Books are food for my soul! Pull up a beach chair and stick your toes in the sand as the Jersey surf rolls in and out, now open your book and let your imagination take you away.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Electricity by Christopher P. Ring (Book Review)

In association with Pump Up Your Book, Jersey Girl Book Reviews is pleased to host the virtual book tour event for Electricity by Author Christopher P. Ring!


Book Review


TitleElectricity by Christopher R. Ring
Publisher: Independent Self Publishing
Publication Date: December 5, 2014
Format: eBook - 73pages
               Kindle - 227 KB
               Nook - 446 KB
BNID: 2940149963393
Genre: Literary / New Adult / Short Stories Collection

Buy The Book:

Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the author in exchange for my honest review and participation in a virtual book tour event hosted by Pump Up Your Book.

Book Description:

A teenager wrestles with the meaning of love when his parent’s high-voltage marriage turns deadly.   School boys playing chicken with a commuter train, search for answers about life and death.  An American teacher working in Peru struggles to reconcile the gap between her idealism and the reality of poverty when an act of kindness leads to a frightening episode.  Covert baptisms, duels of love and highway robberies:  the coming-of-age stories in Electricity share a vision of America marked by tainted innocence and misguided idealism.

Book Excerpt:

But Licho remains tall. Scanning the horizon of the classroom, his hand blocks out an imagined sun. Micah follows his vision across the walls. They are tacked with pictures she has torn from history books and language books. There are pictures of Quechua farmers from the hills re-enacting ancient Inca dances for Inti-Ramin, and next to those, pictures of Gene Kelly and Audrey Hepburn dancing on the Seine in Paris. On the back wall there are pictures of conquistadors and ancient emperors, Pizarro paired with Atahualpa, Cortez paired with Pachacutec. And then Licho’s face expresses the consternation of a soldier under attack.

“Look, Injuns,” Licho calls, pointing over Micah’s head. “Man the fart.”

She laughs. “It’s fort.”

“Fort!” he says. “Man the fort!”

He leaps off the desk and runs for the far wall. Then he comes back slowly, touching the ground and smelling his hand, like an Indian tracking an animal. This, from a man who kills pigs and tars roads. Nothing seems to phase him. Yet, she knows she would starve if she had to do these same things to feed herself.

“I thought you worked nights only?” Micah asks. “What happened to work tonight?”

Licho leaps to her desk and scurries across it like a crab.

“Stop it Licho. What happened?”

“No work,” he says, falling backwards into her desk chair. It groans as he slides backwards. Suddenly he seems sullen. “How do you say in Amer-eeca. Fried?”

“You got fired!”

“Now you.”

Licho springs to his feet and nudges Micah towards the stack of chairs. “Now you. Tell what you see.” He slides the desk closer and jerks his head in an upward motion.

“No,” she says, listlessly.

“Vengas. I will hold chairs.”

She feels silly doing this, but thinks she owes it to him. After all, he has given up the afternoon, reading to one group while she read with another. And she has seen a world he has not seen, a world he wants to see, and she feels sorry. Yet, this is what scares her. She is afraid of what he might expect; with her, he could escape it all. She climbs on to the desk and feels his hands pushing and holding her waist at the same time. The stack of chairs is a teetering ladder and for a moment, looking down on him, Licho seems small.

“What do you see?” he yells out to her excitedly.

Shhh! Micah puts a finger to her lips. The principal is in his office a few rooms down the line from hers. Micah should be gone already. With a free hand she grabs at the tiled windowsill. The moon is streaking down across the courtyard, the dirt pale and white like dried bones.

“I see the moonlight,” she says. “And dirt. And a pencil in the moonlight.”

“Si, si. More. What else?”

“Nothing.” The game feels silly. She is thirty, not twenty-one. What she has seen in Peru has made it hard to pretend. If she really wants to look, she already knows what she will see - the things she has not been able to look beyond. Alcoholics littering the streets with empty bottles of rubbing alcohol, stray dogs, piles of garbage clogging the river, four year old children selling candy, dirty children, poverty. A city still recovering from an earthquake twenty years earlier. Decay. “Nothing,” she retorts.

“Liar. Let me look. I will show. I can see.”

From her perch the emptiness of her classroom seems out of tune with the life her students bring. Licho reaches up for her hand and pulls her down. His hand goes up the back of her shirt and it pinches her. She stiffens.

“That hurt,” she says.

“Sorry.” He puts one hand to his lips, reaches out with the other. His finger tips are coated in tar, small pebbles dried into them. “No com off.”

Micah relaxes. It is his right to imagine, to hope for something better. He has dreams, damn it. They, too, must pinch. She can still feel where his hand touched her, perhaps as much as he had hoped for, but she gives him a shoulder and helps him up. He rises against the glow of the window.

There is silence.

“Hmm,” he says. “Oh yes. I see.”

Licho talks about getting a job as a handyman in an apartment building in Denver. He paints dreams of ten hour work days and coming home to sit on a balcony that overlooks the freeway, and sipping Pisco Sour’s. A movie theater is a block away and there are three markets on the corner. Nothing changes in his America but the numbers. There are more jobs, more cars, twice as many food stands, trains and buses going to more places, elections every week. Micah stands by the door and looks out.

“Maybe you have apartamento on other side of road. We sit on balcony and wave to each other after work. Maybe you com over. We have ceviche or MeecDonald’s. Yes, I see.” He looks at Micah in the doorway and squints. “You see, yes?”

He climbs down and turns her towards the stack of chairs. “I show you,” he says. She can feel his hands against her ribs as he urges her to climb again, but she doesn’t want to. This is unrealistic. It is a fantasy she knows not to encourage, yet she does not want to break it. She grabs the edge of a chair and resists. With her legs she pushes back against Licho. She feels the back of her head knock into his teeth.

