Thursday, January 10, 2013

2 Little Birds Leave the Nest

The last few days have been a say the least.  
We moved our oldest daughter into an apartment in another town this past weekend, and our middle daughter moved into the dorms on our campus this past Tuesday. 

These two whippersnappers.
On their own.

I really was ok with it all until Sunday night when I realized furniture was leaving this time too.
That seemed a little more permanent.  
The reality is that even if they do come home briefly from time to time or even to move back in for a while, they will never be my little girls anymore.
I promise I'm not being dramatic.
Just facing reality.

I'm proud of both of them. 
So proud.

Does anybody have a xanax?
Just kidding (kinda) ;)

The youngest has big plans for the side of our house that now belongs to her...and her only.  I'll have to keep a close eye on that one!

Monday, January 7, 2013

TLC Book Review - Into the Darkest Corner

Into the Darkest Corner by Elizabeth Haynes
Harper Collins, 2011

Format? oversized paperback
Source? the publisher via TLC Book Tours
**FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of Into the Darkest Corner from the publisher; however, the review and opinions below are mine and offered without bias.

Title? perfect...Cathy's PTSD/OCD controls her life to the point that the darkest corner is where she retreats when the panic consumes her.
Cover? also perfect...Cathy obsessively checks the locks on her doors...for a very good reason.

Why?  The OCD theme is what interested me the most about this book...and that it's described as a psychological thriller. 

Reminded of?  "Sleeping with the Enemy"
What Now? I'm gonna hold onto this one.  It's not really a"keeper" per se, but there's a lot of psychology worth holding onto here.

Golden Lines

He stood motionless, one hand on the shovel, watching the blood flow out of her and marveling at its glorious color, a liquid jewel, and at how even at the moment of death she was still the most beautiful woman he'd ever seen. (9)

So, it was Saturday again, and an odd-numbered day, and I'd run out of bread and teabags.  The teabag issue was a big one, because tea is another important rule, particularly at weekends.  I know that if I don't have cups of tea at eight, ten, four, and eight o'clock I will grow incresingly anxious, both from the failure to get things right, and probably from the lack of caffeine. (28)

I went to see him, wearing that red satin dress.  His face when he saw me was incredible.  I gave him a smile and a wink as I passed him going into the club.  Through the night, dancing with people I knew, chatting at the bar with some people I hadn't seen for a few months, then later on when Claire and Louise turned up, I kept seeing his face in the crowd, at th edge of the dance floor, watching me. (65)

Until Christmas, everything was fine. (109)

"I just wanted to say - er - thanks.  For last night.  For - you know.  Not coming in.  For turning me down.  I'm sorry, I think the wine went to my head a bit."
He looked confused.  "I didn't turn you down."
"What?" I said.  "Didn't you?"
He took a step toward me, and put one hand on my upper arm, the way he'd done that night to calm me down.  "No, I didn't. I just didn't take advantage of you."
"Isn't that the same thing?"
"No, it's not the same thing at all.  I wouldn't have turned you down." (131)

"Cathy, you don't need me to reassure you.  You are going to get your condition under control.  If I keep getting involved with your checking rituals, even by waiting for you to do them, you're not going to be as motivated to work at it." (146)
I put my hand against my mouth to stop - what?  A scream?  There was nobody left now.  Nobody at all.  It was just him, and me. (213)

"Catherine," he said, his voice low, shockingly calm.  "Don't make me do that again, okay?   Just come home on time, or let me know where you're going.  It's simple.  It's for your own safety.   There are some really dangerous people out there.  I'm the only one who's looking out for you, you know that, don't you?  So make it easy for yourself and do as you're told." (216)

I spent the next hour or so going over the house again, tears pouring down my cheeks, looking for the way he'd gotten in, and I never found it.
That night was my first panic attack, the first of many. (249)


Catherine meets Lee.  He's exciting, sexy, drop dead gorgeous...and dangerous.  By the time Catherine realizes she's in trouble, it's too late.  Lee has infiltrated her friends, and no one believes her.  She has to get away from him...but how.  If she fails, she knows he'll kill her.
Fast forward three years.
Cathy has changed her name and is in hiding, suffering from a serious case of OCD as a result of the psychological and physical trauma she experienced in her relationship with Lee.   As she takes real steps to overcome her condition, Lee is released from prison.  Is he watching her?  Or is it another hallucination?
How does she continue making progress dealing with irrational threats...if her most feared threat may actually be rational?
Hold on to your seats.

What I Liked

The time shifts...back and forth between present and past.  At first I wasn't sure if I would like it or not, but I ended up really enjoying the break in the tension...a chance to shift from just a thriller to the analysis of the thrill...if that makes any sense at all. 

LOVE that Stuart is a perfect to see not just the clinical side of Cathy's issues but the personal as well...with someone who can truly support and understand her.

It's no spoiler that the villain of this novel is Lee...and let me tell you, he is a villain of all villains...I have caught myself many times wondering why women who are battered stay with their abusers.  Lee is an extreme (I hope) example of why, but I sure get it now.  Shivers.

Cathy is a brash young woman on her own...she gets herself into a mess...a HUGE one...but then she works incredibly hard to survive and go on with her life.  At first I judged her.  She spends a lot of time partying...and partying hard.  But, later in the novel her whole puzzle comes together and I could see how she might have unconsciously made choices that weren't the best.  The psychology, trauma, death, themes are imbedded throughout and paint a rich picture of how the human mind responds to certain events in life. 

