Book Review | #ChocLitSaturdays (a feature of #JLASblog) | “Somewhere Beyond the Sea” a fast-paced Romantic Suspense which will keep you anxious to unravell the plot! Writ by Amanda James

Posted Saturday, 10 January, 2015 by jorielov , , , 2 Comments

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Acquired Book By:

I am a ChocLit reviewer who receives books of my choice in exchange for honest reviews! I received a complimentary copy of “Somewhere Beyond the Sea” from ChocLit via IPM (International Publisher’s Marketing) in exchange for an honest review! I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein. 

On being an enthused ChocLit Reader:

Soaking inside a ChocLit novel is a lot of joy for me, as I know going in a few things I am going to enjoy finding are strong female and male lead characters, a stirring drama or a rib breaking comedy with a high concentration on relationships and the entanglements we find ourselves tied up inside when we elect not to trust the person we’ve anchoured our lives too. In Somewhere Beyond the Sea the pages evaporated before my eyes, as I was moving at such a clip to consume this novel, I daresay, I did not leave my comfy cosy reading nook til nearly reaching the last quarter of the novel!

I was on page 150 when I realised I hadn’t even written anything down to explain the intensity of what had me rooted to the page, whilst hoping against hope this could have an ending that I could handled being revealed! It is the type of suspense novel that pulls you into it’s vortex, giving you a fullness of the fright and the fear that Karen Ainsworth is attempting to forestall knowledge of (both to you, the reader and to her husband, Tristan) whilst everything in/around her life is starting to spiral a bit out of control!

It was at a luncheon with my Mum and Da, I started to become a bit animated talking about this story, the evoking of psychological suspense against the back-drop of a cat-mouse game of personal identity and past anguish from domestic violence intermixed with bullying. The further you delved into the heart of the novel, the more curiously inspiring it was on one level (as Karen’s life is anything but predictable nor dull) and a bit stomach churning on the other, as I am thankful after reading this story none of my bullies from childhood came back to haunt me as an adult!

At one point, as we had dined out that day, I took to notice those who were eating near us had become quite quiet, and I have a feeling they were eavesdropping on the conversation! I am not sure what they thought of what I was relaying, as if they hadn’t heard the bit about ‘the book’ or ‘my recent ChocLit read’ they could quite literally think it was ‘just another current news story going viral’. Ironically, I always smile when someone asks me, “Did you just say you read chocolate?” To which I love responding, “Yes! I most certainly do read ChocLit! I prefer it over most ChickLit!” Their facial expressions are quite priceless at that point!

Book Review | #ChocLitSaturdays (a feature of #JLASblog) | “Somewhere Beyond the Sea” a fast-paced Romantic Suspense which will keep you anxious to unravell the plot! Writ by Amanda JamesSomewhere Beyond the Sea
by Amanda James
Illustrator/Cover Designer: Berni Stevens
Source: Direct from Publisher

When love begins with a lie, where will it end?

Doctor Tristan Ainsworth has returned with his family to the idyllic Cornish village close to where he grew up. The past has taught him some hard lessons, but he’ll do anything to make his wife happy – so what’s making her so withdrawn?

Karen Ainsworth daren’t reveal her true feelings, but knows her husband has put up with her moods for too long. A chance to use her extraordinary singing voice may set her free, so why shouldn’t she take it? Surely her past can’t hurt her now?

As a tide of blackmail and betrayal is unleashed to threaten the foundations of their marriage, Karen and Tristan face a difficult question. Is their love strong enough to face the truth when the truth might cost them everything?

Genres: Contemporary Romance, Romance Fiction, Romantic Suspense

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

Also by this author: A Stitch in Time

Published by ChocLitUK

on 7th April, 2014

Format: Paperback

Pages: 288

Published by: ChocLitUK (@ChocLitUK)

Formats Available: Paperback & Ebook

Converse via: #ChocLit & #SomewhereBeyondTheSea

NOTE: Did you see the “Public Library” link? Along with “Add to Riffle” these are new additions to my blog! They will slowly populate through the archives, however, “Public Library” re-directs to the holdings of each book on WorldCat! The world’s largest public library directory (and one of Jorie’s favourite haunts!) per where you’re located you can see if there are holdings nearby to borrow from your local library system! Quite wicked, eh? For instance there are listings for this novel in: Virginia, Ohio, Texas, New York, Illinois, Oklahoma, Nebraska, and California! If your local library (for those readers of mine stateside) allow you to ILL (inter-library loan) outside your city and state, you can borrow “Somewhere Beyond the Sea” today! Fireworks of cheers are surely exploding, right!? IF you cannot ILL outside your city/state, remember: SUBMIT a purchase request for books you want to read! I always do! This helps your library grow and your collection to become quite eclectically reflective of the booklovers in your community!