“Puta!” he says, pinning her with his rough hands. The stack slides up against the window sill. Down the hill there are people working and walking the streets, but they are miles away at this point.

“Mentirosa!” he spits. Liar. Micah is gated between his arms and the chairs and she can feel his breath on her neck. Its sweet smell of cola mixes with the dried tar on his shirt. Twisting her by the arms he wrenches her loose as the chairs topple over in a big crash. The small room is split in half by the meager courtyard light. Where they stand by the desk the light is soft and dusty, but the far end by the doorway is darkness. She winds her way through the fallen desks, stepping on markers and crayons that she had to purchase with her own money. Holding close to the back wall Micah finds herself crossing out of the light, but away from the doorway. She remembers the old woman squatting on the corner a few days earlier whom he had scolded, swatted at the woman’s head with a rag he was carrying. “Puerco,” he’d said. Pig. She’d gotten mad at him for that, though at the time it seemed innocent. A woman should not have to see that, he’d said.

“Puta,” he calls over softly, leaning into the desk. The single drawer is open. In his hand he is waving something, her passport. For a moment her breath is paralyzed.

My Book Review:

In Electricity, author Christopher P. Ring weaves an intriguing collection of five coming of age short stories.  In each of the stories, the author draws the reader in with a mixture of wit and humor, as the main characters share a common thread of innocence and idealism in their lives. 

The five coming of age short stories include:

God Waking Up For Tea - told in the first person by eleven year old Kevin, an Irish altar boy from Rockville Centre, Long Island, who provides the reader with a humorous tale about his Irish heritage and the Irish community in his town, memories of his dead grandfather, and searches for answers about life and death.

Electricity - told in the first person by a fourteen year old boy who witnesses an argument between his parents that turns tragic when his father slices a radio's electric cord and gets electrocuted. The boy wrestles with the meaning and the depth of love, and his overwhelming feeling of shame and guilt for his inability to help his father.

Things Far Away - told in the first person by twenty year old John who along with his friend Fester drop out of college after two years to hit the road on a journey to experience freedom by hitchhiking from Bridgeport, Pennsylvania to meet up with friends in Boulder, Colorado. Their journey will consist of a variety of people (minister, militant vegetarian, salesman) who pick them up along the way, each with a story to tell that will give the young wanderers experiences, and a lesson that to experience true freedom is only through how you deal with the choices that you make along the way.

Family Business - told in the first person by a grandson who talks about making his own way in life after leaving his hometown in Long Island for Afton, Wyoming, and how his grandfather comes to visit him and tries to unsuccessfully entice him to join the family business. He talks about how his grandfather "Pop Pop" had always kept family and business separate, that running his plastic business took precedence, but when his grandfather dies from a heart attack, the grandson realizes too late that his grandfather's visit had actually been an attempt to pass on a gift (message) to him: to make room to embrace family and business.

Everything Simple - told in the third person, this short story follows thirty year old Micah, a sixth grade social studies teacher from Denver, who left the US to live in Huaraz, Peru. Her wanderlust journey to Peru she claims comes from the blood of her dead Peruvian grandmother that runs in her veins. But her journey is wrought with struggles over her misguided idealism and the reality of poverty and danger in Peru. 

I found myself easily drawn into each of the characters' intriguing stories, but alas ... as they are only just a snippet of a story, they left me wanting more. I am usually not a fan of short stories, I prefer a full length novel that has a conclusion, but I must say that Electricity did keep me engaged and pondering the author's intended message in each of these coming of age stories. 


About The Author

Christopher Ring 2

Christopher P. Ring writes fiction, poetry, children’s stories, travel essays, social commentaries, humor and screen plays.  His writing has appeared in numerous regional magazine and small literary journals such as Caldera and The Broken Bridge Review.  He received his Master’s Degree in Creative Writing from the University of New Hampshire and taught High School English for several years in the U.S. and abroad.   He continues to teach the art storytelling to Elementary school students in Southern Maine, where he resides with his wife (a teacher too) and two children.

Much of his fiction draws on the experiences and discoveries of his life as a “rambler”.  Growing up in Long Island, New York, he developed an insatiable thirst to escape the confines of conventional living, spending his twenties and early thirties travelling the globe to off the beaten path places in search of adventure.  He has called many regions of the U.S. his home and has also lived in Ireland, the Andes of Colombia, and Vienna, Austria.  As with the cultures and places he has visited, the settings in his story shape the events and characters profoundly.

You can learn more about Christopher P. Ring and check out other writing of his at  His next book, The Glow, a collection of speculative fiction short stories, will be available in April, 2015.

Connect with Christopher:

Author Website
Author Blog

Electricity Tour Page

Derek The Dragon - Childrens Book Collection by Leela Hope (Book Spotlight)

In association with Pump Up Your Book, Jersey Girl Book Reviews is pleased to host the virtual book tour event for Derek The Dragon: Children's Book Collection by Author Leela Hope!

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About The Childrens Book Collection
Derek The Dragon (Book 1)

TitleDerek The Dragon by Leela Hope
Publisher: Independent Self Publishing
Publication Date: January 26, 2015
Format: eBook - 22 pages
Genre: Childrens Books

Purchase The Book:

Derek The Dragon

Do your kids ever feel sad?

Do they have trouble making friends?

An amazing story for all ages to enjoy, aimed at children 0-5 years of age. Watch as Derek the Dragon learns about the meaning of happiness in this tale. Come and meet an adventurous dormouse who decides that he can change his lot in life and through caring about others he ends up saving his village. The story is told through rhyming verse and vivid illustration. Derek the Dragon contains a great message about caring and friendship for parents to share with their children.  

Derek The Dragon (Book 2)

TitleDerek The Dragon And The Missing Socks by Leela Hope
Publisher: Independent Self Publishing
Publication Date: January 25, 2015
Format: eBook - 22 pages
Genre: Childrens Books

Purchase The Book:

Derek The Dragon And The Missing Socks

Do your kids forget to clean up their rooms?