The End - I didn't see it coming...and I did sneak a peek. 

Gives you just enough information just at the right times...there are just enough twists and turns to keep your mind active and then the holes get filled in at just the right times. 

The vivid descriptions of panic attacks and Cathy's "checking" routines.  These are very obviously written by someone who knows and understands the psychology behind them.

What I Didn't Like

Lee - Dear young women everywhere, #1 Any man who seems too good to be true...probably is. #2 If a guy you just met sets off your common sense alarm, turn the other way and run like hell.

Cathy's friends - supposedly these characters were Cathy's best, lifelong friends, yet they constantly engaged in dangerous behaviors and encouraged her to join them (which she did of her own free will), but when the time came to support her, none of them followed through.  Who needs enemies with friends like this?

Overall Recommendation

If narratives that delve into mental illness, panic attacks, domestic abuse, fear...both irrational and rational, psychotic boyfriends, psychology and young adult life in London interest you at all, this is your next read. 

The Author

ELIZABETH HAYNES is a police intelligence analyst. She started writing fiction in 2006 with the annual challenge of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) and the encouragement of the creative writing courses at West Dean College. She lives in a village near Maidstone, Kent, with her husband and son. - TLC Website

Other Stops on the Tour

Wednesday, January 2nd: Mockingbird Hill Cottage
Thursday, January 3rd: Booked on a Feeling
Monday, January 7th: Peppermint PhD
Tuesday, January 8th: Drey’s Library
Wednesday, January 9th: Tina’s Book Reviews
Thursday, January 10th: The Blog of Lit Wits
Thursday, January 17th: Sara’s Organized Chaos
Monday, January 21st: All Grown Up?
Tuesday, January 22nd: Kristina’s Favorites
Wednesday, January 23rd: Seaside Book Corner
Thursday, January 24th: Bookworm Meets Bookworm
Monday, January 28th: Kelly’s [Former] France Blog
Tuesday, January 29th: Proud Book Nerd
Wednesday, January 30th: Literary Feline
Thursday, January 31st: It’s a Crazy, Beautiful Life
Monday, February 4th: Books in the Burbs
Tuesday, February 5th: Book Journey

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Sunday Salon

Today ends the marathon Christmas holiday that didn't really seem like a holiday to me.  I've honestly struggled some over the break...I've actually struggled more than some, to be completely honest. 
 I had already reached that place of thinking Christmas (what it's become) has just gone completely wacko and out of control and was struggling with how to get our family's lives back on track with what believe are the real reasons behind Christmas, when those precious souls were killed in Newtown, CT.  

I feel guilty for telling you about how bad I've felt for the last 3 weeks...who am I to feel bad???  
I wasn't one of those families who buried their babies, their moms, their sisters, their daughters, their wives.  Why did I feel so bad?

I feel bad because I am a mother, a sister, a wife, and a daughter...and I have 3 babies of my own. I want this world to be a better place for all of us; I believe in peace; I believe the best in most people and am willing to also forgive most.  I was shaken to the core by the Newtown tragedy and then even more so reading some of the conversations that occurred forced to really think about who and what I believe. I retreated for a while and even bought myself a new bible to study.  I helped where I could via the most loving Newtown community organizations who have rallied behind the families and are currently locking arms and taking the next steps forward.  I also let myself grieve...not always in the healthiest ways...but I gave myself a break.  I've read books, magazines, taken more than a few naps, watched movies, cooked some, ate out some, worn sweatpants every day and even spent a few days in my p.j.s (ok, ok, so more than a few days).  I haven't left my house much.
But, that's ok.

I realized today after reading the article below from the NY Times earlier this week, that it has actually helped  me to work through my own emotional struggle to keep track of how Newtown is working through its grief.  
As we prepare to jump back on our roller coaster ride of a life tomorrow with the firstborn leaving home again today and the middle child leaving home (for the first time) on Tuesday, I've realized a few things about myself:  

I still believe in my God.  My God is good, and He sent His son Jesus Christ to save us.  That's all He wants. That is His only agenda.  
I still believe in peace.  Everywhere.  All the time.  This isn't a political agenda for me; it's just the way I believe things are supposed to be.  
I still believe there are good people in this world.  I forgot for a few days.  I really did.  
I still believe that the good people pick each other up when the chips are down...and that it's ok to forgive even those we find most difficult to forgive.  
I am not perfect.  Not even close.  
I don't have all the answers (don't tell my husband I said that).  And, nobody else does either.
Some days are about simply putting one foot in front of the other and keep on keeping on.

I'm rallying behind Newtown to turn darkness into light. and will continue following and praying for the entire community's progress.

After spending 3 weeks as a hermit :P I have made some decisions for how I'd like to go forward in them resolutions if you will, but I hope they're more than just that.  Once I kinda walk through them this week, I'll be happy to share them hopefully by next Sunday.  

One thing I'm looking forward to is tonight's season 3 showing of Downton Abbey.  I was a latecomer to this series but can't get enough of the Granthams!  I'm a huge fan of Elizabeth McGovern so I'm not so wrapped up in the romance of the show but the history, the lifestyle and the wealthy American heiress who is happily married to an English Lord.  Of course, I'm also highly interested in the way she mothers her 3 daughters :)

Well said, Lady Cora; well said.