I love to meet fellow #bookworms. It's a lot of fun connecting with a stranger over a book that we've both enjoyed. It builds instant rapport.
"And remember the part where she goes into that old house? Wasn't that nuts?"
"Argh! I couldn't believe she did that! I wanted to hold onto her legs and pull her back."
What's especially humorous to me is the way that people tend to classify "suspense readers," or "mystery readers," or "thriller readers," in some very humorous ways.
"Well, she reads suspense, you know," whispers an older lady to me from behind a hand near her mouth.
"He's a mystery fan. Can you believe it? And he seemed so normal..."
"I wouldn't leave my dog at her house when you go away. She's a thriller reader."
Okay, I'm exaggerating. But doesn't it sometimes feel as though people who read other genres think we're weird because we love to read suspense, mystery or thriller books? "Why would you want to read about death and killing?" a woman once asked me at a book sale. "I want something that relaxes me, not makes me stress out."
The thing is that mystery and suspense and thriller books DO relax us. They're like giant puzzles that your mind works away on, providing a temporary escape from that truly stressful thing in life called reality. These types of books help us to put things in perspective, too. Kind of hard to feel so disgruntled with a nosy boss when the main character is being chased by the mob, right?
Suspense, mystery and thriller books also help us to problem solve. What would we do/have done in that situation? Where would we turn if that had happened to us? How can the protagonist make the outcome more favorable? What if he/she doesn't? What are the risks and rewards?
Best of all, most novels tie up the loose ends leaving us as the readers feeling good. These are a few of the many reasons that I love to read and write in the suspense and mystery genre. What are yours? Please share a comment.
You'll remember in my last post I was discussing the reasons that I don't like writing book reviews, and what I like to do instead.
This isn't to say that I don't like reading some book reviews. I find sites like I Wish I Lived in a Library and Kay's Reading Life and Rebel Mommy Book Blog to be great places to find new-to-me-books/authors to check out. Each of these reviewers does a fantastic job of writing good reviews. They also include just enough information about their personal life that you feel like a close acquaintance is sharing information with you on coffee break. Want a straight book review site for mystery and suspense reads? I recommend Mysteries in Paradise or Bitter Tea and Mystery, both of which use straight review format.
Even if they didn't particularly like a book, these reviewers make sure to point out its good qualities. They also state that the parts they didn't enjoy are because of their own reading preferences, not because they believe they are the end-all and be-all of book reviewers. I respect that very much.
Oh, and I'd be remiss not to send you to check out the clever and well-rounded book review site by writer/author/editor Beth Kanell, Kingdom Books. It's a fantastic resource for any reader who is a fan of mystery, suspense and great thrillers.
What book review sites do you rely on? Or are you an Amazon, Goodreads or LibraryThing-only type of review reader? Please share in the comments.
I'm a bit late for Women's History Month, but have been thinking about sharing some of my favorite women suspense authors with you here on the blog for some time. Today, we're going to go back in history and learn more about three authors who changed the literary world. They are: Mary Roberts Rinehart, Agatha Christie and Patricia Clapp. Like any good journalist, I'm going to cover the Five Ws: Who, What Where, When and Why...the last "w" being why you might want to pick up one of their books.
Who: Mary Roberts Rhinehart had an interesting start in the literary world: she became a writer because of financial need. This in itself might not be so surprising, except that she was married to a doctor. Apparently, the couple was in financial distress and Mary Roberts Rhinehart began to write and sell her fictional articles in magazines.
What: The author of 60 mystery books, nine plays, and many short stories published in magazines like the Saturday Evening Post.
Where: Mary Roberts Rhinehart was originally from Pittsburgh, PA, but later lived among homes located in Bar Harbor, ME, and Park Avenue in NYC.
When: She was first published in 1908 and continued to write prolifically until her death in 1858.
Why: Mary Roberts Rhinehart wrote books that evoked suspense and oozed atmosphere all without going into the gory details of a story. Her book, The Yellow Room, was a fascinating read and would be a great introduction to her work.
Oh, Mrs. Christie: what can I say that hasn't been said a million times before? Let's cover the five W's and see if we learn anything new, shall we?
Who: Born Agatha Mary Clarissa Miller, Christie published her first novel, The Mysterious Affair at Styles, in 1920.
