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Saturday, October 20, 2018

SPOTLIGHT and GIVEAWAY: Love on the Rocks by Kerry Evelyn @TheKerryEvelyn


Excited to be on the Blog Tour for LOVE ON THE ROCKS.
Today I'm spotlighting this romantic story AND have a giveaway!
This is book 2 in the Crane Cove Series.


Kat Daniels regrets the day she chose barrel racing over her fiancé. After a year of reckless choices that led to an incident she’d like to forget, she's back in Crane’s Cove wondering how it all went wrong and trying to pick up the pieces. Easton Crane has loved Kat for as long as he can remember. But when she shows up after rejecting his proposal a year ago, he’s more confused than ever. After all, he's already sacrificed six years of his life to care for her after her traumatic brain injury. If his proposal couldn't keep her in town, what was it that brought her back? Was it him or was Kat hiding something? When a hurricane hits Crane’s Cove and threatens the life of Kat’s beloved horse, the two are faced with the challenge of working together to save her. Can they battle the storm of old memories and wounds to rebuild their love stronger than before?



Kerry Evelyn has always been fascinated by people and the backstories that drive them to do what they do. A native of the Massachusetts SouthCoast, she changed her latitude in 2002 and is now a crazy blessed wife and homeschooling mom in Orlando. She loves God, books of all kinds, traveling, taking selfies, sweet drinks, and escaping into her imagination, where every child is happy and healthy, every house has a library, and her hubby wears coattails and a top hat 24/7.


for music which inspired the story.


Enter for a chance to win an autographed set of Crane's Cove novels and a $25 Amazon gift card. 
To enter, follow this

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Friday, October 19, 2018

Q&A + GIVEAWAY: The Winters by Lisa Gabriele @vikingbooks @lisagabrieletv

The Winters
by Lisa Gabriele

I've partnered with Viking to give you this Q&A from Lisa AND a chance to win one finished copy on my Bookstagram account - U.S. Entries ONLY - see my 5 star review HERE.


Publisher:  Viking Books
Publish Date:  October 16, 2018
Hardcover
320 Pages
Standalone
Genres:  Thriller, Suspense

A spellbindingly suspenseful new novel set in the moneyed world of the Hamptons, about secrets that refuse to remain buried and consequences that cannot be escaped.

After a whirlwind romance, a young woman returns to the opulent, secluded Long Island mansion of her new fiancé Max Winter--a wealthy senator and recent widower--and a life of luxury she's never known. But all is not as it appears at the Asherley estate. The house is steeped in the memory of Max's beautiful first wife, Rebekah, who haunts the young woman's imagination and feeds her uncertainties, while his very alive teenage daughter Dani makes her life a living hell. She soon realizes there is no clear place for her in this twisted little family: Max and Dani circle each other like cats, a dynamic that both repels and fascinates her, and he harbors political ambitions with which he will allow no woman--alive or dead--to interfere.

As the soon-to-be second Mrs. Winter grows more in love with Max, and more afraid of Dani, she is drawn deeper into the family's dark secrets--the kind of secrets that could kill her, too. The Winters is a riveting story about what happens when a family's ghosts resurface and threaten to upend everything.
 

A Conversation with Lisa Gabriele
Author of The Winters


1.       The Winters begins like a lot of books, with a handsome man sweeping a young woman off her feet. But at its heart, this is a story about women—our unnamed heroine, plucked out of her quiet existence; Rebekah, the dead first wife who haunts her dreams; and Dani, Rebekah’s vengeful teenage daughter. Did you set out to write a story about female relationships, power, and sexuality?

