Thursday, July 26, 2012

I Hardly Ever Wash My Hands: The Other Side of OCD

I Hardly Ever Wash My Hands: The Other Side of OCD by J.J. Keeler
Paragon House Publishers, 2012
Trade Paperback, 184 pages
ISBN-13: 9781557788924

Living with OCD is not for sissies. J.J. Keeler proves that. From her fears of the bomb in her teddy bear to her fear of running over innocent pedestrians, to her fear that she has caused a strangulation, she tells her story in a way that allows us to see inside her disease and to see that she has not lost her sense of humor. This light-hearted yet serious and comforting look at OCD lets some light into the closet of sufferers. This book is for those with OCD or who love someone with OCD, and for those who would like to know what it's like to live with the daily challenges of OCD.
My Thoughts:
In her biography, I Hardly Ever Wash My Hands: The Other Side of OCD, J.J. Keeler explores with honesty and humor her struggles with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and how OCD manifests itself in her life. She writes in the prologue: "You might know someone like me. You might be someone like me. I didn't plan this for my life.
It's not like I went to career day at school and thought, Being a lawyer sounds neat. Being a doctor sounds cool. But, I really want to grow up to be in the depths of despair. (pg. x)"
"Maybe you're thinking I wash my hands a little too often, I organize things a little too thoroughly, I make sure my house is a little too clean. But, the truth is, I do none of those. OCD has another side. (pg. xi)"
Keeler isn't obsessively clean or neat or organized. Her OCD takes another direction: obsessions.
Some of Keeler's obsessions are harming obsessions. She acknowledges "By definition, they sound so simple: those of us with harming obsessions have an obsessive fear of harming others. But, they are much more complex. (pg. xiii) And she goes on to explain how they affect her daily life. Simply reading about her thought processes as she tried to deal with her obsessions was enlightening to me, someone who does not have OCD.
While Keeler is funny and writes about grappling with her various obsessions in a smooth, entertaining way, her honesty also allows some of the pain the obsessions have caused to show through, which is heartbreaking. Keeler openly describes the time-consuming rituals she has performed in order to fight off the panic and fear her obsessions caused.

She says of others who also have OCD obsessions: "On one level we know these obsessions aren't a reflection of reality. We tell ourselves not to worry. But, the obsessions persist and pester. They build in our heads until we yearn for reassurance the way a junkie yearns for a fix. (pg. xiii-xiv) and "Sometimes I think people with OCD view the world from inside a 1950's TV: we tend to see things in black and white. Things either have a right way or they have a wrong way. (pg. 35)"
Keeler does and excellent job describing what she was thinking and experiencing when she obsessed over having AIDS: "I can't tell you how many times I've had AIDS. I've probably had it more often than the average person has had a common cold or a sinus infection. I’ve had it more often than the average child has had strep throat or the average athlete has had a muscle pull. I’ve had AIDS more times than I can count. (pg.1)" 
Or being scared of bombs: "Whatever the reason, I was scared of bombs, and believed they were everywhere. (pg. 19)"
Or being excessively fearful of getting into trouble: "Getting into trouble was something I feared all through childhood. But it wasn't just a lingering fear that many children have; it was an obsession. (pg. 51).
Or vampires: "Though I know they don't exist, that doesn't stop me from being afraid of vampires. By mentioning this, hopefully people will tell others that this book is about vampires and its sales will increase dramatically. (pg. 83)." (And I hope this mention of vampires will help.)
It is exhausting to just read and consider everything Keeler has to go through when she is obsessing over something - and she obsesses over big things. This is an incredible look at a side of OCD that isn't generally thought of when the disease is mentioned. Keeler does a real service to others by educating us about another aspect of OCD.
She also has random facts about OCD through out the book that are illustrated with little cartoon stick figures. For example" "Random OCD fact number 1: Approximately 3 million people in the U.S. are believed to have OCD. (pg. 11)" Certainly most of us know someone who has OCD - or it is a personal battle. 
Last chapter "Dear Friend" is written specifically to those who are struggling with OCD. Keeler wanted to reassure others who are suffering from OCD that they are not alone - especially since only someone else who has OCD can truly understand what they are going through. Keeler shares some knowledge and some strategies she uses to deal with OCD. Reading about some of her personal struggles makes the wisdom she shares to help others master their OCD even more powerful. This was a very powerful chapter and would be worth acquiring the book if only to read it. But read the whole book, especially if you have OCD or know someone who does.  
Very Highly Recommended

About J.J. Keeler
A successful freelance writer, designer of custom children’s books, and muralist, J.J. Keeler has a degree in English Literature from the University of Colorado. In addition to her current work as an artist and freelance writer, Keeler has been a technical writer, greeting card copywriter, and illustrator of coloring and picture books for children. She has produced freelance articles for a number of magazines, including a featured bimonthly column, From the Horse’s Mouth, in Twins Magazine and a comic strip, Greetings from Mars, which ran in the Denver Daily Newspaper. Keeler currently resides in Highlands Ranch, Colorado, with her husband, daughter, and five pets.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the author and TLC for review purposes. 






J.J.’s Tour Stops

Tuesday, July 10th: A Bookish Affair
Monday, July 16th: Tiffany’s Bookshelf
Tuesday, July 17th: Oh! Paper Pages
Wednesday, July 18th: Surviving the Madhouse
Thursday, July 19th: 50 Books Project
Friday, July 20th: Peppermint PhD
Monday, July 23rd: Lolly’s Hope
Tuesday, July 24th: I’m a mom. I have OCD.
Wednesday, July 25th: Bringing along OCD
Thursday, July 26th: she treads softly
Monday, July 30th: Peeking Between the Pages
Tuesday, July 31st: The Beat OCD Blog
Wednesday, August 1st: 71° & Sunny: One Christian’s Odyssey 
Thursday, August 2nd: Adventures in Anxiety Land
Friday, August 3rd: OCD BloggerGirl’s Blog
Monday, August 6th: Expoing OCD
Tuesday, August 7th: OCD Talk
Friday, August 10th: An Unconventional Librarian
Date TBD: A Musing Reviews

Sunday, July 22, 2012

The Human Disguise and The Double Human

The Human Disguise by James O'Neal
TOR, 2009
Trade Paperback, 368 pages
ISBN-13: 9780765320148

