4/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, Fiction, G, RATING, Read in 2018, Review Book, TLC Book Tours

Review: The Stranger Game by Peter Gadol

The Stranger GameAbout The Stranger Game

Hardcover: 304 pages

Publisher: Hanover Square Press; Original edition (October 1, 2018)

A literary suspense novel in which an eerie social game goes viral and spins perilously—and criminally—out of control.

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, who is 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 take her further and further from the life she once lived.

A thought-provoking, haunting novel, The Stranger Game unearths 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.


Review:

I received a copy of this book for free in exchange for an honest review; all opinions expressed are my own.

When I was first pitched this book that blurb immediately drew me in. I had to know more about what the Stranger Game was and how things would end up playing out!

And whoa, let me tell you, this book starts out with a super creepy vibe and I was immediately hooked! I was expecting a fast paced thriller, but I was pleasantly surprised by a more slower paced, layer by layer unfolding book that really left me with chills when I was finished! I found this book to be extremely readable and there were lots of twists and turns to make this one a really good read.

I highly recommend it!


Purchase Links

Amazon | Books-A-Million | Barnes & Noble

About Peter Gadol

Peter Gadol’s seven novels include THE STRANGER GAME, SILVER LAKE, LIGHT AT DUSK, and THE LONG RAIN. His work his been translated for foreign editions and appeared in literary journals, including StoryQuarterly, the Los Angeles Review of Books Quarterly Journal, and Tin House. Gadol lives in Los Angeles, where he is Chair and Professor of the MFA Writing program at Otis College of Art and Design. Visit petergadol.com for more info on his work.

 

Instagram Tour:

Monday, October 1st: @thecityofdarkclockwork

Tuesday, October 2nd: @katielmae

Tuesday, October 2nd: @createexploreread

Wednesday, October 3rd: @bookishwinterwitch

Thursday, October 4th: @dropandgivemenerdy

Friday, October 5th: @novelmombooks

Saturday, October 6th: @bookclubwithbite

 

Review Tour:

Monday, October 1st: No More Grumpy Bookseller

Tuesday, October 2nd: From the TBR Pile

Wednesday, October 3rd: Patricia’s Wisdom

Thursday, October 4th: A Chick Who Reads

Monday, October 8th: Jathan & Heather

Tuesday, October 9th: Tales of a Book Addict

Wednesday, October 10th: @somekindofalibrary

Thursday, October 11th: Openly Bookish

Friday, October 12th: @wherethereadergrows

Monday, October 15th: Novel Gossip and @novelgossip

Tuesday, October 16th: Helen’s Book Blog

Wednesday, October 17th: Sweet Southern Home

Wednesday, October 17th: @basicbsguide

Thursday, October 18th: @jennblogsbooks

Monday, October 22nd: Thoughts from a Highly Caffeinated Mind

Tuesday, October 23rd: @bookishmadeleine

Wednesday, October 24th: Write Read Life

TBD: The Lit Bitch – excerpt

tlc tour host

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4/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, Fiction, G, Kinsey Millhone, RATING, Read in 2018, SERIES

Review: G is for Gumshoe by Sue Grafton

G is for Gumshoe
by Sue Grafton

G is for Gumshoe

 

Copyright: 1990

Pages: 327

Read: Sept. 14 – 19, 2018

Rating: 4/5

Source: Paperbackswap

 

Blurb: Kinsey Millhone celebrates her thirty-third birthday as only she can – she moves back into her renovated apartment, gets hired to find an elderly lady supposedly living in the Mojave Desert by herself, and makes the top of triggerman Tyrone Patty’s hit list. As much as she hates to admit it, Kinsey realizes even she’s going to need help fending off a hit man and she hires a bodyguard: Robert Dietz, a Porsche-Driving P.I. who takes his job very seriously. With Dietz watching her for the merest sign of her usual recklessness, Kinsey plunges into a case that will lead her to the gruesome truth about a long-buried betrayal. And, in the process, will bring her face-to-face with her own mortality…


Review: This is the 7th book in the Kinsey Millhone series. I had read the 6th book a few months back and thoroughly enjoyed it, so I was excited when this fit a Goodreads challenge call-out so I could get to it sooner rather than later!

Again, I enjoyed working the case with Kinsey. It was interesting to see just what kind of trouble she finds herself (usually because she puts herself there…). I also enjoyed the addition of Robert Dietz, I hope we get to meet him again in future installments.

