Category Archives: Suspense

Some stuff I’ve recently read

Although I haven’t been posting much lately, I have been reading. I’m seven books behind on my GoodReads challenge though. Good thing I have a week off at the end of June. Maybe I can catch up.

Here’s a roundup of some of the books I’ve finished recently along with the GoodReads rating I gave them.

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Joyland by Stephen King

JoylandJoyland by Stephen King
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Every time I read a Stephen King novel, I wish I wasn’t such a scaredy cat because he’s a phenomenal storyteller. Which is the problem. His horror novels are entirely too scary. Happily, this novel is a combination noir, coming of age, ghost story, which I definitely can handle. Once I started it, I couldn’t put it down. If you’re like me and stay away from King because he’s too scary, try this one (or 11/22/63, which combines time travel, alternate history, and love).

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Found by Harlan Coben (Mickey Bolitar #3)

Found (Mickey Bolitar, #3)Found by Harlan Coben
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really like this series. Coben does a great job of bringing his trademark suspense to a high school setting.  Mickey is a likeable teen and I really enjoy his developing relationship with Ema. Plus, Spoon is hilarious.

I’m pleased that he tied up some loose ends in this one. There’s still a lot of story to go, so I’m looking forward to the next installment in the series.

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The Intern’s Handbook by Shane Kuhn

The Intern's Handbook: A ThrillerThe Intern’s Handbook: A Thriller by Shane Kuhn
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I’d actually rate this 3.5 stars, but that isn’t an option on GoodReads. The idea for this book was really interesting. The execution (so to speak) worked pretty well, although I found myself skipping over the details of the fight scenes toward the end. There was just a little too much gratuitous description for my taste.

I kept thinking that it reminded me of a cross between Grosse Pointe Blank and Burn Notice (or maybe Covert Affairs, which makes sense because the author is a screenwriter.
I liked the way the main character changed during the book. The first person narration made it easier to see that his image of himself shifted as the story progressed. Often, books like this don’t feature character development, so that’s definitely a plus. I also really enjoyed the snarky tone. I think that’s what brought Burn Notice to mind for me.

Overall, worth a look.

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Maybe This Time by Jennifer Crusie

Jacket copy again. I’m going to stop apologizing. Now.

Andie Miller is ready to move on in life. She wants to marry her fiance and leave behind everything in her past, especially her ex-husband, North Archer. But when Andie tries to gain closure with him, he asks one final favor of her before they go their separate ways forever. A very distant cousin of his has died and left North as the guardian of two orphans who have driven out three nannies already, and things are getting worse. He needs a very special person to take care of the situation and he knows Andie can handle anything…

When Andie meets the two children she quickly realizes things are much worse than she feared. The place is a mess, the children, Carter and Alice, aren’t your average delinquents, and the creepy old house where they live is being run by the worst housekeeper since Mrs. Danvers. What’s worse, Andie’s fiance thinks this is all a plan by North to get Andie back, and he may be right. Andie’s dreams have been haunted by North since she arrived at the old house. And that’s not the only haunting…

Then her ex-brother-in-law arrives with a duplicitous journalist and a self-doubting parapsychologist, closely followed by an annoyed medium, Andie’s tarot card–reading mother, her avenging ex-mother-in-law, and her jealous fiancé. Just when Andie’s sure things couldn’t get more complicated, North arrives to make her wonder if maybe this time things could just turn out differently.

I’ve been describing this to people as a snarky, modernized version of Rebecca. I know it’s also the author’s take on The Turn of the Screw. It isn’t laugh out loud funny, but is excellently plotted and made me smile in quite a few places. I love the kids and Southy. I also liked the supernatural angle. It’s a great ghost story. I’m keeping this one and expect to read it again. Very nicely done.

The Villa by Nora Roberts

More jacket copy. It’s been a very long week and I’m tired (and I read this one in August too).

Sophia Giambelli has never had to worry about competition. For three generation, the Giambelli wines have been renowned for their quality- from Napa Valley to Italy, and throughout the world. The pride of the Giambelli family, and a top PR executive, Sophia loves her job- and excels at it.

But things are about to change at Villa Giambelli. Tereza, the matriarch, has decreed that a merger will take place with the MacMillan family’s winery- and Sophia will be taking a new role. As a savvy business-woman, she knows she has to be prepared for anything…but she isn’t prepared for Tyler MacMillian. They’ve been ordered to work together very closely, to make the merger as smooth as possible. Sophia must teach Ty the finer points of marketing and promotion- and Ty, in turn, shows her how to get down and dirty, to use the sun, rain, and earth to coax the sweetest grapes from the vineyard. But as they toil together, both in and out of the fields, Sophia is torn between a powerful attraction and a professional rivalry. At the end of the season, the course of the company’s future- and the legacy of the Villa- may take an entirely new direction. And when acts of sabotage threaten both the family business and the family itself, Sophia’s quest will be not only for dominance, but survival.

What can I say? Nora Roberts is the queen of romantic suspense. I love everything she writes because her characters are so likable. I particularly loved the secondary storyline involving Pilar, Sophia’s mom, and the company’s new CEO (and his teenage kids). The suspense angle was pretty weak, but that’s not why I read these books. Highly recommended, if you like this sort of thing (which I obviously do).

Private Scandals by Nora Roberts

Deanna Reynolds and Angela Perkins are the queens of afternoon TV talk shows, although their on-screen competition is nothing compared to their off-screen one. When Angela winds up dead on the set of Deanna’s show, things really spin out of control.

This is one of Ms. Nora’s earlier hardcover titles. Published in 1993, it’s a little dated, but entertaining. The characters are fairly stock, but still likeable and well-developed. Finn Riley, the hero, is deliciously hunky, smart, and devoted to Deanna, the heroine. This is a great book to read by the pool while sipping a frosty drink.

Caught by Harlan Coben

Wendy is a reporter on a mission: She’s chasing down the lowest of the low-sexual predators-and exposing them on national television. Her big break comes when she nails a child advocate who works with abused and underserved children. She’s there, cameras rolling, when the cops cuff him and the guy realizes his life is well and truly over. What she doesn’t realize is that the case is much more complicated than she could ever imagine.

Harlan Coben is a master of snappy dialogue, fast action, and well-drawn characters. This was a hard book to put down once I started it. It’s not necessarily something I’d read over and over again, but it’s an excellent beach book. I was also happy to see a cameo from Win, Myron Bolitar’s very wealthy, sociopathic sidekick. I hope that means that there’s another Bolitar book in the works.