WSIRN Ep 81: The suspense is thrilling me

I met today’s guest, Chelsea Humphrey, in Savannah last year at an event hosted by the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance. I have been wanting to have her on the podcast ever since… and the deal was sealed when I found out her blog and review account is called “The Suspense Is Thrilling Me.” 

In today’s episode, Chelsea and I examine what a surprisingly broad category “suspense” actually is. Of course we talk about Gone Girl, but we also talk about how psychological suspense connects with the various struggles women experience every day. We also confess how we’re both suckers for a beautiful book cover (or a book with a good map in the front pages), why we’re drawn to redemptive redemptive narratives, and what happened when Chelsea read Danielle Steel for the first time.

I’ve gotta admit, I was quite surprised by Chelsea’s favorites. You might be too!

What Should I Read Next #81: The suspense is thrilling me with Chelsea Humphrey

Connect with Chelsea:

Blog | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

Books mentioned in this episode:

Some links are affiliate links. More details here.

A Court of Thorns and Roses, by Sarah J. Maas
The Nancy Drew series, by Carolyn Keene
Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn
Girl On The Train, by Paula Hawkins
The Dry, by Jane Harper
Six Stories, by Matt Wesolowski
The Count of Monte Cristo, by Alexandre Dumas
Caraval, by Stephanie Garber
Dead Letters, by Caite Dolan-Leach
The Fall of Lisa Bellow, by Susan Perabo
Beartown, by Fredrik Backman
A Man Called Ove, by Fredrik Backman
Britt Marie Was Here, by Fredrik Backman
My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She’s Sorry, by Fredrik Backman
It Happens All The Time, by Amy Hatvany
When Dimple Met Rishi, by Sandhya Menon

Also mentioned:

• “How the Internet is Killing the Book Review” via Ellen Painter Dollar
Serial podcast
“The 8-Line Edit” on Modern Mrs. Darcy
Chelsea’s review of Beartown, on The Suspense is Thrilling Me


Leave A Comment
  1. Ani says:

    Chelsea! Have you read “The Night Circus” but Erin Morgenstern? It’s a great companion read to “Caraval”.
    And Gayle Forman’s “Just One Day/Just One Year” novels are fun YA romance reads that don’t get too sappy or ridiculous. I love them because the main character sets an example for how to adjust and move on when your crush might just not like you back.

    I’ve been looking forward to reading “When Dimple Met Rishi” – glad to hear it recommended on the podcast!

  2. Brandyn says:

    If you haven’t read Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple I would highly recommend it.
    On Saturday, I started the audio book, read by Kathleen Wilhoite (Liz from Gilmore Girls). Her narration is fantastic, but after about 90 mins I wanted to know what happened so bad I had to switch to the Kindle. I flew through this book. It’s definitely contemporary women’s fiction, but it also has a mystery story line and I though it was hilarious.

    • Jill W. says:

      I second this recommendation- the audio book is fantastic.

      Also, if you are looking to dig a little deeper in the romance genre I would highly recommend anything (especially the Chicago Stars books) by Susan Elizabeth Phillips or anything by Jennifer Crusie. The books are modern romances, not bodice rippers. Both authors do a great job of constructing a plot and the heroines are strong, wonderfully flawed women (the same can be said for the men). I’m not a big romance reader, but I always pick up anything either of those two write.

  3. Regina K. says:

    Hi Chelsea, if you like thrillers with a twist, Jeffery Deaver should be right up your alley. His Rhyme/Sachs series is very suspenseful and has multiple twists in each installment. But being a thriller expert you probably know him already…

  4. Tana Henry says:

    Have you heard of The American Girl by Kate Hornsley? Based on your description of Six Stories, I think you’d really like it! My book club read it, and it sparked great discussion.

  5. Barbara S Atkins says:

    If anyone is looking to listen to “The Count of Monte Cristo” it is the current book being read on the Craft-Lit ( Podcast. It is free and Heather gives you lots of extra information to put everything in its place. TCMC starts in episode 402 from Jan. 2016–’tis a long book.

    • Karen Allen says:

      This was what I was thinking! Heather does a great job.
      Confession: This is the first book in over 4 years of listening to the podcast I couldn’t “get into”. I stopped listening after 4 chapters.
      (However, my friend, Diane is LOVING it! You never can tell. She couldn’t stand Gulliver’s Travels and I was enraptured by it.)

      • Barbara S Atkins says:

        I am not listening to the Count either. I tried, I really tried now I am just waiting for the next book.

  6. Leigh Kramer says:

    Chelsea, hearing you read suspense AND romance means I couldn’t add you on Goodreads fast enough! We just might be kindred spirits…which makes me a little nervous to read Dead Letters, which was my BOTM selection the other month. We’ll see!

    Have you read The Hating Game by Sally Thorne? It’s one of my favorite reads from this year. Such a fresh and hilarious voice! In a similar vein (albeit more Women’s Fiction than Romance) is The Garden Of Small Beginnings by Abbi Waxman. Other recent romance faves you might like: Under Her Skin by Adriana Anders, Kulti by Mariana Zapata, Wilder by Rebecca Yarros, KL Kreig’s Black Swan Affair.

    • Chelsea says:

      Hey Leigh! I’m so happy to have found another bosom buddy! The Hating Game is on my list and I can’t wait to read it!

  7. Jennifer Miller says:

    Chelsea, since you love Agatha Christie and you are interested in reading more romance, I HIGHLY recommend you read Mary Stewart. Start with The Moonspinners, Airs Above the Ground or Nine Coaches Waiting. I would call these romantic suspense novels, often set in exotic locales, and her books are very reminiscent of Christie with a bit more of a romance angle.

  8. Kristie says:

    I too was reading Nancy Drew around age 6!

    I’m not one to abandon books hardly ever, but I feel more empowered to let Dead Letters go. I could only get it from the library for two weeks, and in those two weeks I only managed to get to page 36. I typically have more than one book going at a time, but that’s a sure sign it wasn’t grabbing me.

    • Chelsea says:

      Ah Kristie, I feel you. Don’t ever feel guilty about letting a book go. Reading should be enjoyable and there is no reason to push something that feels like work.

  9. Amanda says:

    Fredrik Backman’s books were mentioned, but his novella, “And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer” is also well worth the read. Have tissues handy.

  10. Megan says:

    Chelsea! I’m so happy you are on the podcast! It’s a dream come true – one of my favorite folks on goodreads and my favorite podcast combined! 🙂
    I’m skeptical of romance as well, but I will follow along to see if I find a good fit for me in that realm. 🙂
    As far as recommendations go, it’s hard to go wrong with Louise Penny’s Three Pines series. It’s best to read them in order to really appreciate the character development and since she already has 13 published (#14 coming in August!!), if you like them, it’s nice to know there are a bunch more to read! It’s a solid mystery, very well done, with great characters.
    Thanks for being on the podcast!

  11. Natasha says:

    Chelsea, what were the two Agatha Christie books you recommend people start with? I was driving and wasn’t able to write them down. I’ve never really ventured into mystery, thriller category. ?

  12. Diane says:

    Hi Chelsea and Anne,
    A Great podcast!
    Because of Chelsea’s love for The Count of Monte Cristo, I am wondering if you have read The Diving Bell and The Butterfly by Jean-Dominique Bauby.
    A true story written by a man who also loved The Count and was planning on writing a companion novel but had a stroke that greatly resembled the Count’s situation. Terrific read.

  13. Amy says:

    I picked up When Dimple Met Rishi and devoured it! What a great pick. Thanks for the recommendation. Love your podcast 🙂

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