Book Review: Keep Me Safe by: Maya Banks

Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks

Publication Date: October 7, 2014

Origins:  From Publicist for Review

Synopsis: A sizzling story of a woman who risks her life and her heart to find a wealthy man’s missing sister—the first novel in a sexy new romantic suspense series from #1 New York Times bestselling author Maya Banks

When Caleb Devereaux's younger sister is kidnapped, this scion of a powerful and wealthy family turns to an unlikely source for help: a beautiful and sensitive woman with a gift for finding answers others cannot.

While Ramie can connect to victims and locate them by feeling their pain, her ability comes with a price. Every time she uses it, it costs her a piece of herself. Helping the infuriatingly attractive and impatient Caleb successfully find his sister nearly destroys her. Even though his sexual intensity draws her like a magnet, she needs to get as far away from him as she can.

Deeply remorseful for the pain he’s caused, Caleb is determined to make things right. But just when he thinks Ramie's vanished forever, she reappears. She’s in trouble and she needs his help. Now, Caleb will risk everything to protect her—including his heart...

Review: I was looking forward to KEEP ME SAFE because it looked different than a lot of the other books I’ve read by Ms. Banks. I was excited about the psychic angle and hoped this would be more of a paranormal romance than straight romance. Ramie is a psychic who can connect to victims and locate them by touching one of their belongings. However, this causes her great anguish as she lives through the victim’s pain and suffering when she connects to them. She’s being hunted by one of the killers she’s connected to during one of her psychic episodes. When Caleb Devereaux tracks her down to get help finding his sister he treats Ramie roughly, unaware of the price this ‘gift’ extorts. Once he realizes how much pain he’s caused Ramie, he vows to correct the balance between them. So when Ramie asks for Caleb’s help, he makes sure she gets everything he can give. I wasn’t able to connect to any of the characters in KEEP ME SAFE and I didn’t feel as if they were developed well at all. I wish there had been more background on Ramie besides the snippets of back-story we got throughout the book. The ‘insta-love’ aspect of Caleb and Ramie’s relationship was too much, especially if Ramie is as fragile as she appears to be. I think what bothered me most is the “weak woman, strong man” aspects of the book. Just because a woman is strong doesn’t mean she doesn’t want a partner she can depend on. Yet it feels as if the author thinks the only way Ramie can get and keep a good man is if she needs protecting all the time. KEEP ME SAFE is the only one of the Slow Burn series I will be reading.

Book Review: Mortom by: Erik Therme

Publisher: FLUX

Publication Date: February 6, 2014

Origins:  From Author for Review

Synopsis: Mortom: population 986. 

On the outskirts of town, 33-year-old Craig Moore is found drowned in the lake. A loner and town eccentric, few attend the funeral. 

One week later Andy Crowl arrives in Mortom, still stunned by his cousin’s death and equally confused why everything was left to him. The two hadn’t spoken in years and shared little outside of fierce childhood competition. 

But Craig hardly did him a favor. The estate amounts to little more than a drained bank account and a property overridden with junk. When Andy finds a dead rat under the refrigerator with a key in its mouth, he thinks it’s some sort of sick joke. Then he finds the letter left by Craig, written two days before his death ... detailing the rules of “the game.”

Review: Craig Moore dies and leaves everything to his cousin, Andy Crowl. A week after the funeral, Andy and his sister Kate come to Mortom to speak with the estate lawyer and get everything cleared up. Andy doesn’t know why Craig left everything to him as they never were close at all. When Andy finds a dead rat with a note and a key in its mouth, he’s intrigued. When he finds the note from Craig, the game is on. MORTOM comes across as a conglomeration of the horror, mystery, and suspense genres. It’s a well-paced story, but the characters were not very likeable at all. It’s a credit to the writing style that I was able to stay engaged in the book even thought I didn’t like the characters in the least. The mystery was good, but even though I thought the ending was clean there is room for a sequel or related story. Come to MORTOM and stay a while…

Book Review: Child of Privilege by. Ross Ponderson

Publication Date: August 27, 2014

Origins:  From Author for Review

Synopsis: A debutante’s defiance and courage in escaping domestic violence is the heart and soul of this “feel good” story. 