The world has been shattered. Disease and war have ravaged the Earth. A resurgent Germany once again threatens Europe, and the United States is engaged in the Middle-East while New York sits, an empty, radioactive ruin. The city of Miami has become a virtual prison, home to the worst life has to offer.
Tom Wilner lives on the outskirts of this forsaken realm. He's what this future passes off as a police officer. With his family shattered, Wilner is just a pale version of the police hero he once was. When a chance encounter in a rundown roadhouse erupts in violence, Wilner is forced to step in.
His exploration into the violence of that evening leads him onto the path of two ancient warring races. They have been manipulating power and control on Earth for centuries, and are about to enter into a battle for ultimate supremacy. Unless Tom Wilner puts an end to their fury.
The Double Human by James O'Neal
TOR, 2010
Hardcover, 336 pages 

ISBN-13: 9780765320155 

Tom Wilner is a cop.  At least what passes for a cop in this shattered world.  Plague and nuclear war have left most of the United States uninhabitable.  Many have fled to safer zones, forcing what’s left of the government to wall off cities in an attempt to control mass migration.  The city of Miami is just one of these contained prison states.  Bit it’s the outskirts of this forsaken realm that Tom Wilner calls home.
Amid this chaos, Wilner stumbles into the path of a wild and brutal adversary. Forced to go undercover in the most frightfully ravaged corners of the Miami Quarantine Zone, Wilner uncovers something he hasn’t seen in decades...a serial killer. But this killer’s path is not like any other; he has been active for nearly fifty years without any repercussions. People call him “the Vampire.” Indeed, this serial killer is not human...and neither are his victims.

My Thoughts:
The Human Disguise and The Double Human by James O'Neal take place in Florida, by the Miami quarantine zone, in a future dystopian United States. 

In The Human Disguise, when police officer James Wilner follows his wife and her lover into a bar to observe them, he inadvertently sets off a series of events. His investigation involves him in a bigger conflict between two ancient families. In The Double Human Wilner is investigating a "vampire" serial killer.

The Human Disguise is author O'Neal's debut into science fiction. He is an award winning crime/police procedural writer under the name James O. Born. This novel, and the second, The Double Human, are crime novels set in a future society rather than science fiction novels that involve an investigation. You need to know this. Because of this fact, both novels will likely appeal to those who enjoy crime/action novels more than those who prefer science fiction. I enjoy both types of novels, however, since my choice of these books was based on expecting more science fiction, I'll admit I was disappointed.

You will need to read the first novel, The Human Disguise, before The Double Human. The two stories are interconnected and the first book will explain more about this future society. Additionally, I felt like they both started out strong but lost some momentum in the investigation and all the fire fights. The potential of this future world was there but the plots didn't utilize it as much as I hoped. I also found some typos (see quotes) which is distracting for me because, unless I know it is an ARC, once I find one I start to look for more. Actually, after reading both novels, I really think O'Neal needs to keep writing the O. Born crime novels because that is where his passion seems to lie.
Recommended for crime novels; so-so as science fiction

Quotes (from The Human Disguise):

From the end of the bar, Tom Wilner could look through the cavernous main room and pool hall and still see her dark hair as she leaned back in her chair. The boyfriend, Tiget Nadovich, sat next to her, wearing that dark jacket over his black shirt and black pants that Wilner had seen him in twenty times before.
It bothered Wilner that all the databases listed him as a citizen of the United States for the last eleven years. That meant he got it just before the ban on immigration. It also meant he got it just for being in the United States when the amnesty bill passed and everyone inside the borders of the country was awarded citizenship. The Congress limited it to the first forty-nine states because they saw the writing on the wall about Hawaii. Once the independence movement started rolling, no one wanted to stand up and say that the native people of Hawaii didn't deserve their own country. Plus the fact that the United States was engaged in three wars at the time didn't help their position. opening

He shook his head, too embarrassed to admit what he was really doing. He tried to change the subject. "Anything happen on patrol today?"
Steve nodded as he sat on the stool. "Oh, yeah, riding that bike from the Northern Enclave to the Miami Quarantine Zone is so exciting I never run out of stories."
"What happened?"
"Nothing, you knucklehead. Same as every other day. Just a long ride in soggy weather."
"Lot of area."
Steve mumbled, "Damn Unified Police Force. I remember when each city could field a police department."
"That was a long time ago. No one can afford the taxes now."
They sat in silence until Wilner asked his friend, "Why aren't you reading up on the aliens?"
"Go ahead and make fun. When they finally arrive I'll be fully informed and know what to do." Then Steve scanned the room and stopped at the table with the beautiful dark-haired woman. "Oh, I get it." He looked at Wilner. "Are you crazy, following you ex-wife around?"
"We're not divorced yet." pg. 13

As he came up from behind the bar another flash of light destroyed a jukebox as it surged past the intended target. An energy weapon, or E-weapon, had been nicknamed a flasher by the Eighty-second Airborne since they first came into use during the third Iraq war. The flash of light beamed through a prism of gases could melt steel, destroy living tissue and cause terror among troops. As the deadly devices matured, the weapons became smaller, but lost some of their power. This one was handheld and probably only good for two or three shots. That's all it usually took. Instantly the jukebox melted and settled into a heap of glass and metal. An old country song skipped on an endless loop of a man singing "Live like you were dying," over and over. It was still identifiable, but no one would ever hear the jukebox play any other song again.
The two blond men, working together, were wading into the group led by Svala's boyfriend. The taller one used his knife to nearly gut one of the men from the table. The blade cut through his leather jacket and shirt, leaving a vicious gash where blood and internal organs looked ready to spill out onto the bar's dirty floor. pg. 17

As Wilner heard the sirens in the distance he said, "What a mess." He watched as Besslia checked the corpse, then looked in the canvas satchel.
Steve whistled and held up the bag for Wilner.
He stared at what had to be more than a million dollars in standard U.S trade currency that was commonly called "suds."
This whole night was going to raise questions. pg. 19

Saturday, July 21, 2012

The Devil Colony

The Devil Colony by James Rollins
HarperCollins, copyright 2011
Mass Market Paperback, 672 pages
ISBN-13: 9780061785658
Sigma Force Series #7

Could the founding of the United States be based on a fundamental lie?
During a riot at a gruesome dig site deep in the Rocky Mountains, an anthropologist dies horribly, burned to ash in a fiery explosion. All evidence points to a radical group of Native Americans, including one agitator who escapes with a vital clue to the murder and calls on the one person who might help—her uncle, Painter Crowe, director of Sigma Force.
But to protect his niece and uncover the truth, Painter will ignite a war across the nation’s most powerful intelligence agencies. From the volcanic peaks of Iceland to the blistering deserts of the American Southwest, from the gold vaults of Fort Knox to the bubbling geysers of Yellowstone, he joins forces with Commander Gray Pierce to penetrate the shadowy heart of a dark cabal, one that has been manipulating American history since the founding of the thirteen colonies.

