Monday, August 22, 2016

Vicarious by Paula Stokes

Title: Vicarious 
Author: Paula Stokes
Genre: Sci-Fi Thriller
Series: Vicarious #1

Hardcover, 336 pages
Publication: August 1 6, 2016 By Tor Books

Source: I received a copy from the publisher in exchange for a honest review.


Winter Kim and her sister, Rose, have always been inseparable. Together, the two of them survived growing up in a Korean orphanage and being trafficked into the United States.

Now they work as digital stunt girls for Rose’s ex-boyfriend, Gideon, engaging in dangerous and enticing activities while recording their neural impulses for his Vicarious Sensory Experiences, or ViSEs. Whether it’s bungee jumping, shark diving, or grinding up against celebrities at the city’s hottest dance clubs, Gideon can make it happen for you, for a price.

When Rose disappears and a ViSE recording of her murder is delivered to Gideon, Winter won’t rest until she finds her sister’s killer. But when the clues she uncovers conflict with the neural recordings her sister made, Winter isn’t sure what to believe. To find out what happened to Rose, she’ll have to untangle what’s real from what only seems real, risking her life in the process.

I must say, I am really impressed with the crop of Young Adults novels I’ve been reading lately. Zero complaints here. Vicarious had everything I looked for in a book: a strong heroine, interesting and engaging plot and great world building. Check, check and check. While Vicarious is a Young Adult novel, it tackled a lot of serious issues/mature content, grabbed straight from the real world news; all dark and disturbing….none of the usual stuff/fluff we see in most YA books these days. I requested this book from the publisher after reading the synopsis since it piqued my interest but it passed my expectations and wildest imagination. Vicarious took me completely by surprised and to me, those are the best kind of books.

Vicarious at its core is a murder mystery/whodunit type of story. Winter’s sister Rose went missing and the next day a vise of her supposed death appears. Vise stands for Vicarious Sensory Experience. It’s a high-tech video that enables those that view it to see from the recorder’s point-of-view and feel exactly what they felt in that exact moment. Winter and her sister Rose are stunt recorders. They do crazy outrageous things that people are too scared to do or can only dream of doing such as sky-diving, out running the police, dance with the hottest celebrities, walk a fashion runway or swimming with sharks. If you can dream/think it, then they can make it happen for you…for a price.

I thought Stokes world building was straightforward, it wasn’t overly complex but it wasn’t simplistic either. Everything was just enough to be and feel believable. My favorite part of the Vises is when Winter was going over Rose’s Vise memory chips. It was interesting to see Winter experience what’s it like to be in Rose’s shoes…since they were the complete opposite. Winter is a daredevil; she vises high-risk stunts that are life threatening while Rose vises what it’s like to be in the hottest night club/events or sleeping/hooking up with different people. Talk about polar opposites.

Winter had a horrible childhood, a nightmare really…she was one of the many girls that got kidnapped/sold into human trafficking. After much physical and mental abuse, she and her sister were saved by Gideon her current guardian and employer. Stokes did an amazing job incorporating real life problems within the story and her characters, without it being all in your face. Readers are able to enjoy the story itself but they're also being educated about a serious issue that is occurring everyday all over the world. Winter is a severely damaged victim of human trafficking and readers see how it affected every integral part of her being and how she socializes with people around her. Despite all that I thought Winter was a great character. She’s strong, raw and real. She has a no-nonsense attitude and will tell things like it is. What I like most about her is she always conquers her fear, always running straight at it rather than away. She’s as real as it gets.

As Winter got closer to solving her sister’s murder things got more crazy and complicated. The revelation toward the end was mind blowing! There were endless twist and turns; just one after another that turned everything you thought you knew on its head. Vicarious had the best twists I’ve read in a long time. Read this! I can't recommend this book enough, you will not be disappointed! All in all, Vicarious was one trippy rollercoaster that had me at the edge of my seat wondering who killed Rose Kim the entire time.  I'm super excited to hear that this is a duology, because  I can’t wait to read the next book and see what's in store for Winter! 

Monday, August 15, 2016

[Blog Tour] Whitehall: Episode 11 Excerpt: A King and No King by Sarah Smith + Giveaway

She who would be queen must win the love of a king—and a country.

