So I took some time and went through all the books that I have marked 'Read' on my GR, mainly for the Romantic Suspense square--it is my comfort, go-to genre after all. But along the way, I found some books I'd like to list as possibilities for other squares as well.
I'm a wimp when it comes to horror, but imagine my surprise when I found how many books I've already read that could be considered horror--either because tagged at GR, or because they just seem to have horror elements.
I've got lists of books to recommend for Romantic Suspense, but I'm going to narrow it down to books I've personally enjoyed, that also might have a bit of a dark, gritty, chilling atmosphere.
First of all, I would recommend anything written by Laura Griffin--her murder mysteries are pretty gritty, and her characters are tough and great to follow. Not everything she's written is a murder mystery, and there are a couple military romances slipped into her Tracers series. But for the most part, I've pretty much enjoyed every books of hers I've read. I personally like to read books in order if it's a series, but her books can be read out of order or as stand-alones. Untraceable is the first book in her Tracers series, and some of my personal favorite installments include: Snapped, Twisted, Exposed, Shadow Fall, and Deep Dark. There's also a stand-alone book called Far Gone that's not bad either.
For a more supernatural experience, I would recommend Kay Hooper's Bishop/Special Crimes Unit series, which follows unit of FBI agents who are all psychic. The truth is, the first few sub-trilogy arcs are pretty good--the most recent ones are kind of draggy. I personally liked the first four sub-trilogies, and here are some of my personal favorites:
-- Stealing Shadows, Hiding in the Shadows, Out of the Shadows, Touching Evil, Whisper of Evil, Sense of Evil, Hunting Fear, Chill of Fear, Sleeping Fear.
Hunting Fear has a haunted hotel setting; Stealing Shadows is the first book in the series; Out of the Shadows is the strongest book of the series and has a serial killer.
Kylie Brant's Mindhunter series is also a personal favorite--they can be read as stand-alones as well, but brief references to previous characters will sometimes come up.
Cynthia Eden has a trilogy called Deadly that involves teams from a special FBI violent crimes unit. All three books feature a serial killer, and the first book takes place in a small town: Deadly Fear, Deadly Heat, Deadly Lies.
Leslie A. Kelly wrote two series I personally enjoyed a lot: Black CATs and Extrasensory Agents.
Black CATs follows an FBI team that specializes in cyber crimes, and all three books involve a serial killer. The first book takes place in a small town: Fade to Black, Pitch Black, Black at Heart.
Extrasensory Agents follows a group of psychic paranormal investigators, so these books may apply to the 'Amateur Sleuth' square as well as 'Supernatural.' The first and third books take place in a small town. Cold Sight, Cold Touch, Cold Memory.
I would also like to mention Maggie Shayne's Brown and de Luca series, which was phenomenal! The first book is called Sleep with the Lights On, and follows Rachel de Luca who, after a corneal transplant, begins to see visions of people being murdered. So this book would work for the 'Serial/Spree Killer' square, the 'Supernatural' square, and 'Amateur Sleuth' square, since Rachel is a book author.
A non-series book I would recommend is Maggie Shayne's The Gingerbread Man, which really just works for 'Romantic Suspense' and 'Terror in a Small Town.'
I wish I had more stand-alone books to recommend, but it looks like I've mainly been reading series books. Some other romantic suspense authors I would suggest, however, would be Nora Roberts (duh) and Jayne Ann Krentz and Linda Howard.
I don't read as many Cozy Mysteries as MbD does, but I DO have a couple particular cozy series I happened to like:
Heather Wells by Meg Cabot -- the first book is Size 12 Is Not Fat
Lucy Valentine by Heather Webber -- the first book is Truly, Madly
Both series are five books long and very enjoyable.
I'm personally planning on reading either the Crocodile on the Sandbank or The Camelot Caper, both books by Elizabeth Peters. If the library happens to pick up one of my book recommendations before the game ends, I've also requested Devil May Care and The Jackal's Head... which will mean I'll have too many books to choose from...
This book has probably already been mentioned, as it will fit for several other squares, but I read The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman (actually listened to it as a full-cast audio), and absolutely loved it. There's murder, ghosts, supernatural... so many possibilities!
Meanwhile, I'm also going to recommend The Dollhouse Murders by Betty Ren Wright, which is a children's ghost story, involving, well, the titular haunted dollhouse. I read this when I was in middle school and it scared the crap out of me... but I'm a weenie, so that means nothing.