My Thoughts:
I love James Rollins novels. If you crave reading some action/adventure escapism from time to time you can't beat any James Rollins novel. The Devil Colony by James Rollins is the seventh novel in his Sigma Force series, but can also be enjoyed as a stand alone novel. The great thing about Rollins' novels is that he creates complex plots based on scientific and historic facts. (He'll tell you what is based on fact and what isn't at the end of the novel.)
The book opens in 1779 when a Native American burial mound in Kentucky is being excavated for a treasure, and the group excavating it is attacked as soon as the item they were seeking is found. Then we jump to the present, in the Utah wilderness where two young men are searching for another secret burial site of a rumored Native American treasure. This search also ends tragically.
In the investigation we discover that some kind of ancient curse is unleashed. It is actually some form of ancient nanotechnology (which you can easily surmise from the opening "Notes from the Scientific Record"). The burial site had some fail-safe designs in place, but the release of the "treasure" sets a chain of events into motion that could mean the end of the world. The plot actually draws connections between Native Americans, Mormons, and a secret/lost tribe of Israelites. The Sigma Force is on it though, and Painter Crowe actually goes into the field on this one.
This is a complicated plot but the action is very fast-paced. It certainly helps that Rollins is a good writer too. Although I know all the characters from the previous novels in the series, I really think you could enjoy this without reading the other novels first. You'll want to read them, though, after you read The Devil Colony. This is really one of the better novels in the series - compared to the others, but they are all very good.  
Very Highly Recommended.


Autumn, 1779
Kentucky Territory
The skull of the monster slowly revealed itself.
A shard of yellowed bone poked through the dark soil.
Two muddy men knelt in the dirt to either side of the excavated hole. One of them was Billy Preston’s father, the other his uncle. Billy stood over them, nervously chewing a knuckle.  At twelve, he had begged to be included on this trip. In the past, he’d always been left behind in Philadelphia with his mother and his baby sister Nell.  opening

Since the founding of these lands, many Indian mounds had been dug up and looted, only to confirm his father’s assessment. All that had been found were the buried bones of the dead, along with a few arrowheads, hide shields, and shards of Indian pottery.
So why was this particular site so important? pg. 4

Even in the meager sunlight, what lay inside the skull glinted brightly. 
“Gold,” his uncle choked out, shocked.
The entire inside of the skull had been plated in the precious metal. Fortescue ran a finger along the inner surface of one of the bony platters he had pulled open. Only now did Billy notice the engraving across the gold surface. It looked to be a crude map, with stylized trees, mountains, and rivers. The surface was also inscribed with hen-scratches that might be writing.
Leaning closer, he heard Fortescue mumble one word, full of awe and a flicker of fear. “Hebrew.”
After the initial shock wore off, his father spoke at Billy’s elbow, “But the skull is empty.” pg. 7

The bloody savage sought to hold him. Billy tugged his arm loose. 
The Indian fell back. Where the hand had clutched his sleeve, a smeared handprint remained. Not blood, Billy realized in a flash. 
He stared down at the dying savage. The palm that had clutched him was as white as a lily, though some of the paint stuck to creases in the palm.   pg. 10

Present Day, May 18:
It looked like the entrance to hell.
The two young men stood on a ridge overlooking a deep, shadowy chasm. It had taken them eight hours to climb from the tiny burg of Roosevelt to this remote spot high in the Rocky Mountains. pg. 15

According to Charlie, only a handful of his tribal elders even knew about this burial site in the High Uintas Wilderness. Those who did were forbidden to speak of it. The only reason Charlie knew about it was that his grandfather liked his bourbon too much. Charlie doubted his grandfather even remembered showing him that old deer-hide map hidden in a hollowed-out buffalo horn.
Trent had first heard the tale when he was in junior high, huddled in a pup tent with Charlie. With a flashlight held to his chin for effect, his friend had shared the story. "My grandfather says the Great Spirit still haunts this cave. Guarding a huge treasure of our people."
"What sort of treasure?" Trent had asked doubtfully. At the time he had been more interested in the Playboy he'd sneaked out of his father's closet. That was treasure enough for him.
Charlie had shrugged. "Don't know. But it must be cursed."
"What do you mean?"
His friend had shifted the flashlight closer to his chin, devilishly arching an eyebrow. "Grandfather says whoever trespasses into the Great Spirit's cave is never allowed to leave."
"Why's that?"
"Because if they do, the world will end." pg. 17-18
For the thousandth time, she wondered why they had all killed themselves. It reminded her of the story of the siege of Masada, where Jewish rebels had committed suicide rather than succumb to the Roman legion at their gate. pg. 35
Hidden in the shadows, the saboteur watched the three vanish into the tunnel. pg. 36
The brilliant flash blinded Hank. One moment he was shouting at Maggie, the next his vision went white. A clap of thunder tried to crush his skull, immediately deafening him. An icy shock wave knocked him back like a cold slap from God. He hit the ground on his back, then he felt a strange tug on his body, pulling him toward the explosion. pg. 50

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The Age of Miracles

The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker
Random House Publishing Group, June 2012
Advanced Reading Copy, 288 pages
ISBN-13: 9780812992977

Karen Thompson Walker’s The Age of Miracles is a luminous, haunting, and unforgettable debut novel about coming of age set against the backdrop of an utterly altered world.
On a seemingly ordinary Saturday in a California suburb, Julia and her family awake to discover, along with the rest of the world, that the rotation of the earth has suddenly begun to slow. The days and nights grow longer and longer, gravity is affected, the environment is thrown into disarray. Yet as she struggles to navigate an ever-shifting landscape, Julia is also coping with the normal disasters of everyday life—the fissures in her parents’ marriage, the loss of old friends, the hopeful anguish of first love, the bizarre behavior of her grandfather who, convinced of a government conspiracy, spends his days obsessively cataloging his possessions. As Julia adjusts to the new normal, the slowing inexorably continues.

My Thoughts:

In The Age of Miracles, Karen Thompson Walker's debut novel, Julia is an eleven year old living in a Southern California suburb and a sixth grader in middle school when it happened: the earth's rotation started to slow. "It was, at the beginning, a quite invisible catastrophe (pg. 12)" Julia recounts the surreal events occurring around her while she is navigating the tumultuous time of middle school/ junior high and puberty. In The Age of Miracles Julia is dealing with things that are endemic to her age, which are juxtaposed to the world wide catastrophe unfolding around her.  As the "slowing" increases, the lengthening of both the day and night, it baffles scientists, and there are more and more global repercussions.

