Archive for March 2016

The Quality of Silence by Rosamund Lupton


"Life is a little bit like a ship and sometimes it feels like you're sailing solo, but you're not because I'm with you."

How far would you go for the ones you love? Yasmin never thought she would voluntarily leave the comforts of her home in the UK to meet with her husband Matt in the desolate environment of Alaska. When Matt told her weeks before that he would embark on an expedition to the state to film wildlife, she assumed it was just another excuse to be away from home. Their relationship had not been the same since the revelation that Matt had kissed another woman. All of that seemed like a distant memory now.

Matt and Yasmin have a ten-year-old daughter named Ruby. Ruby is deaf. Life has not been easy for the girl, but her parents have done their best to shield her from the realities of the world. Matt and Ruby share a special bond. That's why Yasmin is here in Alaska. When she received the news that the small village that Matt was staying in was engulfed in flames with no apparent survivors, she gathered her daughter and rushed to the US. There must be some mistake. With the authorities refusing to listen to her insistence that her husband is still alive, Yasmin takes it upon herself to travel through the treacherous landscapes of Alaska to find her husband and keep her family in tact.

Rosamund Lupton, author of the bestselling Sister, returns with The Quality of Silence. The novel alternates perspectives between the unflinchingly determined mother and her innocently observant daughter. This contrast makes for strong character development and back story that elevates the otherwise straightforward plot. At the start, it is rather difficult to connect with Yasmin. All logic points to her husband being dead, but Yasmin recklessly defies this. In the process, she places herself and Ruby into an unnecessarily dangerous situation. Fortunately, the character becomes more well rounded through her daughter's recollections.

It is in the parts about Ruby that Lupton's skill shines through. The young girl is extremely intelligent and her voice reads as that of a genuine child. Lupton captures the love, wonder and confusion of a child who is on a strange journey that she can't fully comprehend. The fact that she is deaf only adds to this brilliance. The Quality of Silence unfolds as a slow churning thriller that keeps the suspense tightly wound throughout. Still, the novel seems a bit uneven in its execution and the story ends without the ultimate payoff that the steady pace demands. The Quality of Silence is a unique story that adds to the promise of greater output from Lupton in the future.

To enter for a chance to win an ARC of this novel, use the RaffleCopter widget below. Open to US residents. No PO boxes please. Ends 4/5. After being contacted, winner will have 48hrs to respond.

For more information visit the author's website, Amazon, and GoodReads.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

(2016, 10)

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Jaws by Peter Benchley


A year before Steven Spielberg frightened audiences away from beaches with his blockbuster film Jaws, author Peter Benchley was terrifying readers with the book that would inspire the movie. That movie has become so entrenched in our popular culture that Benchley's novel seems to be forever stuck in its shadow. As a fan of the film (I even appreciate the atrocious sequels for the silly fun that they are), I decided to read the book that created the phenomenon.

The peaceful tourist town of Amity is disturbed when the mangled remains of a woman's body washes ashore. There is no denying the cause of death. The woman was clearly attacked by a shark. And from the severity of the wounds, it looks like it was a massive one. 

Amity Police Chief Martin Brody is determined to do everything in his power to prevent any further attacks, but he is met with a united resistance from the local political and business leaders. Shutting down the beaches during the peak of summer tourist season would cripple the town's economy and scare away any potential new visitors. Instead the townsmen elect to bring in the expertise of shark guru Matt Hooper. Hooper assures the town that sharks rarely stick around and that any future attacks are highly unlikely. Hooper is wrong. 

The resulting hunt is as thrilling and suspenseful as anything I've ever read. The book particularly benefits from being able to show readers the shark's perspective. The plot inches further with an ever present foreboding. Benchley inhabits his story with a variety of townspeople whose motivations add to the complexity of the situation. That being said, I found most of the characters difficult to sympathize with. These are not 'good' people, and most of their troubles are self inflicted. I was particularly troubled by a detailed account of Brody's wife having an affair. This portion did little to advance the main plot or to develop the character. Overall, Jaws the novel is a fun but inconsistent story that never reaches the same depth or excitement of the movie. 

For more information, visit the author's website, Amazon, or GoodReads.

(2016, 9)

The Girl in the Red Coat by Kate Hamer


"Maybe it's not just me, perhaps many women keep shrines for their daughters."

Since the runaway success of Gillian Flynn's Gone Girl, it seems like publishers have been eager to compare their thrillers to that novel. How many times have you seen a book's cover call it "The next Gone Girl"? Publishers have even gone a far as putting the word "girl" in the title in hopes of drawing a comparison (I'm looking at you The Girl on the Train). And so I when I received a review copy of Kate Hamer's debut novel The Girl in the Red Coat, I was prepared for another disappointing Gone Girl imitation. What I got instead was a brutally honest novel about love and loss that shook me to my core.

The novel follows a single mother Beth and her eight-year-old daughter Carmel. Carmel is a precocious child who seems to march to the beat of her own drum. Guided by her own curiosities, the young girl has even been known to stray from her mother's protective view. One day the unthinkable happens. While exploring a storytelling festival, Beth loses sight of Carmel's bright red coat. At first, it seems exactly like the times that the girl has wandered away before. Beth fully expects to worry her head off for a few minutes only to have Carmel pop back into view, oblivious to her mother's paranoia. But this time, things are different. This time, Carmel really is gone.

Chapters in the novel alternate between the perspectives of mother and child. Like the young Jack in Emma Donoghue's Room, Carmel views the situation with a youthful wonder. Hamer skillfully captures the mind of the young child as she grapples with the fear of being alone in the world and longs to find her mother. These portions illustrate the child's ability to adapt to the harrowing situation. We read on, unable to intervene in the girl's journey as Carmel's youthful ignorance guides her frustratingly further from her home.

The ultimate success of this novel hinges on Beth's heartbreaking story. Her chapters bring insight into the mind of a woman whose life has been upturned. She is emotionally broken and desperately clings to any hope of finding her daughter. It is in these chapters that Kate Hamer truly shines. She writes of the madness that can come with grief and desperation, truly capturing the isolation and hopelessness of loss.

"I don't think we can feel guilty, Beth. Not for anything we feel or anything we think. No one else knows. No one. And if they say they do they're liars."

The Girl in the Red Coat is a stunning novel that is written with an honesty that strips the character's feelings to the bare bones. The quick pace of the prose deceptively leads the reader towards sudden walls of inescapable emotion that can't be bypassed. I found myself pondering my own losses throughout my life, especially the ones that came out of nowhere. While this novel can be intense and the situations difficult to reconcile, it is the unrelenting love of a mother for her child that ultimately shines through. Despite all of the sorrow and heartache in the world, love will always remain.

To enter for a chance to win a copy of this novel, use the Rafflecopter widget below. Open to US residents. No PO boxes please. Ends 3/15. After being contacted, winner will have 48 hours to respond.

For more information, visit Amazon and GoodReads.
This review is part of TLC Book Tours.

(2016, 8)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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