Yes. I’m obsessed with female relationships, sex, and power, and how they intersect. These are my favorite things to read and write about. The genesis of this book began with me thinking about the women in Rebecca, and all the ways modern female characters and a new setting would completely change their relationship with each other. Suddenly The Winters became an exercise in demonstrating how much women have changed in contemporary times, and how some men, especially rich and powerful ones, really have not. I mean, think about all the different ways patriarchy still shapes and molds our lives as women. My narrator certainly has agency, she has a job of her own that she’s quite good at, and a potential role model of a single working woman, but despite this, she’s still deeply susceptible to the lure of a “happily ever after.” And with Max’s daughter Dani, I got to play around with some of my worst fears around young women and social media, on the difficulty of getting your new boyfriend’s kid to accept you, and about feminism’s so-called generational divide. Dani is 15 going on 40, an heiress with a chauffeur, a tutor, and thirty thousand Instagram followers. She isn’t going to make life easy for her new stepmother-to-be. And what better wedge for her to use than the memory of her dead (perfect) mother, Rebekah? The relationship between her and the narrator was explosively fun to write. But this time, the primary question that hovers over the narrator’s image of the dead Rebekah isn’t about her sexuality, but rather her role as a mother—a much more loaded question these days.

2.      The Winters is inspired in part by Daphne du Maurier’s classic novel, Rebecca—an instant bestseller, first published in 1938, that has never gone out of print, reportedly selling 50,000 copies a year. And it’s obvious you’re a fan. What do you love about it, and what made you use it as the launching point for your novel?

Anyone who knows me knows I’m a big fan of Rebecca. My mother, who died almost twenty years ago, introduced me to Alfred Hitchcock’s movie first, and whenever I miss her I reach for it. In the fall of 2016, in the despairing days of the U.S. election, I bought some ice cream and threw in the DVD to drown out the bad news. But this time, instead of comforted, it left me feeling deeply uneasy. I had to remind myself that in Daphne du Maurier’s book Maxim de Winter killed his sexually rebellious first wife, a fact that Hitchcock, due to Production Codes at the time, erased. I suddenly felt this strong desire to avenge Rebecca and punish Maxim. So I guess you could say nostalgia inspired me to reread the book, but anger drove me to write mine.

3.      Much of The Winters is set at Asherley, Max Winter’s opulent estate in the Hamptons. Why did you choose that setting?

I’ve always been fascinated with Long Island’s moneyed elite; a couple of my favorite books are set there. I loved the storied Gold Coast of The Great Gatsby, and the deceptively serene town in The Amityville Horror. I needed a place that combined history and horror and the Hamptons seemed like a natural choice. However, to pull off the violent conclusion, I also needed a location that wasn’t only private, but remote. In the research stage, I visited the Suffolk County Historical Society in Riverhead and read about Gardiner’s Island. It’s one of the biggest swaths of privately owned land in America, purchased by Lion Gardiner from the Montaukett Indians in the 1600s, in exchange for a large black dog and some Dutch blankets. Today it’s worth more than $125 million dollars so keeping the island in the family has driven generations of Gardiners to sometimes concoct nefarious plots. So Winter’s Island was born, as was a motive for murder. I changed some geographic details, but the rest of its history and topography, its dense forests, the old ruins, the private beach and thick, marshy shores, are the same. Then there’s the mansion. I love a looming turret, so I made Asherley a Queen Anne Victorian—spookier, in my opinion, than the typical center hall design from the Gilded Age. Entering the house, with its paneled walls, oak and marble floors and mullioned windows, the reader falls back in time. The only modern touch is a dramatic, star-shaped greenhouse, Rebekah’s pride and joy, lodged, incongruously and a little violently, against the house, a constant reminder that this was once herdomain. 

4.      As our narrator spends more time at Asherley and begins to discover her new family’s dark secrets, The Winters becomes a gripping slow-burn thriller. What are your tricks for building suspense and keeping the reader on the edge of their seat?   

E.L. Doctorow said, “Writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.” With The Winters I never set out to “write a thriller.” I just metaphorically made my headlights a little dimmer and the road ahead a little snakier, but kept the speed the same, (barely) avoiding smashing through the guardrails. Also the whole story is told from one POV. The narrator’s. We are only in her head. We only know what she knows. And she’s fed different versions of the same stories. So who to trust? You can also use short staccato sentences. They ratchet up the tension. Sometimes.

5.      Like many fictional politicians—from House of Cards’ Frank Underwood to the Senator in Joyce Carol Oates’ Black Water—Max Winter is powerful, charismatic, and fiercely ambitious. Why did you choose politics for Max’s career, and what made you want to dip into that world? 