Have they ever asked you to find things for them?

This story is pure family entertainment. It is great for kids 2-82 but it is aimed at the 0-5 age group. The book covers a very important life skill, cleaning. Derek the dragon does not like to clean, but he learns that he needs to get his house clean if he is ever going to find his lucky socks. Devin the dormouse comes to help his friend and shows him the way to get his house clean. The friends clean the cave and find the lucky socks. The story is brought to life through vivid illustrations and is told in rhyming verse.

     Derek The Dragon (Book 3)   

TitleDerek The Dragon and Princess Dayna by Leela Hope
Publisher: Independent Self Publishing 
Publication Date: January 25, 2015 
Format: eBook - 22 pages
Genre: Childrens Books 

Derek The Dragon and Princess Dayna 

Do you or your kids have trouble with people who are different? 

Do your kids have trouble making friends? 

This is a terrific story aimed at kids 0-5, and yet, it is fun for the whole family to read and enjoy. Derek the Dragon, the dormouse, Devin and Princess Dayna all learn a lot about friendship. The book deals with misunderstandings and stereotypes, but in a way that is very palatable for little children to understand. The villagers are worried about a dragon flying around their village. They send their princess off to deal with the situation. The story is told in rhyming verse and featuring dynamic illustrations. It is a story for the whole family to enjoy.

Purchase The Book Collection



Discuss this book in our PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads by clicking HERE

Meet The Author

Leela Hope is a writer with over 22 years of experience in writing endearing children's fiction. Her lively characters have entranced and captivated her audience, and she has taken great joy in writing the three series of books, each beautifully illustrated with love and care. Her stories concentrate on the adventures of floppy eared bunnies and wide-eyed children learning lessons in life, before returning home wiser and eager for sleep. leela hope writes her stories to entertain the very young, but also to educate. Her vision is always of a parent sitting on a child's bed, reciting the stories each night, while the young one drifts off to sleep, lulled into a dream world full of fun and adventure. 

From her very earliest years of childhood, Leela made up stories in her head, telling them to her younger brother and sister. The stories flowed easily from her mind, and it wasn't long before she realized she had a gift for writing. By the age of 14, she had already written a small book of short stories for her own entertainment, and by the age of 22, she had published her first full-fledged children's fiction in several magazines. Leela hope was destined to be an author and she knew exactly what genre of fiction she wanted to dedicate her life too.

Born in San Diego, California, and still residing in the area, Leela studied English Literature at Berkeley, earning a degree in 1989. Her writing covers a span of several genres, but she always returns to her first love, children's fiction. She enjoys scuba diving and visiting wildlife parks, seeking new inspiration for cuddly characters for her stories. leela hope lives in an urban area of San Diego and is presently at work on a new book.

Connect with Leela:

Amazon Author Page:




Derek The Dragon Childrens Book Collection Tour Page

Monday, March 30, 2015

The Denim Blue Sea by Joanne DeMaio (Author Guest Post / Book Review)

In association with Author Joanne DeMaio, Jersey Girl Book Reviews is pleased to host the virtual book tour event for The Denim Blue Sea!

Author Guest Post

Beach walking is one of my favorite things to do. There's so much to see on a simple beach-combing walk; so many stories to be found in the treasures that wash ashore, in the changing tides, hours of the day, seasons.

In my newest novel, The Denim Blue Sea, the fictional seaside setting of Stony Point is based on a little Connecticut beach called Point O' Woods, shown here.

I've walked this stretch of sand every year of my life, daughters often by my side, contemplating our days and lately … book concepts! I've found this beach to be the best place in the world to cuff your jeans and walk along the water's edge, a place forever promising summer, a place that has endless stories in the sand.

About The Author

Joanne DeMaio is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of contemporary fiction. She enjoys writing about friendship, family, love and choices, while setting her stories in New England towns or by the sea. Her fifth novel, The Denim Blue Sea, was recently published on March 3, 2015. Currently at work on her next book, Joanne lives with her family in Connecticut. To learn more about the author, visit She also enjoys hearing from readers on her Facebook Page.

Author Website

Book Review

The Denim Blue Sea by Joanne DeMaio
Publisher: Independent Self Publishing
Publication Date: March 3, 2015
Format: Paperback - 370 pages
               Kindle - 1814 KB
               Nook - 902 KB
ISBN: 978-1505650747
BNID: 2940151632294
Genre: Women's Fiction

Buy The Book:
Barnes & Noble

Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the author in exchange for my honest review and participation in a virtual book tour hosted by the author.

Book Description:

New York Times bestselling author Joanne DeMaio returns to seaside Stony Point in this novel filled with beach friends, love, and the enchantment of a sandy boardwalk winding along the shore.

During two August weeks, denim designer Maris Carrington and coastal architect Jason Barlow prepare for their much-anticipated wedding. Guests arrive early, turning keys in charming cottage doors to begin their New England summer escape. The wedding is a reason for old friends to gather again; to meet in their shabby beach hangout and get the jukebox cranking; to walk that weathered boardwalk beneath a starry sky; to breathe the sweet salt air. "Cures what ails you," one of the friends, Neil, always said long before his life was sadly claimed. But his legacy was not.

When Maris discovers Neil's long-lost journal, its passages reveal a heartbreaking secret. Can truths be found within its timeworn pages? Can this leather-bound journal unite the friends as their lives begin to fray? A bittersweet family reunion, a surprising encounter from a devastating accident, a shocking confession leaving one marriage shattered--all will test the once close-knit circle. Suddenly this safe haven on the tranquil Connecticut shoreline churns with emotional turmoil, threatening even the beach wedding just days before it is to happen.

Yet like a silver cap on a breaking wave, love and friendship wash ashore with hope, ever shimmering, in The Denim Blue Sea.

