May 15, 2015

Blog Tour -- The Weight of Guilt

25009125The Weight of Guilt
Author: Jon Ripslinger
Release Date: February 24th, 2015
Publisher: Red Adept Publishing
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Pages: 253
Format: Ebook, Given from author in exchange for an honest review

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Driving home from a bonfire party, eighteen-year-old John Hawk crashes, killing his girlfriend, Riley. Bullied and tormented at school, and crushed by his guilty conscience, John transfers to a school on the banks of the Mississippi River, where he attracts the eye of the principal’s daughter, Megan. Though he’s reluctant, she convinces him to be her prom date. The morning after prom, Principal Jones reports Megan missing. Four days later, her body is recovered from the river, and John becomes the prime suspect in her death.

Charley Cotton, Megan’s best friend, knows that Megan had a secret, but she doesn’t trust John because of his past. John is desperate to avoid adding to the shame he carries for Riley’s death, though—it’s destroying his life. With Charley’s help, he learns that others in Megan’s life had a motive to keep her quiet. But every effort they make to uncover the truth edges them closer to a desperate murderer with everything to lose.

My Review:
I am going to start by saying that this book wasn't what I expected. Now, let me explain that statement.

I don't know if I was tired or what when I signed up for this book tour, but I don't remember signing up for this type of book. I just read the synopsis and know that he is quite clear with what he wanted you to know about the story. I was the one who somehow much have read only the first couple sentences and said yes without reading the rest. This is not a book I would have usually accepted. With that being said, I am glad I did accept it.

I really enjoyed the story. It was nice getting to follow the different characters around. You get a lot of John Hawk. He, I think, is the view you get the most. You get to witness his nightmares and the guilt he carries around everyday for his girlfriend dying with him driving. I know that would definitely be something I don't think I could ever get over either. Then He goes through all the trouble with Megan, too. I really have my heart go out to him. He is a great character to follow. You get to learn about his past and all the changing that he has done in the past year. He is a totally different person and one he should definitely be proud of. When things happen with Megan, he doesn't give up on finding out the truth. It was very honorable and I loved him as a character.

You also have Megan, who you don't get to see too much, but you get enough to see her pain, too. She seems to hide it from the outside super well and that is not something that is easy to do. She is so perky and happy on the outside, you would never guess what is really going on in her life.

Charley Cotton was also a great character. She doesn't come across as the tomboy she is at the beginning. It wasn't until later on in the book when Megan dies does the real her come out. It is like she was hidden but now she doesn't want to hide anymore. She was such a strong character to the ending and I am happy she found what she wanted in life.

The messages in this book were phenomenal. You get to really feel the "Don't Judge a Book by it's Cover" feeling. You get to feel it in so many different ways though. It is incredible the message of it you could pull out of it all. You also get to see that some teens feel unwanted and neglected by not only their families, but also their peers at school. So many hide it, but if you look close you can see it.

I think all teens should read this book to see the struggles everyone goes through. It might help bullies see what they are really doing to others as well as the ones that are being bullied feeling more empowered. This book is good for any teen to help them through their school years to become the person they strive to be.


     Riley's drunk, and it's all my fault. Swaying near the blazing bonfire with a dozen other kids, she's guzzling beer from a red Solo cup. They laugh, jostle, and slop beer over themselves.
     Damn! I should have been paying more attention to her. I should have kept better track of time. You idiot, John! I need to get her home and tuck her into bed—now—or we'll both be in deep crap. I step up behind her in the brilliant firelight. The heat feels good on my face and arms, but the smoke curls into my nostrils, and I cough. Someone must have piled wet logs onto the blaze.
     I touch Riley's shoulder. "We better go."
     She whirls. "Where have you been?"
     "Checking out Brian's weightlifting equipment. I forgot the time. Sorry."
     Flames leap and crackle into the crisp night air, casting flickering shadows across Riley's face. Her eyes glitter like stars in the inferno. A few kids rotate, trying to keep all sides warm. Earlier, we roasted hot dogs, bratwurst, and marshmallows over the oak blaze.
     "What time is it?" she asks, her words slurred a little.
     "Midnight." I’d promised her folks I'd have her home already. I don't need them yelling at me again. Or breaking us up. That thought jars me. I'd rather lose an arm and a leg than lose Riley. She's the only thing good in my life, except wrestling. "They never come home before two or three," she says and gulps her beer.
     "Let's throw that away. You've had enough to drink."
     She smiles, her mouth crooked. "Look who's talking."
     "I haven't had a sip." True statement. I never drink the night before a wrestling tournament. I dump Riley's beer but hang on to the cup—I don't litter. I also help little old ladies cross the street. "I can do without your folks being pissed at me. They already don't trust me." "Yes, they do." Riley grabs my free hand and squeezes.
      After planting a kiss on her forehead, I say, "C'mon, pretty lady. Home we go." I guide her by the elbow away from the fire.
     The party was a spring break bash at Brian Holdorf's parents' farm pond. Dense woods block out half the sky, and a breeze ripples the treetops. My arm around her waist, I guide Riley across the pasture to my car, which is parked by the farmhouse. A squatty barn and a tall silo loom close by. Brilliant stars and a huge moon light our way. Laughter drifts up from the pond, and the scent of pigs floats in the air.
     Opening the car's passenger door, I toss Riley's cup in the back. Then I slip her into the seat and close the door. After I climb in, I close my door and poke the lock button to make sure we're secured. "Buckle up."
     Rather than take Interstate 80, I drive a ribbon of country blacktop that twists through hilly farmland. I think I can drive the blacktop faster than the highway—hardly any traffic and less chance of the cops picking me up for speeding. I don't need another face-off with them.
     "I'll bet my parents aren't home," Riley says after we've been on the road a minute or two. She leans over and kisses my cheek. "Let's park somewhere. This road's dark." Her hair smells of wood smoke, her breath of stale beer.
     I smile. I wouldn't mind parking for an hour or so and making out. "We need to get you home and into bed."
     Wisps of fog curl in my headlights. I'm zooming downhill toward the Des Moines River, and the curtain of fog thickens quickly. I cut my speed from seventy to fifty, then to thirty. I don't want to be going too fast if a deer darts into the road. Fifteen… The fog turns dense—a gray, billowing wall that reflects the glow of my headlights back into my eyes. I squint and dim the car lights. I swallow and slow the vehicle to a crawl: ten miles per hour. I glue my eyes to the yellow center line and guide the car's left fender along the line.
     "Why are you slowing down?" Riley asks.
     "Can't you see how soupy it is out there?"
     I'm not sure when I cross the bridge over the river. The fog is too thick to see even the side rails. But when I head uphill, my grip on the wheel eases. I fill my lungs and exhale slowly. I've escaped the danger. The moment I can see ahead of me though—still going ten miles an hour—I spot headlights racing toward me. They blind me. I barely have time to swear.
     This can't be!
     Even Riley sees the headlights. She screams, and the next sound is the wail of my horn and the hideous grinding shriek of brakes as I try to swerve and evade the headlights.
About the Author 
After Jon Ripslinger retired as a public high school English teacher, he began a career as an author. He has published many young adult novels and truly enjoys writing books for teens. He has also published numerous short stories in Woman's World magazine.

Jon and his wife, Collette live in Iowa. They are the proud grandparents of thirteen grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren. 

When not working writing, Jon enjoys the outdoors, especially fishing. He waits patientlyfor the next "big one" to strike.

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