The Girl in the Red Coat by Kate Hamer – Book Review


What I liked about this novel was how the story alternated between Carmel and her mother, Beth.  Eight-year-old Carmel is abducted by a man who tells her he is her grandfather and that her mother has been in an accident.  Therefore, he must bring her home with him while her mother recovers.  Of course, this story shortly begins to unravel, and even an eight-year-old can poke holes in it.

AgathaChristie mom quote

In order to make money from Carmel’s perceived “holy” power, her Granddad spirits her away to the United States where he, his common-law wife and her two daughters make a living preaching.  At the same time, Beth blames herself for Carmel’s disappearance, and suffers from mental health issues.

I thought that the alternating chapters really gave a good description of the complicated love a mother has for her child, and the complicated love a child has for her mother.  I highly recommend this novel.  Well done, Hamer!

Kate Hamer

Kate Hamer




New Boy by Tracy Chevalier – Book Review

New Boy by Tracy Chevalier

This is a re-telling (as part of the Hogarth Project) of Shakespeare’s Othello.  This tale takes place in an elementary school, and the children are cast as the characters.  New boy, Osei, is the only black child in the school – this takes place in the 1970’sl.  His father is a diplomat, and he’s lived all over the world, and is thoroughly sick of being the “new boy”.  The most popular girl in school, Dee, decides to be his friend.

Iago quote

The entire story takes place over the course of one day, so everything happens much quicker than in the play.  I actually liked this novel, although I was appalled, as I usually am, when adults are being so obviously manipulated, this time by a student named Ian, who has quite the reputation for causing trouble.

I don’t want to go into the story too much, as we all already have a good idea of the ending.  However, I enjoyed it very much and thought this novel is another good addition to the Hogarth Project.  Well done, Chevalier!



A Book of American Martyrs by Joyce Carol Oates – Book Review


As is typical of many of Oates novels, this is a difficult one.  It’s difficult to read, difficult to think about, and stays with you for quite a while afterward.  Just to let you know, it was a wonderfully written novel, the plot and character development were terrific, and I really really like it when novels make me take a hard look at society and my personal beliefs.  This novel does that.

Here, Oates takes on the abortion issue by giving voice to both sides by dealing with both the family of a slain abortion doctor, and the family of the murderer who shot him.  Oates delves into the religious beliefs of Luther Dunphy and his family while giving the same respect to abortion provider Dr. Augustus Voorhees and his family.  This novel was really outstanding in regard to the two daughters, Naomi Voorhees and Dawn Dunphy.

I really don’t want to go into detail about the novel, since I don’t want to give anything away.  Suffice it is say that Oates gives us information galore on both sides of the issue, while also developing the plot and characters.  I have to say, she is a wonder as a writer, and I continue to be amazed with every novel published.

I highly encourage you to read this novel, regardless of your personal beliefs concerning the issue of abortion. Well done (once again), Oates!


Joyce Carol Oates

Stardust by Neil Gaiman – Book Review


I listened to this novel on audio with a full cast, and it was just delightful!  I loved the fairy-tale, fantasy and characters.  There really was something new and different around every corner (or on the other side of the wall, to be truthful).  There is a small love-affair, leading to a baby being delivered to Dunstan Thorn (the father), from fairy-land nine months later.  Once this child is grown, he promises his lady-love he will bring her a star to prove his love.  Tristran sets out into the land of fairy in search of his star.


Meanwhile, there are three brothers all vying for the crown their father left behind.  These are dastardly men, each possessed with a burning desire to be king.  Many adventures follow, most of them extremely funny, however I don’t want to give any of the plot away.

I highly recommend this novel.  I really enjoyed listening to it, the audio was done exceedingly well.  Another good one, Gaiman!


Neil Gaiman


The Loving Husband by Christobel Kent – Book Review


This is one of those novels that you will be thinking about for a long time after reading.  While Fran and Nathan Hale have left the city of London, at Nathan’s insistence to move with their two children to the small town near where Nathan grew up, Fran becomes ever more isolated by her disapproving husband.  Quite quickly Nathan sells Fran’s car, takes her “broken” laptop to be fixed but never returns it, and continuously checks her cell phone to see who she’s been talking to.  There is a fear of violence that keeps Fran both cowed and frightened.  After finding his dead body outside their remote farmhouse, Fran is pegged by the police as the murderer, although they do not arrest her, they simply step up their harassment of her.

The mystery is many layered, full of various forms of abuse, misdoing and lazy police investigating.  I really loved the story-telling element of this novel along with the character development, and the twists and turns of the mystery.  I highly recommend this novel.  Well done Kent!

Christobel Kent

Christobel Kent