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22 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A story that grabs you and doesn't let go
This is one of those books that got me so involved that I spent every spare minute trying to find out what would happen next. I read it in two days rather than one, only because I had to work and take of home and family, but went straight back to the book every chance I had. It was a frightening, all too possible scenario about a flu pandemic called H5N1 that sweeps the...
Published on February 5, 2010 by PT Cruiser

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16 of 20 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A promising story, but ultimately disappointing
Carla Buckley's debut novel arrived with a significant amount of hype (buzz, if you prefer) and a plot that sounded interesting, so I was eager to give it a shot. The story, about the aftermath of a virus outbreak and the toll is takes on a family, is potentially a good one. Unfortunately, the execution just doesn't do it justice. The plot is too predictable, the...
Published on May 27, 2010 by David Montgomery


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22 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A story that grabs you and doesn't let go, February 5, 2010
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This is one of those books that got me so involved that I spent every spare minute trying to find out what would happen next. I read it in two days rather than one, only because I had to work and take of home and family, but went straight back to the book every chance I had. It was a frightening, all too possible scenario about a flu pandemic called H5N1 that sweeps the world, seen through the eyes of one family in Columbus, Ohio. Much of it takes place within their home. There were times when reading it was so stressful, I almost wanted to stop, but just had to find out what would happen next to this family that I became very well acquainted with within the first few chapters. I just had to keep reading, hoping that they would pull through this horrible situation, all intact and that things would eventually get better. It was definitely one of those books where all you can think about is the light at the end of the tunnel.

The family consists of a mother, her two young children, 8 and 13 and her soon to be ex-husband who ends up coming back to their home with his research assistant, a smart and beautiful young woman from Egypt who works with him at the university. The technical details of the flu pandemic were rather few which worked well in this story that was more about the characters, their values, feelings and history with each other and how they reacted in a crisis situation. There were just enough details about the virus itself to make it believable, especially after all we read in the newspapers on this subject. I was much more interested in the main characters and the author did a great job of getting inside their heads and making me feel like I was there with them. There was a lot of suspense, some mystery and lots of frightening situations presenting themselves while the parents tried to keep a feeling of normalcy in the house for the sake of their children. It was a story about love and emotional strength when faced with unthinkable circumstances.

This is a book that I'll remember for a long, long time and one of the best I've ever read. I'll be looking forward to more books by Carla Buckley. She's an outstanding writer. Her style kept me turning pages long after I should have gone to bed. I would highly recommend this for anyone that wonders as I did, "What if...?"
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good pandemic novel..., February 8, 2010
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I love an apocalyptic novel! Whether it be meteor strike, nuclear event, or medical meltdown - I'm your reader. For some reason, the stark portrayals of humans trying to survive against insurmountable odds always draws me in. This one did too!

The H5N1 virus (avian flu) strikes and the entire world is held hostage against the scourges of the disease. Of course it's winter (flu season IS in winter) and it's cold and the weather is bad -- which makes everything just worse enough to create an even bleaker picture. In this book, a family takes refuge in their home -- a mother and two daughters allow an estranged husband and his lab assistant in -- and events spiral out of control from there.

Peter is a veterinarian testing water samples after a teal duck die-off when the flu hits with a vengeance. He and his assistant, an exotic Egyptian woman, come back to his house to be with his ex wife Ann and their two daughters. There is the usual scramble for food and water -- supplies and gas. The power goes off. The days are long and cold and tedious -- you get the picture. Everything is about survival. Nothing else. Neighbors come outside but everyone keeps their distance. To each their own. No sharing, no partnering or working together. Everyone is suspect. People die. The very fiber of being human is tested. How far will a person go to protect his/her family? Others in need? Will anyone help?

