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Monday, January 20, 2014

The Holdout by Laurel Osterkamp (Author Guest Post / Book Review / Contest Giveaway)

In association with Chick Lit Plus Blog Tours, Jersey Girl Book Reviews is pleased to host the virtual book tour event for The Holdout by Author Laurel Osterkamp!

Author Guest Post

Obsessions, Survivor, and Fiction

In July of 2000 I was finishing up grad school and getting my master’s degree in education. I had also just moved in with the man who is now my husband, and I was about to start my first fulltime teaching job. In addition to all that, I was in a comedy-improv group, and we were performing a lot that summer.

So I had a lot to think about.

But do you know what I spent most of time on? Watching, reading about, and obsessing over the new reality TV show, Survivor. Sure, the show is now a dinosaur, but at that time it was the newest, shiniest object on television. And I was transfixed.

I remember going online to read the message boards about it. I was putting off writing the “thesis” I needed to complete to get my degree. This was before the internet was used for much for research, and my topic wasn’t one I was particularly crazy about - male versus female performance in math classes. (I’m an English teacher. What was I thinking?)

So every morning, my boyfriend would leave for work and I would force myself to sit in the tiny second bedroom in our new place, which we were using as an office. I would stare at my computer, and then I would log on, not to write or do research, but to visit the chat-rooms. “Just ten minutes” I would tell myself, “and then I’ll get to work.”

The chat-rooms I visited, but never commented in - they were all had theories about who would win. There were also some spoilers that turned out to be false. After all, Gervaise DID NOT WIN. Richard did, and I still haven’t gotten over that.

So yeah, I was consumed. It was all so new, and nobody had any idea what would happen. I was totally rooting for Gretchen, because she was so strong, likeable, and competent. And as for Richard, who was such a jerk, every episode I waited for him to get voted out. But he never did.

The concept of the show fascinated me. Every week a new person was voted out, so only the strong shall survive. Right? What I didn’t realize at the time was Survivor would redefine strength, and that in reality television, what’s just is not necessarily what is right.

Now, thirteen years later, I still watch Survivor, though I have skipped a season or three. And now my eight year old son watches it with me, but he talks a lot, so I’m constantly missing important moments.

But I still like to pontificate over how I would do on the show. Probably not very well. While my endurance and strength are okay, most of the challenges are about speed and skill, and I would be awful at those. Plus, I like to stay hydrated, and I don’t know if I could survive on the little drops of water they get out there. Still, I like to think I could play the social game, and that the group dynamics wouldn’t get the best of me.

But I know I’m never going to be on Survivor, which why I wrote The Holdout instead. It was a lot of fun to create a character who could succeed if only she’d find her inner strength – one who could kick some ass in ways I’ll never be able to. People have said my book is a romance about justice, and that’s true, I guess. But it’s also a tale of self-discovery, about what happens when we need to find our voice amidst a group of people.

Survivor is all about group dynamics, and really, so is life. And that’s where the fun comes in.

The tribe has spoken.

About The Author

Laurel Osterkamp's award winning novels have been hailed as funny, intelligent, snarky and poignant. She is the author of four novels and two novellas, including the November Surprise series, which, like The Holdout, features the Bricker family. Laurel was recently on a federal jury, and she loves watching Survivor.


Book Review

The Holdout by Laurel Osterkamp
Publisher: PMI Books 
Publication Date: September 8, 2013
Format: Paperback - 236 pages / Kindle - 4205 KB 
ISBN: 1933826401
Genre: Contemporary Romance / Women's Fiction

BUY THE BOOK: The Holdout

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 Chick Lit Plus Blog Tours.

Book Description:

Robin wanted to win The Holdout, a cutthroat reality TV show, so she gave it her all, challenge after challenge. Then she fell for Grant, with his irresistible eyes and heartbreaking life story.

But Grant was only using Robin as they competed for a million dollars. Once home, Robin wants to hide from the humiliation as episodes of The Holdout are aired, and she worries her family was right all along; she's not a survivor.

Yet she could surprise everyone, and have the last laugh.

Besides, Robin now has jury duty. And as she forges ahead, confronting her demons about bravery, justice, and romance, Robin will come to decide which is more important: the courage to stand alone, or the strength to love again.

