Showing posts with label mother and daughter. Show all posts
Showing posts with label mother and daughter. Show all posts

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

The Girl in the Red Coat (Giveaway!)


Title: The Girl in the Red Coat
Author: Kate Hamer
Publisher: Melville House
Publication Date: February 16, 2016
Source: copy received for honest review through TLC Book Tours

Plot Summary from Goodreads:

Newly single mom Beth has one constant, gnawing worry: that her dreamy eight-year-old daughter, Carmel, who has a tendency to wander off, will one day go missing.

And then one day, it happens: On a Saturday morning thick with fog, Beth takes Carmel to a local outdoor festival, they get separated in the crowd, and Carmel is gone.

Shattered, Beth sets herself on the grim and lonely mission to find her daughter, keeping on relentlessly even as the authorities tell her that Carmel may be gone for good.

Carmel, meanwhile, is on a strange and harrowing journey of her own—to a totally unexpected place that requires her to live by her wits, while trying desperately to keep in her head, at all times, a vision of her mother …

Alternating between Beth’s story and Carmel’s, and written in gripping prose that won’t let go, The Girl in the Red Coat—like Emma Donoghue’s Room and M. L. Stedman’s The Light Between Oceans—is an utterly immersive story that’s impossible to put down . . . and impossible to forget.


My Review:

That word "immersive" from the last line of the plot summary is COMPLETELY on point.  I was immersed, steeped, saturated in this story.  The Girl in the Red Coat will have you working your page-flipping fingers at Olympic pace.

I went into the novel a bit unsure, because as much as I loved the book's description, the first couple of chapters didn't hook me right away.  I think this is because Carmel and Beth are such unusual protagonists that it took me a while to get a good grip on their personalities.  I didn't understand their peculiarities (especially Carmel's) until I went further into the book.  However, by the time of Carmel's disappearance, my initial hesitations had vanished, allowing me to sink into the story.

The novel alternates between Carmel and Beth's POVs, and Hamer writes them in a way that creates a strong connection between the two, even when they are physically separated.  The mother-daughter bond and its many complexities would be a great discussion point for any book clubs that pick this one up.  That said, I did find Carmel's POV to be more gripping for the reader than Beth's--Carmel's situation stays fluid and unpredictable for most of the book, while Beth's chapters started to become a bit repetitive after a while, without as much forward motion.  This wasn't a deal-breaker for me in terms of enjoying the story, but it was worth noting that I often flew through Beth's chapters to get more of Carmel.

It's worth noting that the conclusion is very open-ended--so if that's not your cup of tea, you've been warned.  However, I LOVED all of the unanswered questions at the end, because they left me with so much to ponder about the various relationships in the novel.

Overall, The Girl in the Red Coat was a super fun read.  It's an excellent thriller, with many of the riveting plot elements that you've loved in other books of the genre, but also with so many unique twists and turns that it won't be a novel easily forgotten.

As always, much thanks to Lisa and TLC Book Tours for including me on this tour!
Want to find out more?  Check out the other blogs on this book tour HERE.

GIVEAWAY TIME!!  TLC Book Tours is giving away one copy of The Girl in the Red Coat to one of my lucky readers.  US/Canada entrants only.  Giveaway ends 3/23/16.  Enter with the Rafflecopter below!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, January 29, 2016

January Minis: From Antarctica to London

Mini-reviews!  They're back!  And both of them are on my 30 Before 35 list, which is pretty exciting.

Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple
Little, Brown and Company, 2012
borrowed from the library

This was the book EVERYONE was talking about a couple years ago, which is why I put it on the 30 Before 35 list.  I finally got around to it, and I definitely liked it, though for a lot of unexpected reasons.  This is a unique story, both in subject and perspective.  Short synopsis: Bernadette Fox is mom to middle schooler Bee and wife to a Microsoft exec.  Bernadette was a famous architect back in the day, but is now a bit of a recluse (albeit a spunky one) in their Seattle home.  Bee convinces her parents to take her on a cruise to Antarctica, and shortly before the trip, Bernadette disappears.  Now Bee is trying to track down her Mom, using all the resources she can dream up.

This book is a lot of things.  It's hilarious, for starters.  Bernadette can be off-putting at times, but mostly she had me in stitches.  She's surrounded by snotty, wealthy soccer moms, and she can't stand a bit of their crap.  Bee is equally entertaining, as she's wise beyond her years and has picked up many of her mother's tendencies to swim against the current.  However, the novel also touches on many more serious themes of mental illness, work-family balance, and marital issues...even as it keeps its sense of humor.

The conclusion is fitting without being explosive, and I was left enamored with Bee and Bernadette as a mother-daughter team.  Where'd You Go, Bernadette is nothing that I expected, while still somehow being everything that I wanted...that is probably the corniest thing I've ever written, but that makes it no less true.

Incendiary by Chris Cleave
Knopf, 2005
personal purchase

Fact: Chris Cleave is one of my favorite authors.  Most people know him from Little Bee, but I honestly loved his 2012 release Gold even more.  I bought Incendiary, his debut novel, quite a while ago and finally jumped into it this month.  I am so glad that I did!

Synopsis: the story is told via a series of letters written from an unnamed woman (our protagonist) to Osama bin Laden, after her husband and son are killed in a (fictional) terrorist attack in London.  Yes, an odd premise.  But this almost stream-of-consciousness style is perfect for readers as you move through the story.  After I finished the book, I read that Cleave wrote it in just six weeks, and I find that completely believable.  The writing is furtive, with a sense of urgency that heightens as the book goes on.  The narrator has many psychological issues that make her telling of the story a bit shaky, but we also get a sense that Cleave's fictional London has taken a rather Orwellian turn after the terror attack--leading to a lot of interesting questions about government control, social structure, and morality (especially in the wake of terror threats).  And despite that heavy fare, the book is still peppered with a dark humor that will, at the very least, keep a wry smile on your face.

This is a short novel with an awful lot to say.  Cleave's novel was originally released on what, sadly, was also the same day as the London tube attacks in 2005, making this book especially relevant at the time.  However, as we continue to face terror threats around the globe, I think this makes for fascinating reading.  Incendiary forces you to think more deeply about these problems, beyond threat levels and travel advisories and removing your shoes at the airport.  It's quite a bit different from Little Bee, but I think will give you just as much to discuss when you're done.
 
Imagination Designs