What: A prolific writer, Agatha Christie penned more than 70 mystery novels during her lifetime. She also wrote romance novels under a pen name (Mary Westmacott), many short stories and plays, too. Several of her books have gone on to become movies, and of course, her most famous characters, Hercules Poirot and Miss Marple had their own TV series.
Where: Christie was born in in Torquay, Devon, (England) and later lived in her beautiful "dream home," Greenway. (You can tour Greenway if you'd like!)
When: Agatha Christie was born in 1890 and was named dame in 1971. She passed away in 1976.
Why: So many reasons to enjoy Agatha Christie's books: one of my top ones? Because I have yet to figure out "who did it," and the motive both, a sure sign of a great mystery writer.
Who: Patrica Clapp was something of a mystery herself. She was born in 1912 and her first work was the novel, Constance: A Story of Early Plymouth.
What: Unlike the other two authors above, Ms. Clapp was not a prolific writer. She is credited with 10 published works, most of these children's books. I was introduced to her by a wonderful friend with similar reading tastes. Ms. Clapp's book, Jane-Emily, was probably my favorite read of 2017. According to her biography via Harper Collins, the author actually identified as more of a "theater person," than a writer, and worked in community theater for 40 years.
Where: Patricia Clapp was born in Boston, MA, and lived in Upper Montclair, New Jersey.
When: The author was born in 1912 and passed away in 2003.
Why: Jane-Emily is a Gothic-suspense that will draw you in from the very first page. I believe in today's classification system, it would be considered Juvenile Fiction, but I enjoyed it greatly. It's spooky and haunting with beautiful prose and, oddly, a bit of humor that somehow works perfectly.
Who did I miss? This is just a short overview of three of my favorite vintage female suspense authors, but who would you add to the list? Share you thoughts in the comments.
When you were a kid, did you like being read to? I LOVED it. Not only did my older sister, Aimee, read to me all the time but sometimes my father read to all of us. Those are some really great memories. (If you'd like to start a read-aloud tradition in your family, C.W. Hawes has some great ideas to help.)
Happily, being read to doesn't have to stop just because you're a grownup. Audio books are in fact the fastest growing segment of the digital publishing industry right now. And Americans are listening in droves. According to the Audiobook Publishers Association, 26 percent of the U.S. population has listened to an audiobook in the last 12 months. (Read the blog post where I pulled this information from.)
You can often borrow audio books on CD from your local library. If you're not a fan though, (too cumbersome, perhaps?) there are other options. You could choose a Playaway--a pre-loaded, small listening device which you can use with earbuds or plug in to your car's auxiliary jack. Or get a subscription to Audible, Amazon's popular audiobook service. There is also another option and this one is completely free: radio dramas.
When I was working full-time at a mind-numbing job, I used to listen to radio dramas like "Suspense," which are really well done. Picture creaking doors, the sound of bat wings flapping, the drip, drip, drip of a leaky roof when a young couple takes refuge in an abandoned house after their car breaks down...great stuff!
This blogger put together a list of Top 10 Best Fiction Podcasts which you might find helpful. I'm sure there are also a lot of fiction podcasts if you search on iTunes, too.
How do you like to listen to books? Please let me know in the comments section.
Today is Wednesday, the 21st of February in northwestern Vermont...and it's nearly 70 degrees outside.
To say that we've had unusual weather this winter would be an understatement. But today's balmy temperatures have my mind turned to gardening and cleaning up the yard...and enjoying fresh, delicious strawberries straight from the raised bed. Mmm, along with fresh salad topped with dill and green-tailed onions still warm from the sun.
Obviously in summer months we eat differently than we do in the winter. Somehow sitting down to a big bowl of steaming stew or a plate filled with hot soup in the middle of July doesn't sound as appealing, does it?
This led me to wonder: do readers' tastes in books change with the seasons? You've heard the term, "beach read," right? It usually denotes lighter, fluffier reading fare than you might otherwise choose.
But what about suspense readers? Do we like to change to lighter, fluffier mystery/suspense novels in the summer as opposed to the darker months of winter? Or is the opposite true? Perhaps we gravitate toward heavier reads in the lighter months, when the world doesn't feel quite so oppressive.
I did a quick Google search but most of what I found was related to helping children find "just right" books (reading material most appropriate for their reading levels). I did, however, find this interesting article by C. Hope Clark on how readers tend to choose the books they read.
I'd love to hear your take. Do you find that your books change depending on the season? Leave a comment and get the conversation started!
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