Book Excerpt:

My only mistake was falling in love. Other than that I played a nearly perfect game. But it doesn’t matter. Do you remember Janet Jackson’s halftime performance during the Super Bowl back in 2004? It was stunning but nobody will ever recall the actual dance because at the end of it, she showed her nipple on national television. Well, Janet and I have something in common. I didn’t think things through, I exposed myself to the nation, and now that is what I’ll be remembered for.

Except it hasn’t happened yet.

I filmed the current season of The Holdout months ago, but it’s still airing. There are three episodes yet to be broadcast, and my most humiliating moments are still to come. Right now I only occasionally get spotted on the street, but I was edited out of a lot of the earlier footage. I’m not na├»ve enough to believe that will be the case later on. What happened was devastating but it will undoubtedly make delicious TV.

So I’m wondering if anyone will recognize me today, and if so, will that increase or decrease my chances of being dismissed? I park my car and walk from the lot to the federal court building, clutching my jury summons in my hand. If I’m chosen, it will be the second jury I’ve been on in a year.

Inside, I give my bag to the security guards and walk through the metal detectors. They give me my bag back on the other side, and I take the elevator to the fourth floor, which is where my summons said to go. When the elevator doors open I immediately see a desk and behind it stands a perky brunette wearing an adorable suit jacket with bell sleeves and a Peter Pan collar. She totally pulls it off.

I pull on the edges of my oversized sweater and smooth out my skirt. My outfit seemed reasonable when I left this morning but I’ve never worked downtown and I’ve never owned a pair of heels. What do I know?

“Hi,” she says, with a floating voice. “Can I help you?”

I hold up my summons. “I’m here to report for jury duty.”

She takes the summons and looks it over. “Robin Bricker. Great. Please sign in.” She gestures toward a clipboard with a sign-in sheet. Mine will be the fourth signature.

“Here’s your card.” She gives me a new piece of paper, and it has a stamp with today’s date on it. “Hold on to this. If you’re selected for a jury, you’ll present it every morning to be stamped and that will be documentation for your boss.”

“Oh,” I stammer. “I'm sort of between jobs right now, so there's no need.” I tilt my head to the side, trying to stretch away the tension. Who cares if I don't have a regular, nine to five gig? I'm not obligated to explain how I support myself.

She nods and oozes sincerity, and even though she’s wearing heels I tower over her. She’s the sort of girl I wanted to be when I was in high school. “Well, then you’ll get paid for your time here!” Her perfect brown bob curls just so, right under her ears. Maybe if I blow-dried my hair every morning I could get my hair to do that too. “You’re a little early, but go ahead and have a seat in the lounge. There’s coffee, juice, and muffins, and in about half an hour, we’ll get started!”

I thank her and walk into the lounge, a large room with oversized windows and strategically placed tables and chairs. Although I’ve had breakfast, I grab a chocolate muffin because I’m still hungry, and besides, it’s my policy never to turn down anything chocolate. I lost a lot of weight while filming The Holdout, but even if I gain it all back I’ll still be thin. For the first eighteen years of my life I hated that I was always the tallest, scrawniest girl in my class. No cute curves for me. But once I went to college I appreciated that I could eat cafeteria food and still fit into my size six jeans, while my friends all struggled with the freshman fifteen.

I sit down in one of the many cushy chairs, take out my book, and settle in to read while enjoying my muffin. Who said jury duty has to be awful? But then the television that’s mounted to the ceiling switches from the morning show to commercial, and an ad for The Holdout comes on. My castmates are walking along the beach, some wearing teeny tiny bikinis, others shirtless in swimming trunks. Joe Pine’s voice can be heard over it all, loud and clear.

“This week, on The Holdout. The stakes are high, loyalties are tested, and hearts are broken.” Then it switches to a close up of Grant. He’s sitting and smirking; even the way he blinks seems self-satisfied while the waves lap the shore behind him.

The Holdout is a game,” he says, “and I’m not here just to play. I’m here to win. I’ll do whatever it takes.”

Then – oh my God – it switches to a shot of Grant and me, locked in an embrace. But even worse, it switches again, and now Grant and Klemi are making out. Finally it switches back to Grant, sitting alone on the beach, laughing to the camera and clapping his hands. Joe Pine’s voice comes on again. “Will lover boy Grant endure? Will he persist? Will he be The Holdout?”