Book Excerpt:

To read a book excerpt of The Denim Blue Sea, click on the Goodreads Link

My Book Review:

In The Denim Blue Sea, author Joanne DeMaio transports the reader back to the tranquil seashore town of Stony Point, Connecticut, where they catch up with the lives of six friends: Maris, Eva, Matt, Jason, Kyle and Lauren, who were introduced in the novel, Blue Jeans and Coffee Beans. It is a year later, and the close knit group of friends are coming back to Stony Point for the summer wedding of denim designer Maris Carrington and architect Jason Barlow. Just like the ebb and flow of the tide, life brings issues and changes to one's life, but the bonds of friendship, sea air and salt water are cleansing, they cure what ails you. For this group of old friends, a summer wedding will bring them together, but the bonds of friendship and personal relationships will be tested when a long-lost journal that reveals a heartbreaking secret is found, and other life issues surface and swirl around in the shimmering denim blue sea, yet its calming effect offers them a chance of hope, love, family, friendship, forgiveness, and redemption.

The Denim Blue Sea is a poignant story of friendship and family, dealing with life's issues, and long held secrets that will tug at your heartstrings. Author Joanne DeMaio weaves an emotional tale written in the third person narrative, that is set in the present with flashbacks to the past. The reader is transported to the tranquil seashore town of Stony Point, Connecticut, where they follow along with Maris, Eva, Matt, Jason, Kyle and Lauren as they get ready to celebrate Maris and Jason's wedding while dealing with challenges of real life, loss, love, heartbreak, secrets, and personal demons.

Author Joanne DeMaio easily captivates her readers' attention with this beautifully written and emotional tale through a seamless and flowing storyline, and with a wonderful description of a tranquil beach setting that wraps itself around the reader like a sun-warmed beach towel. The characters draw you into their lives with a strong emotional pull, their complexities and flaws are true-to-life, it is easy to relate to them with compassion, empathy and hope. With a mixture of intrigue, suspense, drama, humor, heartache, hidden secrets, romance, and a strong bond of friendship, this story takes you on an emotional roller coaster ride that will keep you turning the pages until the satisfying conclusion.

The Denim Blue Sea is an intricate story of interweaving friendships and real life challenges that is both heart wrenching and inspirational. It is a powerful and compelling story that will have you feeling the full gamut of emotions while soothing your soul. It is a wonderful story that demonstrates the power of love conquering all, it will resonate with you long after the last word has been read.


House Divided by Jennifer Peel (Book Review / Contest Giveaway)

In association with I Am A Reader Blog Tours, Jersey Girl Book Reviews is pleased to host the virtual book tour event for House Divided by Author Jennifer Peel!

House Divided (1)

Book Review

house divided

House Divided by Jennifer Peel
Publisher: Independent Self Publishing
Publication Date: January 29, 2015
Format: eBook - 245 pages
               Kindle - 1229 KB
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Buy The Book: 

Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the author in exchange for my honest review and participation in a virtual book tour event hosted by I Am A Reader Blog Tours.

Book Description:

There is a law irrevocably decreed in the state of Alabama that you must choose a team. You're either an Auburn fan or an Alabama Fan. There is no fence sitting or waffling. It’s one or the other. However, it doesn't mean that you can’t fall in love with someone from the opposing side. They even have a name for it ... House Divided.

Ellie Eaton and Brady Jackson were just such a couple, but unfortunately they were separated by more than just their loyalty to a university. Against the odds and against the rules, Ellie and Brady dove right into the forbidden current of friendship and then love. Their sweet, innocent romance was one for the storybooks, but old rules and family prejudices ultimately tore them apart, just as they were each ready to depart to their beloved universities, Ellie to Auburn and Brady to Alabama. But years later, when near tragedy strikes, they're brought together again and given a second chance at love, this time with help from some very unlikely sources.

House Divided is a sweet romance filled with southern charm, a dash of humor and, for good measure, a pinch of lies and intrigue.

Praise for the Book:

"House Divided was one of those books that made me want to ignore my children, my to-do list, my need for food, and pretty much anything else that would keep me from reading. Jennifer Peel has a real gift for depicting first love, heartbreak, and hope."

"A tender, soft, story that truly is a gem to read."

"Ms. Peel has created a story that stands as a tribute to true southern gentility, it's foibles and strengths. Truly a beautiful read that gives heart and meaning to true devotion. She truly knows how to weave a story that has beauty and true southern charm."

Book Excerpt:

He kept pace with me nicely and reached for my hand. There were too many people around for me to pull away from him. I wouldn’t embarrass him like that. He grinned at me. He knew me too well. On the elevator, I refused to look at him, but I knew he was looking at me. I could feel it. Before we reached the ground floor, he leaned over. "Ellie, you’re so pretty when you try to ignore me."

I was ready to turn and look up at him with my icy glare, but he had the sweetest, sappiest smile on his face and I just couldn’t. I couldn’t help but smile back at the fool, but I did shake my head at him. As we walked off the elevator, he leaned in again. "You’re even prettier when you smile at me."

I lightly elbowed him.

He chuckled.

As soon as we made it to the parking lot and were alone, I tried to let go, but he anticipated. He pulled me to him and wrapped his arms around me.

"Let go of me, Brady Jackson."

"Ellie Eaton, I have no intention of ever letting you go again, and I’ll pick you up and throw you over my shoulder if I have to."

"You would do no such thing."

"That sounds like a challenge, darlin’."

"Don’t you dare, Brady! I’ll scream."

"Even better," he said as he scooped me up without any effort and threw me over his shoulder. He apparently still worked out like an athlete. I could feel his muscles, which kind of made me forget that I was completely furious with him for taking such liberties with me.

"Brady Jackson, put me down! I’m not seventeen anymore and I’m not your girlfriend!"