The Ghost Bride is also an excellent book for these two squares, but like The Graveyard Book, it can fit in several other squares as well: Supernatural, Magical Realism, Chilling Children, Terrifying Women, Diverse Voices... and if the Ox-Headed Patrol Guards from the Underworld count as Monsters, then it can go in that square as well. And at the risk of giving away some of the end of book stuff, there's a mythological creature in there somewhere too.
Phantom Evil is the first book in Heather Graham's Krewe of Hunters, another series about paranormal law enforcement in the FBI--a bunch of psychics are gathered into a team to investigate murders that might involve ghostly happenings or a haunted house.
I didn't think I'd have anything to contribute to this square, but apparently I've read enough Amanda Quick historical romance/mysteries to have a few recommendations!
'Til Death Do Us Part, The River Knows, Wait Until Midnight, and any of her Arcane Society historical novels would go in this square. The Arcane Society books also count for 'Supernatural.'
I consider Deanna Raybourn's books all 'Gothic', though some of them would also fit into the 'Darkest London' square. I think Silent in the Grave, The Dark Enquiry, and her Veronica Speedwell books all take place in London. All the books from both Lady Julia Grey and Veronica Speedwell would count towards 'Amateur Sleuth' as well.
Amanda Stevens' The Graveyard Queen is another great series, considered Gothic, with ghosts and hauntings and murder and mayhem. I've only read the first three books, but recently learned that there are now six total. The first book is The Restorer, and while this book would also fit the 'Romantic Suspense' square, there really isn't a whole lot of romance in it. I would even consider this series to be 'horror' as well. The second book, The Kingdom, takes place in a small town.
I've only got one author I can think of to recommend for this square: Juliet Marillier. She loves to use a forest or woods as her setting for a lot of books. For instance, her young adult high fantasy series, the Shadowfell trilogy (Shadowfell, Raven Flight, The Calling) involve a lot of travel back and forth a forest, and there are fairy creatures significant to the forest.
Moonlight has already mentioned Daughter of the Forest in a previous post, a book that I've been meaning to read forever now, and has been sitting on my bookshelf for at least three years.
Another young adult fantasy by Marillier is Wildwood Dancing, which involves anything from the supernatural, to talking frogs, to vampires, to a Gothic setting in a Transylvanian castle, to a significant forest with fairy creatures and a witch named Draguta.
Now that I've rambled on forever, I'm going to hop on over to Murder by Death's Halloween Bingo reading lists and put some of these suggestions there. This post had been started mainly for the 'Romantic Suspense' square, and there are a lot of other Rom-suspense books I would recommend, but I wanted to focus more on the murder mysteries if I could.
If anyone has missed it, here is a link to MbD's compiled list of links to the Halloween Bingo reading lists.
The Barbizon Hotel in New York City is a glamorous place for women where models, secretaries, and editors live while trying to claw their way to success until they can find themselves a husband. The year is 1952 and Darby McLaughlin has arrived at the Barbizon Hotel to stay while she attends Katharine Gibbs secretarial school. But she doesn't fit in and the secretarial work is boring. Darby befriends a maid from the Barbizon and together they hang out in a seedy jazz club called the Flatted Fifth until all hours of the night. But it's not all fun and games for long.
Present day - the Barbizon is no longer a hotel but a condo. Rose Lewin is a journalist living there. She's on the fifth floor while the old women who've lived there since it was a hotel live on the fourth floor. She becomes interested in one woman in particular after she hears a juicy story about Darby's involvement in a deadly skirmish back in the 50's. She becomes obsessed with uncovering this woman's past while her own life is falling apart.
I really enjoyed the history of the Barbizon Hotel for women. I liked how that era was brought to life with seedy jazz clubs and fashion and the glitz of the hotel itself. Darby's story was strong and very interesting. Rose's story was interesting when she was trying to uncover Darby's past, otherwise I thought there was a bit much going on but overall it was a good read.
@FionaJDavis @DuttonBooks This book definitely took me back in time into an era where women wore gloves and hats and were not to be seen wearing pants. It was definitely a different era. I enjoyed reading the fact that there were a lot of women who once lived in this "hotel" just for women including Sylvia Plath, Liza Minnelli, Candace Bergen and many other famous people.
However, for the story, it was just a lot of girls from little towns across the USA that came to New York to see and make their dreams come true. Sadly, that didn't happen for all of them. And as of present day, there were still several of them that still live there on the fourth floor after the building had been made into condos.
This did not read like a debut novel to me and I look forward to reading more of Fiona Davis books. I really grew to like the main characters and I like where she took the story and myself. Whether it be uptown to all the classy places or down to the jazzy places where a lot of people would not dare to go. This was a great look back at that era and it was also a sad look back at that era.
