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Out Of Play

3.89  ·  Rating details ·  402 ratings  ·  94 reviews
Gillian Campbell is out of patience.

Her husband is choosing his hobby over her. And the hobby in question? Live Action Role-Play, or ‘larp’. Larp involves dressing up as a character (be it medieval knight, banshee or centaur) and participating in imaginary battles for entire weekends.

Gillian is not impressed. She seeks professional advice and is surprised when her therap
Paperback, 211 pages
Published October 31st 2016 by Crooked Cat Publishing
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Average rating 3.89  · 
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Oct 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
Gillian Campbell has come to the point that she has no idea how to save her marriage and decides to start seeing a therapist. The problem to Gillian is that her husband would rather focus on his new hobby, LARPing or live action roll play, than have anything to do with her these days no matter how many times she tries to talk to him.

Gillian's therapist asks her to try not complaining of her husband's hobby but perhaps she ought to give it a shot herself, maybe just maybe Gillian may find this fu
Karlita | Tale Out Loud
Life was changing. Changing in ways we hadn’t expected. Changing in ways we weren’t quite ready for.
Gillian Campbell, married for fifteen years, felt her life was just like a passing day—an everyday routine which includes a heated discussion with her husband about his ridiculous hobby of "live-action role playing or larping". With their current roommate-like situation rather than intimate lovers who almost never been like a married couple, Gillian decided to see a therapist to help h
Nov 13, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
OUT OF PLAY by Joy Norstrom is a funny, often poignant, look at marriage and what can happen when the spark of romance seems to have died and been replaced with boredom and resentment.

Gillian is fed up with her husband Ralph. Feeling like they are room-mates rather than partners, Gillian is determined to figure out a way to fix Ralph - after all, it is his fault that he disappears most weekends LARPing with his friends (that is Live Action Role Playing for those who are unsure). So spending mor
Catherine Franssens
Out of Play is brilliantly crafted and deceiving in its simplicity. The light, accessible writing style lures us into initially trivializing Gillian’s martial issues… the same way she trivializes her husband’s hobby. We think “if only she were a more open, loving person… Ralph, albeit passive aggressive, seems like a pretty good guy… so what’s the problem?” But as the book unfolds, we learn that LARP is serious to those that partake in it; that beneath the surface the issues between Ralph and Gi ...more
Layla (Between the Lines)
I received a free copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. This in no way alters my opinion of the work.

I feel like I should preface this review by letting you know that I'm only a few years older than Gillian's goddaughter. Gillian's best friend, Jas, is essentially my mother's age. So I shouldn't have enjoyed this book, right? Wrong.

This book was a pleasant surprise. If I'm being honest, I usually avoid stories that revolve around marriage, separation, and the rebellious children th
Joy Norstrom
Sep 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)  ·  review of another edition
Hello everyone! This is my debut novel, coming out October 27th. I'm excited to share it with you, and I'm hoping you may be able to help get the word out by adding it to your to-read list. Thanks for your help!
Nov 12, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Thanks to the author for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Joy Norstrom, a debut author, will be on my list to keep in mind when looking for a good book. This first book contains well thought through characters, real life problems and a lot of feelings. I think a big audience will like this book and you should give it a try if you like raw, emotional books that contain the hard parts of life.

A longer review can be found at Bite Into books

A great debut. What y
Susan Hampson
Dec 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
After being married for 15 years the spark between Gillian and her husband Ralph has diminished to the point of the only couple of things they really have in common is living in the same house and not really liking each other very much. Gillian is irritable and hates the fact that Ralph escapes once a month for a whole weekend away Larping (Live Action Role Play). Now I hadn’t a clue what this was but it comes down to role play over different eras, where battles are reconstructed. It isn’t that ...more
Oct 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
***I received an ARC of this book from Net Galley in exchange for an honest review***

The premise of this book seemed interesting to me.  Although nobody in my family  is a LARPer (that I know of!) I am surrounded by the type of guys who would possibly do that.  My oldest goes to conventions and often does cosplay when he goes.  So I kind of get it.