"No, you’re definitely not seventeen anymore," he responded salaciously. "The last ten years have done your body good. You filled out quite nicely. And as far as you being my girlfriend, that’s just a technicality I plan on fixing.

"I can’t believe you just said that. Does your momma know you talk like that?"

My Book Review:

House Divided is a wonderful southern romance story of first love and second chances. Author Jennifer Peel weaves a beautiful tale that follows the love story of Ellie Eaton and Brady Jackson. The reader is easily drawn into Ellie and Brady's story from their teenage years to adulthood, their story is interwoven with family rivalries, forbidden first love, heartbreak, hardships, and a redemptive second chance that will tug at the reader's heartstrings and stir their soul.

Anyone who follows college football knows about the famous Alabama / Auburn rivalry, and the author provides the reader with a rich description of the way of life in Alabama, with a mixture of sassy humor, wit, and good old southern charm.

Every now and then I love to read a clean romance story that simply takes me away, and in House Divided, you can't help but enjoy following Ellie and Brady's story. The love that they had for each other was emotional and full of angst, I was completely hooked and found myself hoping that they would find a way back into each other's lives. I would be remiss if I didn't mention that I loved Ellie's Aunt Lu, she is a spunky lady with a sassy personality who embodies everything that a true southern woman is all about.

If you are looking for an enjoyable southern romance story filled with family drama; a southern way of life, beliefs, traditions, and rivalries; and a forbidden first love that gets a sweet second chance, then House Divided is a must read!


About The Author

      Jennifer Peel Headshot

Author Jennifer Peel I'm a Colorado native who currently calls Alabama home. I'm the mother of three amazing children who have grown up way too fast. I enjoy the mountains, vacations at the beach, date night with my husband, late night talks with my kiddos, touring model homes, and pink bubblegum ice cream.

I grew up on the Western Slope in the Colorado Rocky Mountains. I learned to love the beauty of the outdoors, but not camping--unless staying overnight at the Marriott counts. I met my husband while living in Denver and then several years later we traded the beauty and majesty of the Colorado Rocky Mountains for the art and culture of Chicago, Illinois. My family and I enjoyed living near this world class city, despite the crazy cold winters, but new adventures awaited in Northern Alabama--just six hours away from Orange Beach, Alabama. These three magical places (the Colorado Rocky Mountains, Chicago, and Orange Beach) are the inspired locations used in several of my books.

Jennifer Peel  

Contest Giveaway


$25 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash

Ends 4/12/15

Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the author.


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Virtual Book Tour

                                                Tour Schedule

Click on the above link for the tour schedule.

House Divided (1)

Friday, March 27, 2015

I Just Wanted Love by D.J. Burr (Book Review)

In association with Pump Up Your Book, Jersey Girl Book reviews is pleased to host the virtual book tour event for I Just Wanted Love by Author D.J. Burr!

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Book Review

 I Just Wanted Love

TitleI Just Wanted Love: Recovery of a Codependent, Sex and Love Addict
Author: D.J. Burr
Publisher: ABLE Counseling Services, LLC
Publication Date: December 31, 2014
Format:  Paperback - 232 pages
                    Kindle - 495 KB
ISBN: 978-0692299128
Genre: Memoir

Buy The Book:
Barnes & Noble

Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the author in exchange for my honest review and participation in a virtual book tour event hosted by Pump Up Your Book.

Book Description:

D.J. Burr is a man on a mission; successful business owner, highly respected psychotherapist and survivor of a dysfunctional life. At a young age, all he wanted was to be loved, but instead found himself targeted by a sexual predator. D.J. slipped into a life of addiction and clawed his way through broken relationships and seedy sex clubs–looking for love in all the wrong places. D.J. will take readers on a roller coaster of emotions as he details his search for grace and love.

Book Excerpt:


 I AM ONLY AS SICK AS MY SECRETS Someone actually said they were addicted to me, and that was the straw that broke this camel’s back. I could no longer hold in all the pain and shame. I cried out in grief as I had this man inside of me and said, “Take the condom off. I need you. I am addicted to you too.” Every ounce of who I was washed out of me as I climaxed multiple times with this man who was not wearing a condom. When it got right down to it, I just didn’t believe I was worth anything. I wish I could say that I learned from my mistake that day, but I didn’t. I took that risk again and again with him and others. At this point, I was utterly spent thinking about all the emotional baggage I had in my life. I just wanted to be wanted for me and who I was, but I didn’t know how to get there. Somehow, I thought I would find the answers to my questions at the bathhouse. The bathhouse I frequented was a place where men could freely have sex out in the open or in private rooms. There was porn, a steam room, and showers. The facility even provided vending machines that were stocked with lubricant, condoms, and candy. I found a sense of false confidence when I visited the bathhouse. For example, when someone approached me and wanted to have sex, I felt empowered. After all, I could say, “yes” or “no.” I hardly ever said no. But, the joy of being needed by others was only temporary, and the power I felt was an inauthentic. It never lasted more than 10 minutes after I left. Always, I worried someone would see me walking out. Often, feared I might see a client there, and then what would I do? With everything going on in my life at the time, I thought my business was the only thing worth salvaging, but I was wrong. I didn’t realize that through my obsessive sexual behavior, I was abandoning my own business too. I spent so much time worrying about my next sexual fix that often my focus and attention was not on my therapy practice and its growing clientele. Also, I was doing things that were actually illegal, such as videotaping men in restrooms or locker rooms. But what can I say? I got high from that kind of thing which temporarily relieved the pain and chaos swirling around inside me. The fact that I wasn’t getting caught was exhilarating. I actually thought this was normal behavior. In fact, I thought it was so normal that I never hesitated to send copies of my illegal videos and pictures to friends. They sent me their photos too. I needed serious help. I started seeing a forensic psychologist who has been in the business for over 30 years. Every week I told him about my struggles, and every week he said the same thing, “Go to a meeting.” But, I didn’t want to hear about going to meetings. However, my therapist was insistent; he wanted me to see how 12-Step meetings could work for me. During our sessions, he often pulled out the AA Big Book, having me read through “The 12 Steps.” He encouraged me to go to Codependents Anonymous, but at the time, I didn’t get it. Along with “not getting it,” I didn’t want anyone to tell me about how I was “codependent.” Frankly, I didn’t have a real sense of what the word even meant. Most weeks, after therapy, I continued to walk down to the bathhouse to have sex for a few hours. Was I codependent on the sex? Looking back at the summer after my sophomore year of high school, I now recognize this is when my codependence and sex and love addiction fully emerged. I wish someone would have told me that I was being targeted by a sick, child molester. While hanging out at my great-grandmother, Mama Sara’s house, I saw someone out of the corner of my eye. It was Kenny. I had always known him as one of my dad’s closest friends. While growing up, I had gone over to his home many times to play with his nephew. Kenny had always been friendly to me. He lived right across the street from Mama Sara. After catching Kenny’s glance out of the corner of my eye, he walked over and asked if he could sit down next to me. I said, “Sure.” I had noticed that his wife and two boys were hanging out on his front porch…I didn’t really know them all that well. Kenny and I started talking, and he asked what was going on with me. Like always, he asked when was the last time I had spoken to my dad. Honestly, I couldn’t remember. Kenny always insisted that I call my dad and try to work things out. He was pretty much a broken record when it came to that subject. After getting all the formalities out of the way, the conversation slowly turned to an awkward topic. In short, Kenny said he knew what was going on with my family and me. At first, I was puzzled. What he was talking about. But as he continued, it was like he had been a fly on the wall inside my house; he knew I was gay. I was baffled. At first, I was angry and upset with Kenny. Then he told me he was interested in talking with me about it. He had genuine empathy for my situation, and he made an effort to understand what I must have been going through. Finally, I said to myself, here is someone who is finally willing to listen to me and possibly be objective about the whole thing. At that moment, I felt a ton of weight lifted from my shoulders. But the weightlessness didn’t last long. After a while, the conversation between Kenny and I turned a little dark. It was like he was too supportive. It was like he was trying to coax me into saying something he wanted to hear, but I had no clue what that was. Throughout our conversation, I kept glancing at him, and he was just staring at me really intensely. His was a look I had never seen before in my life, and I started to get nervous. I felt shaky, and my hands got very clammy. Then, he popped the question I will never forget for as long as I live. He straightforwardly asked me to kiss him. I couldn’t believe my ears. This man was no less than two feet from my face, and he was asking me to kiss him. My heart started to race. At first I thought his gesture was some kind of joke, especially since his family was sitting on his front porch, directly across the street from us, probably wondering why he was even talking to me in the first place. And now, he was asking for a kiss? I was now beyond nervous. I mustered up the courage to ask him what the hell he was talking about and why he was asking for such a thing, especially since his wife was right across the way. I asked if he was gay. He said he didn’t like “labels.” I thought this was kind of funny because I assumed his label as husband and father, should stand for a lot. But, I guess not. That’s when he told me he was interested in me. That was all I needed to hear to get totally freaked out. I had no earthly idea what to do next. I wondered, what interest could a 40-something have in a 16-year old? I told him I had to go inside, and he looked at me as if I were Juliet and him, Romeo. There was so much intensity in that look, and I was actually scared. Now, I am aware the interaction I had with Kenny that weekend was his initial step in him “grooming” me for a secret, sexual relationship. It was a gradual, calculated process. Step 1: Targeting the victim Kenny sized my vulnerabilities up that day. He was empathic to my situation at home and assured me he was not going to be just one more adult interested in judging me for being gay. Kenny wanted to “protect” me. I hurried into the house and went straight to my room. Once there, I began to cry. I was so confused. There were a billion questions rolling around in my head. I didn’t understand what had just happened. This grown man—my dad’s friend, a married man, a father—had just told me of his interest in me. He had asked for a kiss while his wife sat only 50 feet away. I was in total shock. Since I had no one to talk to, I had to deal with it all on my own. I definitely didn’t want to risk my family finding out. I cried myself to sleep that night. Several days passed, and I hadn’t seen or heard from Kenny. I just kept thinking that the whole thing had to be some kind of joke. I tried my best to banish the incident from my mind. Well, no sooner did I try to do that, and I saw him again. Getting off the bus for my job at the mall, there he was. We engaged in small talk. He told me he now worked a taxi route that included the mall. When I heard this, I let out a scream in the back of my mind—this was all too much for me. If he was now working at the mall where I worked, this increased my chances of seeing him on a regular basis. Which really scared me. It occurred to me that maybe he was some sick man who lusted after young boys. If only I had decided to trust my own instincts. But eventually, I decided to throw that idea out the window because, if that were the case, why didn’t he do anything or say something before now? One afternoon after working the morning shift, I walked across the street from the mall to catch the bus home. Kenny’s car was parked near the bus stop. He had also been working that day, so we engaged in casual conversation at the bus stop for a few minutes. Our small talk wasn’t anything really dramatic, but I noticed more and more that I had these crazy feelings whenever I was around him. I found myself growing awkwardly attracted to this man who was old enough to be my father. After all, Kenny was 45 at the time, which was way older than my own dad. Our conversation ended when the bus arrived. A few days later, I worked the evening shift and once again, rode the bus home. By the time I made it back to my neighborhood, it was dark. I got off the bus and headed down the hill to Mama Sara’s house. Everything was fine until I heard a car pull up behind me. I knew it was Kenny because his car made this awful sound. He stopped the car, and I turned around to see what he wanted. He asked if I wanted a lift to my place. Stage two: Gaining a victim’s trust I thought about it for a minute, and then I got into the car with him. That’s when he said he needed to make a quick detour to the local drugstore to pick up some ice cream for his wife. We ended up talking all the way to the drugstore, and it was really interesting having such a lengthy discussion with him. I didn’t feel like a child when I talked to him. I felt as though he valued my opinions. I felt a connection with him. We walked into the store together to get what he needed and then headed back toward home. On the ride back, the conversation took a turn to the topic of him and me. I still thought he was crazy. Why would he want me? I still hadn’t figured this man out. All I knew was