The commercial ends and I shrink down in my seat. I look around the room and see that others are all busy on their phones or reading the paper or nodding off as if they’re practicing sitting in the jury box. Nobody seems to recognize me, which is my goal. I’ve cut my hair since the show and I dyed it a darker blonde. I’d have gone more extreme, but contractually I’m only allowed to make minor changes to my appearance. So I’m wearing thick rimmed glasses with fake lenses, and I dress in ways that will hopefully help me blend into the wallpaper.

All my life I’ve wanted to be famous. Now that my day has arrived, I’m clinging to my old, faceless existence like J.D Salinger gone into exile after writing Catcher in the Rye. Except instead of publishing a groundbreaking classic novel, I got duped by a pretty boy and his girlfriend and cheated out of a million dollars. What’s worse though, is soon the world will see it all play out on national television.

My Book Review:

What more could a reader ask for than to have a story that includes a Survivor like Reality TV show with a journey of self-discovery and a little romance added into the mix? Well ... author Laurel Osterkamp does just that in her latest novel, The Holdout!

Author Laurel Osterkamp weaves an entertaining tale that is set in two places: Des Moines, Iowa and the Philippines, and told in the first person narrative with an alternating past/present timeline. The reader follows thirty-one year old Robin Bricker's journey as she competes on a Survivor like Reality TV show called The Holdout, where she competes against fifteen other "castaways" to be the last holdout to win the million dollar prize.

The reader gets to know Robin as the storyline switches from flashbacks of the past with the taping of her time on the Reality TV show, and the present time where Robin is trying to deal with the public humiliation as the show's weekly episodes are currently being aired. Robin tries to get her life back on track and does her best to blend in and not be recognized by fans of the show. Robin is selected for jury duty on a Federal Court civil case, where she will embark on a journey of self-discovery as she compares her time on the island with that of being on the jury, which will help her discover who she really is, grow and learn from her actions and the consequences from both life experiences.

I really enjoyed reading The Holdout, I think author Laurel Osterkamp did a wonderful job of cleverly interweaving the two storylines (Robin's time on the Reality TV show and as a juror in the Federal Court case), it kept me intrigued and turning the pages. The reader is provided with an entertaining behind the scenes look at what goes on in a Reality TV game show coupled with the realistic inner workings of the legal judicial system. The story is filled with humor, family dynamic issues, drama, romance, tension; trust and betrayal, and life lessons.

With a quirky and realistic cast of characters; quirky dialogue and dramatic interactions; a richly detailed description of the Philippine island and Reality TV game setting; and a cleverly well-written multi-layered storyline that easily draws the reader into the complexity of Robin's story; The Holdout is a thoroughly entertaining and enjoyable read!


The Holdout - Book Trailer

Virtual Book Tour Contest Giveaway

Win A $20 Amazon Gift Card

Anyone who leaves a comment on The Holdout tour page will be entered to win a $20 Amazon gift card! Anyone who purchases their copy of The Holdout before January 24 and sends their receipt to will get 5 bonus entries!

Virtual Book Tour Schedule

Tour Schedule:

January 6 – Chick Lit Plus – Excerpt
January 8 – Change the Word – Q&A & Excerpt 
January 9 – Chick Lit Club Connect – Guest Post
January 13 – Keep Calm and Blog On – Review
January 14 – The Book Fetish – Review
January 14 - The Book Fetish - Excerpt
January 15 – Books Etc – Review
January 16 – A Blue Million Books – Q&A & Excerpt 
January 17 – The Ultimate Late Bloomer – Q&A
January 20 – Jersey Girl Book Reviews – Review, Guest Post & Excerpt
January 21 – Traveling With T – Guest Post
January 22 – Storm Goddess Book Reviews – Review & Excerpt 
January 22 – Book Suburbia – Excerpt
January 22 – Literary Chanteuse – Excerpt
January 23 – Book Reviews by Dee – Review
January 24 – Chrissy McBookNerd – Review


  1. Thank you for the opportunity to host the virtual book tour event.

  2. Thanks so much for the review, Kathleen. I'm really glad you enjoyed The Holdout!

    1. Hi Laurel! I really enjoyed reading The Holdout, what a great storyline mix of Reality TV and Judicial System plus a bit of subtle romance! Thank you for the opportunity to host your virtual book tour event. :)