Welcome to WHITEHALL, where the true history of Catherine of Braganza and her marriage to King Charles II of England is brought to life with all its sensual scandal and political intrigue. Venture back in time to a place where the games of royals affect the lives of all.

Unfolding across a season of 13 episodes, this serial of history and royal drama is presented by Serial Box Publishing and written by Liz Duffy Adams, Delia Sherman, Barbara Samuel, Mary Robinette Kowal, Sarah Smith, and Madeleine Robins. 

Read or listen to the first episode for free at or in our iOS app!

This week brings the 11th installment of Whitehall with “A King and No King”, written by Sarah Smith.

Episode 11: “A King and No King”

Available for download in text or audio on Wednesday, August 17.

Sickness descends upon the vulnerable Catherine, setting all of Whitehall into chaos – but none more so than those who love her most. Fears raise doubts in many and gives steel to others, and may even create a common purpose in king and servant.

This episode can be found at, in our app, or at your favorite ebook retailer.

Saving for later? Add this episode to your Goodreads shelf! 

Episode 11: “A King and No King”
Written by Sarah Smith

There were no daisies for Michaelmas. The Condessa de Penalva had brought harvest fruits from the offerings in the Chapel Royal. They made a fine show, Dona Maria whispered, but the fruits had been put on boxes and in cornucopias to disguise how few they were.

 The apples in the enameled bowl were small and rust-speckled. The dogs huddled miserably in a corner, and down in the Pebble Court, water pooled and turned the humped cobblestones into archipelagoes.
 “At least we have the Muscovites’ furs!” Charles said.

The Muscovite coat was dyed and painted leather, lined with thick fur. The garment dragged Catherine’s shoulders down, though it helped to take away the chill. The beaver hat pushed down her curls and weighed on her head like a crown.

 “Better, my wife?” Catherine had forgotten the worst thing about winter: Winter comes round every year. “I cannot get warm.”

 She spoke from under the ridiculous hat. “Build up the fire; Her Majesty is cold,” Dona Maria called to the chambermaids.

 “There is no need,” Catherine replied, but she was shivering, truly. She turned to Charles.

 “Will you share fire and supper with me, my husband?” “I must sup elsewhere, wife; I have a harvest to bless.” He smiled at her, touching his hand to her stomach. 

“And may the harvest you prepare us bless all England.” He kissed her and took his leave. The room was smaller, colder, with him out of it. 

 “I will sit,” she said. “These weigh so much.” 

 “Will you have them off, ma’am?” She was cold all the way to her bones. The warm baths and long rides of the summer seemed a thousand years away. 
 “Not yet.” She gestured to Feliciana.
 “Come to me.” 
 The little dog nuzzled under the furs with her, a warm, comforting weight against her belly. She was tired, tired. In Lisbon, there would still be sea-bathing on St. Michael’s Day; the days would be short now but the twilights would be long, butter-yellow. At the convent she would have been walking in the gardens with nothing over her shoulders but a shawl. Here in London, beyond the tiny blurred roundels of glass, the rain runneled down, and she was cold in furs. 
“Madam, do you choose to dine in the presence chamber?”
 “Are there suitors?” 
There were always suitors here at Whitehall, looking for favors or curious to see her. Whitehall was closing round her again: Whitehall of schemes, Whitehall of enemies, Whitehall of lies. 
 “A few to see you, Alteza, but no petitions.” 

 And now there was this gossip that her husband had actually married Monmouth’s mother. Charles would not have done so. She rubbed her aching stomach, disturbing little Feliciana. She must show herself to them unconcerned. She had made her husband lie and bend the law; she had lied herself and denied the Faith by denying her Catholic marriage. She must show herself pregnant, triumphant, carrying the heir to the English throne. No matter how she felt. She tried to rise; her shivering and the warmth of the fire made her sink down. 

“No, we will eat by the fire, here. Tell them to come back tomorrow. Tell them to disturb my husband the king instead.”

 One of the maids of the bedchamber tittered. Dona Maria hushed her. Her women bustled around her, bringing a table, chairs. She leaned back, away from the nauseating smell of stewed chicken. Saliva came up in her throat and of a sudden she was feverish hot. She knew what the laughter meant. Disturb my husband. A harvest to bless. Her husband was not at some English harvest feast; he was with Barbara. She asked Dona Maria in Portuguese,
 “Has she had her child?”
 “Yesterday, Alteza.” 