As I mentioned above, the 2016 U.S. election consumed me, and the subsequent presidency has upended all norms. It’s been a struggle to keep up with the controversies, the news being, for this former journalist, a constant distraction. But it’s also a source of inspiration. So I stopped fighting it. Since I couldn’t get away from the news, I folded some of my current fixations into my book. I didn’t want to date the book, or bog it down in current affairs, but divisive politics, and the corrosive effects of both social media and (questionable) Russian money on modern American life all make cameos. Presciently I finished the book at the start of the #metoo movement, which, like my book, demonstrates how important it is to believe women.

6.      You’ve been a journalist and an award-winning producer, in both radio and TV, for more than twenty years. When (and how) does your journalism background seep into your novels?

It always does, sometimes subtly and sometimes more obviously, but I am first and foremost a journalist. The books I write require research to get the settings, tone, and era right, but it’s my favorite part of the job. And for me it’s unavoidable. My characters tend to arrive almost fully formed. So when the unnamed narrator of The Winters insisted she worked on boats, and Max decided to run for reelection in Suffolk County, I had some research to do. Learning about politics at the state level and proper boat terminology was interesting and fun. But I also consult experts. I reached out to a PhD in mortuary archeology to confirm how many years it would take for a body buried in a shallow grave to completely turn to skin and bones. And, thankfully, one of my best friends is a family lawyer, so I ran by her all the details about conservatorships and inheritances. The hardest part was trying to understand the murderous lengths to which some people will go to maintain their wealth and privilege, but one need only turn on CNN these days for that kind of research.

7.      The Winters takes many of its cues from classic novels—a plain unassuming heroine; a dashing older gentleman; a lavish estate; an inconvenient first wife. But the ending is decidedly more modern—even feminist. Without giving too much away, can you speak to how you went about crafting a contemporary version of these kinds of novels?

Writing a modern book that that still pays tribute to a beloved classic is a tricky balancing act. I am a huge fan of the ones done well: Jane Smiley’s King Lear redux, A Thousand Acres, Jean Rhys’ The Wide Sargasso Sea (which is actually a prequel to Jane Eyre, which du Maurier herself retold with Rebecca), Curtis Sittenfeld’s Eligible (a hilarious retelling of Pride and Prejudice), and Joanna Trollope’s Sense and Sensibility. The best ones preserve the original’s landmarks, though the terrain is completely different. They’re written in a contemporary style, though a sharp-eyed reader will spot my own iambic hexameter. And while the characters feel familiar, they’re not facsimiles. No character embodies all of these ideas more than Dani Winter, a 15-year old girl with all the traits of the average Millenial, minus any disadvantages. She has everything a girl her age could want, plus total freedom and the run of the house. She plays with her mother’s clothes and makeup, and the stories she tells about her run completely counter to her father’s. This presents a very current dilemma for our narrator. Does she believe the man she loves or his bratty kid? Dani becomes, then, a reminder that we longer live in an era where stories men tell about women take primacy over the ones they tell about themselves, as the #metoo movement is proving. Women just aren’t having that anymore. I know Dani’s generation isn’t.

8.      Finally, considering the evocative setting of The Winters, where do you think is the best place to read a book like this?

You should read The Winters at one of my favorite hotels, The Chequit Inn, on Shelter Island. You should be sitting on the deep front porch that overlooks the Peconic River, sipping sweet tea. Funny enough, in a very early draft I wrote a scene where our teary, breathless narrator, running for her life, bursts into the lobby of The Chequit Inn demanding to use their phone. They let her. They get her a glass of water and calm her down. They offer her a chair. In the end, the incredible staff at even my imaginary Chequit Inn sucked the tension right out of the scene, so I had to redirect.

REVIEW: The Color of Lies by CJ Lyons @blinkyabooks @cjlyonswriter

The Color of Lies
by CJ Lyons

Thank you to Blink for this advanced copy.