I really enjoyed Julia as the narrator in The Age of Miracles. She's an observant, honest narrator. Her voice rang true. She is a quiet, observant girl, an only child who takes careful note of everything that is occurring around her. Yes, there are catastrophic changes happening, but, to someone her age, losing friends, getting a bra, or liking a boy can all feel just as earth shattering. She is dealing with the day to day realities while living with and observing the inexplicable world changing events of the slowing. She mentions events happening from the slowing, birds falling out of the sky and a division between the "real timers" versus the "clock timers," placed in the context of her daily life.

Rather than a traditional science fiction tale, The Age of Miracles is a coming-of-age story with a science fiction element to the plot. Julia is looking back, as an adult, telling the story of what happened to her when the slowing first started.  As Julia says: "This was middle school, the age of miracles, the time when kids shot up three inches over the summer, when breasts bloomed from nothing, when voices dipped and dove (pg. 43)." She's going to mention many of the disastrous details, but they are believably mixed with details from her life. It is reminiscent of people recalling where they were or what they were doing during any disaster. No matter the scale of the disaster, you look back at the before and after of the event through your eyes and your experiences. Changes or disasters, large and small, are all placed in the context of your life when you retell them. You try to make connections to make some sense of what you know is to come.

Julia observes: "And it sees to me now that the slowing triggered certain other changes too, less visible at first but deeper. It disrupted certain subtler trajectories: the track of friendships, for example, the paths toward and away from love. But who am I to say that the course of my childhood was not already set long before the slowing? Perhaps my adolescence was only an average adolescence, the stinging a quite unremarkable stinging. There is such a thing as coincidence: the alignment of two or more seemingly related events with no causal connection. Maybe everything that happened to me and my family had nothing at all to do with the slowing. It’s possible, I guess. But I doubt it. I doubt it very much (pg. 33-34).

Since The Age of Miracles is the story of one year in the life of someone who is an eleven-going-on-twelve-year-old girl, the age of the narrator would generally place this as a young adult novel, but a case could be made that it is more of an adult novel because it is an adult looking back. On the other hand, I could generally see a younger audience liking this novel too. Certainly Julia's concerns come across as realistic from someone that age. And, although there are disasters happening, they are not graphic or violent. The writing is simple, eloquent, and compelling.

The Age of Miracles is an exquisite debut novel. Very Highly Recommended
Karen Thompson Walker is a graduate of UCLA and the Columbia MFA program and a recipient of the 2011 Sirenland Fellowship as well as a Bomb magazine fiction prize. A former editor at Simon & Schuster, she wrote The Age of Miracles in the mornings before work. Born and raised in San Diego, she now lives in Brooklyn with her husband. The Age of Miracles is her first book.

Disclosure: I received an advanced reading copy of this book from the publisher and TLC Book Tours for review purposes . 


We didn’t notice right away. We couldn’t feel it.
We did not sense at first the extra time, bulging from the smooth edge of each day like a tumor blooming beneath skin. We were distracted back then by weather and war. We had no interest in the turning of the earth. Bombs continued to explode on the streets of distant countries. Hurricanes came and went. Summer ended. A new school year began. The clocks ticked as usual. Seconds beaded into minutes. Minutes grew into hours. And there was nothing to suggest that those hours, too, weren’t still pooling into days, each the same fixed length known to every human being. opening

On the sixth of October, the experts went public. This, of course, is the day we all remember. There’d been a change, they said, a slowing, and that’s what we called it from then on: the slowing.
“We have no way of knowing if this trend will continue,” said a shy bearded scientist at a hastily arranged press conference, now infamous. He cleared his throat and swallowed. Cameras flashed in his eyes. Then came the moment, replayed so often afterward that the particular cadences of that scientist’s speech—the dips and the pauses and that slight midwestern slant—would be forever married to the news itself. He went on: “But we suspect that it will continue.”
Our days had grown by fifty-six minutes in the night. At the beginning, people stood on street corners and shouted about the end of the world. Counselors came to talk to us at school. I remember watching Mr. Valencia next door fill up his garage with stacks of canned food and bottled water, as if preparing, it now seems to me, for a disaster much more minor.
The grocery stores were soon empty, the shelves sucked clean like chicken bones.
The freeways clogged immediately. People heard the news, and they wanted to move. Families piled into minivans and crossed state lines. They scurried in every direction like small animals caught suddenly under a light.
But, of course, there was nowhere on earth to go. pg. 4

The news broke on a Saturday.
In our house, at least, the change had gone unnoticed.
We were still asleep when the sun came up that morning, so we sensed nothing unusual in the timing of its rise. Those last few hours before we learned of the slowing remain preserved in my memory— even all these years later— as if trapped behind glass. pg. 5

My father would save that day’s paper for a long time afterward—packed away like an heirloom, folded neatly beside the newspaper from the day I was born.  pg. 6

We were Californians and thus accustomed to the motions of the earth. We understood that the ground could shift and shudder. We kept batteries in our flashlights and gallons of water in our closets. pg. 10

From inside, my mother called to us through the screen door, "Now they're saying it might be affecting gravity somehow." pg. 17

Later, I would come to think of those first days as the time when we learned as a species that we had worried over the wrong things: the hole in the ozone layer, the melting of the ice caps, West Nile and swine flu and killer bees. But I guess it never is what you worry over that comes to pass in the end. The real catastrophes are always different - unimagined, unprepared for, unknown. pg. 29

We were living under a new gravity, too subtle for our minds to register, but our bodies were already subject to its sway. pg. 33

And it sees to me now that the slowing triggered certain other changes too, less visible at first but deeper. It disrupted certain subtler trajectories: the track of friendships, for example, the paths toward and away from love. But who am I to say that the course of my childhood was not already set long before the slowing?. . . Maybe everything that happened to me and my family had nothing at all to do with the slowing. It’s possible, I guess. But I doubt it. I doubt it very much. pg. 33-34

Giveaway has ended.