Although I really enjoyed the writing style and the story pulled me in, this was a slow starter for me.  I can’t pinpoint the reason though.  Of cours
Jacqueline Aubin
Sep 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: canadian-reads
I found protagonist Gillian to be one of those rare individuals who is witty, slightly neurotic, loyal, and intelligent. She is a woman who finds herself at a pivotal point in her life and in her marriage, and in dealing with it all she manages to put herself in more than a few amusingly awkward situations. When husband Ralph becomes fixated on his LARP hobby Gillian handles this new challenge in her relationship in an unexpected and hilarious manner that had me shaking my head and admiring her ...more
Sep 16, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Netgalley copy in exchange for an honest review.

Gillian is really not happy with her life. Her husband is spending all his time playing a live action play game, and he’s clearly neglected her and their marriage. She can’t take it anymore. She tried everything, from including him in renovating their house to seeing a therapist...

Except taking part in the game itself.

Would that be enough to save their marriage?

I really loved that book. Gillian’s voice is witty and sweet - it just feels right, and
Oct 25, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
MoMo’s Book Diary enjoyed Joy Norstrom’s "Out of Play" and recommends as a great 4 star read.

This is a great book and all LARP-widows will love it!

Joy Norstrom has written a great book here and it was a joy to read.

The main characters, Gillian and Ralph, have hit a rocky patch in their marriage and Gillian is seeing a therapist who has some strange ideas but Gillian goes along with the plan – she is willing to try anything to save her marriage.

I have not read another book which looks at Life Ac
Gail Atkins
Jun 24, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A married couple's marriage is suffering due to a lack of communication. Both having different interests which leads to them leading almost separate lives.
Gillian goes to see a therapist who suggests that the couple need to start being a couple again.
How could they do this when Ralph spends every weekend LARPing (Yes I had to look this up!), wasting money on equipment?
Gillian confides with her best friend Jas, about her plan but Jason isn't convinced it will work.
Can this couple mend their rela
May 04, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is a realistic portrayal of marriage and what can happen if you and your partner retreat into yourself and not into each other. I correctly guessed the tragedy that spent years driving this couple apart. The book is a lesson on how NOT to deal with an unpreventable tragedy; after reading it I feel like I will long remember the lessons. I found the characters realistic (in all their flaws), but still relatable and ultimately, likable. I definitely recommend reading this powerful but rel ...more
Grass monster
Jan 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was drawn to this beautiful bright cover at first, the blurb sounded interesting but didnt quiet fit with the cover. I wanted to read this as I had never heard of Live Action Role Play (LARP) Nor did I know anything about it. I have to admit for me it was a slow start, but hey I have given it 5 stars so it must get better right?. Trust me it does and I didnt want it to end, neither did I feel ready saying goodbye to Gillian, who I felt had become my best friend.
Meet Gillian Campbell, a huge Yo
Jan 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 5-stars

Loved this story so so much.

I was sold after I've read the blurb but this book surprised me for its depth.

Ralph and Gillian are not the first couple to have some communication troubles after many years of marriage but Gill way to try to understand her husband's hobby is extreme and really funny.
I've found the main characters very relatable,I was so caught up in the story that I've felt their every single emotion.

"Life could not be the same.But it wouldn't just pass by anymore either.I knew th

Oct 25, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Free copy in exchange for an honest review.

This book was surprising. It starts off light, leading you to believe it's a fluffy novel about a married couple drifting apart and the wife's attempt at reconnecting with her husband. What the author successfully accomplished is that she weaved in a much more layered, darker storyline that surprises you at the end. Every character has a purpose even when you don't realize it, and offer the main characters a mirror to their best and worst personality t
Jan 03, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Welcome to the world of LARPing! I never knew that participants took it so serious! As I was reading, I wondered what the catalyst was for the change in the marriage. I was intrigued to find out the reasoning behind the issues in the marriage that I kept reading then things made sense. Pleasant weekend read!

I received a free copy of this book and voluntarily chose to review.
Astrid Arditi
Jan 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Funny, witty and endearing! This story seems simple enough but as you read you keep discovering new layers, about Gillian, the heroine, about her marriage and her friends, that show true compassion and empathy from the author. It is subtle and beautiful and it moved me to tears. Highly recommend
Cute story-- very Rom-Com. Loved that it was set in YYC!
Monica Mac
Jun 26, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wow, this book was quite the surprise packet! I have to admit to not being very familiar with LARP at all, and in fact had a pretty similar kind of opinion to Gillian before I read this book (although I would not have been as nasty and cruel as she was!).

