Publishers Weekly Review of Skin Deep

The first review of Skin Deep is in, and I’m grateful it’s a good one!

This winning series launch from Woo (Love Love) introduces PI Siobhan O’Brien, a 40-year-old American of Korean descent who was adopted in infancy by an Irish father and a Norwegian mother. After two years working as an operative at the Ed Baker Investigative Agency in Athena, N.Y., Siobhan, to her surprise, inherits the agency when her boss has a fatal heart attack. Her first client as the new owner is Josie Sykes, the white sister of a deceased childhood friend and fellow Korean adoptee. Josie’s 18-year-old adopted Korean daughter, Penny, is missing and was last seen at Llewellyn College. Siobhan enrolls in a program for older students and soon becomes aware of the danger that lurks on Llewellyn’s seemingly placid campus. Siobhan holds her own as she contends with deadly doings at a yoga center, menacing college initiations, and bizarre researchers studying “the science of beauty.” Woo perceptively explores the theme of image and personal identity throughout. Readers will look forward to seeing more of the beguiling Siobhan.

Publishers Weekly

Dream: A Drive, a Divide, a Dog

I’m in my car, driving on a narrow grassy plain, when another car approaches. There’s no way we can get by each other without crashing, so I turn the wheel and move off to the right as far as possible. But this leaves my car in an untenable position, to the right of a gulley, which I never saw before. The farther I drive, the closer I come to the edge; basically, my car is going to fall in if I keep going.

So I get out of the car. And there’s some kind of a wild animal who bites my finger, not enough to draw blood but enough to make an indentation into my skin. I hurl a piece of fruit, and the animal chases after it. But I know it’ll be back.

I must make it to the other side of the ditch. I have to climb (don’t ask — it’s a dream, after all). So I climb, on my hands and knees, and my fingers grab onto what feels like tight plastic grocery bags, stretched because inside contains coils upon coils of Christmas tree lights.

I cross over. And I look across the divide, and instead of my car, it’s Ginny, my German shepherd dog. She’s pacing back and forth, agitated that she’s over there and I’m over here. And before I can scream, “No, you’re too old!” Ginny leaps — and somehow she makes it. I catch her. I feel her weight as her body collides into mine, but then I don’t, as if I’ve absorbed her somehow.

And then I wake up.

Commentary: Yesterday my wife and I were driving on Lincoln Road, and a car was indeed coming down and there’s a part where it can be kind of tight. Later on, we saw a big dog sticking its head out of another car, enjoying the winter air. Last night we saw the Taylor Swift documentary on Netflix (highly recommended) and she’s got cats; the bite from the dream animal was very much a cat bite, playfully painful. It’s been a few weeks since I put them all away, but I do indeed store Christmas lights in plastic grocery bags. And it’s been almost a month since our dog of almost fifteen years died.

The last part of the dream is a bit on the nose, isn’t it? What I find most fascinating about Ginny’s leap is that I had no clue she was going to do that. Even though it’s my dream and I thought it up, it was a complete surprise. What a gift. Thank you, dream.

Favorite Songs of 2019

Here’s a list of my top songs for this year, in an order that might be surprisingly mixable. These are not necessarily from 2019; I just happened to have heard them in the last twelve months.

Love Song, by Lana Del Rey on Norman Fucking Rockwell!
Married in a Gold Rush, by Vampire Weekend feat. Danielle Haim on Father of the Bride
Cracking Codes, by Andrew Bird on My Finest Work Yet
Gloria, by The Lumineers on III
Hustle, by P!nk on Hurts 2B Human
Paper Rings, by Taylor Swift on Lover
Bad Guy, by Billie Eilish on When We Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?
Make It Right, by BTS on Map of the Soul: Persona
Some Kind of Love, by Dido on Still on My Mind
Orpheus, by Sara Bareilles on Amidst the Chaos
Falling for Boys, by Julia Michaels on Inner Monologue Part 2

Digital Boy, by Serena Jade (Live from the Rockwood Music Hall, NYC, 8-3-2019)
Stupid Things, by Keane on Cause and Effect
Allergic, by Post Malone on Hollywood’s Bleeding
I Was Terrible, by How to Dress Well on Care
Young Enough, by Charly Bliss on Young Enough
Billie Jean, by Weezer on Weezer (Teal Album)
Real Love, by Carly Rae Jepsen on Dedicated
Feels Good, by Lissie on Castles
Light on, by Maggie Rogers on Heard It in a Past Life

Many good tunes here, but I really dug the Charly Bliss song. Hugely anthemic, Young Enough just soars and soars.