that I was growing really attracted to him, and this became evident because I was so aroused around him. I couldn’t tell him whether or not anything could actually develop between us. I couldn’t think that far in advance at that moment. The car finally reached his house and we got out and stood around on the sidewalk for a few minutes. Since Mama Sara’s house was right there, I was scared that someone would see me with him. As I started to leave to walk home, he pulled me back and held me. I froze. I liked it. I liked the feeling of his hands on me. But then, I quickly snapped out of it, pulled away from him, and hurried home. I knew right then I was in trouble. I actually liked this man, and he liked me. What was I to do? Kenny gained my trust, and I was on my way to “needing” him. Stage three: filling a need A few days later I got a page on my pager. It was Kenny. I had totally forgotten I had given him my pager number. I called him back, and he wanted to know what I was doing and when I had to work. I told him I had to work that morning, and apparently, so did he. He gave me a ride to work, and it was so strange being in his car this time. I felt like a fugitive on the run. I rendezvoused with him further down my street so my family wouldn’t see me getting into his car. As he drove me to work, I kept an eye out for other family members’ cars. I just knew I would be dead if they knew I was with Kenny. I finally made it to work undetected, and, afterwards, we planned to go to lunch. So after our shifts ended, we hooked back up in the mall parking lot and went to lunch at this little diner down the street. I felt so strange being with him. I was worried about what people might say. Maybe, they thought I was his son or brother? Maybe, they thought we were lovers? Hell, I didn’t even know what we were. All I really knew was that someone was paying attention to me and thought I was valuable. He was interested in what I had to say and how I felt. I didn’t feel lonely when he was around. I didn’t feel scared anymore. After lunch, we got in the car and headed back home. On the way there, he reached over and touched my leg. It felt good. I got this warm sensation. It was unreal. I liked his affection. I believe, on some unconscious level, I forgot this man had a wife and kids. Was I wrong for doing this? I didn’t know then. I was enjoying myself. After all the hell I had been through, I thought I needed to enjoy my surroundings, and he just happened to be a part of those surroundings. That’s what I told myself. I was a scared kid looking for safety. We finally made it back to our street, and he pulled into his driveway. I looked back, and I could only make out part of Mama Sara’s house, so I doubted anyone could see me. He hopped out of the car and told me to come in. My heart sank. I couldn’t move. I told him there was no way in hell I was going into his house, but he kept begging me. He even came over to my door and playfully tried to drag me out. But still, I didn’t budge. Truth be told; I was terrified because of a serious look on his face, and I knew what was going on in his mind—he wanted to mess around. But, I knew there was no way I could do that. I knew I had to get my ass out of that car. He finally backed off, and I went home. I was relieved to be home, my heart pounding. I was all worked up. The following days and weeks were filled with him trying to pursue me, and me not knowing what to do. He called me constantly. It didn’t matter where I was; he just kept calling. Having my pager going off so much was sort of nerve–racking, but I secretly enjoyed sneaking off to use the phone to see what Kenny wanted. Kenny called me from his home, work, anywhere—and this made me feel good. I felt like I was the only person in his life whenever I was around him. He paid so much attention to me, and I couldn’t have asked for anything more. Eventually, the fact that he had a wife didn’t seem to bother me at all, because soon he and I finally had sex. It all went down one afternoon after he gave me a ride home from work. This time when he pulled into his driveway and asked me to come in, I didn’t hesitate. He took me to the back bedroom in his house. There was a bathroom, mini-kitchenette, futon bed, and phone—it was like his own studio apartment. He showed me around the other parts of the house, and I saw his family portraits—he had a great-looking family. Step four: Isolation He closed and locked the bedroom door, and my heart jumped out of my chest. At first, I tried to play it calm, walking around the room, hoping he wouldn’t try to do anything—but in the back of my mind, I wanted him just as badly as he wanted me. I had never been in a situation like this before. I had never even been interested in older men. Step five: Sexualizing the relationship Then, it finally happened. He came up to me turned me around, and we kissed. I couldn’t feel my feet…I was floating on air. His lips tasted so good (smoker’s breath, but still good). The next thing I knew our clothes were coming off and we were having wild, passionate, uncontrolled sex. I had never had it like that before, so I just let myself go. Kenny was so gentle with me. I felt so wanted, so loved at that moment. It was like nothing I had ever imagined or experienced. After we both had climaxed, he ran some bath water, and we both got in. I was in heaven. He washed my throbbing body, and it felt so, so good. We kissed some more and fondled each other in the bath. I didn’t know what to think about the whole scenario that day. I was partially relieved because I didn’t have to keep telling him “no.” I was feeling very anxious because I worried that my family would find out. I became trapped in a web of lies and became even more isolated from my family and dependent on Kenny. Step six: Maintaining control In the following weeks, we met secretly at his home, at work, around the block, in the shrubs near the mall—anywhere we could kiss and makeout. We would even sit out in broad daylight kissing in his car in the mall parking lot. It felt like a real relationship. I bought him sweet little cards from Hallmark, wrote him poetry, and did anything else I could do to show him how much he meant to me. He took me out to lunch occasionally. One time he even went to help me shop for school clothes. We bought matching “K-Swiss” t-shirts! Sometimes I looked out my window, and I could see him wearing his t-shirt, and I just knew it was some kind of sign that he was thinking about me. Late at night, he came down to my house and talked to me while I sat on my screened-in front porch. He usually stood out in the street while we talked. One night, all hell broke loose. Mama Sara had apparently started noticing how Kenny was always coming over to talk to me (it was usually around 11 or midnight, but she noticed). Kenny and I were standing there talking about random things when my cousin, Samantha, came storming out of the house, demanding that Kenny leave me alone. She started ranting and raving about how he had no business talking to me. It was such a mess. I was pissed beyond belief. Kenny left, and I went inside demanding to know why in the hell she had decided I couldn’t talk to him. I walked into the living room all fired up. I couldn’t believe Samantha had embarrassed me like that. I demanded an answer as to why I couldn’t talk to Kenny. That’s when Mama Sara said that she knew all about Kenny, and she knew he was trying to mess with me. I told her that she had no right to tell me whom I could talk to or see. Then, she played the AIDS card. She went on and on about our neighbor whose son died of AIDS because he was gay. I had no clue why she couldn’t understand that anybody can contract AIDS, not just gay people. She got all emotional and started saying that she didn’t want me to be like all the other gays and die. She then took it further by claiming that I was the cause of some fight Kenny and his wife supposedly had out on the street a few days back. I hadn’t heard about any fight. I asked how she knew about it. Just like I figured, she heard about it from all the neighborhood gossip. I was appalled. I wanted to get out of that fucking house so bad at that moment. I called Kenny and told him what went down. He claimed he had no idea what Mama Sara was talking about concerning a fight. From that day forward, everything at my great-grandmother’s house got worse. Finally, it got to the point where I started lying about going to the library, so I could see Kenny. I thought my family was trying to take me away from the one that I loved so much. I had fallen hard for this man in just a month’s time. I wrote countless poems that expressed my undying love for Kenny. Here is a sample of one of the poems I wrote to him: Piece of My Heart Like a ray of light, you shined into my life. You took my hand and held it tight. I looked at you, very sweet, indeed. You touched my soul and, like a thief in the night, you stole my heart. I wasn’t willing to, give at first, but with your honesty and trust, I must. Forever in a day, every second of every hour, every day of every month, I will always Know you have a piece of my heart. You cherish me, as I do you. I may not be yours in the fullest extent, but in our hearts we’ll always be. I love you with every inch of my heart, but remember only one piece is given when We part. I became even more isolated from my family that summer. Kenny had come into my life and became everything I thought I was missing. Every chance I could take to see him, I did. He told me he needed me. He told me he loved me. I was convinced that I was in love too. It wasn’t clear at the time, but I now know that my child molester had the ultimate grip on my reality. It was as if I were under a spell. Never had I disobeyed my family like this and lied to so many people. I was different now; I was not myself. I became obsessed with Kenny. But, he knew I was only staying with Mama Sara for the summer, so he slowly tried to push me away. He finally succeeded when he asked me if I thought he would ever leave his family for me. I said I hoped that he would. He said there was no way he would. And so, there it was. In a single instant, Kenny went from this caring, loving friend and lover to this evil user. But, I still couldn’t hate him. Before I left, he said he would always love me and cherish everything I had ever given to him. All of these moments ignited my addictions, but the stage was set much earlier in my childhood.

