Review of: The Circle of Friends Book III...James
Author – L. Diane Wolfe
Genre(s) – Realistic Fiction
Pages - 296
Publisher – Dancing Lemur Press
Publication Date - August 18, 2009
Plot - 26/30
Writing – 16/20
Characters - 19/20
Creativity - 17/20
The *Wow* Factor - 7/10
Grand Total - 85/100
Grade – B
Summary (From Amazon) -
Haunted by a troubled past... The future appears bright for James Sheppard. Emerging from a troubled childhood, he is blessed with talent and a good work ethic. Excelling in his classes and at the campus newspaper, James's goal of editor appears within his grasp. However, years of abuse and loneliness have dampened his spirit. By the time Maria enters his world, James is nearing the breaking point. Her innocent love slowly fills the void in his life, boosting his confidence and giving him hope. When a crisis abruptly forces him into adulthood, James is saddled with more responsibility than expected. Struggling to cope with the situation, the past returns to haunt him. Will James find peace before the mistakes of his father destroy him completely?
Firstly, let me say that this is not they type of book I usually read. Even when I read realistic fiction, it tends to be more of the fast-paced, strange, multicultural, or highly-unlikely-yet-still-possible varieties. Reading this book was like looking in on the lives of real people as they go from being confused teenagers to adults. This had its downsides, yet still made for an interesting reading experience. I didn't give this book the best of ratings, but that's probably because I gravitate towards the epic and unusual. Even so, I enjoyed The Circle of Friends Book III...James.
My main problem with this book was the slow pace. Some readers enjoy this, but I found it to drag in places. This isn't to say it wasn't interesting, because I still appreciated the plot. James lived for a long time searching for meaning and happiness in his life, which he finds in Maria and their family and friends. He and Maria overcome obstacles in their lives and become independent. As others have, I found L. Diane Wolfe's writing to be very encouraging.
The characters were where this novel truly shone. There were a lot of characters, which I usually find hard to keep track of when I read a book, but this was barely a problem with this book. They seemed like real people, and as I read I felt a connection to their lives and emotions, which were vibrantly expressed. I felt warm and fuzzy inside at the parts where where the characters feel happy or in love, and even found myself crying at the end, when a heartbreaking revelation is made. None of the characters seemed like stereotypes, and none were perfect, not even the main character. There were times where I liked and disliked each of them, which contributed to the realism of the book.
Overall, this book was very well written and believable, but there were a few things that annoyed me about its writing style. There were a few words that seemed to be overused, particularly "bubble" and "youngster." This went along with a slight overuse of synonyms. Some of the dialog seemed a bit awkward, but for the most part it seemed natural and flowed well. Also, some of the transitions from one event to another at a totally different time weren't always clear, so I had to go back a few times and look for the point where the time and location changed.
In conclusion, while this was not my ideal book, it may be someone else's. I would recommend The Circle of Friends Book III...James to readers who enjoy realistic fiction, especially about real-life coming-of-age. Reading this book would probably help those who feel scared about growing up, or need to remember that there is love and friendship in the world.
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