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THE GIRL IN THE RED COAT: A Review ~Kate Hamer

Monday, August 14th, 2017

I could not put THE GIRL IN THE RED COAT down; I had to read well into the night as this abduction – suspense story just held me captive.  When I did go to bed, I was still thinking about the story and how I might resolve it, as I did not skip to the end to see how it concluded.  The writing was superb and I think many, many people will want to read this story and then Hamer’s next and next and next book.

“Compulsively readable…Beautifully written and unpredictable, I had to stop myself racing to the end to find out what happened.” —Rosamund Lupton (Sister)

A smart and dreamy little girl no longer wishes to hold onto her mother’s hand at the book festival and as the fog rolls in she starts to wander into stories, that she finds under the sales table – the two are separated and a feisty man leads the child away.  The fear and sadness of the mother just filled my whole being and I was deeply hooked into story

  • An Amazon Best Book of the Year for 2016
  • Costa Book Award for First Novel finalist
  • Dagger Award finalist

As a new single parent, the mother is worried and anxious about all the responsibility and she worries that her daughter, 8-year-old Carmel, will wander off and that she will not be able to pay the bills and get all their needs manifested.  The father has a new partner and has not appeared for a long time in their lives. Carmel is trying to sort out her new life and she has a very perceptive view of the world, her mind does wander and she notices details.  They both want to figure everything out and move forward.

The book goes from Mother to daughter as the story progresses and it is fabulous how Carmel works at remembering her Mother and all the wisdom that was imparted.  Her mother’s mind is always trying to connect with where Carmel might be and they are always working on finding RED in their lives.  The police have given up the search and there is a remarkable connection, as both mother and daughter cannot totally believe the other might be dead.

I do not believe I would have chosen this book to read and then it would have been my loss for sure.  So I say thank you to TLC Book Tours for asking me to read and review this remarkable story – THE GIRL IN THE RED COAT.

About the author:

Kate Hamer’s first novel ‘The Girl in the Red Coat’ was shortlisted for The Costa First Novel Prize, the British Book industry Awards Debut Fiction Book of the Year, the John Creasy (New Blood) Dagger and the Wales Book of the Year. It was a Sunday Times bestseller and has been translated into 16 different languages. Kate won the Rhys Davies short story prize and has short stories published in a number of anthologies. She’s written articles and reviews for The Independent, The Sunday Mail and The New York Times. Kate grew up in rural Wales and now lives with her husband in Cardiff, UK.  Her second book is The Doll Funeral (PW August 21,17 review)

Kate Hamer Twitter
Kate Hamer Goodreads

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FURTHER OUT THAN YOU THOUGHT: A Novel ~Michaela Carter

Monday, August 18th, 2014

“As if wisdom could arrive cleanly as mail, or the newspaper on one’s doorstep.  As if wisdom didn’t come from getting dirt under one’s nails.” (Page 11)
“ __ how small she wished she could become.  So she could hide from even herself” (page 77)
“If things weren’t hard, something was wrong.” (page189)
“After all, she was the one with the key.” (page226)

FURTHER OUT THAN YOU THOUGHT is a fictional story about a week in 1992 in Los Angeles.  After receiving the early uncorrected proof copy from TLC online book tours for review, I immediately read the cover and was thrilled to be reading a work by such an amazing poet and writer – Michaela Carter.  Several of her poems have been included in our poetry study group over the years.


The cover said, “Combining poetry and sensuality with an edgy urban sensibility Further Out Than You Thought is a celebration of life and a haunting story of love, friendship, and one woman’s quest for redemption.”

Gwen is a doctoral candidate in poetry, working as a nude dancer in a strip club in L.A.  She is our confused and sorting heroine of the story.  She also pays the way for the others to live and rationalize their lives.  Valiant is an older lounge singer who is suffering in the last days of AIDS, who is smoking himself and possible drinking himself to death while living in Gwen’s apartment building.  Len is Gwen’s boyfriend and a musician who attempts to sell his CDs on the street corner dressed in a revolutionary period costume.  I would have to say that cockroaches are high up on the character list along with dirty dishes, disorder, and dysfunctional actions.  Nothing resolves until the Rodney King Riots began and the whole city was shut down to control looting; the city was permeated with smoke from the burning fires.  Everyone was stuck at home, with no view or running out of distractions.

Almost every chapter of FURTHER OUT THAN YOU THOUGHT had a theme song and shared lyrics and poetry.  When I had finished the book, I went back and noted the metaphor or concept these words entered into the theme of the story. It was not a very fruitful exercise and I was left with tons of metaphors that seemed to overwhelm the story. Red, red, red, water, water, water, smoke, smoke, smoke, drinking, drinking, drinking, drugs, drugs, drugs, dance, dance, dance, dark, dark, dark; the list is even longer and  I personally found it exhausting to read and attempt to figure out.  Too much poetry?

The backstories of the three friends were well done and kept the story moving forward for me.  I so felt a sense of release when the trio decided to head to Tijuana to escape the riots and curfews and the ocean air allowed for clarity of thought to arise.  I was happy dancing when Gwen found the Grandmotherly Mexican Psychic and she believed the reading of the cards.  Whew! It was relief for the reader also.

Several days after finishing this book, I went for a walk to think about Robin William’s death and review all that I know about suicide, pain and healing.  It struck me that the erotic parts of Further Out Than You Thought are all based on the American addiction to violence and how it permeates our lives and is so common it is out of the awareness. Violence is common as dirt.  In this story, it is the riptide and strong undercurrent in the search for meaning and happiness.  The strawberries are blood red and release juicy, sweet joy.

“Michaela Carter is an award-winning poet and writer.  She studied theater at UCLA and holds a MFA in creative writing, and her poetry has been nominated for two Pushcart Prizes, won the Poetry Society of American Los Angeles New Poets Contest, and appeared in numerous journals.  Recently she cofounded the Peregrine Book Company, an independent bookstore in Prescott, Arizona, where she works as a book buyer and story-teller. She lives in Prescott with her partner and two inscrutable children and teaches creative writing at Yavapai College.  This is her first novel.”

Michaela Carter Online
Michaela Carter Facebook
Michaela Carter Peregrine Book Company 

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