 Catherine snatched up her napkin and held it over her mouth. There was nothing to fear from Barbara; her children might carry their father’s image like new-minted coins, but Catherine had a child too. 
 You, my little one, you who sit so imperiously in my body, calm yourself. 
You will be king.  You are your father’s heir. 
She put down the napkin. 
A queen always controls herself.

Thanks to the awesome publicist at Serial Box, I have 3 prize packages that include the first three episodes of Whitehall in text and audio!

To enter fill out the Rafflecopter below!

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Serial Box produces and publishes fiction serials, blending story production and distribution practices from television, book publishing and narrative podcasting. These team-written original serials span a range of genres including sci-fi , fantasy, espionage, contemporary and historical drama, post-apocalyptic, etc. Serial Box delivers episodes to fans’ digital devices every Wednesday over the course of 13-16 week seasons. Each episode is available in ebook and audio and takes about 40 minutes to enjoy. Learn more at Serial    

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Tuesday, August 09, 2016

[Blog Tour] Review: Eterna and Omega by Leanna Renee Hieber

Title: Eterna and Omega
Author: Leanna Renee Hieber
Genre: Gaslamp Fantasy
Series: The Eterna Files #2

Hardcover, 336 Pages
Publication: August 9, 2016 by Tor Books

Source: I received a review copy from the publisher in exchange for a honest review.


In New York City, fearing the dangers of the Eterna Compound--supposedly the key to immortality--Clara Templeton buries information vital to its creation. The ghost of her clandestine lover is desperate to tell her she is wrong, but though she is a clairvoyant, she cannot hear him.

In London, Harold Spire plans to send his team of assassins, magicians, mediums, and other rogue talents to New York City, in an attempt to obtain Eterna for Her Royal Majesty, Queen Victoria. He stays behind to help Scotland Yard track down a network of body snatchers and occultists, but he'll miss his second-in-command, Rose Everhart, whose gentle exterior masks a steel spine.

Rose's skepticism about the supernatural has been shattered since she joined Spire's Omega Branch. Meeting Clara is like looking into a strange mirror: both women are orphans, each is concealing a paranormal ability, and each has a powerful and attractive guardian who has secrets of his own.

The hidden occult power that menaces both England and America continues to grow. Far from being dangerous, Eterna may hold the key to humanity's salvation.

Eterna and Omega picks up exactly within moments of the first book. Clara, a spiritualist wakes up from exhaustion due to the over abundance of spirits surrounding her in the cemetery when she was burying sensitive information from her former deceased lover Louis. At the start of the book, Clara and the American Eterna team are still investigating the death of Louis and his colleagues and what happened that fateful day when their building blew up. And thanks to Clara’s gifts she was able to communicate with Louis and discovered that evil shadowy creatures, The Summoned were the cause of their death and that without some sort of protection/wards, the creatures will wreck havoc across the country.

On the opposite side of the world in England, the Omega team is getting ready to set sail for America by order of the Queen. The Queen has made the Eterna team out to be the villains and that Omega must retrieve all of Eterna’s work to secure her the cure to immortality. But little do they know that the real threat is the Queen herself. The two teams finally collide with one another but instead of working against each another, they join forces together to beat The Summoned that threaten to take over their world and stop the agenda for an old world.

The stakes are higher in this follow-up to The Eterna Files. Hieber subtly paints a countdown clock without the unnecessary bells and whistle. There weren’t crazy action scenes but I felt the urgency of the plot bouncing back and forth between Eterna and Omega nonetheless. Readers finally get a better understanding of what’s going on and why certain things are happening, especially with Moriel. Like with most stories, I love it when people put aside their differences and work together. I found the most enjoyable party of the story was when Eterna and Omega started working together.

Eterna and Omega was an excellent addition to The Eterna Files Series. I enjoyed it way more than I expected. This is a wonderful Gaslamp Fantasy series (fantasy/historical fiction with Victorian/Edwardian Setting) and if you haven’t tried this genre yet, Hieber’s novels would be a great place to start!


LEANNA RENEE HIEBER'S first novel, The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker, is a foundation work of gaslamp fantasy and the winner of two Prism Awards. Hieber has been a finalist for the Daphne Du Maurier Award. Rarely seen out of Victorian garb, Hieber often appears at conventions, bookstores, and library events. Her travel schedule and other news can be found at

Sunday, August 07, 2016

The Queen's Poisoner by Jeff Wheeler

Title: The Queen's Poisoner
Author: Jeff Wheeler
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Series: Kingfountain #1

Trade Paperback, 318 Pages
Publication: April 1, 2016

Source: I received a review copy from the publicist in exchange for a honest review. 