I found this one to be a fast paced and enjoyable book that I really enjoyed reading. It definitely has me looking forward to “H” soon!

4/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, Fiction, G, RATING, Read in 2018

Review: The Firm by John Grisham

The Firm
by John Grisham

The Firm.jpg

 

Copyright: 1991

Pages: 501

Read: September 6 – 13, 2018

Rating: 4/5

Source: Purchased used

 

Blurb: When Mitch McDeere signed on with Bendini, Lambert & Locke of Memphis, he thought he and his beautiful wife, Abby, were on their way. The firm leased him a BMW, paid off his school loans, arranged a mortgage, and hired him a decorator. Mitch McDeere should have remembered what his brother Ray – doing fifteen years in a Tennessee jail – already knew. You never get nothing for nothing. Now the FBI has the lowdown on Mitch’s firm and needs his help. Mitch is caught between a rock and a hard place, with no choice – if he wants to live.


Review: So I’m going back and (slowly) reading Mr. Grisham’s backlist. I can’t believe I had never read this book before! It started out really good and hooked me from pretty early on. Don’t be daunted by that 500 page count … it goes by very quickly!

The old saying goes … if it’s too good to be true, it probably is. And that’s basically the premise of this book. I still can’t believe that a man who was as smart as Mitch McDeere could fall for all that and get involved with the Bendini firm – he should have run like crazy when all this stuff was told would be “provided” to him! But then we wouldn’t have a novel and where would the fun in that be? I did enjoy how the story unfolded and I really didn’t know how things would end up. I was pleasantly surprised and quite happy with the way the book ended.

Now I’m eager to see the movie … hadn’t read the book and never saw the movie! I always enjoy doing a book to movie comparison. I hope to be able to get to that soon … I’ve already seen where I can rent it on my Amazon Prime account (hey, I’m still really new to all this streaming stuff, haha!).

Overall, a very good book that I thoroughly enjoyed. Definitely recommended!

3.5/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, Fiction, G, Kinsey Millhone, RATING, Read in 2018, SERIES

Review: F is for Fugitive by Sue Grafton

F is for Fugitive
by Sue Grafton

F is for Fugitive

Copyright: 1989

Pages: 307

Read: April 9-15, 2018

Rating: 3.5/5

Source: Paperbackswap

 

 

Blurb: When Kinsey Millhone first arrives in Floral Beach, California, it’s hard for her to picture the idyllic coastal town as the setting of a brutal murder. Seventeen years ago, the body of Jean Timberlake – a troubled teen who had a reputation with the boys – was found on the beach. Her boyfriend, Bailey Fowler, was convicted of her murder and imprisoned, but he escaped.

After all this time, Bailey’s finally been captured. Believing in his son’s innocence, Bailey’s father wants Kinsey to find Jean’s real killer. But most of the residents in this tight-knit community are convinced Bailey strangled Jean. So why are they so reluctant to answer Kinsey’s questions? If there’s one thing Kinsey’s got plenty of it’s persistence. And that’s exactly what it’s going to take to crack the lid on this case.

As Kinsey gets closer to solving Jean’s murder, the more dirty little secrets she uncovers in a town where everyone has something to hide – and a killer will kill again to keep the past buried…


Review: It’s been forever since I visited with Kinsey Millhone and so I was glad when this book popped up on my April call-out on a Goodreads challenge.

I had a lot of fun working the case with Kinsey. It definitely ended up going in a direction that I never saw coming, although there was a couple small instances that should have clued me in had I been paying more attention.

Jumping back in with Kinsey definitely made me want to read more of her and soon! I don’t remember her being so badass, but I definitely enjoyed it! She’s smart and strong, a good (and sometimes rare) combination in female protagonists. I definitely appreciate that aspect of her character.

I did jot down this quote from the very end that resonated with me:

If love is what injures us, how can we heal?

I’m seriously bummed that Ms. Grafton passed away a little while ago. I’m disappointed that the alphabet now ends with Y … but I am satisfied with the decision to not use a ghost writer to finish the series out (I hate, hate, HATE when that occurs.) I’m looking forward to getting around to G sooner rather than later!!