To the casual observer, 19-year-old Dana Van Werner’s life is a fairytale: wealth, a palatial mansion, expensive automobiles, servants, and a prominent place in high society. But she is abruptly introduced to the real world when she runs away from her high society birthright to escape her father: a domineering, authoritarian attorney with a violent temper and an insatiable hunger for revenge. 

She grows up quickly as she confronts intercity buses, seedy motels, filthy diners, wet t-shirt contests, honky-tonks, and predatory night people light-years from the gentrified social strata of home. All the while, she struggles to outrun a parade of private investigators hired by her father to bring her back home. 

She seeks refuge in the bucolic farming community of Beckett Junction, Colorado. Through a chance encounter, she meets Sheriff's Deputy Greg Parmenter. He senses Dana's physical and emotional exhaustion, and offers her sanctuary in his home. Love would slowly blossom from that act of kindness, leading Dana to consider making Beckett Junction—and Greg's humble cottage—her new home. 

However, a stunning twist of events sets the stage for a final and deadly confrontation with her father: a confrontation stoked by resentment, anger, violence, hunger for revenge, and the shocking revelation of a humiliating family secret kept hidden for decades. Several of the characters do not survive to tell their tales. 

However, drawing on courage, strength, and wisdom beyond her years, Dana ultimately finds a new home, a fulfilling new life, her freedom, and a caring man who truly loves her. More importantly, she finds herself.

Review: CHILD OF PRIVILEGE is the story of Dana Van Werner, a 19 year old debutante from an affluent family in North Briarwood. Her father, Richard, rules the family with an iron fist, using his influence to not only control his family to the point of suffocation, but his competitors and anyone else who stands in his way. Both Dana and her mother, Maggie, are Richard’s punching bags and after one especially horrific night Dana decides to leave this house of horrors behind. The only thing she regrets is not being able to take her mother with her when she escapes. Richard tells his private investigator and hired thugs to bring Dana back, no matter what and no matter how as long as she’s still alive. After nearly being captured and drug back home, Dana finds refuge in Beckett Junction, Colorado. She’s given shelter in the home of Deputy Sheriff Greg Parmenter and she blossoms in the light of Greg’s kindness. Due to some nasty plot twists, Dana goes back to North Briarwood for the final confrontation. CHILD OF PRIVILEGE is a captivating novel with a main character you truly want to root for as you struggle along with her. There are definitely descriptions of events which will make readers cringe in sympathy and anger, but don’t let your hot button issues keep you from enjoying a well-written story.

Interview: Q. How did writing this book affect you?
It has enabled me to fulfill a lifelong dream: to actually publish a novel and present it to the book-buying public. The feedback from this process has taught me a great deal about writing (about what I’ve been doing wrong) and promotion (about how little I know!). I’ve learned that writing is much more than giddily stringing words and sentences together. Writing is about conveying something real, something worthwhile, and something intelligent. Your reader deserves that; he/she paid good money for it. If you shortchange them or underestimate their intelligence, you will lose them with no hope of ever drawing them back.

Q. What is the hardest part of writing for you?
The hardest part for me is final editing. I’m grinding through the same words and phrases again and again and again, ad nauseam. I’ve read those words so many times that I can recite entire pages from memory. It’s a real battle to keep my focus and concentration going because I’m thinking more about getting the book onto the shelf already. The second-hardest part would be creating the initial chapter outline where the storylines are born. You’re trying to assemble a skeleton with bones consisting of logic, believability, excitement, dialogue, narrative, pacing, character development, and timing. If your “skeleton” is faulty, all the “meat on the bones” in the world won’t save it.

Q. Do you plan any subsequent books?
Coming up with the concept for a 2nd novel has been about as pleasant as having a root canal. I’ve all but ruled out any sort of sequel to “Child of Privilege.” So, I am currently staring at the dreaded blank palette. Numerous ideas have already been trashed as I’m trying to apply the many lessons I’ve learned from “Child.”