Cover Art Design by: Berni Stevens @circleoflebanon | Writer | Illustrator

About Amanda James

Amanda James

Amanda James was born in Sheffield and now lives in Cornwall with her husband and two cats. In her spare time, she enjoys gardening, singing and spending lots of time with her grandson. She also admits to spending far too much time chatting on Twitter and Facebook! Amanda recently left her teaching role (teaching history to sixth form pupils) to follow her ambition to live her life doing what she most enjoys—writing.

Amanda is a published author of short stories and her first novel with Choc Lit, A Stitch in Time was chosen as a Top Pickin RT Book Reviews magazine in the US in July 2013 and won a 2013 Reviewers’ Choice Award from Single Titles.

On using reading marker flags for the first time:

I have been wanting to find a way to mark certain passages and pages leaving me a bit pensive as I read, but I hadn’t sorted out where to find a nice collection of marker flags until one day I was in a dollar store and found a pack of 10 coloured marker flags on a handy dispenser sheet! They are neon in tone and easily adhere temporary to books without leaving any residue behind (of which was my greatest concern!)! I love the flexibility of using them, and was inspired by a review by Asti @ Oh, the Books! (one of the bookish blogs I regularly read) To exemplify the level in which I disappeared inside Somewhere Beyond the Sea, there are two yellow flags and one purple straight up til page 150!

The yellow flags were portions of the story where I felt the revelations were pertinent to the reader to encompass the fuller breadth of where James was taking us. The sole purple flag was a selection of the text where I felt the way in which it was written was something I could personally relate too. I hope to share a quote of what is expressed after I ask the publicist I work with at ChocLit about quotations for review purposes. I had meant to ask this question last year, but somehow I devour ChocLit so intently to where I forget to ask a quick question! Laughs. Suffice it to say it is a passage on page 44 about personality types!

I hadn’t realised most book bloggers who review quite regularly as I do myself, use these marker flags! I have used two techniques to review since I started blogging, the first was to read the book start to finish and then blog. Although I have a good memory for what I read and I can juggle the key points of a novel and still highlight the points that hit home for me overall, I found I was missing a few observations. I shifted to reading and blogging in tandem which works quite well, as soon as I read something that inspires a reaction, I make sure I give that to my readers post haste! In this one instance, I quite literally devoured the novel (sparked out of curiosity and a growing need to just ‘know’ what would happen!) before ever composing even one sentence for the review!

I am definitely going to use the flags for most of my reviewing from now on, as it helps me read with a purposeful focus of intent on what I do not want to miss mentioning on my blog as much as it helps strength how I process what I read in order to review the book itself. For this blessed discovery, I give full gratitude to Asti, whose become a dear new friend of mine, of whom I appreciate for her passionate dedication to both books and to the book blogosphere.

My Review of Somewhere Beyond the Sea:

At one point whilst I was caught between who Karen was today and who she was in the past, combined with the alarmingly fear of what could happen, I caught a sense that this story was hinged between the film Enough and Law & Order (pick one of the three!)!

Clarifying a person’s mood based on seasonal changes in weather, I felt worked for James in Somewhere Beyond the Sea, as she was quite bang-on with how the ice and snow of Winter can be a prelude for the passion that has become erased from a wife whose husband is quite on pins worried about how to bring back the effervescence of her personality. Karen enters our conscience as a woman who is harbouring quite a heap of secrets, the kind of secrets that keep you up late into the night reading this novel as your not as sure of being able to wait until the next morning or afternoon to read what you couldn’t absorb in your first sitting!

The hardest jolt to your heart is the opening passage, where you are introduced to someone who is on the very visage of exiting their life; of having fallen so far down into a recess of despair that only one option looks to be the only way to receive solace and closure. It is as the novel evolves, to expand on the journalling of which for most of the story you feel is the living record of Karen, but you are not convinced of this until further on, where it become quite apparent the pen of the journaller is having a bit more difficulty in getting everything down on paper that needs to be said or understood. The journal itself proves to be a lifting of a veil that has settled over Karen’s life, as she had tucked herself into her shell as if she were part turtle; oppositional to wanting to seek out too much outside the comfort of her house and the children she is so very thankful to be a Mum too.