3/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, E-Book, Fiction, G, RATING, Read in 2017

Review: Law and Disorder by Heather Graham

Law and Disorder
by Heather Graham

Law and Disorder

Copyright: 2017

Pages: 256

Read: June 1 – 22, 2017

Rating: 3/5

Source: Barnes & Noble Serial Reads

 

Blurb: Desperate to escape her kidnappers, Kody Cameron can turn to only one man…and he’s holding a gun. Outnumbered and trapped in the deadly Everglades, she has little recourse, but something in this captor’s eyes makes her believe she can trust him. Does she dare to take the risk?

Undercover agent Nick Connolly has met Kody before and knows she might very well blow his cover. Though determined to maintain his facade, he can’t let Kody die. He won’t. And his decision to change his own rules of law and order are about to make all hell break loose.


Review: This was the June selection on Barnes & Noble’s Serial Reads. Having enjoyed the last two months’ selections, I was eager to see what would be on the agenda for June. This one didn’t really do much for me.

I don’t read a lot of romance to begin with. So I was a little leery to give this one a go, but I figured it was free so why not. (Plus I unexpectedly enjoyed Beastly last month.) It left me with a definite “eh” feeling. I think a lot of my problem was that I found Kody’s character to be pretty foolish. I also felt like the storyline was rushed.

I’ve never read anything by Heather Graham before and I have a really bad feeling that this was not necessarily a good place for me to start. But I finished it and while it didn’t really appeal all that much to me, I’m sure romance readers will enjoy it.

2/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, Fiction, G, RATING, Read in 2016

Review: The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

The Ocean at the End of the Lane
by Neil Gaiman

the-ocean-at-the-end-of-the-lane

Copyright: 2013

Pages: 178

Read: Sept. 10-13, 2016

Rating: 2/5

Source: Purchased at library book sale

Blurb: Sussex, England. A middle-aged man returns to his childhood home to attend a funeral. Although the house he lived in is long gone, he is drawn to the farm at the end of the road, where, when he was seven, he encountered a most remarkable girl, Lettie Hempstock, and her mother and grandmother. He hasn’t thought of Lettie in decades, and yet as he sits by the pond (a pond that she’d claimed was an ocean) behind the ramshackle old farmhouse, the unremembered past comes flooding back. And it is a past too strange, too frightening, too dangerous to have happened to anyone, let alone a small boy.

Forty years earlier, a man committed suicide in a stolen car at this farm at the end of the road. Like a fuse on a firework, his death lit a touchpaper and resonated in unimaginable ways. The darkness was unleashed, something scary and thoroughly incomprehensible to a little boy. And Lettie – magical, comforting, wise beyond her years – promised to protect him, no matter what.

A groundbreaking work from a master, The Ocean at the End of the Lane is told with a rare understanding of all that makes us human, and shows the power of stories to reveal and shelter us from the darkness inside and out. It is a stirring, terrifying, and elegiac fable as delicate as a butterfly’s wing and as menacing as a knife in the dark.


Review: I picked this one up a couple of years ago at the library book sale. I had heard a lot of good things about Neil Gaiman and was curious. I picked this one up now because I needed something quick to read, and at 178 pages I figured this one would fit that bill perfectly.

And it was a quick, easy read. I just didn’t care for the overall storyline. I am not a huge fan of fantasy as a general rule, so I think that affected my overall feelings on this one. It just didn’t work for me personally, but Mr. Gaiman is definitely a gifted storyteller.

3/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, Fiction, G, RATING, Read in 2016

Review: The Unexpected Mrs. Pollifax by Doroth Gilman

The Unexpected Mrs. Pollifax
by Dorothy Gilman

The Unexpected Mrs. Pollifax

Copyright: 1966

Pages: 192

Read: Aug. 9-Aug. 15, 2016

Rating: 3/5

Source: Paperbackswap

Blurb: Mrs. Virgil (Emily) Pollifax of New Brunswick, New Jersey, was a widow with grown children. She was tired of attending her Garden Club meetings. She wanted to do something good for her country. So, naturally, she became a CIA agent. This time, the assignment sounds as tasty as a taco. A quick trip to Mexico City is on her agenda. Unfortunately, something goes wrong, and our dear Mrs. Pollifax finds herself embroiled in quite a hot Cold War–and her country’s enemies find themselves entangled with one unbelievably feisty lady.


Review: I requested this one from Paperbackswap after seeing Stacy mention the second in the series on Goodreads. It was definitely an impulse “purchase” but it sounded like such a fun, cute book.