With each potential concept, I ask myself 3 questions: will it read in Peoria? (to paraphrase the old Broadway axiom); does it have the legs to run 90,000-plus words?; and is it a subject folks will want to read about? If I can’t confidently answer “yes” to all 3 questions (especially several days later), into the mental trash bin it goes.

Q. What are you currently reading?
All nonfiction actually. “Chicken Soup for the Soul: Reboot Your Life” by Newmark and Cook; “Little Girl Blue, the Life of Karen Carpenter” by Randy L. Schmidt; and “Forgiven” by Charles E. Shepard, the story of the rise and fall of the PTL empire and its leader, TV evangelist Jim Bakker.

Q. Please tell us your latest news (book-related or not!).
I’ll share this with you first (CNN will have to get it second-hand!): I’m heading back to school. Even though I’m currently retired, I need to transition back into the working world. So, I’m off to my local community college for a course in “internet and social media marketing.” Sounds impressive, doesn’t it? Since most communication (or so it seems) these days passes through Facebook, Twitter, and all the rest, perhaps acquiring a background in social media might be a way for this old guy to get back into the world. We’ll see what happens.

Q. What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?
I need to have a writing session carefully planned and mapped out before I even fire up my computer. I must know what characters I’ll be working with, where they’re going, and how I’ll get them there. Otherwise, the computer stays off. But I must add here that spontaneous things (plot twists, “aha” moments, sudden inspirations, “what if’s”, on-the-fly ideas, etc.) frequently happen during a writing session. That’s likely true for many writers. If I’m lucky enough to experience a spontaneous moment, I’ll simply ride it, get it down, and work out the details later. And I never forget unsalted pretzels and bottles of water; can’t forget the munchies!

Q. Please tell us a fun-fact about yourself!
I still have the first check I ever received in payment for my writing (a photocopy actually). I had written a short humor piece for a lifestyle magazine focused on the Indianapolis area. This magazine (the name escapes me at the moment) was one of many “little” and literary magazines that delighted in providing a spotlight for unknown writers. As I recall, it was operated by a husband-and-wife team out of their basement. This was in the early 1970’s, and the magazine itself is long-defunct. But those were fun days!

Q. Is there anything you haven’t written about that you would like to in the future?
I’d enjoy writing an old-style Star Trek novel (with original or TNG characters), but that’s been done to death by writers far more knowledgeable in the franchise than I. Besides, I could never acquire the rights. Then I often wonder if the apocalyptic, vampire, dystopian, and zombie genres might be approaching the saturation point. So I guess I’ll continue in the same general genre as “Child of Privilege”: ordinary people doing extraordinary things in response to extraordinary challenges … interwoven with a warm and fuzzy romance. But most of all, I’d love to write a best-seller!

Q. If you could learn to do anything, what would it be?
It would be awesome to pilot a commercial jumbo jet and fly it wherever I choose to go. But my fear of heights just might be a problem!

Q. What gives you the most joy in life?
Music is my “magic pill” that keeps me sane. I grew up (musically speaking) in the 1970’s and late 1960’s. I consider the decade of the 70’s as the golden age of pop/rock music. It was the era of the singer/songwriter. My generation was blessed with such talented artists as the Carpenters, Barry Manilow, Neil Diamond, Jim Croce, Gordon Lightfoot, Lionel Ritchie, Carole King, and the list goes on and on. I still enjoy the Grass Roots, the Lovin’ Spoonful, the Four Seasons, the Supremes, and of course, the Beatles. I happened to catch Spanky and Our Gang’s “Lazy Day” on an oldies station recently. It brought back some wonderful memories.

Q. Which of your characters would you want to be and why?
Allow me to rephrase your question slightly since it would be extremely awkward (not to mention bizarre) for me to be a 19-year-old woman. How about “Which of your characters would you like to meet in person?” That’s easy: Dana Van Werner. I painted her as the ideal “girl next door” any guy would be happy to bring home to meet the folks. Even though she comes from a rarified environment surrounded by wealth, luxury, and social standing, there isn’t a trace of haughtiness or arrogance about her. She genuinely likes people and enjoys interacting with everybody (except the detective Reavis Macklin). Despite the horrors she endured at home during her formative years, she is quite capable of loving and being loved (just ask Greg Parmenter). Lastly, with her deep, warm brown eyes, flowing sandy-blonde hair, beautiful smile, and winning personality, she’s quite a desirable young woman.