Poor old Gillian and Ralph - they are stuck in a marriage which has gotten very stale and boring. Gillian snipes at Ralph every chance she gets about his "stupid" hobby of LARPing, which she doesn't understand and doesn't WANT to understand eit
Michelle  Driscoll
Gillian's marriage is not going great, her husband spends a lot of time role playing imaginary battles at the weekends. She is feeling neglected and decides to speak to a therapist, to try and improve her marriage. Her therapist suggests she should see why her husband enjoys his hobby so much, and so Gillian decides to give that idea a go.

This book was a little different from my normal genre but I really enjoyed it. Beautifully written, with plenty of funny moments throughout.

A full 5 stars from
Nov 09, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'd never read a book that involved larping before, so that was unique. It was actually a fairly unique book in general, which was a nice surprise.
Booksandchinooks (Laurie)
This book is about Gillian and her failing 15 year marriage to Ralph. The book is set in western Canada in the city of Calgary. The lines of meaningful communication between Gillian and Ralph have broken down. Ralph is spending his weekends away from Gillian and is participating in LARPing (live action role playing). She sees this as him escaping from her and their marriage. She is in therapy and the therapist encourages her to give LARPing a try so they might find some common ground in the marr ...more
Nov 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The story begins with Gillian complaining about her husband Ralph to her therapist.
She does gripe about her husband a lot and that in itself gets very annoying.
I wanted to scream at Gillian stop complaining and get a move on doing something about it. Walk the walk Gillian don’t just whine and complain all the time.

Gillian is an accomplished French horn player playing with the Philharmonic Orchestra.
Gillian and Ralph have been married fifteen years and they just aren’t making a love connection
Jena Henry
Dec 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Gillian and her husband have entered that phase of marriage where everything is lackluster, ho-hum, no connection. When remodeling her kitchen fails to boost her spirits or amp up her love life, she decides to visit a therapist. So starts this sweet and heartbreaking woman’s fiction novel by Joy Norstrom.

Gillian feels that part of the problem between her and her husband Ralph, is that Ralph is now leaving her every weekend to participate in LARP (Life Action Role Playing) events. His passion an
Isabella May
Jul 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Where to start? I really don't want to leave any spoilers, and I think part of the beauty of this novel is that it takes your breath away by suddenly uncovering one of society's longstanding taboos (which so shouldn't be a taboo in the 21st century), just when you least expect it. NOW we understand why Gillian and Ralph have been battling problems for so long in their marriage. And as one who has lived and breathed the tragedy that is this subject myself, I can only say kudos to Joy Norstrom (an ...more
Nov 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Loved it! An absolute joy to read.

A fun, humorous yet heartfelt book. The story is told from the perspective of the main character, Gillian. Her charming attributes, hard to ignore.

In the opening scene we see so much of who Gillian is. She is funny, authentic and a little self involved, like so many of us as we try to work through a difficult problem.

There are so many places I laughed and near cried. Mrs Norstrom knows how to take you on a journey; self doubt, frustration, love, grievance and f
Dec 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed-books
Gillian finds sanctuary in yoga. She needs peace, time out away from how she feels about her husband and his Larping obsession, dressing up as a medieval knight or fantastical being of some sort for re-enactment weekends. She is acutely aware that Larping is not her definition of what normal people in a relationship do. Or anyone for that matter. Gillian is seeing a therapist to try to get her husband to change. Obvious mistake number one! She has great friends though, and coupled with yoga, she ...more
Sophie Bailey
Ever heard of larping?! Nope, me neither! And neither had Gillian until her husband took himself every weekend to do it!

Gillian is at her wits end, fed up with her marriage, totally frustrated with her husband so seeks the advise of a therapist. Her instructions, to immerse herself into her husband’s world, to try out this Live Action role play malarkey, to stir things up a bit, try and see what his life is about. So that is what she does! Will it save their marriage or continue to drive them ap
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Joy Norstrom is a Canadian coffee-a-holic. She also happens to be the author of Out Of Play, a women’s fiction novel long on humour and short on romance. She lives in Calgary, Alberta and enjoys hiking with her family, wine with friends and reading late into the wee hours when she should be sleeping.

Joy is also a mother and a social worker. When she's not parenting, championing inclusion, or gett

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