This is a great viral pandemic novel and I enjoyed it. There were a few things that never got answered and the book lagged a bit with a bit too much detail at times. The ending seemed a bit rushed, but all in all -- read it and enjoy!
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16 of 20 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A promising story, but ultimately disappointing, May 27, 2010
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Carla Buckley's debut novel arrived with a significant amount of hype (buzz, if you prefer) and a plot that sounded interesting, so I was eager to give it a shot. The story, about the aftermath of a virus outbreak and the toll is takes on a family, is potentially a good one. Unfortunately, the execution just doesn't do it justice. The plot is too predictable, the characters are too familiar, and everything just moves too slowly for a thriller. That all being said, it's not a terrible book by any means, and Buckley definitely shows nice potential as a writer. But for a book that garnered raves from so many, it just didn't work for me.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An absolute must-read!, February 9, 2010
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A. Pohren (IA United States) - See all my reviews
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Amazing. Absolutely amazing, engrossing and thought provoking. These are words that quickly and simply come to mind when I think of The Things That Keep Us Here. It, quite frankly, blows my mind that this is a debut novel by Carla Buckley. It is incredibly well written, tight, emotional, well-researched and so true-to-life (or what could easily happen in life, right now) that I would expect such work to be written by a veteran author. No, The Things That Keep Us Here is not a laid back, fun, kick-off-your-shoes and read your cares away sort of book. Rather, it is a very intense, serious book who's topic is filled with the "what-ifs" of the future of our world, in the aspect of possible pandemics and how such matters would be handled. That's not to say that The Things That Keep Us Here is not a book to leisurely enjoy, just keep in mind that you will not be brought to tears with laughter or light-hearted banter.

I knew from the beginning of this book, that is was going to be a story to absorb me within its pages and the lives of the characters within. Just to simply gaze upon the beautiful innocence of the cover grips the heart, then to become part of this little girl and her family's story and life within, is mind-blowing. Written in a heart-wrenchingly realistic way, readers will feel themselves captured within the struggles of the Brooks' family, as they fight to survive a horrific pandemic caused by H5N1, the avian flu. No where is safe, no one can be trusted. Locked and sealed away within the walls of their home, no electricity, no heat but the fireplace, food rations becoming increasingly low, the threat of a simple sneeze a death sentence. The Things That Keep Us Here is a story of a mother's love for her children and the lengths that she will go to to protect them and keep them from harm's way.

Separated for a year, Ann Brooks and her estranged husband, Peter, are brought together by the onset of H5N1. Peter, a university researcher has been conducting tests on the resent increase in dying birds. Realization quickly dawns that this is a deadly situation that will affect the world. Alerting Ann and the children of what is to come, their lives are once again bound together, as they struggle to keep their children and themselves safe and healthy. As neighbors, best friends, adults and children lose their fight for their lives around them, Ann and Peter remain vigilant, something not easy under the circumstances and with two young daughters and the sudden arrival of a six-month baby boy. They know they must stay strong or face the end.

The Things That Keep Us Here is a story that will tightly hold the reader from first page until the last. Just when you think the end would be near, a new twist occurs sending more pages flying to find out the results. I truly enjoyed the characters of Peter and Ann, though I have to admit there where a few times I would have liked to smack Ann upside the head. However, as a mother, myself, one can never tell exactly how one would react, if in the same circumstances. I highly admired Peter and his perseverance to his family. The dialog and characterization within The Things That Keep Us Here were excellently executed and the horrifying fact that life, as we know it, could change at any moment, is eye-opening.

I highly recommend The Things That Keep Us Here by Carla Buckley to everyone. This is not a genre based novel, but a life based novel. It is intense, engrossing and I promise that you will never look at life the same way again. I cannot wait to read more by this wonderfully talented author and can honestly say that this is one of my favorite books of 2010!
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13 of 17 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Too Busy and a Little Unrealistic at Times, February 14, 2010
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The Things That Keep Us Here is a novel with a current, relevant plot, but it jumps between a wide variety of genres at the expense of cohesiveness. The book tells the story of Peter Brooks, a university researcher who moves back in with Ann, his estranged wife, and their young children when an avian flu pandemic threatens the lives of people throughout the world. Part science thriller, part romance, part coming of age story, part family drama, part survival experience, this book is just trying to be too many things. If the author could have picked one or two aspects of the story to focus on, it might have been a decent book. As it was, reading about Ann jumping from trying to cook food without electricity to worrying about her husband having an affair with a younger woman to dealing with a medical emergency makes it hard to focus on any one character or plot long enough to actually care about any of them. Furthermore, the scientific aspect of the book was a little far-fetched in parts, especially when Peter, whose research deals directly with avian influenza, is prevented from continuing to work when the entire university is shut down. Realistically, in this sort of emergency, all scientists would be working as hard as possible to find out about the illness, not being ordered out of their labs en masse.
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11 of 15 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars The Enemy Within, April 15, 2010
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I had no trouble zipping through this book, and if you're looking for a quick read for a plane trip or just to pass the time you could certainly do worse. The trouble starts when you close the book and spend some time thinking about what you've read. It's clear that the author tried to imagine all the contingencies a pandemic would create, but inaccuracies kept popping up that pulled me out of the story. I don't want to spoil the plot, so I'll just say that if your midwestern home went unheated for months during a cold winter your ennui at having no power would quickly be replaced by your horror at what burst pipes can do to a house. The author makes much of communicating by text message, but no one seems to have a radio -- if they can't read CNN online or see it on television they're totally isolated. Yet these people live in tornado country -- as do I -- and many of us keep flashlights and radios on hand for summer storms.