And for the most part, it was. It should have been a quick, easy read. 192 pages – I could knock that out relatively quickly. But for some reason, it didn’t really click with me. I enjoyed the first bit of the book quite a bit, where Mrs. Pollifax introduces herself to the CIA and when she first went to Mexico City. It was all the stuff that came after that I didn’t care for. It just seemed to drag on forever with very little movement toward anything.

So while I wouldn’t say this book is bad, I doubt I continue on with this series. I need more meat to my stories. I need to connect more to the characters (and I really couldn’t find myself connecting to Mrs. Pollifax very well). So yeah, not terrible but not something I’ll remember in a month.

AUTHOR, Book Review, D, Fiction, G, Mini Review, P, Read in 2015

3 Mini Reviews

Here’s something I’ve never done before … mini reviews.

I still have no blogging mojo. In fact, I’m typing this up quickly while my daughter screams fusses in her crib after only a 20 minute nap – momma needs more nap than that, darling!

So while I have little to no blogging mojo, I have been reading a bit. And I need to get these thoughts down before I forget everything.

So without further ado…..

Fates and Furies Title: Fates and Furies
Author: Lauren Groff
Read: Oct. 10-30, 2015
Pages: 392
Source: Book of the Month Club
Rating: 2/5

Thoughts:  This was my very first selection from the Book of the Month Club. To say that it was a disappointment would be the understatement of the year. To be completely honest, none of the October books really caught my eye, this one was just the one that seemed like it would be the most enjoyable for me. Oh how wrong I was on that! I struggled through this one. For 3 freaking weeks. I still don’t know why I bothered to finish it. I did not like it in the least. I can’t in good faith recommend this book, but hey, I’m sure someone out there would enjoy it … just not me.


Private BerlinTitle: Private Berlin
Author: James Patterson & Mark Sullivan
Read: Nov. 7-10, 2015
Pages: 448
Source: Paperbackswap
Rating: 4/5

Thoughts: I knew I had to have something fast paced after coming off of Fates and Furies, so of course I picked up a James Patterson book. Overall, I enjoyed this one relatively well. I think I prefer the Private books where Jack Morgan plays more of a role, but this one was still interesting. I can almost always rely on Mr. Patterson for a quick and enjoyable read, this one does not fail on that part. Recommended for sure.

 

 


 

The Alpine Advocate Title: The Alpine Advocate
Author: Mary Daheim
Read: Nov. 11-18, 2015
Pages: 240
Source: Paperbackswap
Rating: 4/5

Thoughts: What a cute little first in a series. Cozy mysteries are not usually my cup of tea, but for some reason this one really caught my eye and was an impulse order on Paperbackswap. I think a lot of the draw for me was the journalist/newspaper aspect of the storyline – I originally declared print journalism as my major in college. Anyway, like I said this was a cute little book. It kept my interest throughout. And I had no idea who the killer was until it was revealed at the end – I had missed all of the clues laid throughout the book. I am definitely looking forward to continuing this series in the future and would definitely recommend it!

 

 

 

4/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, Fiction, G, RATING, Read in 2014

2014.49 REVIEW – These Things Hidden by Heather Gudenkauf

These Things Hidden
by Heather Gudenkauf

Copyright: 2011
Pages: 337
Rating: 4/5
Read: Nov. 23 – Dec. 7, 2014
Challenge: No challenge
Yearly count: 49
Format: Print
Source: Personal Copy
Series: N/A


These Things HiddenBlurb:
 When teenager Allison Glenn is sent to prison for a heinous crime, she leaves behind her reputation as Linden Falls’ golden girl forever. Her parents deny the existence of their once-perfect child. Her former friends exult in her downfall. Her sister, Brynn, faces whispered rumors every day in the hallways of their small Iowa high school. It’s Brynn – shy, quiet Brynn – who carries the burden of what really happened that night. All she wants is to forget Allison and the past that haunts her.

But then Allison is released to a halfway house, and is more determined than ever to speak with her estranged sister.

Now their legacy of secrets is focused on one little boy. And if the truth is revealed, the consequences will be unimaginable for the adoptive mother who loves him, the girl who tried to protect him and the two sisters who hold the key to all that is hidden.