Karen Thompson Walker’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS:

Monday, June 4th:  Layers of Thought
Tuesday, June 5th:  Book Drunkard
Wednesday, June 6th:  Rhapsody in Books
Thursday, June 7th:  A Chick Who Reads
Friday, June 8th:  Chick Lit Reviews and News
Monday, June 11th:  Reviews by Lola
Tuesday, June 12th:  Book Chatter
Wednesday, June 13th:  Alison’s Bookmarks
Thursday, June 14th:  Jenn’s Bookshelves
Monday, June 18th:  Inklings Read
Tuesday, June 19th:  Life in the Thumb
Wednesday, June 20th:  Under My Apple Tree
Thursday, June 21st:  Twisting the Lens
Monday, June 25th:  Taming the Bookshelf
Tuesday, June 26th:  Stephanie’s Written Word
Wednesday, June 27th:  Jen’s Book Den & Literary Review
Thursday, June 28th:  Conceptual Reception
Monday, July 2nd:  Hopelessly Devoted Bibliophile
Tuesday, July 3rd:  It’s a Crazy, Beautiful Life
Thursday, July 5th:  The Brain Lair
Monday, July 9th:  Great Imaginations
Tuesday, July 10th:  Sweet Southern Home
Wednesday, July 11th:  The Scarlet Letter
Thursday, July 12th:  In the Next Room
Monday, July 16th:  Regular Rumination
Tuesday, July 17th:  She Treads Softly
Wednesday, July 18th:  Book Addict Katie
Thursday, July 19th:  Fiction State of Mind
Monday, July 23rd:  Unabridged Chick
Tuesday, July 24th:  Peeking Between the Pages
Wednesday, July 25th:  Ashley Loves Books
Thursday, July 26th:  Becky’s Book Reviews

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Safe People

Safe People by Henry Cloud and John Townsend
Zondervan, Copyright 1995
Trade Paperbacks, 208 pages
ISBN-13: 9780310210849

Drs. Henry Cloud and John Townsend offer solid guidance for making safe choices in relationships, from friendships to romance. They help identify the nurturing people we all need in our lives, as well as ones we need to learn to avoid. Safe People will help you to recognize 20 traits of relationally untrustworthy people. Discover what makes some people relationally safe, and how to avoid unhealthy entanglements. You'll learn about things within yourself that jeopardize your relational security. And you'll find out what to do and what not to do to develop a balanced, healthy approach to relationships.

My Thoughts:
Safe People: How to Find Relationships That Are Good for You and Avoid Those That Aren't by Henry Cloud and John Townsend deals with the problem of character discernment. Cloud and Townsend write, "Safe people are individuals who draw us closer to being the people God intended us to be. Though not perfect, they are ‘good enough’ in their own character that the net effect of their presence in our lives is positive. They are accepting, honest, and present, and they help us bear good fruit in our lives (pg. 11)."  The goal of Safe People is two fold. First, it will help us find and recognize safe and unsafe people. Second, it will also help us recognize areas in our lives where we are unsafe and help us become a safe person.
The book is divided up into three sections. In the introduction it says:
"In Part 1, 'Unsafe People,' you'll learn who unsafe people are and the twenty identifying traits of unsafe people (chapters 1-4).
In Part 2, 'Do I Attract Unsafe People?' you'll get a picture of the origin of the problem: why you currently choose the wrong people, and how to repair this problem (chapters 5-8).
In Part 3, 'Safe People,' you will learn more about what safe people are and why you need them. You will also receive practical help on successfully meeting and relating to safe people.
We designed this book to help you look both outside and inside yourself. (pg. 12)"

If you are open to honestly examining yourself, your relationships and your actions, Safe People will definitely give you a greater understanding of your role in interpersonal relationships. It is a Christian faith-based book.  I thought it was very convicting to examine the relationships I have and the role I take in them. Along with Cloud and Townsend's book Boundaries, it has the potential to be a powerful tool, especially for a Christian's recovery from various problems. A friend recommended this book to me and I appreciate that.  While I really liked Safe People, in many ways I thought Boundaries was more beneficial for me personally, but Safe People is still very highly recommended and I'm glad I read it.
 Table of Contents
Part One Unsafe People
1. What Is an Unsafe Person?
2. Personal Traits of Unsafe People
3. Interpersonal Traits of Unsafe People
4. How We Lost Our Safety
Part Two Do I Attract Unsafe People?
5. Do I Have a 'Safety Deficit'?
6. Why Do I Choose Unsafe Relationships?
7. False Solutions
8. Why Do I Isolate Myself from People?

Part Three Safe People
9. What Are Safe People?
10. Why Do We Need Safe People?
11. Where Are the Safe People?
12. Learning How to Be Safe
13. Should I Repair or Replace?


Have you ever said any of the following things to yourself?
How can I learn to pick better friends?
Why do I chose people who let me down?
How did I end up with this critical boss?
How do I attract irresponsible people?
Why did I invest money with that unscrupulous person?
What is it about me that draws the wrong types to me?
Why am I drawn to the wrong types?
If you have, then this book is for you. It deals with the problem of character discernment, a skill that many of us lack. opening, introduction

Safe people are individuals who draw us closer to being the people God intended us to be. Though not perfect, they are ‘good enough’ in their own character that the net effect of their presence in our lives is positive. They are accepting, honest, and present, and they help us bear good fruit in our lives. pg. 11
This is one of the marks of a truly safe person: they are confrontable. pg. 31
Repentant people will recognize a wrong and really want to change because they do not want to be that kind of person. They are motivated by love to not hurt anyone like that again. These are trustworthy people because they are on the road to holiness and change, and their behavior matters to them. pg. 33
It is a sad commentary that some husbands and wives are more disturbed by the fact that their spouse won't trust them than they are at whatever they had done to create that level of mistrust. pg. 36
Unsafe people do not do that hard work. They stay angry, stuck and bitter, sometimes for life. When they feel upset, they see others as the cause, and others as the ones who have to do all the changing. When they are abused, they hold on to it with a vengeance and spew hatred for the rest of their lives. When they are hurt, they wear it like a badge. And worst of all, when they are wrong, they blame it on others. pg. 37
If unsafe people are self-centered, safe people are relationship-centered. And that priority shows itself in the all-important action of empathy. pg. 44
Unsafe people condemn us instead of forgiving us. pg. 49
People who feel they are entitled to something are self-absorbed and grandiose. pg. 68

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Gone Girl

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
Crown Publishing Group, June 2012
Hardcover, 432 pages
ISBN-13: 9780307588364
Marriage can be a real killer. 
   ...Gillian Flynn takes that statement to its darkest place in this unputdownable masterpiece about a marriage gone terribly, terribly wrong.   
On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick’s clever and beautiful wife disappears from their rented McMansion on the Mississippi River. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn’t doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife’s head, but passages from Amy's diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media—as well as Amy’s fiercely doting parents—the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he’s definitely bitter—but is he really a killer?
   As the cops close in, every couple in town is soon wondering how well they know the one that they love. With his twin sister, Margo, at his side, Nick stands by his innocence. Trouble is, if Nick didn’t do it, where is that beautiful wife? And what was in that silvery gift box hidden in the back of her bedroom closet?
   With her razor-sharp writing and trademark psychological insight, Gillian Flynn delivers a fast-paced, devilishly dark, and ingeniously plotted thriller that confirms her status as one of the hottest writers around.