King Severn Argentine’s fearsome reputation precedes him: usurper of the throne, killer of rightful heirs, ruthless punisher of traitors. Attempting to depose him, the Duke of Kiskaddon gambles…and loses. Now the duke must atone by handing over his young son, Owen, as the king’s hostage. And should his loyalty falter again, the boy will pay with his life.

Seeking allies and eluding Severn’s spies, Owen learns to survive in the court of Kingfountain. But when new evidence of his father’s betrayal threatens to seal his fate, Owen must win the vengeful king’s favor by proving his worth—through extraordinary means. And only one person can aid his desperate cause: a mysterious woman, dwelling in secrecy, who truly wields power over life, death, and destiny.

This book was a wonderful surprise. I didn’t have much to go on when I began The Queen’s Poisoner. I certainly didn’t expect to be reading from the point-of-view of a child. An 8 year old to be exact, this was a first for me. Many complex fantasy world buildings have a multitude of characters and I was a bit worried that I wouldn’t remember everyone. Well, it turned out I had nothing to be worried about. Yes, there were many characters but all of the characters were well developed and had distinct personalities that I didn’t have a problem keeping track of who’s who. From the Queen Dowager whom we met briefly, young fearless Evie, to the Espison of the Kitchen Mancini; there were just so many great characters and though some character had more important roles than others…you can tell they were all given the same care and attention to detail.

The back tag-line of the book says 'A Boy will Rise to Manhood-And to Greatness’, I figured we’d get a little bit of Owen, our protagonist, in his youth and that the majority would be in his teens to early adult life. Nope. The first book in this planned trilogy is mostly Owen as a child and I assume he will ‘grow up’ over the course of the series. I loved Owen. He was such a sweet, smart and observant kid. Upon arriving to Kingfountain, Owen was a terrified little boy, which is completely understandable as he was just taken away from his family and became a prisoner to the most notorious king, a king that used children as his food/drink taster (against poisons). However, readers can clearly see a subtle growth to Owen. By the end of the book he was no longer that scared little boy but someone truly special that can outwit any adults. Another young character that made a strong impression on me was Elysabeth Victoria Mortimer A.K.A. Evie to Owen. Evie is Owen’s best friend and granddaughter to the king’s right-hand man. Evie was one of the coolest, bravest, and loquacious kid I’ve ever read about and I loved her! She was a great companion for Owen. At times I forgot they were children because they didn’t talk like children at all. She’s eight and she already talked about death, treachery, and marriage! I found it funny that she said Owen is her betrothed. Kids, they say the darnest things.

All in all, The Queen’s Poisoner was a solid and great start to a new series. I loved every moment of it. While this isn’t what I normally read, since I usually go for books with a lot of action, I still enjoy character driven novel and The Queen’s Poisoner was just that. There wasn’t much action but there was this slow burn vibe to it, like something big is going to happen. We will just have to wait and see what happens next! I can’t wait to start the second book, The Thief’s Daughter. This is definitely a series you don’t want to miss! Give The Queen’s Poisoner a try, you won’t regret it! 

Friday, August 05, 2016

[Series Spotlight] Kingfountain Series by Jeff Wheeler + Excerpt

I have another wonderful series spotlight for you guys! Today's series spotlight is on Jeff Wheeler's Kingfountain Series. The Kingfountain Series follows a Duke's young son, Owen, who also happens to be a new prisoner of the King, thanks to his parents for losing a wager. Readers follow along Owen as he navigates the King's castle, delights the castle occupants with his tiles and tries to prove his worth to the king or risk losing it all and forfeiting his life on behalf of his parents.

The Kingfountain Series is a High Fantasy Series that will appeal to all audience; with a protagonist you'll want to root for. The first two books; The Queen's Poisoner and The Thief's Daughter is out now, and the third book, The King's Traitor is out next month on September 6th!


King Severn Argentine’s fearsome reputation precedes him: usurper of the throne, killer of rightful heirs, ruthless punisher of traitors. Attempting to depose him, the Duke of Kiskaddon gambles…and loses. Now the duke must atone by handing over his young son, Owen, as the king’s hostage. And should his loyalty falter again, the boy will pay with his life.