Review: So after I finished the book that I had been reading when we moved out, I realized that I had failed to hold out any other books to read until we moved into our new house and the movers brought all our stuff back. The horror! So of course I had to go to the bookstore and buy something to read! This is what I happened to come across. I had seen this book mentioned in (I believe) a Paperbackswap newsletter. I don’t know how I missed it when it was released in 2011, but somehow I did.

I had no preconceived notions going into this book. I had seen no buzz about it online. I had not read review after review of it from various bloggers. I did something the old-fashioned way. I chose a book in a bookstore that intrigued me and I read it. I cannot tell you how long it had been since I had done that. My reading has been so structured and scheduled for so long that it was really strange to do something so out of the ordinary for me.

I was just glad that the book was a great read and not a dud! Ha!

Overall I liked it. I had no idea really what was coming when it finally happened. But really thinking back on the way things unfolded, it really should not have been as much of a surprise as it was for me. I liked that the book was told from multiple character viewpoints. I felt like it really made everything come together so much better. You got all of the innermost thoughts and feelings of so many characters. It was an interesting way of setting up the book in my opinion.

Some of the characters in this book are doozies, to say the least. You’ve got a wide variety – the one fresh out of prison, the sister who has some obvious mental issues, the parents who pretty much checked out when their kids were found to be imperfect. And that’s just all in one family. There are plenty other dysfunctional characters within the book!

The storyline was interesting. I felt like the author did a really good job with it to be honest. Because it could have been pretty dull … teenage girl gets pregnant, gets rid of baby and *thinks* life will go on as normal. It doesn’t. Girl gets out of jail 5 years later and tries to reconnect with her family and society in general. But all is not as it seems. And that’s what makes this story so much more interesting as it unfolds before your very eyes. I liked it. A lot.

So I guess I found a gem in this one. I would definitely recommend it!

4/5, AUTHOR, Author Debut, Book Review, Fiction, G, RATING, Read in 2014, READING CHALLENGES 2014

2014.41 REVIEW – A Time to Kill by John Grisham

A Time to Kill
by John Grisham

Copyright: 1989
Pages: 515
Rating: 4/5
Read: Aug. 22 – 29, 2014
Challenge: Official TBR Challenge
Yearly count: 41
Format: Print
Source: Personal Copy
Series: N/A

A Time to KillBlurb: Clanton, Mississippi. The life of a ten-year-old girl is shattered by two drunken and remorseless young men. The mostly white town reacts with shock and horror at the inhuman crime. Until her black father acquires an assault rifle – and takes justice into his own outraged hands.

For ten days, as burning crosses and the crack of sniper fire spread through the streets of Clanton, the nation sits spellbound as young defense attorney Jake Brigance struggles to save his client’s life … and then his own…


Review: This book was from my own shelves, all opinions expressed below are my own.

What really defines a “classic”? Is it something from a gazillion years ago that we are forced to read in high school, with language and dialects that we can’t even follow along with? Or is it something that can be written in the 1980s and still resonate with a reader in the year 2014? I go with the latter.

I originally placed this book on my to-read list this year for the Official TBR Challenge. I don’t remember why this particular book made it onto my list, but I’m sure it was just the shock of realizing that I had never read this book. I will be honest, I have seen the movie (though years ago, and I only recalled that Matthew McConaughey portrayed the defense counsel).

But here’s what really gets me about this book. You’d have to be a complete recluse with no contact with the outside world to not know what has happened in Ferguson, Missouri in the past few weeks. All I want to say about the matter is that it was a sad situation and the violence and rioting was completely unacceptable. But back to the book … I was amazed at how the racism aspects of this book is still very relevant to today’s world. The events of the past month have proved that there are still very large problems in our country. Ones that are ignored for the most part, until things come completely undone.

And that, my dear readers, is why I feel like this book is such a classic. If I can read a book that was published when I was 5 years old and be able to sit down and realize that the plot of this book could be played out today in just about any court in the country … it just speaks volumes to me.

Personally I highly enjoyed this book. And I think it should be required reading. My one and only complaint is that it really could have been about 150 pages shorter. Every character we encounter along the way seemed to have their own back story, which just continued to draw out the book. But the last 100 pages were full of nail-biting suspense and really set the bar for Mr. Grisham’s fellow authors.

My copy of the book included an author note from Mr. Grisham. I want to leave you with the last sentence:

This one came from the heart. It’s a first novel, and at times it rambles, but I wouldn’t change a word if given the chance.

If you have never read this book, do not hesitate. If you have read this book, consider a re-read.