My Thoughts:
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn is the story of a marriage gone wrong. Both Nick and Amy have recently lost their jobs and moved from New York City to North Carthage, Missouri, in order to care for Nick's dying mother. As the novel opens, Nick and Amy are supposed to be celebrating their fifth wedding anniversary. Instead Amy has disappeared under suspicious circumstances and all the evidence makes Nick looks guilty. As the media attention increases on Nick, he pleads for his wife to come home, but citizens of his home town as well as the country are sure Nick is guilty of foul play in Amy's disappearance.
Chapter's alternate between Nick and Amy. Nick's chapters follow a current time line and the ongoing criminal investigation. In the first section Amy's chapters start out as diary entries that begin back before they were married and continue up to her disappearance. 
In this psychological thriller, the writing is stunning, clever, subtle, witty, and chillingly suspenseful. Just when I thought I had things figured out, there was a twist... and another... and another. The plot is incredibly layered and the truth is slowly revealed. The characters are all well developed, multidimensional and complex individuals with faults and strengths, just like real people. Just when you know you love or hate a character, Flynn will add yet another dimension to them and change your preconceived ideas of what is going on. This is story-telling at it's finest.
I read Gone Girl  in a day not because it was a quick read, but because it is that good. Between the exceptional writing and the phenomenal plot Girl Gone is sure to make my top ten reads of 2012. Read it. And, if you haven't done so already, read Gillian Flynn's earlier novels: Dark Places and Sharp Objects.
Very Highly Recommended - one of the best

Nick Dunne:
When I think of my wife, I always think of her head. The shape of it, to begin with. The very first time I saw her, it was the back of the head I saw, and there was something lovely about it, the angles of it. Like a shiny, hard corn kernel or a riverbed fossil. She had what the Victorians would call finely shaped head. You could imagine the skull quite easily. opening

I simply assumed I would bundle up my New York wife with her New York interests, her New York pride, and remove her from her New York parents— leave the frantic, thrilling futureland of Manhattan behind— and transplant her to a little town on the river in Missouri, and all would be fine.

I did not yet understand how foolish, how optimistic, how, yes, just like Nick I was for thinking this. The misery it would lead to. pg. 6

There’s something disturbing about recalling a warm memory and feeling utterly cold. pg. 7
Amy Elliot
January 8, 2005: I met a boy, a great, gorgeous dude, a funny, cool-ass guy. pg. 10
"Go firmly believes that I got the best of everything from our parents, that I was the boy they planned on, the single child they could afford, and that she sneaked into this world by clamping onto my ankle, an unwanted stranger. (For my dad, a particularly unwanted stranger.) pg. 16
My wife loved games, mostly mind games, but also actual games of amusement, and for our anniversary she always set up an elaborate treasure hunt, with each clue leading to the hiding place of the next clue until I reached the end, and my present. pg. 18
No, Amy and Go were never going to be friends. They were each too territorial. Go was used to being the alpha girl in my life, Amy was used to being the alpha girl in everyone's life. pg. 20
She wasn't on the water, she wasn't in the house. Amy was not there.
Amy was gone. pg. 24
And there was the living room, signs pointing to a struggle. pg. 31
It was my fifth lie to the police. I was just starting. pg. 37
"We don't want to freak you out," Gilpin added. "We just want to cover all the bases."
"Fine by me." It's always the husband, I thought. Everyone knows it's always the husband, so why can't they just say it: We suspect you because you are the husband, and it's always the husband. Just watch Dateline. pg. 43
My father had infused my childhood with unspoken blame; he was the kind of man who skulked around looking for things to be angry at. This had turned Go defensive and extremely unlikely to take unwarranted sh*t. It had turned me into a knee-jerk suck-up to authority. pg. 43-44
These messages and orders brought to you by my father, a mid-level phone-company manager who treated my mother at best like an incompetent employee. At worst? He never beat her, but his pure, inarticulate fury would fill the house for days, weeks, at a time, making the air humid, hard to breathe, my father stalking around with his lower jaw jutting out, giving him the look of a wounded, vengeful boxer, grinding his teeth so loud you could hear it across the room. Throwing things near her but not exactly at her. I'm sure he told himself: I never hit her. I'm sure because of this technicality he never saw himself as an abuser. But he turned our family into an endless road trip with bad directions and a rage-clenched driver, a vacation that never got the chance to be fun. Don't make me turn this car around. Please, really, turn it around. pg. 60

Friday, July 6, 2012

Earth Unaware: the First Formic War

Earth Unaware: the First Formic War
by Orson Scott Card and Aaron Johnston
Tor Books, July 2012
Kindle edition, 368 pages (hardcover)
ISBN 978-0-7653- 2904- 2

The mining ship El Cavador is far out from Earth, in the deeps of the Kuiper Belt, beyond Pluto. Other mining ships, and the families that live on them, are few and far between this far out. So when El Cavador’s telescopes pick up a fast-moving object coming in-system, it’s hard to know what to make of it. It’s massive and moving at a significant fraction of the speed of light.
El Cavador has other problems. Their systems are old and failing. The family is getting too big for the ship. There are claim-jumping corporate ships bringing Asteroid Belt tactics to the Kuiper Belt. Worrying about a distant object that might or might not be an alien ship seems…not important.
They're wrong. It's the most important thing that has happened to the human race in a million years. The first Formic War is about to begin.

My Thoughts:
Earth Unaware: the First Formic War by Orson Scott Card and Aaron Johnston is the first book that launches an Ender prequel trilogy.  It covers the time directly before the Formics arrived in our solar system. For those of you who read comics, the Earth Unaware series is supposed to cover the material found in the Marvel Comics Formic War series.
The novel follows three different story lines but focuses mainly on the free mining families on the Venezuelan ship El Cavador, especially seventeen year old Victor. It also follows Lem Jukes, son of wealthy and influential Ukko Jukes, on a Juke Limited corporate ship that attacks the El Cavador during a claim jump on their mine. In a more limited narrative, it follows Wit O’Toole, the head of an elite international peacekeeping force called the Mobile Operations Police (MOPs), as he seeks and trains new recruits for his team.
When the residents on the El Cavador discover an alien ship, they know that those in the Kuiper Belt region of space must work together to find out what this means to humankind. Due to the claim jumping attack by Juke, their long-range communications are down and they must take desperate measures to try and spread the news as well as stop the aliens.
Although this is a prequel to the Ender's series, it also works well as a first novel in a series. That may be a catch for some readers who like to read a series in its entirety all at once, because, at the end, you definitely know it is a series to be continued.  I'm not familiar with Johnston as a writer for Marvel, but Card is a proven writer who can deftly handle multiple storylines while creating well-developed, believable characters. Clearly that is present and the plot was very compelling. Fans following the Enders series will naturally want to start this prequel trilogy.
Earth Unaware: the First Formic War is Highly Recommended

Disclosure: My Kindle edition was courtesy of Tor Books and Netgalley for review purposes.

