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Melanie O'Conner is no stranger to having enemies. But after fifteen years heading the clandestine Helping Hands project, she will soon learn that those enemies come in many forms, including ones she never would have suspected.
Her enemies' current goal: destroy The Helping Hands and everything they stand for. And so, Project: Abandon is launched. Children are killed just as her Helping Hands gangs prepare to save them. Someone attacks Melanie during a visit to her hometown. And when she thought it couldn't get any worse, the ones she loves most are kidnapped or even murdered.
Now, Melanie must rely on her strengths, street smarts, and courage to face her tormentors before they tear down the framework she worked so hard to build - and before they take her family away from her one by one. It is up to her to save those still alive - or die trying.


History.

Sage Words Publishing

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When one of their own was murdered, everyone feared it would be the end to the Helping Hands. But as they are now learning, the real difficulty lies not in mourning the loss of a friend, but in protecting the project that took his life. Kelly Mitchell is dedicated to just one thing - protecting her little sister from their stepfather's wrath. When her family moves to San Francisco, she struggles to keep her home life a secret, avoiding the charms of her neighbor, Robbie Anderson. But when her stepfather sets her up and sends her to a juvenile detention camp, Kelly will attain her own protection in the service of Melanie O'Conner. Forcing herself back into society as a reformed rebel, Melanie finds herself surrounded by a life filled with friends, security, and family. But the illusion of a life without disaster is shattered upon the discovery of a new, unplanned gang of Helping Hands, and two cops threatening to put her back in prison. When faced with the copycat gang that brings the FBI to her front door, when Kelly and her sister plead for an escape from the iron fist of their abusive stepfather, when Tyler lands in the hospital and faces death, Melanie must decide which is more important - having a normal life away from the burdens of her past, or protecting the project that granted her that life. Whatever choice she makes, someone must suffer the consequences.

Non

/

Fiction.


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Children's

Fiction


4.0 out of 5 stars Another Great Read!
By Author~Alexandra Lanc  June 1, 2013

I have been a fan of Mrs. Circelli for quite some time, and my newest read by her did not disappoint, despite the fact that this genre (realistic fiction) isn't usually to my liking.

Definitely different than Beyond the Western Sun, or The Sour Orange Derby, the world of the Helping Hands is dark, gritty, emotional, and yet all too realistic. Dealing with addiction, emotional ties, and of course the themes of abuse, this first book in the series welcomes readers to a world that doesn't shy away from the ugly realities of life. And though, while this could have been a turn-off, I in fact really liked the fact that the dark vibe of the story wasn't hidden, and that the hard themes weren't toned down or sweetened; but they weren't overplayed, either, a good balance.

The different viewpoints in the story, and the exploration of morals -- from the Helping Hands, an 'organization' that kidnaps children to save them from their abusive parents, to the Hell Hounds gang, the stern face that the members of the Helping Hands wear to keep their secret jobs secret -- also added to the tale, and created a dynamic to show what the respective characters have been through, and how their lives thus far have effected them.

The cast of characters was well written, as always, though as I said above, there are some dark themes (I would probably recommend this title for older teens and up).

5.0 out of 5 stars Another Great Circelli Read
By Stephanie N October 15, 2012

This novel touches on the full spectrum of human emotions. In dealing with the issue of child abuse, the author creates a world in which hurt, abandoned children have a real savior outside a broken system. I found myself rooting for the heroine and her gang and falling in love with each of the children introduced as the book moved forward. Kristina Circelli is known for her depictions of her beautifully complicated, conflicted women. Her skills shine here in her development of O'Connor.

The kidnappings of seventy-one children began the legend, but five friends with troubled pasts and courageous futures created it. Melanie O’Conner and her friends earned their reputation as rough and tough gang members, but the Hell Hounds were a mere front to their true operation. Fueled by the pain of a past filled with foster homes and cold-hearted guardians, Melanie lives with a deep, undying devotion to saving the lives of children who are victim to child abuse. Bringing them to a secluded island called the Treehouse, Melanie and her gang feeds, schools, and cares for them all, leaving the parents nothing more than a message claiming that their child has been taken. Now, four years into the project dubbed the Helping Hands by the five members of the cover-up gang the Hell Hounds, Melanie has to fight to keep the nosy, self-interested reporter Stephanie Mathews from exposing the truth being her project. And Melanie is willing to do anything to save the lives of innocent children from their abusive parents, even if that means risking her own.​


Currently available from Amazon for $12.95

Available from Kindle for $3.95

Currently available from Barnes and Noble for $12.95

Available from Nook for $3.95

"Shadows in the Night" is the second book in the Helping Hands legacy.

Melanie O'Conner is being released back into society after her arrest seven years ago. Fighting to keep hold over new Helping Hand gangs across the country, she struggles to find the balance between her past and "normal" life. 
But transitioning into that new, normal life doesn't come easily. Her friends have gangs of their own, past acquaintances have moved on, and now someone is after her, vowing to kill those she loves so she can watch them die!
Melanie is forced to watch the Helping Hands run into traps, thwarted by abusive parents and thugs wanting money, until they lose sight of what O'Connor has taught them. When Tyler turns away from her, a close friend is murdered, and the Helping Hands are threatened by shadows lurking in the night, Melanie must make a decision - give up her project and save her friends, or embrace her past, and fight to the death.