Exciting news! A handful readers will have the opportunity to read, Let the Dead Rest, before it's release date on 8/17/18.
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Today marks the official half-year mark. I thought it would be fun to look back at some of the best suspense books I've read so far in 2018. Plus, I'm sharing a look at a suspense novel I can't wait to get my sweaty little hands on!
I'm not much for cozy mysteries, I tend to like things a little darker and grittier. And while Mister Mottley Gets His Man isn't entirely cozy, it is a fun read--definitely more on the light-hearted side. It was also one of my favorite reads so far this year.
The author, Ellen Seltz, does a brilliant job of keeping everything perfectly balanced. Like a just-right meal, the book has a lot of action, humor, extremely fun characters with lots of quirks, and a rollicking "who dunnit" mystery that I couldn't solve. Plus, since Ms. Seltz has a background in the film/theater industry, the book reads like a movie script (in a good way). Thoroughly enjoyed.
The Bullet, is a novel of suspense and intrigue. It's written by a VPR commentator, Mary Louise Kelly. It was eerie and fast-paced. The storyline follows a young college professor who discovers she has a bullet lodged in the base of her neck. She has no idea how it got there.
From that MRI, the young woman's perfect life starts to crumble around her. The harder she looks for answers, the more frightening her situation becomes. Excellent read! I look forward to more by this talented author.
I so enjoyed this quick read, The Yellow Room, by vintage author, Mary Roberts Rinehart. I can't believe that it's taken me so long to read one of this legend's books. Wasn't she named the "Queen of Suspense," before Mary Higgins Clark took over the title?
This was a great, gothic suspense story and had just enough spine-tingles to keep you flipping pages. Also loved the time period it was set in (1940s).
Listen to this opening paragraph:
"As she sat in the train that June morning Carol Spencer did not look like a young woman facing anything unusual. She looked merely like an attractive, and highly finished product of New York City, who was about to park her mother with her elder sister in Newport for a week or two, and who after said parking would then proceed to Maine, there to open a house which she never wanted to see again."
Already there are questions to be answered. Why doesn't Carol want to see the house again? If she doesn't, why is she opening it? What unusual thing is she facing? Love the hook.
All right, I admit it: I'm cheating here a little. This miniseries, And Then There Were None, based on the novel by the same name by Dame Agatha Christie, was a must-watch for me. In fact, it had been on my wishlist on Amazon for more than a year!
While the script deviates in some ways from the original book (one of my very favorite of Christie's novels), it was similar enough in the most important ways. The director did a great job of climax and tension, and the house and setting were completely atmospheric and just creepy enough to be delicious.
And a suspense book I'm looking forward to reading...
I am so, SO looking forward to reading this new thriller/suspense by Jenny Milchman. I recently learned about it's release from writer/book reviewer, Beth Kanell, who maintains an excellent site, Kingdom Books, that you should visit. Ms. Milchman and I were featured in the same post--her for this book and me for Shadow in the Woods.
"Fatso!" "Heifer," and "Lard *ss," were names that followed me through school hallways, the playground and even the classroom growing up.
"Why are you so fat?" a girl asked me one day on the playground. I mumbled something about being big boned and got out of there fast, cheeks stained red, our game forgotten.
Growing up as "the fat kid," was a fate I wouldn't wish on anyone. My heart was broken over and over again when others--especially friends and once even a teacher--commented negatively on my weight.
It did, however, give me two gifts that I'm still grateful for.
The gifts that being "the fat kid" gave me
Firstly, it allowed me to feel complete empathy for others who were left out, picked on, or made fun of. Even after I went through my "transformation," in junior high and lost 60 pounds in about a year, I have never, ever lost that righteous anger I feel for the underdog.
Secondly, it brought me my true passions: reading great books and writing stories. When I read a book, I was no longer the fat kid. I was the hero. I was sometimes beautiful, always strong, and often funny. By putting myself in the place of protagonist, I worked through challenges and hardships. This helped me see some of my own problems in new ways. Or at the very least, helped me to see that other people had it as bad, if not worse, than I did. Their stories provided me with a sense of solidarity.
Stories were important to me. They offered me an escape as well as adventure, love, freedom, hope and power. They're still important to me for these reasons today. I'm guessing that's why they are important for most of us.
I've been writing for as long as I can remember. In my books there is often a theme of social justice or of the empowerment/growth of a particular character. I don't do this purposely. It comes from the way that I've always lived my life.
If I had it to do all over again, would I choose to grow up as the fat kid? If I said "no," then I wouldn't be the person I am today. And we don't get a chance to go back.
So, I'm taking the lessons that I've learned and using them to make my life richer. And I hope that along the way I've encouraged other misfits like me in ways that are real and meaningful to them.
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.
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