Publisher:  Blink
Publish Date:  November 6, 2018
Hardcover
336 Pages
Standalone
Genres:  YA, Contemporary, Mystery

High school senior Ella Cleary has always been good at reading people. Her family has a rare medical condition called synesthesia that scrambles the senses—her Gram Helen sees every sound, and her uncle Joe can literally taste words. Ella’s own synesthesia manifests itself as the ability to see colors that reveal people’s true emotions…until she meets a guy she just can’t read.


Alec is a mystery to Ella, a handsome, enigmatic young journalist who makes her feel normal for the first time in her life. That is, until he reveals the real reason why he sought her out—he wants to learn the truth behind her parents’ deaths, the parents that Ella had always been told died in a fire. Alec turns Ella’s world upside down when he tells her their deaths were definitely not an accident.

After learning her entire life has been a lie, Ella doesn’t know who she can trust or even who she really is. With her adoptive family keeping secrets and the evidence mixing fact and fiction, the only way for Ella to learn the truth about her past is to find a killer.

My Review:


I love it when a YA thriller doesn't read TOO YA.  There's some romance but it's so limited it doesn't prove to be a huge part which is nice.  Thank the lord for no love triangles.  (Ok, so there's a little bit of instalust but hey, it's a YA book after all....) What we get is a story about a girl who lost her parents at a young age to a fire.  Her world gets turned upside down when Alec shows up on her 18th birthday with questions about her parents murder.... **screechy brakes**  excuse me? MURDER?!

Ella and her family are gifted with synesthesia - Ella's particular "talent" are seeing people's auras - or the colors they emit as they emote.  How interesting would THAT be?  There's always good with the bad... but when you meet someone who has no color... how do you know if he can be trusted?

YA thrillers are surprising me more and more these days.  I'd say this reads more contemporary for me over thriller/suspense.  A fast, enjoyable ride.  Nothing convoluted.. but a great read in its simplicity as well.  I found it a bit easily predictable and the ending seemed to out pace the first half.  While the book did read fast, I was surprised to notice that halfway through, we're still only into day two of the entire timeline.  Just something I noticed, not something that took away from the enjoyment. 

Those who like the lighter side of a thriller and the YA genre - will take a liking to this. 

★★★☆

Thursday, October 18, 2018

REVIEW: The Shining by Stephen King @stephenking

The Shining
by Stephen King

Thanks so much to Janel at @keeperofpages for this readalong! 
Looking forward to more of Danny's story in Doctor Sleep next month.


Publisher:  Anchor
Publish Date:  June 24,2008 (first published January 28, 1977)
Kindle Edition
675 Pages
Series:  The Shining #1
Genres:  Horror, Paranormal

Terrible events occur at an isolated hotel in the off season, when a small boy with psychic powers struggles to hold his own against the forces of evil that are driving his father insane. 

My Review:


I can't believe it's taken me until this month of my lifetime to finally read this book.  Here's the thing.  I have a rule that I don't read what I've watched - why? Because I like to envision how the story unfolds, how the characters look and sound as I'm reading - not have it already decided for me in film.  Having seen both the Kubric classic and the TV miniseries, now I have multiple characters, voices in my head as I'm reading this.  Now, the TV miniseries is way more in tune with the book than the Kubrick version but anyone who has read and watched will tell you the same.  This isn't news.

I struggled with the first half of this book.  While I understand that getting the background and the build up is important to this story, I did feel my attention waning a LOT.  Even though I read SO many of his books, even at the tender age of 8, I remember even THEN feeling like King could get a bit TOO WORDY.  Sorry, not sorry.  However, he is genius and there's nothing that can take away from his talent.  This book, while not my favorite King (and let's be real - he's written SO many books that you just can't like them all - it's statistically not possible 😉) - I did find the last half to ramp up and give that creepy factor I absolutely LOVE.

My favorite part in the first half (and well, the entire book really) is the bond between Hallorann and Danny.  Personally, I feel this is the saving grace of the entire book.  Wendy is deplorable (and I still only see Duvall as Olive Oyl but that's a whole other story).  Jack is terrible.  Danny, Oh Danny.  I'm actually very much looking forward to Doctor Sleep just because of this character.