Seeking allies and eluding Severn’s spies, Owen learns to survive in the court of Kingfountain. But when new evidence of his father’s betrayal threatens to seal his fate, Owen must win the vengeful king’s favor by proving his worth—through extraordinary means. And only one person can aid his desperate cause: a mysterious woman, dwelling in secrecy, who truly wields power over life, death, and destiny.


Chapter 28

The wild frenzied feeling of plummeting reminded him partway down that he should be terrified, but then the shock of cold water met his face and he plunged into its depths. His feet touched the bottom of the cistern. His hand still gripped hers.
Owen opened his eyes and found himself surrounded by a pile of treasure. He felt a huge burst of excitement in his ribs as he stared at the sword hilts, the jewels and necklaces. The Mortimer girl was tugging at his hand and trying to swim up, but he pulled back, not wanting to lose sight of the treasure. There was so much! But then he noticed something awry. There was a gap in the treasure, as if someone had dragged a rake through it. No, that wasn’t it. One of the chests appeared to have been dragged back towards the stairs. The dragging motion had cleared a path through the bounty and knocked other bits over.
His companion was yanking hard on his hand now, and when he looked up, he saw bubbles were coming out of her mouth, obscuring her face.
Owen wanted to stay down and figure out what had happened to the treasure, but they both needed to breathe. He pushed with his legs and they started towards the surface. As they moved through the water, a loud grinding noise filled his water-soaked ears.
When Owen’s face broke the surface, he gulped in a chest full of air to stop his lungs from burning. The Mortimer girl was spluttering and paddling on the waters.
“Owen! Did you hear that noise?”
Owen looked and saw they were farther away from stairs. In fact, they were gliding away from it at a fast pace.

“What’s wrong?” Owen asked, kicking around. The water was tugging them deeper into the dark cistern. 

Book 2 - Available now! 

Owen Kiskaddon first came to the court of the formidable King Severn as a prisoner, winning favor with the stormy monarch by masquerading as a boy truly blessed by the Fountain. Nine years hence, the once-fearful Owen has grown into a confident young man, mentored in battle and politics by Duke Horwath and deeply in love with his childhood friend, the duke’s granddaughter. But the blissful future Owen and Elysabeth Mortimer anticipate seems doomed by the king’s machinations.

A pretender to Severn’s throne has vowed to seize the crown of Kingfountain. But Severn means to combat the threat by using Elysabeth as bait to snare the imposter—and forcing Owen, as a pawn in the dangerous charade, to choose between duty and devotion. With poisoners and spies circling ominously, and war looming on the horizon, Owen must make painful sacrifices to beat back the advancing shadows of death and disaster. Will Owen’s conflicted heart follow the king’s path or risk everything for his love?

 Book 3 - Available September 6, 2016

Against all odds, Owen Kiskaddon grew from frightened boy to confident youth to trusted officer in the court of Kingfountain—and watched its regent, Severn Argentine, grow ever more ruthless and power-mad. Robbed of his beloved protector, his noble mentor, and his true love, Owen has anticipated the day when the king he fears and reviles, yet loyally serves, will be toppled. Now, as Severn plots a campaign of conquest, the time has come to take action…and Owen’s destiny demands that he lead the strike.

Ordered to incite war with a neighboring kingdom, Owen discovers its beautiful, reclusive ruler, whose powerful magic might even exceed his own. Together they mount a daring plot to overthrow the corrupt monarch, crown the rightful heir, and defeat the prophesied curse threatening Kingfountain with wintry death. But Severn’s evil is as bottomless as the fabled Deep Fathoms. To keep his ill-gotten throne, he’ll gladly spill the blood of enemies and innocents alike.


Jeff Wheeler took an early retirement from his career at Intel in 2014 to become a full-time author. He is, most importantly, a husband and father, and a devout member of his church. He is occasionally spotted roaming among the oak trees and granite boulders in the hills of California or in any number of the state’s majestic redwood groves. He is the author of The Covenant of Muirwood Trilogy, The Legends of Muirwood Trilogy, the Whispers from Mirrowen Trilogy, and the Landmoor Series.

Connect with Jeff!