She seemed to go into the story determined to show what would happen, so it's perhaps not too surprisingly that the characters would be so flat. Unfortunately they're not only flat, they're unpleasant, too. Worst of all is Ann, the Good Mother who will stop at nothing to protect her family, which causes a series of mostly predictable moral crises. Or what would be crises if she stopped to examine her actions instead of feeling bad but quickly justifying them by reminding herself she does what she does for the Greater Good. Most of us have some hesitation about embracing an Ends Justify the Means moral code, but not Ann. This is a big problem, as we are clearly supposed to sympathize with her.

Characters act illogically to further the plot, a pet peeve of mine. I'm trying to find an example while avoiding major spoilers, so let me just say that most doting parents would not move far away from a hospital when they knew their child might desperately need one.

Everything is wrapped up in the epilogue, which reads like the end to a Lifetime network movie event. In fact I wouldn't be surprised if this story ends up on film.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Realistic Thriller, November 15, 2013
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What a page-turner. Stayed up late into the night reading. Now I can't let my car get below a half tank and I keep going to Costco!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars FANTASTIC SUSPENSE, August 18, 2010
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A fantastic book involving a pandemic (bird flu transmitted to humans). The father (Peter) is a Veterinarian Science researcher at an Ohio university, there are 2 daughters (Maddie and Katie) and the mother Ann. The husband and wife have been struggling for several years with the death of their baby boy. They have separated and then IT all begins. This book reminded me of the movie Out of Towners - where if it can go wrong, it will go wrong. Very suspenseful - read it in one day.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Couldn't stop reading, August 3, 2010
Wow! I really loved this book - enough to stay up until 2 a.m. reading it. When I finally thought I couldn't stay awake any longer and the remaining 64 pages would just have to wait, I think I was awake at least another hour with my mind racing. A pandemic of this magnitude is not unthinkable, but horrifying to imagine how one would survive through it if they were lucky enough not to die. As a mother, how does one protect her children yet watch them slowly starve? I don't want to give any spoilers, but let's just say hard decisions had to be made. The character development was natural and didn't feel forced. It was an amazing first novel by an author who I'm looking forward to reading more of in the future. On that note, I had the pleasure of meeting this author at a book signing and she is just a lovely woman.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply wonderful, April 30, 2010
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This novel has it all: page-turning suspense, great characters, a strong plot and themes that stick with you long after the final page. I found it hard to believe that this is Carla Buckley's first novel.

The highlights of the plot have been well described elsewhere, so I will only say that this book is so well written that it is easy to imagine oneself in a similar predicament. In fact, there were actually points in the plot line where I felt my heart pounding as I read. That is the level of identification I had with Ann, the mother character and the protagonist of the novel. One only hopes that were you in the same situation you would be half as brave and resourceful as Ann is.

I raced through this novel because I couldn't wait to find out what would happen, only to experience a let down once I finished the last page. I just can't recommend this book highly enough.
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The Things That Keep Us Here: A Novel (Random House Reader's Circle)
The Things That Keep Us Here: A Novel (Random House Reader's Circle) by Carla Buckley (Paperback - January 25, 2011)
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