What's greatest is the way King gets you creeped out - sometimes it's straight up insanity and other times it's suggested creepiness of what COULD happen.  Either way, creep factor solid.

Now on to Doctor Sleep and to see what else he has in store for Danny.

★★★

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

REVIEW: Under My Skin by Lisa Unger @lisaunger @harlequinbooks #allthebookreviews

Under My Skin
by Lisa Unger

Thank you to Park Row for this copy!


Publisher:  Park Row
Publish Date:  October 2, 2018
Paperback
368 Pages
Standalone
Genres:  Suspense, Thriller


What if the nightmares are actually memories?


It's been a year since Poppy's husband, Jack, was brutally murdered during his morning run through Manhattan's Riverside Park. In the immediate aftermath, Poppy spiraled into an oblivion of grief, disappearing for several days only to turn up ragged and confused wearing a tight red dress she didn't recognize. What happened to Poppy during those lost days? And more importantly, what happened to Jack?

The case was never solved, and Poppy has finally begun to move on. But those lost days have never stopped haunting her. Poppy starts having nightmares and blackouts--there are periods of time she can't remember, and she's unable to tell the difference between what is real and what she's imagining. When she begins to sense that someone is following her, Poppy is plunged into a game of cat and mouse, determined to unravel the mystery around her husband's death. But can she handle the truth about what really happened?


My Review:


Poppy loses her husband to a murderer, goes into a fugue state and now can't figure out if her nightmares are memories or just as they seem - nightmares.  Popping pills to help her sleep are exacerbated by the alcohol intake and just WHO is this hooded figure she sees following her everywhere??

I'll be honest here - I think a book I read recently having to do with sleeplessness and the effects this has on a body/mind made me a bit sour to read another that's somewhat (and only somewhat) in the same vein.

I'm a huge fan of Unger.  She's not the thriller type that throws huge twists into your face and makes you gasp - she's more the subtle, build up of suspense - creating a world where you do get completely immersed.  Poppy's situation caught my attention and I empathized with her a variety of levels.  I most certainly wasn't expecting the ending to go the way that it did and I'm not QUITE sure how I feel about it over all.  

I absolutely loved Ink and Bone and The Red Hunter.  I don't believe I liked Under My Skin quite as much as I did these two others.  However, Unger is still at the top of my list for authors to continually watch and autobuy.

Again, I think maybe it's a bit of a timing issue with me regarding this type of story line.  If you're looking for an unreliable narrator whose view of the world is skewed and we aren't sure what's real and is not... well, the paranoia aspect of this book definitely resonates.

★★★

Jessica's Review:


I've only read one other book by Lisa Unger and I loved it! So I was very anxious to see what she had in store for us next. UNDER MY SKIN is another well-written and intricate suspense novel that pulls the readers into the mind of a woman dealing with the loss of her husband.

Poppy's husband is murdered while he out jogging one day, and that puts Poppy in a downward spiral. There was a period of time that she completely lost and still hasn't the slightest idea as to what happened. A year later, Poppy is beginning to get her life back together but that longing for normalcy is disrupted by her recurring nightmares and blackouts. Are these just nightmares? Are they actually memories returning to her from those days she can't account for? Who is this mysterious person that keeps following her?

Unger does a great job setting the scene for us and building the paranoia and suspense. There were some parts that got a little confusing for me, but with an unreliable narrator dealing with a blurred reality, that can sometimes happen! You never truly know who to trust, what's reality and what's fiction, and the pacing is consistent to pull you through the chapters.

For Lisa Unger fans, I would definitely recommend this one. If you're looking for an unreliable narrator and some amped up paranoia, then this is one to have on your fall TBR.

3.5/5 stars


Tuesday, October 16, 2018

REVIEW: Slender Man by Anonymous @harpervoyagerus #allthebookreviews

Slender Man
by Anonymous

Thank you to Harper Voyager for this bound manuscript copy for review.