Q. How do you like to spend your spare time?
It’s good for me to sometimes get away from writing-related issues in order to retain what little is left of my sanity. As I’ve mentioned before, music is (and always will be) a major part of my life. I’ve played keyboards through most of my life and I still enjoy it today. When I was a child, a family friend offered me the chance to play a huge pipe organ. The poor man had a heck of a time prying me away from that console. From that moment on, I fell in love with keyboards. By most reasonable standards, I’m not very good at it, but I enjoy it nevertheless. I also enjoy visiting historical sites and museums in particular ... just being there … where something historically significant took place. History just seems to tug at me somehow. I’m also a railroad fanatic. I love anything related to trains because the railroads were so much a vital part of American history. I make it a point to visit railroad museums as often as possible during the summer.

Q. How did you come up with the title?
Since “Child of Privilege” was actually written in the mid-1990’s, it’s difficult to remember exactly how I came up with the title. I think the expression has been in widespread use practically forever and is mostly used derogatorily.

Q. When did you know you would be a writer?
When I was very young (perhaps early grade school), my parents bought me a toy typewriter because I was always playing around with (and breaking) my mother’s real machine. This contraption was more toy than typewriter, but it could actually type sometimes. I would grab an old newspaper every day, collect some of the news stories and the sports, and pound out (literally) my very own newspaper. I would then foist the copies onto the family and a few very forgiving neighbors. To this day, I’m glad the real newspaper never sued me! Since then, I’ve written quite a number of newsletter and small magazine pieces through the years, not to mention several half-finished novels which will (deservedly) never see the light of day. “Child of Privilege” is the first novel I’ve actually presented to an audience.

Q. Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
To anyone who is considering buying a copy of “Child of Privilege,” please stop in at Amazon and pick up your copy. I hope you will find it a thought-provoking read and a great way to relax for a few hours. It is true-to-life, compelling, sometimes sad, sometimes gritty, but –in the end—a true “feel good” tale. In closing, thanks to you, Star, for allowing me to introduce myself to your readers. You gave me a chance to write something … and that’s always good!

Author Links:

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Book Spotlight: The Oblate's Confession by: William Peak

02_The Oblate's Confession

Publication Date: December 2, 2014
Secant Publishing
Formats: eBook, Hardcover

Genre: Historical Fiction

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Set in 7th century England, The Oblate’s Confession tells the story of Winwaed, a boy who – in a practice common at the time – is donated by his father to a local monastery. In a countryside wracked by plague and war, the child comes to serve as a regular messenger between the monastery and a hermit living on a nearby mountain. Missing his father, he finds a surrogate in the hermit, an old man who teaches him woodcraft, the practice of contemplative prayer, and, ultimately, the true meaning of fatherhood. When the boy’s natural father visits the monastery and asks him to pray for the death of his enemy – an enemy who turns out to be the child’s monastic superior – the boy’s life is thrown into turmoil. It is the struggle Winawed undergoes to answer the questions – Who is my father? Whom am I to obey? – that animates, and finally necessitates, The Oblate’s Confession.

While entirely a work of fiction, the novel’s background is historically accurate: all the kings and queens named really lived, all the political divisions and rivalries actually existed, and each of the plagues that visit the author’s imagined monastery did in fact ravage that long-ago world. In the midst of a tale that touches the human in all of us, readers will find themselves treated to a history of the “Dark Ages” unlike anything available today outside of textbooks and original source material.

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About the Author

03_William Peak

William Peak spent ten years researching and writing The Oblate’s Confession, his debut novel. Based upon the work of one of the great (if less well known) figures of Western European history, the Venerable Bede, Peak’s book is meant to reawaken an interest in that lost and mysterious period of time sometimes called “The Dark Ages.”

