Friday, September 25, 2015

Favorite Things Friday: The Stranger

I hate to say it, but most of the time I find myself beginning a novel, only to finish the first chapter and think, “There’s nothing new here. Same old story, just different character names.” This might explain why I start five or six books at a time and find it a chore to finish any of them.
But this month, I found a novel that kept me turning pages, eager to know what would happen next. 

The Stranger by Harlan Coben was a recommendation by a blogger buddy, Stephanie Faris.  When I read her review, I immediately bought the book on Amazon, but it’s taken me several months to actually read it. 

 Product Details

This story is riveting in the same way as Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn.It starts out with the main character, Adam Price, having a conversation in a bar with a stranger. The stranger knows a lot about his life. He even knows about Adam’s wife and her miscarriage. And then he plants the seed in Adam’s mind that germinates into doubt: “Did your wife fake her pregnancy?” Adam initially dismisses the idea, but after talking to the stranger, he can’t shake the possibility. This possibility grows into mistrust, and Adam digs a little deeper into his wife’s life only to learn devastating information about his own marriage. 

The stranger is a fascinating character. For most of the book, it is unclear who he is or why he’s doing what he’s doing. He plants suspicion with the power of suggestion, and then he disappears, leaving the recipient of the information in a whirlwind of emotion and fear.
The setting is relatable—a suburbia full of soccer moms and involved dads. It’s a voyeuristic peek into neighbor’s houses as they sort through their spouse’s secrets, their children’s dangerous activities, and their own weak, self-created mirage of perfection.

Harlan Coben creates suspense on every page, but it’s not fill-in-the-template, formulaic kind of suspense. It’s original, fresh, and unique. There’s an eeriness to the story without being over the top, and three-quarters of the way into the story, it's hard to know what is going to happen or how it will end.

I love the tag line from Amazon: “The Stranger appears out of nowhere, perhaps in a bar, or a parking lot, or at the grocery store. His identity is unknown. His motives are unclear. His information is undeniable. Then he whispers a few words in your ear and disappears, leaving you picking up the pieces of your shattered world.”

What have you been reading this month?

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Paid For

I’m back up and running this week, although I’m completely bogged down at my full-time job. 

On the writing front, I’m trying to finish the edits on my current manuscript, so I can begin the agent submission process. In addition, the publication subscription for my self-published novel (All that is Right and Holy) is about to expire. Because I published it back in 2009 (prior to the e-book craze), there was no electronic component to the publishing package. I’ve decided to allow the book to expire with its current publisher. I’m going to update it (as a lot of change has happened within the anti-trafficking movement since then), format it for e-book distribution, and re-publish it under a different title. I hope to have that completed and ready to go by the end of the year. Stay tuned for more on that.

In the meantime, this week I’m featuring books on the blog. Today’s book goes with my Thursday sex trafficking theme, but it’s also a book I want to read this month.

Paid For is Rachel Moran’s memoir of her life as a survivor of sex trafficking in Dublin, Ireland. Prostituted from the age of fifteen to twenty-two, Moran finally broke free from the life. She graduated from university and moved toward a brighter future. She is now an activist combating prostitution in all forms. 

Moran has been instrumental in convincing legislators in Ireland to adhere to the Nordic model of criminalizing buyers of the sex trade rather than the victims. Her message is that prostitution is never really consensual and never okay. 

I love reading memoirs, don't you? I hope to have a full review of Paid For in the coming weeks.

In the meantime, Rachel Moran will be signing books in DC this evening if any of you are in the area. 

Thursday, September 10, 2015


Hello everyone! 

School has started up again. This means life is not good until June. I will not be posting any blogs this week or next, as things are too hectic.

I hope everyone is having a good fall!