as a competition between the two, but then we never get to see Gonzo making any attempts until the end. And then when Gonzo does make his move, it felt too unrealistic. He was so loving and kind to Celeste, but the way he forces himself on her was way too much. I didn't think Gonzo would act that way. I think the sister was a little bit over the top. I can't really see someone saying or doing the things she does. I understand this is a fictional tale, but I try to insert myself into a story as one of the characters or a fly on the wall and if they're doing things I can't wrap my brain around, it brings me right out of the story. The side story about the rival costume maker seemed really unnecessary. If you took out all the conversations with her and eliminated the "surprise" at the end, you'd never miss it. Looking back, I'm not sure what purpose it served. The same could be said for Solomon's parents and their whole religious thing. It was like a side plot but we never get to see how it affects Solomon, other than his disgust for it. I actually kind of came to loathe the mother (which is good, hating a character is just as much fun as loving one, eh?) and the father irritated me with his whining about being ignored (boo hoo, get over it). I absolutely DID like the Ben character and his relationship with his girl. I liked how it shaped Solomon's way of thinking without beating him over the head with it. WELL done!
Last, I wish Celeste's secret had come out a little bit sooner. I get the concept of waiting till the last minute for the shock value, but the whole book we think she just believes she's ugly (okay, you hinted at a secret a few times) and that's why she's not meant for happiness. But then BAM we're told about her "secret" and it all becomes more clear. Well, I might have liked Celeste a little more and had more sympathy for her if I'd known why she felt the way she felt a little sooner. Instead, there were times when I wanted to just smack her upside the head.
There were quite a few typos and a few spots where words appeared to be missing, too. Maybe go over the Kindle edition with another fine tooth comb so that future readers don't run into those?
I will definitely look forward to the next book in the series. The things I didn't care for were easy enough to overlook because this writer has a great deal of talent!!!
But, he and Celeste were made for one another. The only part of the book that seemed contrived is Gonzo knowing Celeste and Solomon, but I realize why he was necessary.
Celeste and Solomon were going through the world lost and angry and it took finding one another to heal and forgive. I will definitely give anything else this author does a chance, and it was a pleasure to read this book.
Most recent customer reviews
This book too me by surprise. It started off slow for me then it began to move faster for me around the 3rd chapter. am glad I was not impatient and stopped reading.Read more
This is the first book I’ve read by this author. I actually give it a 3.Read more
Want to know how if icy and Solomon stay together. And if the pastor and exalted son get back together.