Official Review: Stars in the Sea

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Official Review: Stars in the Sea

Post by MarisaRose » 18 Apr 2018, 14:21

[Following is an official review of "Stars in the Sea" by Jeanne Taylor McClellan.]
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2 out of 4 stars
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Stars in the Sea: Stories of Hope, Happiness, and Helping Hands by Jeanne Taylor McClellan is a non-fiction, inspirational book about how small actions can significantly impact our lives. The author uses sea stars, also known as starfish, as the basis for her message. Walking on the beach one day, the author witnessed a young girl returning beached sea stars to the ocean. When asked about her actions, the girl said that although she cannot help all of the beached sea stars, she can at least make a difference in the lives of those she is able to return to the sea. This scenario forms the backbone of the author’s message which is shared throughout the rest of the book. The book begins with three short introductory chapters explaining the theme and continues with seventeen very short anecdotes relating back to the initial theme.

At approximately 100 pages, this book is relatively short and can easily be read in one sitting. The conciseness of the stories included in the book ended up being both the highlight of the collection as well as its biggest downfall. On the plus side, the author adequately relates each short story (many of which are no longer than one or two pages) back to the overarching theme of the sea stars. None of the stories described in the book felt out of place or lacking in connection to the author’s main points.

Moreover, a couple of the stories were really enjoyable to read and succeeded in creating an emotional bond in a surprisingly short amount of text. For instance, one story describing a woman’s last cab ride to a hospice and the wonderful experience the cab driver provides her, proved to be both poetic and tactful in its conciseness. Another two part story about a woman’s unconventional relationship with her sort-of adopted son also packed a surprising punch.

However, the majority of the other stories were significantly less impactful, and many came across as preachy or too obvious. The stilted length of the stories did not leave much room for character or situational development, making it difficult to become invested in the basic stories described. Further, the author consistently interjected short phrases within each story about how the anecdote connected back to the sea stars. Although interesting at first, this quickly became a tedious and redundant gimmick that felt like the author did not think readers could connect the dots between the stories and the overarching themes on their own.

Overall, this book was a quick and easy read that included some inspiring stories but which felt mostly forgettable. The obvious writing and less successful stories make this a book I would not return to for inspiration. However, there were two stories that really stood out to me, and I enjoyed the overarching theme of the sea stars. For those reasons, I rate this book 2 out of 4 stars. I recommend this for readers looking for quick, obvious inspiration conveyed in a unique format.

Stars in the Sea
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Post by Kibetious » 24 Apr 2018, 06:47

The thematic concern of the book is very good because I also believe that anyone can do something to help someone out there no matter how small the help will appear to be. Nice review here.
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Post by kandscreeley » 24 Apr 2018, 07:52

It's too bad this one is mostly forgettable because I do believe in the theme behind the book. Small actions can make a huge difference. I probably won't pick this one up because it sounds like it's not really worth a read at this point. Thanks, though!
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Post by cpru68 » 24 Apr 2018, 11:15

The premise of this book sounds good. It amazes me how many good stories can come from going through the normal things of life, and suddenly, inspiration is there like in the case of the author walking along the beach and seeing the girl putting the starfish back into the ocean. That is such a vivid picture of how we each can make a small difference every day in the life of others. From your review, it sounds like the author should have maybe given this one a little more time at the drawing table. As I was reading what you wrote here, it sounds like maybe the concept at the beginning was strong, but the author was trying to force it along versus just letting the writing happen naturally. I know in my earlier days of writing, you just get so excited to get it out there for others that the quality may not be would it could be. It sounds like the author should take a breath, let is sit a little longer and then go through and add and subtract to give it more meaning. I really do like the idea, and your review was very insightful.
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Post by Libs_Books » 24 Apr 2018, 13:34

Yes, it sounds like a great theme, but I think I would find a whole bunch of stories on the same theme a bit monotonous - I'm glad two of them were really enjoyable.

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Post by stacie k » 24 Apr 2018, 22:05

I also like the theme of the book and its conciseness, but if the stories are mostly forgettable it’s probably not worth the investment. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!
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Post by Riszell » 25 Apr 2018, 01:15

When you mentioned that this is an inspirational book about how small actions can significantly impact our lives, I thought of Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher. They somehow share the same theme but this one surely is on a positive note since it is inspirational. Even though there are redundant stories, I think I would enjoy this book since it can be read in one sitting.

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Post by kfwilson6 » 26 Apr 2018, 08:20

cpru68 makes a good point. It sounds like the author really knew what she wanted to do and the message she wanted to convey, but her ideas started to peter off and so then she was being too forceful trying to create links between more stories and her theme. I don't like when authors get too preachy. Skilled, inspirational authors can share a message in a way that makes the reader not necessarily feel like he is reading a lesson. It should be easy to spot, but not too invasive. Nice review; I enjoyed reading your insights.

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