Victor didn’t go to the airlock to see Alejandra leave the family forever, to marry into the Italian clan. He didn’t trust himself to say good-bye to his best friend, not without revealing how close he had come to disgracing the family by falling in love with someone in his own asteroid-mining ship. opening

“But we haven’t done anything wrong,” said Victor.
“You two are second cousins, Victor. We would never be able to trade with the other families if we suddenly developed a reputation for dogging.” Dogging, from endogamy: marrying inside the clan, inbreeding. The word was like a slap.
“Dogging? But I would never in a million years marry Alejandra. Location 45-47

The stabilizer was a quick install. It was just a matter of bolting it in and plugging it in to one of the drill’s mod outlets. Most big machines allotted a certain number of modifications and had built-in power outlets and boards to accommodate them. Victor would have to reboot the drill before it recognized the stabilizer, but his lifeline carried hardware lines to the ship, and he could do it from here using his heads-up display. He blinked and called up the display. The helmet tracked his eyes, and Victor gave the necessary blink commands to reboot the drill. Location 238-242

“So Alejandra is starry eyed and naïve.”
“Not at all. I suspect she will think of you for the rest of her life. She’s far more mature at sixteen than I was at eighteen. My point is you’re not a villain, Vico. I know you. You’ll beat yourself up over this, and you shouldn’t. She’s your second cousin. Any place on Earth, you could have married, and no one would have batted an eye.”
“Maybe that’s because there are more sick and twisted dirtbags on Earth.”
Isabella laughed. “They’re human, Vico. Just like us. We can’t help it if we hold ourselves to a higher standard.” Location 313-317

I need to get out, he realized. Go to Luna perhaps. Or Earth or Mars. He didn’t know how to make it happen, but he knew in that instant that it must. Location 324-325

“It’s slowing down?” said Victor.
“Natural objects in space don’t slow down on their own, Mar.”
“No, they don’t. And when I say it’s moving fast, Vico, I mean fast. Fifty percent of lightspeed fast. Interstellar objects don’t go that fast, they don’t bend without a gravity well, and they don’t decelerate. So tell me, am I going to get teased for this?”
“I don’t think so,” said Victor.
“I should forget about it?”
“Edimar, I think we’re looking at a spacecraft.”
“Nothing goes that fast.”
“Nothing made by humans.”
At his words, Edimar visibly relaxed and a silly grin came to her face. “So I’m not crazy to think we’ve got us an alien starship? A near-lightspeed ship coming into our system and slowing down?”
“Either it’s a lightspeed ship or somebody repealed a whole bunch of laws of physics. And either it’s alien or some corporation or government is experimenting with a technology so advanced it will make them masters of the universe.”
“So I should call a grown-up.”
“You should call the Council. Or I will. This isn’t just important, it’s so important that they’ve got to make decisions about it right away.”
“What’s the hurry?”  Location 393-401

“Why aren’t you running your own corporation? You’ve certainly had plenty of opportunities to do so. You helped launch four IPOs before your twentieth birthday, you took nine different divisions and companies from the brink of bankruptcy into the black, and the rumor is that you’ve built a private investment empire that knows few equals. And yet here you are, heading up a testing expedition in the Kuiper Belt. Your father doesn’t always make decisions based on résumés.”
“I took this job, Dr. Benyawe, because I believe in the gravity laser.”
“But this test is dangerous. If it works wrong on a massy object like an asteroid, this ship could simply disappear.”
“I’m willing to take risks. Is Dublin?”
“Maybe Dublin was given strict instructions by your father to make sure you came home alive.” Location 504-510

Lem didn’t doubt his Father’s love. He doubted the pure, distilled form of it. That was something Lem had never seen. Location 525-526

What had Father said? “Guilt is the greatest weapon because its cuts rarely heal and it aims for the heart.” Location 4147

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The Hand That First Held Mine

The Hand That First Held Mine by Maggie O'Farrell
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2010
Hardcover, 341 pages
ISBN-13: 9780547330792
From the best-selling author of The Vanishing of Esme Lennox comes a spellbinding novel that shows there are no accidents, in life and in love.
Frustrated with her parents' genteel country life, Lexie Sinclair plans her escape to London. There, she takes up with Innes Kent, a magazine editor who introduces her to the thrilling, underground world of bohemian, postwar Soho. She learns to be a reporter, comes to know art and artists, and embraces her freedom fully. So when she finds herself pregnant, she doesn't hesitate to have the baby on her own. Later, in present-day London, a young painter named Elina dizzily navigates the first weeks of motherhood and finds she can't remember giving birth, while her boyfriend Ted is flooded with memories and images he cannot place. As their stories unfold—moving in time and changing voice chapter by chapter—a connection between the three of them takes shape that drives the novel towards a tremendous revelation. Praised by The Washington Post as a “breathtaking, heart-breaking creation,” The Hand That First Held Mine is a gorgeous and tenderly wrought story about the ways in which love and beauty bind us together.

My Thoughts:

The Hand That First Held Mine by Maggie O'Farrell follows the lives of two women whose lives are separated by fifty years. Lexie Sinclair is living in 1950's London while Elina Vilkuna is living in present-day London. For most of the novel the lives of the two women are separate, but as most readers will predict, a connection between the two women is revealed late in the novel.
We meet Lexie (Alexandra) Sinclair first, as she meets the love of her life Innes Kent. Lexie leaves her family home and moves to London where she ends up working for Innes and becomes a journalist/writer for his magazine. She becomes a knowledgeable art critic and eventually makes her own way in the world. We meet Ted, a film editor, and Elina, an artist, right after she has given birth to a son. It was a difficult delivery, almost fatal, and Elina is having a difficult time remembering what happened and is struggling to care for a newborn and recover. The difficult birth of his son and almost losing Elina triggers suppressed memories that begin to plague Ted's life.
The Hand That First Held Mine explores the complex relationship between mothers and their children, love, and art, as well as the roles of women in the 1950's-60's versus today. Both Lexie and Elina are unwed mothers, but what that means is very different based on the decades separating them. O'Farrell manages to create two complex character-driven plot lines that explore relationships. The narrative following Lexie Sinclair is strong throughout the whole novel, while that of Elina and Ted starts out weak, but gets better later in the novel. (The cover on the hardcover edition of this novel is great - a picture on a translucent cover while another picture on the cover of the book shows through.) Highly Recommended


