Thursday, February 16, 2012

Be My Guest - Jodie Renner

In keeping with our February theme of Love, guest blogger, Jodie Renner, shares her love of reading and some of her favorite books. Enjoy.

I Love Reading Fiction

Reading fiction has always given me pleasure, from way back in my early school days in a small mining town, where the teachers usually provided novels for us to read in our spare time. The world of exciting stories was a magical discovery for me—coming from a large, working-class family, we had very few books at home. Some of my earliest favorites were Heidi and The Bobbsey Twins series. Then the Nancy Drew mysteries, horse and dog books like Black Beauty and Old Yeller, and historical fiction like Little Women, Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry Finn—and lots more that I can’t remember. (Yes, I know I’m seriously dating myself here!)

In high school and university, I discovered classics like Catcher in the Rye, To Kill a Mockingbird, Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men and The Grapes of Wrath, Catch 22, and others. I’m sure you can all add some old favorites.

As an adult, I’ve gone through phases with my reading for pleasure – historical fiction from James Clavell, James Michener and Leon Uris to find out about other places and times; women’s fiction from Susan Isaacs, Barbara Delinsky, Jodi Picoult, Maeve Binchy and Joanna Trollope for reaffirmation and a sense of community with other women; mysteries by various authors to challenge my mind, and bestsellers by writers like John Grisham and John LeCarre for intrigue.

And as a middle-grade English teacher, even though my school had a library, I always had a huge collection of fiction for my students to choose from, and I read aloud to them daily. (And along the road, I got a master’s degree in French Literature, but that’s another story.)

In the last few years, I’ve mostly chosen, for escapism and entertainment, thrillers and other suspense or crime fiction. After a long day of editing (mostly thrillers and other crime fiction), I still want to read for relaxation, believe it or not, but I don’t choose books that tax my tired brain. So these days I’m going for an adrenalin rush or to see the hero catch the bad guy just in the nick of time—entertaining and satisfying.

My favorite authors of the past several years have been Sandra Brown, Lee Child, Robert Crais, Nora Roberts, (her romantic suspense), Harlan Coben, and Michael Connelly. I especially enjoy the stories where the white knight defeats evil, with brave, determined, strong heroes like Jack Reacher, Joe Pike and Elvis Cole. Other contemporary writers I enjoy for thrillers and suspenseful mysteries are Lisa Scottoline, LJ Sellers, Andrew E. Kaufman (The Lion, The Lamb, The Hunted), Lisa Gardner, Janet Evanovich, Allison Brennan, and Ian Walkley ( No Remorse).

Do you have any thriller, suspense or crime fiction authors to recommend to me? I’d love to hear about more good ones to explore and enjoy!
Jodie Renner is a freelance fiction editor, specializing in thrillers, romantic suspense, mysteries, and other crime fiction, as well as YA and historical fiction. Check out Jodie’s website at   

Posted by Maryann Miller who would humbly suggest her suspense novel, One Small Victory, and her mystery, Open Season.

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  1. Thanks for posting my literary trip down Memory Lane, Maryann! I'll definitely look for the two novels of yours that you mention at the end!

  2. You're welcome, Jodie. In addition to my books, I could suggest William Kent Krueger, Libby Hellman, and Laura Lippman.

  3. Oh! I wanted to link over to some of those authors you mentioned. I presume they all have websites. Jodie, your memories made me think of a historical young chapter book series I read in grade school. They all had plain orange covers and the illustrations were black Scherenschnitt silouettes. They were often about the lives of famous black people,but not always, if memory serves me. I suspect this was a scholastic series, but I have never been able to find them. Yet I still remember some of the stories! Wish I could hunt a few of them down for my collection. Does this sound familiar to anyone else?

  4. Mary Stewart, Daphne du Maurier, and in high school, I read all the Victoria Holt I could get my hands on. Also whats-her-name who recently died. Lord, how quickly the fans forget. ;)

  5. I joined a discussion group at our church that meets in the church library. This church has a real library, with thousands of donated secular titles whose steadfast friendship comforts me. This week I sat beside Leif Enger, Sara Gruen, Barbara Kingsolver, Ann Patchett, Khaled Hosseini... such names bring a smile to my face. :)

  6. Thanks for your suggestions, Maryann, Dani and Kathryn. Of the authors you all mention, I've only read - and loved - Barbara Kingsolver and Khaled Hosseini. Will have to find time to check out the rest. And so many new authors and books coming out! I'm glad I still enjoy reading fiction for pleasure, even though I read novel manuscripts all day as I edit them.

  7. I recognize many of those authors and books! Thanks for sharing.

    Morgan Mandel

  8. I've been enjoying Elizabeth George. She's suspenseful without being stressful. I love so many of the other authors you mentioned, especially as you "dated yourself" (and me!).


  9. Good list ... i'm an historical fiction trip these days ... big fan of the Shaara boys (father and son).

  10. Yes, Liza, I like Elizabeth George, too.

    And Christopher, I still like historical fiction, too. I'll look for the one you mention.

    Right now I'm reading an excellent historical saga about New York City by Edward Rutherfurd - who seems to be an Irishman! It starts in 1664, when it was called New Amsterdam, and goes to 2009.

  11. Jodie, nice post. We have a lot of reading "likes" in common. I've always loved reading fiction too and my fantasy as a child was to be locked in the library overnight (or maybe even for a weekend!)

  12. Thanks for the suggestions Jodie, and I'm honored to be on your list of favorites, considering you edit novels for a living and have such wide exposure to so many.

    I've read some of the others you've mentioned and will be sure to check out the ones I haven't. A couple of my favorites are Dennis Lehane and John Sandford.

    Unfortunately, my novel reading time has been cut down substantially since I started writing them myself, and I miss it terribly. Seems the only time I have time to read is just before bed, and that can last anywhere from twenty minutes to just five, depending how tired I am.

  13. Have you read the Janet Evanovich series? She's pretty popular.

  14. Thanks for reminding me of another author I forgot to mention, Breanna. Yes, I love Janet Evanovich! Her characters are hilarious!


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