Publisher:  Harper Voyager
Publish Date:  October 23, 2018
Paperback
336 Pages
Genre:  Horror, YA

Lauren Bailey has disappeared. As friends at her exclusive school speculate and the police search for answers, Matt Barker dreams of trees and a black sky and something drawing closer. Through fragments of journals, articles and online conversations, a figure begins to emerge - a tall, slender figure - and all divisions between fiction and delusion, between nightmare and reality, begin to fall…

My Review:


I have been fascinated with the Slender Man phenomenon for quite some time.  It's amazing how something that started as a contest turned into something oh so real for some crazy individuals... resulting in murder, cult like following and just plain paranoia.

Recently watched the Always Watching: A Marble Hornets Story and so far it's my favorite film re SM.  Deliciously creepy and I highly recommend.  I was hoping to get that same creep factor in this book but alas, it is YA Horror - though even some YA Horror can give me the chilly bumps.  This book took just a little too long to get into the meat of the main part.  I realize this is pretty much how the phenomenon happens in these Slenderman sightings to straight crazy journey... I just wanted more SM!! 

I loved the way this story was told via different types of entries, interviews, whats app messaging, articles, etc.  It made for a quick, entertaining and fascinating read.  Ultimately I knew I as going to like this before I even turned the first page.

If you're a lover of Slenderman and have been following this phenomenon in any capacity, I think you're going to enjoy this read.

★★★★

Jessica's Review:



I’ll start off by saying that I can see this not being for everyone. The style of writing includes many forms – journal entries, interrogation transcripts, social media, emails, recordings, and more. I think that all of these combined made a compelling story and helped illustrate the wide reach that this entity can have.

Matt Barker is an outcast at a prestigious private school in New York. He keeps to himself mostly and no one at his school knows that he’s actually really close friends with one of the more popular girls, Lauren Bailey. They both have kept their friendship between them and they enjoy having this secret. Matt knows Lauren better than any of her other friends, like the fact that she loves Creepypasta and all of those obscure horror stories.

One day Matt finds out that Lauren has gone missing. CCTV footage shows her walking out of her apartment building at 3:14am and she just simply disappeared. Where did she go? What happened to her? The entire school is in a frenzy trying to find this out. Matt decides to log into her iCloud account to see if there are any recent photos taken while she’s been gone, but instead he finds a deeply buried folder with some seemingly normal photos of landscaping around New York. That is until he looks harder and notices, just out of frame and hiding in the shadows, a dark figure with a long body and angular limbs with a pale face. He shares them to a subreddit and everyone is loving the new photoshopped Slenderman photos – but are they fake or was something following Lauren?

Nightmares begin to plague Matt and all of them wake him up screaming at 3:14am. Not knowing whether he is truly awake or still dreaming, the author portrays his terror in the form of recordings on his phone. I know a lot of people won’t like these different methods but I think this did a great job capturing the raw fear that he was feeling. The dialogue felt authentic and on par with how disorienting it can be when you’re truly scared. I think the author did a great job capturing how a belief in something can overtake your life. Like everyone warned him, once you let him into your life there’s no getting rid of him, and he will eventually come for you.

I give this 5/5 stars

SPOTLIGHT: Bar None by Cathi Stoler @cathistoler

Bar None
by Cathi Stoler


HAPPY PUBLISHING DAY!!



BAR NONE, set in New York City, features Jude Dillane, owner of The Corner Lounge on 10th Street and Avenue B. When Jude finds her friend and landlord Thomas "Sully" Sullivan's work pal, Ed Molina, dead in a pool of blood in Sully's apartment, she's sure it wasn't suicide as the police suspect and adds murder to her plate when she helps investigate a case of major fraud at the Big City Food Bank.

Jude and Sully get more than they bargain for when they follow the leads left by the victim. The secrets Ed carried are passed along and the target now falls on their backs. They soon discover that uncovering corruption means uncovering the killer. They just have to stay alive long enough to bring justice and reveal the truth once and for all.

On-Sale: October 16, 2018
Clay Stafford Books / Pages: 323
Trade Paperback ISBN: 978-0-9788427-2-7


 Cathi Stoler is the author of the Laurel & Helen New York Mystery series, including Telling Lies, Keeping Secrets and The Hard Way, as well as the novella, Nick of Time. Her newest novel is Bar None, an urban thriller. 