Peak received his baccalaureate degree from Washington & Lee University and his master’s from the creative writing program at Hollins University. He works for the Talbot County Free Library on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. Thanks to the column he writes for The Star Democrat about life at the library (archived at, Peak is regularly greeted on the streets of Easton: “Hey, library guy!” In his free time he likes to fish and bird and write long love letters to his wife Melissa.

For more information please visit William Peak's website.

The Oblate's Confession Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, December 1
Review at Broken Teepee

Tuesday, December 2
Spotlight & Giveaway at Passages to the Past

Wednesday, December 3
Review at Back Porchervations
Review at A Fantastical Librarian

Thursday, December 4
Spotlight at What Is That Book About

Friday, December 5
Interview at Back Porchervations

Monday, December 8
Review at A Book Geek

Tuesday, December 9
Review at The Writing Desk
Spotlight at Historical Tapestry

Thursday, December 11
Interview at Forever Ashley

Monday, December 15
Review at Flashlight Commentary

Tuesday, December 16
Spotlight at Bibliophilic Book Blog

Thursday, December 18
Review at 100 Pages a Day...Stephanie's Book Reviews
Guest Post at Books and Benches

Friday, December 19
Review at Book Nerd
Review at bookramblings

Monday, December 22
Spotlight at Let Them Read Books

Tuesday, December 23
Review at Just One More Chapter

Wednesday, December 24
Review at With Her Nose Stuck in a Book

Monday, December 29
Review at The Never-Ending Book

Tuesday, December 30
Spotlight at Historical Fiction Connection

Friday, January 2
Review at Library Educated

Monday, January 5
Review & Interview at Words and Peace

Tuesday, January 6
Spotlight at CelticLady's Reviews

Wednesday, January 7
Review at A Bibliotaph's Reviews

Thursday, January 8
Review at Impressions in Ink

Friday, January 9
Review at The True Book Addict
Review & Interview at Jorie Loves a Story

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Book Review: Drowning by: Jassy De Jong

Publisher: Astor + Blue Editions, LLC

Publication Date: October 1, 2014

Origins:  From Publisher for Review

Synopsis: Sensuous but stifled New York City photographer Erin Mitchell thinks going to South Africa on assignment will be the perfect getaway. 

But when a flash flood washes away Erin’s vehicle and she is stranded at a luxury safari lodge, Erin’s romantic working vacation takes an interesting turn. She awakens from her near-drowning and meets her rescuer, Nicholas―hot and brilliant, successful and caring―not at all like her abusive husband. At Leopard Rock in the steamy South African heat, Erin faces the toughest choices of her life. 

Nicholas is ripped, he's smart and he's "no strings attached." To give in, or not to give in drowns Erin’s senses as she struggles with two impossible goals: ignore the exquisite physical charms of her host, and conceal every last detail whenever her controlling husband calls. On the other side, Nicholas faces impossible choices of his own, as the bon-vivant playboy may just possibly collide with feelings more powerful than lust. 

Erotic. Exotic. Wild. Drowning sizzles in the African heat as one woman is stretched to the breaking point by the strength of her vows and the intensity of her seething primal desires.

Review: Photographers Erin and Vince Mitchell have come to South Africa on assignment for a new shoot. After an argument, Erin and Vince are driving separately to the location when a flash flood hits. Vince wasn’t affected and managed to get to their hotel, but Erin’s car was washed away and she almost drowned. She was rescued by the owner of a luxurious safari lodge and wild animal refuge, but she’s now stranded there at Leopard Rock. When she meets the owner, Nicholas, she is struck by his gentle yet fierce nature and his rugged beauty. He offers her ‘no-strings’ days and nights filled with passion during her stay, but Erin is torn between temptation and the controlling nature of her husband. DROWNING is about one woman’s journey, not only physically but emotionally and sexually as well. Erin Mitchell is in an abusive relationship and her husband uses every trick in the book to keep her down and under his thumb. Nicholas sees Erin in a totally different way – as someone to cherish and adore. As domestic abuse is rampant across the globe, it was good to read a story where the lead female was able to escape the clutches of her abuser. In addition, the conservation and protection efforts for the wild African animals by Nicholas were a beautiful touch. DROWNING will touch your heart and soul and leave you wanting to bring more beauty into your own life.

Author Links:

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