I absolutely loved this story and was sad when it was done. I really did not want to leave it as I wanted to hear more about the girls of "The Dollhouse". A beautifully told story that was very well written.
Thanks to Dutton and Edelweiss for providing me with a free e-galley in exchange for an honest review.
A special thank you to Dutton and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Fiona Davis’s debut, THE DOLLHOUSE, indulging and intriguing-a classic of the renowned historical Barbizon Hotel, a hotel for women, later known as Barbizon 63. The boys called it "The Dollhouse", packed to the rafters with pretty little dolls.
From the Roaring 20s through the 1960s, there was no address more glamorous than New York’s “women only” Barbizon Hotel.
A combined charm school and dormitory, it would shelter a parade of yet-to-be-discovered damsels—Joan Crawford, Grace Kelly, Candice Bergen, Sylvia Plath, Ali MacGraw, and many more—nurture their ambitions, and leave some with broken hearts.
Attracting the single elegant, and stylish, the Barbizon young women were chasing their dreams: stardom, independence, or a husband.
The famed Barbizon hotel takes center stage with a present-day journalist, obsessed with the secrets of one of the Barbizon hotel’s oldest residents. Told in alternating chapters of 2016 and 1952, The Dollhouse is a coming-of-age story, mystery, historical, and love story.
Davis delivers a dazzling multi-generational historical fiction, symbolic of the cultural change as women began to come to New York City for professional opportunities, but still wanted a "safe retreat" that felt like the family home,located on the Upper East Side of Manhattan.
1952- Darby McLaughlin travels to New York from small town Ohio to enroll in secretarial school. Her father died, her mother remarried, and she is using her dad's insurance money to pay her way.
Darby wants to be able to support herself without a man. She learns of girls jumping to their death from the fourteenth floor. Does she really want to be here? She is told she is a Barbizon girl now.
Darby meets Stella Conover and he gals, with the Eileen Ford modeling agency. Stella is from Granite Falls, NC, a southern belle. She tries to play down her accent, since it makes her seem unsophisticated.
She soon meets Esme, a young maid who works at the hotel. As the two become friends, she draws her into a world (underbelly of drugs), the nightlife, and convinces her to work at a jazz night club.
Could Esme be a bad girl? Secrets. Esme refused to define herself as a hotel maid. Maybe Darby didn’t need to define herself as a boring secretary.
Flash forward to modern day-2016, Rose Lewin, a journalist, is living at the Barbizon, which now houses condos, and working on a story about the hotel’s earlier, more glamorous jazz age days. Her personal life is going down the tubes, and her lover goes back to his wife, and she is kicked out of her condo.
Back in the day, it was the place to stay if you were a single girl in New York City. Some women were even grandfathered in after it went condo. Is there a story here? What secrets does the hotel hold?
Delving into the life of Miss McLaughlin, Rose begins to uncover a conspiracy and mystery. A death of a Barbizon maid, Esme. Rose finds she can get lost in the research for the Barbizon story, a welcome distraction from her own troubles. She needed this story. A killer story.
A bygone era at the Barbizon in New York City--from secrets, shocking twists, a drug scandal, heroine rings, romance, identity switches, an accident, money, tragedy to crossing lines--mixed with glamour, glitz, and dreams. What happened on the terrace in 1952?
A group of elderly ladies who live in rent-controlled apartments, who've been there for years. One goes back as far as 1952. A tragic history. The woman in 4B was an enigma, living alone with a tiny dog in the same apartment year after year. How did she fill her time? Did she have a family or someone she could rely on?
From Darby and Rose, the author weaves a twisty story from the classic age reminiscent of exciting times. (always love the Palm Beach references). The parents took care of the bills until they were handed off to Prince Charming. Lots of competition.
Intriguing, mesmerizing, alluring, crossing over to the darker side, with desires, and scandal -as women try to make their place in an ever changing world.
Well-researched, rich in history and character, cleverly crafted, an engaging debut set in the lush world of New York’s glamour.
From privilege, tragedy, wealth, and the lure of the city. From the beautiful fashion, historic architecture, and style- one of the most exciting times in history. In the hotel’s heyday, from the 40's through the late 60's, it housed a roster of remarkable women in their not-yet-discovered years.
From the women's internal struggles; for the right career, the right guy, risks, and the perfect life— a constant companion to many of the girls who lived within the chic Barbizon’s cloistered walls.
Looking forward to more from this author. Love the stylish cover! I also listened to the audiobook, narrated by Tavia Gilbert, for an engaging performance.