Book Reviews: Defriended by Ruth Baron and Purgatory Key by Darrell James

Ruth Baron
Point Horror, May 2013
ISBN 978-0-545-42357-1
Trade Paperback

Meeting new people is hard.  Today’s world of Facebook, blogs and YouTube makes it easier, but new challenges are presented.  There is a lack of certainty with an online relationship.  Common questions arise.  Is the person I’m talking to really this cool?  Is the person being honest?  Is this a ghost?  Okay, the last one, maybe not so common.

Jason’s love of indie rock, The Mountain Goats in particular, was not something he expected to share with a high-school girl.  When he discovered Lacey’s profile on-line, he felt compelled to contact her.  They both had the same quote from Mountain Goats’ Fault Lines on their homepage.

Eventually, Lacey responds to Jason and the two grow close quickly.  After months of chatting, e-mailing and Instant-Messaging, Jason was ready for a face-to-face meeting.  He was surprised and disappointed with Lacey’s evasive responses.  He turns to Google where he is stunned to find Lacey’s obituary.  She was killed in an accident months before she first contacted him.  Although shattered, Jason resolves to find out who he has been talking to, and why.

Thus begins a wonderful potpourri of mystery, ghost-story, cruel-hoax, with a little bit of forbidden love.   Not only did this completely captivate this reader, it kept me guessing and second-guessing.  Ms. Baron does an amazing job in introducing the characters with just enough information to make the reader say “hmmm”.  While this book may be intended for Middle Grade readers; it is, quite simply, a fabulous, classic mystery that any reader would enjoy.  I will be on the look-out for more from Ruth Baron.

Reviewed by jv poore, May 2013.


Purgatory KeyPurgatory Key
A Del Shannon Novel
Darrell James
Midnight Ink, August 2013
ISBN 978-0-7387-2371-6
Trade Paperback

From the mountains of Arizona to the bayous of Louisiana, Darrel James gives another suspense filled novel featuring Del Shannon. This time around she’s up against kidnappers and her own personal demons because, this time, it connects with her past. And when a former lover enters the picture…well, you knows sparks are going to sizzle.

Investigator Del Shannon is assigned to find two kidnapped teenagers. In Tuscon, Shannon makes contact with one of the kidnappers and negotiates a money drop. However, the drop goes bad and Shannon has scant leads. ATF Agent Frank Falconet is assigned to trace a major league felon presumed to be dead. The man’s brother’s image was picked up on surveillance in Tuscon. When Shannon and Falconet meet up, they realize their two cases are connected and it’s off to the bayous of Louisiana. While they also try to sort out their previous romantic relationship, the teenagers must contend with killers and tiger…and the possibility of treasure nearby.

I’ve read a previous Shannon novel and wasn’t disappointed. James delivers a well written novel and though some of the scenes are predictable, there is an excellent balance between character substance and action. This is another fine addition to the series with the stage set for more to come.

Reviewed by Stephen L. Brayton, July 2013.
Author of Night Shadows, Beta and Alpha.

Book Blitz: Forty Day and Forty Nights by Stephanie Parent—and a Giveaway

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“Stephanie Parent takes a story I would have immediately shrugged off and
turned it into a story with a surprising amount of reality and despite being religious
based is not at all religious. Stephanie somehow created a paradox… When I think
of a word to describe this story I think, layers.  The tension is extremely layered.
We get internal tension among the characters, tension relating to the animals,
and tension from the storming raging outside. It’s not even supernatural
elements, it’s all practical points like food and animal needs.
The characters are also well defined and fleshed out.”
–Michelle, In Libris Veritas

The romance is slow and imperfect, but it’s realistic and believable. I can
honestly say that this love story is one of if not the best one I’ve read so far…a very
thrilling read full of some great twists…[the ending] was everything I could
have asked for and more, it was a perfect ending to an imperfectly perfect story.
–Zachary Flye, Zach’s YA Reviews


Forty Days 2Title: Forty Days
Series: Neima’s Ark #1
Author: Stephanie Parent
Release Date: 02/10/13

Summary from Goodreads:

The entire village knows Neima’s grandfather is a madman. For years the old man has prophesied that a great flood is coming, a flood disastrous enough to blot out the entire earth. He’s even built an enormous ark that he claims will allow his family to survive the deluge. But no one believes the ravings of a lunatic…

…until the rain starts. And doesn’t stop. Soon sixteen-year-old Neima finds her entire world transformed, her life and those of the people she loves in peril. Trapped on the ark with her grandfather Noah, the rest of her family, and a noisy, filthy, and hungry assortment of wild animals, will Neima find a way to survive?

With lions, tigers, and bears oh my, elephants and flamingos too, along with rivalries and betrayals, a mysterious stowaway, and perhaps even an unexpected romance, FORTY DAYS is not your grandfather’s Noah’s Ark story.

FORTY DAYS is approximately 45000 words, the length of a shorter novel, and is the first installment in a two-part epic story. It does contain a cliffhanger ending.

Readers looking for a traditional, religiously oriented version of the Noah’s Ark story should be warned that FORTY DAYS may not appeal to them. The novel will, however, appeal to lovers of apocalyptic fiction, historical fiction, and romance, as well as anyone who’s ever dreamed of having a baby elephant as a pet.

See my earlier review of Forty Days here.

Forty Days is currently FREE!

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Forty NightsTitle: Forty Nights
Seeries: Neima’s Ark #2
Author: Stephanie Parent
Release Date: September 2013

Summary from Goodreads:

Neima, her family, and her grandfather Noah have found themselves trapped aboard an ark as a great flood destroys all life in the world. As their time aboard the ark lengthens, food begins to run out, wild animals grow restless, and family tensions become as much of a threat as the flood outside. In the second and final installment of Neima’s Ark, the stakes are higher, the conflicts are greater, and Neima finds herself facing a choice as impossible as the destruction all around her.

Forty Nights is a continuation of the story begun in Forty Days, and it’s recommended that you read Forty Days first for the best experience. Forty Nights does, however, contain a character guide to refresh readers’ memories. The Neima’s Ark series is a historical, feminist reimagining of the story of Noah’s Ark rather than a religiously oriented one, and the novels are best suited for readers who are comfortable with new interpretations of biblical stories.

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An Excerpt from Forty Nights

Shai turns toward the cage and says, “The other dove—he’s rejected Aliye, hasn’t he?  We can’t put her back in that cage now.  We kept them apart for too long.”

“Yes, I—I think so.”  I have the sick feeling that we’ve stepped beyond our place somehow, taking these animals, separating and pairing them off, keeping them caged here.  We do not own these creatures, don’t control them even if we try to—certainly we can’t control the tigers, the jackals, the wolves.  Look what’s happened when we’ve tried to interfere in the lives of just two little birds.

Another thought, less fully formed, tugs at the edges of my consciousness and leaves me feeling even sicker: isn’t this ark really one large, none-too-sturdy cage?  And that question leads to another, more unsettling one: If the ark is a cage, just how much longer can its bars hold us all together?  How long before, within its walls, we tear ourselves apart?


About the Author

Stephanie ParentStephanie Parent is a graduate of the Master of Professional Writing program at USC and attended the Baltimore School for the Arts as a piano major. She moved to Los Angeles because of Francesca Lia Block’s WEETZIE BAT books, which might give you some idea of how much books mean to her. She also loves dogs, books about dogs, and sugary coffee drinks both hot and cold.

Author Links:

Website  //  Goodreads  //  Twitter  //  Facebook



1- ebook of Forty Nights & $10 Amazon Gift Card (INT)
2- ebook copies of Forty Nights (INT)

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