Thursday, August 04, 2016

Nightshades by Melissa F. Olson

Title: Nightshades
Author: Melissa F. Olson
Genre: Paranormal Thriller, Urban Fantasy 
Series: N/A

Trade Paperback, 208 Pages
Publication: July 19, 2016 by Tor

Source: I received a review copy from the publisher in exchange for a honest review.


Alex McKenna is the new Special Agent in Charge of the Chicago office of the Bureau of Paranormal Investigations―the division tasked with investigating crimes involving shades.

Or vampires, as they’re more widely known.

Children have been going missing, and agents are routinely being slaughtered. It’s up to McKenna, and some unlikely allies, to get to the bottom of the problem, and find the kids before it’s too late.

I’ve been a fan of Olsen’s work since the debut of her first novel Dead Spots. What I’ve come to notice from Olsen’s work is her characters are realistic and well developed, her writing is always engaging and she puts a spin on vampires like no one else. Vampires have saturated the market for years and for some it’s become too familiar and monotonous. However, Olsen always finds a way to breathe new life into the overused supernatural creature of the undead, making it fresh and exciting; which is what readers will find when they pick up Nightshades.

New series means new location. Olsen opts for a change of scenery for her vampires in Heavenly, Chicago. Unlike her Scarlett Bernard Series, the vampires of Nightshades are undomesticated and are looking to over throw the human population. And they’re freakin’ scary and ruthless as hell. If you’re looking for the sparkly, glorified, domesticated kind of vamps then you’ll need to look elsewhere. Olsen’s vampires A.K.A Shades are dangerous hunters who believe they shouldn’t remain in the shadows anymore and that they’re the superior species, and that humans are nothing but blood bags for the taking. Which takes us to the main issue at hand; teenagers are being snatched all over Chicago and the BPI, Bureau of Paranormal Investigation is taking lead on the case with Alex, a newbie Agent at its helm.

I thought Alex and Lindy were both great leads. The book is pretty short, less than 200 pages but Olsen did a great job at building the world and foundation for subsequent books. And what little I saw of Alex and Lindy, I thought they worked well as partners, and hinting that there may be more to their relationship other than work, but again, it’s too early to tell. Alex is a typical male lead, he knows when to play and when to work and when to be a friend and boss. The most interesting character of the bunch is definitely Lindy. I don’t want to spoil the fun for anyone, but let me just say there’s more than meets the eye and at a glance readers might find Lindy a demure introvert but she is full of surprises. That ending, was just…WOW. Character crush!

Overall, I really liked Nightshades. The story wrapped up nicely but the ending left a lot open for future books. I’m crossing my fingers that this is the start of a new series and that the next book will be longer because this book felt way too short. I didn’t want it to be over yet, especially when things were getting so good! I highly recommend Nightshades to all Urban Fantasy, Paranormal, and police procedural readers. And if you haven’t tried any of Olsen’s books yet, Nightshades would be a great place to start!

Tuesday, August 02, 2016

Q&A with The Hike Author Drew Magary+ Giveaway

I have a treat for you guys today; a Q&A with Drew Magary, Author of THE HIKE which hits stores and E-Readers today! Don't forget to enter the giveaway at the end of the post!

Q&A with Author Drew Magary
(Provided by Viking)

Your last novel, The Postmortal, was a page-turning apocalyptic Sci-Fi saga, and THE HIKE falls more under the cannon of fantasy and it seems to be rooted in both classic fairy tales and old video games. Was there anything in particular that inspired you to switch genres?

Drew: Nah I just try to follow the best idea and not worry about genre.  I mean, I gladly would have done another sci-fi book if it had worked out but this was just the idea I ended up chasing.  And I swear I’m not one of those annoying people who switches up genres just so they can be like I WON’T BE CATEGORIZED.  In fact, I started two other sci-fi books and ended up stalling on them because I just couldn’t figure out how to advance them.  And while they sat in limbo, I went to a college in PA to give a speech and before the speech, I walked out behind my hotel into the woods and found myself very much alone.  And then I started to worry about getting lost, and bears coming for me, and deranged killers popping out from behind the trees.  And suddenly there was a very clear idea in my head, one that I was able to follow all the way through without any hiccups.  That’s just how it happens sometimes.

How would you describe THE HIKE in one sentence?

Drew: A man goes on a hike and gets very, very, very, very, very, very, very lost.