She is the winner of the 2015 Derringer for Best Short Story “The Kaluki Kings of Queens,” as well as the 2012 Derringer Short Story finalist for “Fatal Flaw”. Her short mystery fiction has also been published in several anthologies and online. 

Cathi is an active member of the mystery community and is Co-Vice President of Sisters in Crime New York/Tri-State, and a member of Mystery Writers of America and International Thriller Writers. A native New Yorker, she lives in Manhattan with her husband Paul. Please visit her at www.cathistoler.com.


Friday, October 12, 2018

REVIEW: The Stranger Game by Peter Gadol @hanover_square @tlcbooktours @petergadol #allthebookreviews

The Stranger Game
by Peter Gadol

Thank you to Hanover Square Press and TLC Book Tours for this stop on the tour!


Publisher:  Hanover Square Press
Publish Date:  October 2, 2018
Hardcover
304 Pages
Standalone
Genre: Suspense


Rebecca’s on-again-off-again boyfriend Ezra has gone missing, but when she notifies the police they seem surprisingly unconcerned. They suspect he has been playing the “stranger game,” a viral hit in which players start following others in real-life, as they might otherwise do on social media. As the game spreads, however, the rules begin to change, play grows more intense, and disappearances are reported across the country.



Curious about this popular new obsession, and hoping that she might be able to track down Ezra, Rebecca tries the game for herself. She also meets Carey, a player willing to take the game further than she imagined possible. As her relationship with Carey and involvement in the game deepen, she begins to uncover an unsettling subculture that has infiltrated the world around her. In playing the stranger game, what may lead her closer to finding Ezra may lead her further and further from the life she once lived.

A thought-provoking, haunting novel, The Stranger Gameunearths the connections, both imagined and real, that we build with the people around us in the physical and digital world, and where the boundaries blur between them.

My Review:



Three rules:
1. Choose your subjects at random.
2. No contact.
3. Never follow the same stranger twice.
Rules are made to be broken and games are made to evolve.

In this world of game play, the littlest thing can take on a life of its own.  Peter brings us a world in which stalking becomes a game, which turns into oh so much more.  

Rebecca is a lonely woman who lacks friends, is obsessed with her relationship with Ezra and JUST WANTS TO BE IN A RELATIONSHIP ALREADY.  **sigh**  Ezra is in and out of Rebecca's life and just ups and disappears one day with no goodbye, no hint as to where he has gone and Rebecca dives into this game she thinks Ezra is playing.  

Ultimately you have no idea who you can or who you cannot trust.  You have no idea just how convoluted this game has become and who is a player and who isn't. STRONG PREMISE.  Society can take a meme that eventually takes on a life of it's own and cause murder - who is to say that this type of game couldn't actually happen.  After all, the hardest target to "hunt" are humans, right?

I did find that this ran quite slow.  Minimal dialogue in the beginning and we are stuck in Rebecca's lonely world which for me became extremely tiresome.  I don't even how these characters even sustain any type of life outside of this obsession.  Pages would lull and the slow movement of this suspense novel didn't quite work for me.  I'm unsure if it's just in the writing style that didn't quite fit or the execution that landed in a bit of a let down ending.  However, I did thoroughly enjoy the premise of this novel and the almost sheep mentality that lends itself to people these days... I've certainly spent time alone in a bar or coffee shop and have looked around giving people their own stories... I've just never had the urge to follow them to see where else they would go in life... maybe I will now though *wink*.

Fairly certain I'm going to be wondering if the people around me are potentially stalking me or playing some weird game from now on.

★★★

Jessica's Review:


Who doesn't love people watching? Let's be real here, we've all had our moments where some stranger catches our eye and you wonder what they do or what their lives are like. Or you completely fabric and guess to match them. I do this frequently when I'm out at Mall of America - one of the best places to people watch.

There are three rules to the stranger game:
  1.  Choose a person at random
  2. No contact
  3. Never follow the same person twice
Seems simple enough, right? Well, Rebecca plays this game and frequently finds herself making exceptions lately. To many, this is a fun game and almost cat-and-mouse to see if you won't get noticed as you follow someone. To the police it's glorified stalking and has been causing them a lot of problems.