Listen. The trees in this story are stirring, trembling, readjusting themselves. A breeze is coming in gusts off the sea, and it is almost as if the trees know, in their restlessness, in their head-tossing impatience, that something is about to happen. opening

Alexandra does not - cannot - know the proximity of Innes Kent. She doesn't know that he is coming, getting ever closer with every passing second, walking in his hand-made shoes along the roads that separate them, the distance between them shrinking with every wellshod step. Life as she will know it is about to begin but she is absorbed, finally, in her reading, in a long-dead man's struggle with mortality. pg. 6

'Running,' Alexandra replies, drawing herself up to her full height, 'but not away. You can't run away from home if you've already left. I've been away at university.' She takes a draw on her cigarette, glances towards the house, then back at the man. 'Actually, I was sent down and-'
'From university?' the man cuts in, cigarette halfway to his mouth.
'How very dramatic. For what crime?'
'For no crime at all,' she returns, rather more heatedly than necessary because the injustice of it still stings. 'I was walking out of an exam and I came out of a door reserved for men. I'm not allowed to graduate unless I apologise. They,' she nods again at the house, 'didn't even want me to go to university in the first place but now they're not speaking to me until I go back and apologise.'
The man is looking at her as if committing her to memory. The stitching on his shirt is in blue cotton, she notices, the cuffs and the collar. 'And are you going to apologise?'
She flicks ash from her cigarette and shakes her head. 'I don't see why I should. I didn't even know it was only for men. There was no sign. And I said to them, “Well, where's the door for women?” and they said there wasn't one. So why should I say sorry?'
'Quite. Never say sorry unless you are sorry.' They smoke for a moment, not looking at each other. 'So,' the man says, eventually, 'what are you going to do in London?'
'I'm going to work of course. Though I might not get a job,' she says, suddenly despondent. 'Someone told me that for secretarial work you need a typing speed of sixty words per minute and I'm currently up to about three.' pg. 9-10
'When?' she says. 'When did I have it?'
'...El, are you - ' he stops himself, rubs a hand over his face, then says, in a more level voice, 'Four days ago. You had three days of labour and then... and then he came. You came out of hospital last night. You discharged yourself.'
There is a pause. Elina thinks about what Ted has said. She lays out the facts with which he has provided here, side by side, in her head. Hospital, baby, discharged, three days of labour. She considers the idea of three days and she considers the pain in her abdomen but decides not to mention it now. pg. 16
He wishes he could forget what has happened, like he forgets so many other things. He wishes he could take a cloth to it and rub it out; he wishes he could pull a screen or blind down over it; he wishes that every time he looked at her he didn't see the thinness of her skin, the unbearable fragility of her veins, how easy they would be to puncture. Most of all he wishes it had never happened. He wishes she were still pregnant, sitting here beside him, that the baby was still in her, that they were both safe and she was still complete. pg. 37
She has no idea that she will die young, that she will not have as much time as she thinks. For now she has just discovered the love of her life, and death couldn't be further from her mind. pg. 50

Monday, July 2, 2012

Moonlight Mile

Moonlight Mile by Dennis Lehane
HarperCollins, 2010
Hardcover, 324 pages  
ISBN-13: 9780061836923
Patrick Kenzie and Angela Gennaro Series #6

Amanda McCready was four years old when she vanished from her blue-collar Boston neighborhood. Patrick Kenzie and Angela Gennaro risked everything to find her, only to orchestrate her return to a neglectful mother and broken home. Twelve years later, Amanda, now sixteen, is gone again.
Still haunted by their consciences, Kenzie and Gennaro must now revisit the nightmare that once tore them apart. Following the trail of a lost teenager into a world of identity thieves, methamphetamine dealers, and Russian gangsters, they once again put everything that matters to them on the line in pursuit of an answer to a troubling question: Is it possible to do the right thing and still be dead wrong?

My Thoughts:
Moonlight Mile by Dennis Lehane is the sixth book in the series featuring Boston Private Investigators Patrick Kenzie and Angela Gennaro. In Moonlight Mile Patrick and Angela must again search for Amanda McCready. Amanda, the four year old they searched for twelve years earlier in Lehane's Gone, Baby, Gone (1998), is now sixteen and missing again. The outcome of the previous case has continued to haunted Patrick and Angela, now married with a four year old daughter.
While in many ways this novel is predictable, it is entertaining and very well written. You can appreciate it and follow the story just fine without reading any of the previous novels following these characters. This is highly recommended.

On a bright, unseasonably warm afternoon in early December, Brandon Trescott walked out of the spa at the Chatham Bars Inn on Cape Cod and got into a taxi. A pesky series of DUIs had cost him the right to operate a motor vehicle in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts for the next thirty-three months, so Brandon always took cabs. The twenty-five-year-old trust-fund baby of a superior court judge mother and a local media mogul father, Brandon wasn't your run-of-the-mill rich kid a--hole. He worked double shifts at it. By the time the state finally suspended his license, he was on his fourth DUI. The first two had been pled down to reckless driving, the third had brought him a stern warning, but the fourth had resulted in injury to someone besides Brandon, who escaped without a scratch. opening

I left the kitchen. "Best of luck, Brandon." Halfway down the stairs, I stopped. "By the way, Dominique's not coming." I turned back toward the top of the stairs and leaned my elbow on the railing. "And, oh yeah, her name's not Dominique."
His flip-flops made a sloppy-wet-kiss noise as he crossed the floorboards and appeared in the doorway above me. "How do you know?"
"Because she works for me, dumb---." pg. 12
"I'm sucking it up, Ange, and doing jobs I don't like for a company I'm not terribly in love with so that eventually I can get hired permanent and we can get insurance and benefits and a paid vacation. I don't like it any more than you do but until you finish school and get a job again, I don't know what else I can do or ....say that will change things." pg. 18
A long time ago - a lifetime ago - her niece had been kidnapped. I'd found her and returned her to the home she shared with her mother, Bea's sister-in-law, Helene, even though Helene was not what you'd call a natural-born mother. pg. 23
"You think you're wearing that nice suit, but all I see you wearing is class rage. It's draped over you. And our clients see it, too. Why do you think you've never met Big D?" pg. 36
My father was never lucky; his rage and hatred and all-consuming narcissism - all of it unfathomable, even now, twenty-five years after his death - had robbed him of his family. pg. 322