Her husband, Tristan has felt he has slowly watched his wife slip between periods of normalcy where she is not fully conflicted by her desires of re-entering society outside the walls of their home to watching her inwardly retreat; to where he cannot get her inspired to do anything, despite his yearnings to see her recapture a bit of the joy and happiness she used to have. At the undercurrent of his turmoil to help his wife recapture her wellness, he is a doctor on call, who is frustrated the one patient he cannot help is so close to his heart.

Swirling in the background is a time sensitive psychological suspense, as Karen’s life has repeatedly gone from bad to worse, with a few periods of where she hung onto a normalcy that she never felt she was worth receiving. Her home life was domestically violent, and it was out of the fear of what a foster child might go through that kept her at home until the day she walked out. A lot of her reactions to her present life were bred out of how she had to survive in childhood, but it is what is lurking just outside the shadows that kept my breath caught! There is a story thread that involves a childhood bully, a bully whose tormenting nature towards Karen gives you a bit of pause as to why she is attached to causing so much heartache for one classmate. It is an unhealthy attraction and it has consequences in the present.

James created such a vacuum of space between the past and the present, you seriously do not expect to see how everyday kindnesses can start to extend into a new chapter for Karen. I even half-guessed one of the secondary stories a bit wrong, and was quite pleased to see how it went instead. There is a lot of hope winding through Somewhere Beyond the Sea and it has quite a smashing ending to give your heart a measure of joyful release!

Why I appreciate this style of Amanda James a bit moreso than Time Travel:

I have found I have difficulty with ambiguous endings and ambiguous world building, to where I am left quite in the dark about the origins of certain things that are quite relevant to a character or the world in which that character lives; hence why after reading A Stitch in Time the longer I had to let the story percolate in my mind, the more I noticed how much it irked me for the bits left out. I sort of hinted at it when I mentioned I had hoped the back-story of who controls the Stitches would revealed only to have learnt shortly thereafter via Twitter, that part of it was left out; on purpose! Oh, dear my! I was a bit thrown off balance whilst having learnt this new tidbit of a preview for the sequel Cross Stitch.

Part of what I appreciate about Doctor Who is despite not knowing everything about a Time Lord (or at least I wouldn’t, as I am approaching the series from a complete non-traditional viewing cycle!) I do know a bit about his history or at least the aspects of how a Time Lord is limited in both what he can affectively do to alter history and where his limitations sometimes have soul-aching consequences. He reminds me quite a heap of Q from Gene Roddenberry’s Star Trek, to be honest!

Despite this quirk of needing to know a bit more, I cannot deny I am curious how Sarah and John manage to sort out their relationship (as there is a lot of rules in regards to Stitches & Needlers dating!) as much as I am quite curious how her next assignments will leave her mentally; she’s an emotional Stitch, she empathically can relate to her charges, and she breathes in their lives with each mission she takes to help them. (thus reminding me of Dr. Sam Beckett on Quantum Leap!)

Yet without cross-comparing the two books, I found a strong voice inside Somewhere Beyond the Sea for bridging the gap between psychological suspense, domestic violence, and a woman shedding her past in order to evolve into a new life free of the trauma she survived. The way in which James evoked this story from start to finish left me spellbound because I honestly felt it had a stronger voice; one that was quite sure of where everything was heading long before the reader even ‘caught-on’ to the fact the diary passages were Karen’s and within those passages, were flashbacks on a life bent against a harsh reality.

If I could tip my twopence into a hat, I’d say she’s a natural bourne thriller writer!

It isn’t often I find a writer of thrillers I can sink my teeth into the narrative,

walk away feeling I did not just survive the story,

but I felt as though I had lived it! This writer has found balance & strength in

a genre that is difficult to not cross the line of what a reader can handle.

Fly in the Ointment:

Once I was returning back into the story past my initial readings, I started to notice a few stronger words being intermingled with the dialogue; nothing too outright shocking, but a repetitiveness to the ones that were being used. I cannot recollect for certain if this was concurrent through the novel from start to finish, because I was so emotionally tied to what was being revealed one chapter at a time, my mind sort of was reading on ‘auto-pilot’! Although I do not mind the occasional word here or there, my first preference is for less vulgarity more than repetitive instances of it. Overall, half the time they were being expressed were in distraught moments of angst or out of anger. On that note, it was used as an emotional trigger of reply rather than just a causal word to spice up a sentence.

