Friday, May 15, 2015

Book Review: The Bullet by Mary Louise Kelly

From the back of the book: Caroline Cashion is beautiful, intelligent, a professor of French literature. But in a split second, everything she’s known is proved to be a lie.

A single bullet, gracefully tapered at one end, is found lodged at the base of her skull. Caroline is stunned. It makes no sense: she has never been shot. She has no entry wound. No scar. Then, over the course of one awful evening, she learns the truth: that she was adopted when she was three years old, after her real parents were murdered. Caroline was there the night they were attacked. She was wounded too, a gunshot to the neck. Surgeons had stitched up the traumatized little girl, with the bullet still there, nestled deep among vital nerves and blood vessels.

That was thirty-four years ago.

Now, Caroline has to find the truth of her past. Why were her parents killed? Why is she still alive? She returns to her hometown where she meets a cop who lets slip that the bullet in her neck is the same bullet that killed her mother. Full-metal jacket, .38 Special. It hit Caroline’s mother and kept going, hurtling through the mother’s chest and into the child hiding behind her.

She is horrified—and in danger. When a gun is fired it leaves markings on the bullet. Tiny grooves, almost as unique as a fingerprint. The bullet in her neck could finger a murderer. A frantic race is set in motion: Can Caroline unravel the clues to her past, before the killer tracks her down?

I finished The Bullet over a month ago, but have spent the past 30ish days hoping that I'd be struck with divine inspiration about how to review it, because I'm still just not quite sure what to think or to say. The concept of the novel intrigued me right away. Right off the bat, I found Caroline Cashion as a lead character to be smart and engaging--someone that I could imagine being friends with. I really, really enjoyed the first 65% of the book or so. 

But then, at some point, the novel started to lose its identity--was is a coming-of-age novel or a suspense novel? A romance? Maybe a thriller? Surely there HAD to be a plot twist coming could not be this predictable, could it? Did Caroline start using drugs halfway through the novel? Because if  not, I'm not quite sure how to reconcile the fact that all of a sudden Caroline started to make straight up *stupid* decisions that did not jive with anything we had been told about her personality or character up to that point.

It wasn't a bad book, though. I did enjoy most of it, and it was a quick read that would probably be perfect for a summer vacation. That said, I think the bottom line for me was that I loved the concept so much, and was ultimately let down by the execution of the last half of the book.

This seems to be a book that people either love, or were disappointed by. Unfortunately, I fell into the latter category. But overall, if the premise sounds interesting, add it to your list. It's definitely worth a fair try.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Book Review: Hugo & Rose by Bridget Foley

From the back of the book: Rose is disappointed with her life, though she has no reason to be - she has a beautiful family and a perfectly nice house in the suburbs. But to Rose, this ordinary life feels overshadowed by her other life - the one she leads every night in her dreams.

After a childhood accident, Rose's dreams take her to a wondrous island fraught with adventure. On this island, she has never been alone: she shares it with Hugo, a brave boy who's grown up with her into a hero of a man.

But when Rose stumbles across Hugo in real life, both her real and dream worlds are changed forever. Here is the man who has shared all of her incredible adventures in impossible places, who grew up with her, even if they aren't what either one imagined. Their chance encounter begins a cascade of questions, lies, and a dangerous obsession that threatens to topple everything she knows. Is she willing to let go of everything she holds dear to understand their extraordinary connection? And will it lead her to discover who she truly wants to be? 

Since the time I was about twelve, I have often dreamed of a particular city. I could tell you about the riverbanks that I played on as a child--the same ones that I had late night bonfires on in high school. I could tell you about the shops and store owners on the main drag. I could tell you where to eat lunch, and where I wouldn't touch with a ten foot pole. I could tell you about the dusty library, and also about the tree that I picked ripe cherries from almost every day. This city was like the gatekeeper of my dreams--the place in which all of my other dreams occurred. I have often wondered how I would respond if I ever found the city in real life--would I want to pack up everything and move there? Would I drive out of town as fast as I could, never looking back? What would it mean if it really did exist?

Needless to say, the concept behind Hugo & Rose immediately caught my attention, and I couldn't wait to read it. Based on the cover and the summary, I expected it to be a whimsical and fun novel (probably a love story) with a fairly predictable ending. I was wrong. 

In reality, Hugo & Rose is deep and it is pretty dark. It examined hard themes, such as how someone who seems to have a perfect life can still be exhausted, depressed, and just want to escape. It explored how one secret can worm its way into your life, slowly at first but quickly taking over every corner in a way that is completely terrifying. It allowed for twists and turns that I *never* expected, and certainly didn't see coming. The darkness of Hugo & Rose was unexpected, but wasn't a bad thing at all. I've never read anything quite like it, which is always a plus in my opinion.
Like all books that incorporate some magical realism (think The Night Circus or Mr. Penumbra's 24 Hour Bookstore), the plot-line does require a certain buy-in from the reader. If you can't get past the idea of two people sharing a common dream, then you probably won't enjoy this book. On the other hand, if you can get there even temporarily, then you're in for quite an emotional ride. If you're unsure, read an excerpt here first.


 Disclosure: I received an advance copy of this book for review through Net Galley. I did not receive any further compensation for this review, and all thoughts and opinions are my own. You all should know by now that I couldn't lie about a book even if I wanted to :)
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