The novel’s protagonist Ben, an average family man from Bethesda, goes out for a stroll in the foothills of the Poconos and finds himself in an alternate, dreamlike dimension full of talking crabs, flesh-eating monsters, gravity-defying trains, and axe murderers with Rottweiler masks. Were there any artists or books that inspired the world you were able to create?

There’s a lot of influences in there, including old King’s Quest PC games (these were games where you moved from one screen to the next and sometimes clues or important items wouldn’t appear until you randomly entered a house for, like, the fifth time and shit), the Wizard of Oz (because there’s a road to follow), Cast Away (I will watch or read anything about people stranded alone someplace awful), The Princess Bride (which is a great old-fashioned adventure story but has brilliant dialogue and fun characters a kind of modern sensibility and humor to it despite being really traditional), It’s A Wonderful Life (which is fucking creepy as hell at the end, and I liked the idea of a guy being stuck in an alternate dimension and trying to come to grips with it), and more.  I didn’t deliberately fashion anything after those influences, it just came out that way.

Both you and your protagonist are the father of three kids, and many parents might have moments where they fantasize about escaping into an alternate universe which is precisely what happens to Ben. Is this idea something you wanted to investigate in this novel? Did writing THE HIKE make you think differently about your own family?

Drew: My kids are a little older now, so I’m past the phase where you’re always trying to get time for yourself and accepting that this is how parenthood works.  If anything, I tend to be away too often, whether it’s on a business trip (which has become a really lonely experience for me), or whether I’m lost in my own head.  And so I guess a lot of the novel is about the idea of drifting away, and not realizing it until you’re not sure if you can make it back.

You are one of the most widely read columnists on the web, you write critically acclaimed fiction, and you’re a Chopped champion. What do you consider you’re greatest achievement?

Drew: My family.  Okay, are they gone?  Can I stop lying now?  Okay, now that they’re gone: CHOPPED.

In an interview about your memoir Someone Could Get HurtUS News and World Report tabbed you as the Internet’s Ranter-in-Chief. For those who haven’t read your columns, can you explain the nickname?

Drew: I yell about stuff and use the word FUCK a lot.  Also, I have a whole preseason NFL series where I essentially roast every NFL team, and that has a large following.

Between your Deadspin columns and contributing essays for, you have one of the most dedicated following of readers of any writer, online or otherwise. Do you feel any pressure to inject the tone of your nonfiction writing into your fiction?

Drew: Oh sure.  That voice has served me well at GQ and Deadspin and anywhere else where I’ve written, and it comes naturally to me whenever I start yammering on about anything.  So whenever I do a book, I want a little bit of that in there to bring in old readers, but it can’t be the WHOLE thing, you know?  It has to be a great story on its own.  So this book has a bit of that in there, especially with the Crab character, but not so much of the voice that it overpowers it. 

From fiction to memoir, professional football to politics, your writing spans a breadth of topics, genres, and forms. What are you working on next?

Drew: I think I better write another book, eh?  Gotta figure that out.

Publication: August 2, 2016 by Viking
When Ben, a suburban family man, takes a business trip to rural Pennsylvania, he decides to spend the afternoon before his dinner meeting on a short hike. Once he sets out into the woods behind his hotel, he quickly comes to realize that the path he has chosen cannot be given up easily. With no choice but to move forward, Ben finds himself falling deeper and deeper into a world of man-eating giants, bizarre demons, and colossal insects.

On a quest of epic, life-or-death proportions, Ben finds help comes in some of the most unexpected forms, including a profane crustacean and a variety of magical objects, tools, and potions.

Desperate to return to his family, Ben is determined to track down the “Producer,” the creator of the world in which he is being held hostage and the only one who can free him from the path. At once bitingly funny and emotionally absorbing, Magary’s novel is a remarkably unique addition to the contemporary fantasy genre, one that draws as easily from the world of classic folk tales as it does from video games. 

Thanks to the awesome people at Viking, I have three (3) copies of THE HIKE up for grabs! To enter please fill out the Rafflecopter below. 


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Drew Magary is a correspondent for GQ Magazine, a columnist for Deadspin, and a Chopped Champion. He’s also the author of four books: The Hike, The Postmortal, Someone Could Get Hurt, and Men With Balls. He lives in Maryland with his wife and three children, and enjoys taking long walks.