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Reader Interactive Question:

When it comes to Romantic Suspense novels, what are you looking for as a motivating interest to continue with the story once your caught between knowing the cause of the anxiety for the main character and the revelation of how much danger they truly were in?

Don’t forget to Replay the Bookish Chat #ChocLitSaturday had on 10th January, 2015 on “Romantic Suspense Novels”! RSVP our next chat for the 24th of January, 2015! This coming Saturday is Jorie’s Dad’s birthday and thereby will have a mini-hiatus! Til soon, I hope we’ll see you chatting with us! Spread the joy of #ChocLitSaturday to your bookish friends, all are welcome! Visit my post on #ChocLitSaturdays vs #ChocLitSaturday for more information!

UPDATE: Sadly we lost our #Nurph #ChocLitSaturday chat archives when the site shut down.

{SOURCES: Cover art of  “Somewhere Beyond the Sea”, author photograph for Amanda James, author biography, book synopsis, and book reviewer badge were all provided by ChocLitUK and used with permission. #ChocLitSaturdays Banner created by Jorie in Canva. Bookish Events badge created by Jorie in Canva. Post dividers by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination.}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2015.

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About jorielov

I am self-educated through local libraries and alternative education opportunities. I am a writer by trade and I cured a ten-year writer’s block by the discovery of Nanowrimo in November 2008. The event changed my life by re-establishing my muse and solidifying my path. Five years later whilst exploring the bookish blogosphere I decided to become a book blogger. I am a champion of wordsmiths who evoke a visceral experience in narrative. I write comprehensive book showcases electing to get into the heart of my reading observations. I dance through genres seeking literary enlightenment and enchantment. Starting in Autumn 2013 I became a blog book tour hostess featuring books and authors. I joined The Classics Club in January 2014 to seek out appreciators of the timeless works of literature whose breadth of scope and voice resonate with us all.

"I write my heart out and own my writing after it has spilt out of the pen." - self quote (Jorie of Jorie Loves A Story)

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Posted Saturday, 10 January, 2015 by jorielov in 21st Century, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host, Blogs I Regularly Read, Bookish Discussions, Bullies and the Bullied, ChocLitSaturdays, ChocLitUK, Contemporary Romance, Domestic Violence, Family Drama, Flashbacks & Recollective Memories, Fly in the Ointment, Green Publishing, Indie Author, Mental Health, Modern Day, Mother-Daughter Relationships, Oh the Books!, Psychological Abuse, Realistic Fiction, Romance Fiction, Romantic Suspense, School Life & Situations, Suspense, Sustainable Forest Certification, Teenage Relationships & Friendships, Trauma | Abuse & Recovery, Vulgarity in Literature

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2 responses to “Book Review | #ChocLitSaturdays (a feature of #JLASblog) | “Somewhere Beyond the Sea” a fast-paced Romantic Suspense which will keep you anxious to unravell the plot! Writ by Amanda James

    • Hallo, Hallo Maggie,

      The past several years were especially difficult to keep up with my blog’s commentary due to migraines, my father’s stroke & recovery and other health afflictions affecting me (ie. 2018 & 2019) to where I somehow lost footing with my blog’s comments! Even in the first years as a book blogger I had some IRL distractions and sometimes I’ve noticed I have a backlogue of lovely notes & comments such as the one you gave me for this review of Somewhere Beyond the Sea! Although my replies are coming dearly late, I wanted to take the opportunity to respond and to provide feedback to those who’ve graced my blog with their presence.

      I know we’ve lost touch over the years – however, if you had the chance to read this in the ensuing years since you left ths comment, I hope the content of the story was an equal match of joy to your first reaction to the cover art. I admit, covers don’t usually sway me one way or the other to read a book – I generally take into account the synopsis first because I want to feel hooked into the story itself and/or to feel inspired to read the story based on the premise or a chapter sampler and/or extract from the story rather than the artwork. Especially since if the book doesn’t grip me at all, the cover becomes art and I appreciate it secondary to what I had hoped to find in the novel.

      In this case, the cover art is a bit beguiling because it doesn’t tip the scales towards revealling what you’re going to be reading and it has this haunting allure all of its own. I am thrilled to see Ms James writing career take-off and double down on writing Thrillers full-time since I first read this novel and her time travelling series; I am hoping to start blogging a featured showcase about authors I’m revisiting with this year; a step towards that was the post I assembled for #TopTenTuesday wherein I was in contact with the authors I elected to feature.

      Thanks, rather belatedly for this lovely note.

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