When Rebecca's on-again-off-again boyfriend, Ezra, goes missing she dives in headfirst to this game that he created. By finding the original article he wrote about it she is convinced that he is playing this game, which is why he disappeared.

I loved this premise. It's unique and entirely possible - I've done it (without the whole following and stalking part) and I'm sure people have done it when they see me walking around. The minimal dialogue was odd and there were parts where it began to slow down, but didn't completely lose me. Overall, I would still recommend this to those that find this concept intriguing and I will keep an eye out for more from Gadol.

I give this 3/5 stars!

About the Author:


Peter Gadol grew up in Westfield, New Jersey and was graduated from Harvard College in 1986. While at Harvard, he studied writing with Seamus Heaney, wrote a thesis on Wallace Stevens under the supervision of Helen Vendler, edited the literary magazine The Harvard Advocate, and was for two years a fiction intern at The Atlantic.


Gadol is the author of six books. His debut novel, Coyote, published by Crown in 1990, was hailed by the Los Angeles Times as “the work of an energetic mind, one seemingly unfettered by fashionable norms,” and his second novel, The Mystery Roast (Crown, 1993), was described by the Washington Post as “a savory spoof of trends, but ultimately...a love story involving secrets and dreams, anxieties about fulfillment and intimacy and the Muses that inspire us nonetheless.”

Closer to the Sun, published by Picador USA in 1996, was inspired by Gadol’s move to Los Angeles and tells the story of a young couple who, after having lost their home in a canyon wildfire, enlist the help of a drifter to rebuild the house themselves, the drifter himself overcoming the loss of a lover to AIDS.
In The Long Rain (Picador USA, 1997), Gadol returned to California, this time wine country, to write a literary thriller about a lawyer who defends a man wrongly accused of committing a crime the lawyer himself committed. The novel was nominated for a prize from PEN Center USA. It is currently being developed as a television series by MGM Studios.

Light at Dusk (Picador USA, 2000), is set in the Paris of a slightly near-future in which the far right has ascended and white power skinhead gangs freely roam the streets. The daylight abduction of a Lebanese boy causes a young American ex-diplomat to re-enter the morally questionable world he abandoned in order to find the child. The LA Weekly applauded the novel for its “elegant, but mannered prose; tight, suspenseful plotting; moody Parisian setting; fearlessly high-modernist concerns,” and claimed the novel “will not look out of place slouching on the shelf somewhere between Joseph Conrad and Graham Greene.”

Gadol's sixth novel Silver Lake was published by Tyrus Books in September 2009. Silver Lake is about two architects, two men turning forty who have been involved professionally and personally for twenty years, and who are beginning to see their practice and their marriage falter. One day, a peculiar young man drifts into their storefront office claiming he has car trouble, asking to use the phone. The men get to talking; the young stranger is curious but enchanting, and one of the architects ends up playing tennis with him that afternoon, ultimately inviting him home for dinner. The ensuing evening involves a lot of wine and banter and then increasingly dark conversation, and when the stranger has had too much to drink, the two men insist he sleep in their guest room. During the night, the stranger commits an act of violence which shatters the architects' ordered lives, each man in his own way over the days and months that follow coping with blossoming doubt and corrosive secrets. Silver Lake was nominated for awards from Lambda Literary and the Southern California Independent Booksellers Association. The novel is being adapted into a feature film.

The Stranger Game, a novel about a woman who is drawn into a dangerous game following random strangers, was published on October 2nd by Hanover Square Press, an imprint of HarperCollins. The reviewer for Kirkus called the book a beautiful, thoughtful meditation on the invisible ties that bind us—even to strangers.” The Stranger Game has been optioned by FX to be developed as a television series.
Peter Gadol’s work has been translated into several languages, and his short fiction has appeared in Tin House, Story, Bloom, the Los Angeles Review of Books Quarterly Review, and StoryQuarterly. He has taught at the California Institute of the arts and, since 2005, at Otis College of Art and Design, where he is Chair of MFA Writing. He lives in Los Angeles.

(taken from his website)