My Book Review:

In I Just Wanted Love: Recovery of a Codependent, Sex and Love Addict, author Darrett "D.J." Burr's memoir takes the reader along for the ride on his emotional journey of recovery and renewal. This is a compelling and powerful memoir written in an inspirational style that bears the author's soul, and reveals the harrowing depths and direction that his addiction and dependency took him in before finding the courage and determination to seek recovery and a change in his lifestyle. 

D.J.'s story is told in a very realistic, graphic, and straight forward style that will have the reader experiencing the full gamut of emotions. You can't help but feel empathy and compassion for him as his life has been anything but easy, yet you will also cheer him on as he healed during his recovery, and how it eventually led him towards a very admirable, fulfilling, and resourceful direction. I admire D.J.'s conviction, ethic, integrity, and determination to use his personal experience in his career as a licensed mental health counselor in order to help others who have also experienced traumatic lifestyles that comes with addiction and dependency. Along with his story, the author also provides the reader with informative and resourceful therapy techniques and information on the twelve step program. 

I Just Wanted Love is an inspirational memoir that everyone can relate to and should read, it is a story that will stir your soul and resonate with you for a very long time. 


About The Author

D.J. Burr

Darrett “D.J.” Burr is a licensed mental health counselor in the Washington State; national certified counselor and a specialist in problematic sexual behavior. He has been in private practice in Seattle, WA for five years. D.J. is the co-founder, owner, and Executive Director of A.B.L.E. Counseling Services, LLC.

D.J. is the creator of ABLE Affirmations, ABLE Life Recovery, and the ABLE Care Clinic. D.J. published Unfinished: A GLBT Domestic Violence Workbook while completing his Masters in Community Counseling at Argosy University-Atlanta in 2009.

Born in raised in Marietta, GA, D.J. has been known to many as a survivor. His childhood was less-than-nurturing. D.J. spent the majority of his early years tending to other’s needs and wants; not knowing what his were. He kept fighting for more–more understanding of himself.

Unfortunately, D.J. lost focus after being targeted by a sexual predator. D.J. lapsed into addiction to numb the pain of the molestation, broken relationships, dysfunctional family of origin, and loss of his childhood. However, the addiction did not stop him.

Over 15 years later, D.J. has learned to live life instead of surviving life. D.J. found answers to his long unanswered questions, primarily, who loves me? Twelve Step recovery and rigorous honesty saved D.J. from a life of addiction. He can now say, “I love myself.” Loving himself allowed D.J. to stop chasing unavailable people, places, and things. He now focuses on his recovery, which impacts every facet of his life.

D.J. enjoys writing, watching movies, especially horror/suspense. His favorite band is Nickelback. His favorite R&B group is Destiny’s Child. D.J. is also a huge fan of old 80s-90s cartoons like Transformers.

You can visit D.J. Burr’s website at

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