Top Ten Tuesday: New-to-Me Authors

toptentuesdayThere’s nothing better than discovering an established author whose work you really love. Then her whole backlist, or maybe even a completed series, is waiting just for you to come along and read it.

So for Top Ten Tuesday this week, since we’ve been challenged by The Broke and the Bookish through this fabulous meme to list our favorite new authors for 2014, I’m going to share five new-to-me authors. I hope you have fun discovering one or more of them. And if you’ve read more of their backlist than I have, please comment and tell me where to go next!

5. Tracy Madison

I don’t read much romance – especially not series romance. But when I picked up Taste of Magic by Tracy Madison, I knew I had a book that both my sister and I could enjoy. By extension, that means almost anyone would like it. There’s gypsy magic, so I get my fantasy fix, but there’s also some very satisfying ex-husband revenge and a whole lot of dessert. I immediately read the follow-up, Stroke of Magic, and plan to read more by this author whenever I’m in the mood for… well, dessert.

4. Cleo Coyle

I also don’t read many cozy mysteries, but I love coffee, and On What Grounds by Cleo Coyle does a wonderful job of evoking the daily life of a coffeehouse while also developing a light mystery plot with a little romance. Her follow up book, Through The Grinder, was actually an improvement on the first one. The only drawback was an ongoing and ambiguous love triangle. Since the series just published its fourteenth book, I’m guessing the author resolved that problem somewhere along the way.

3. Rumer Godden

My library copy of A Fugue In Time was the original 1945 edition, with an interesting note from the publisher about wartime paper shortages. It felt very up-to-date and feminist, but was also very clearly from a different time and place. Rumer Godden has a large backlist of adult fiction, including her most famous work, Black Narcissus, and is also known for writing children’s literature.

2. Josephine Tey

The Daughter of Time is a detective story with a limited viewpoint: the detective is hospitalized, and decides to solve the mystery of what happened to the princes in the Tower of London. I loved the idea that a modern-day detective could solve a historical mystery. This book is actually fifth in the Alan Grant series, but that didn’t bother me at all. Josephine Tey was a Scottish author and playwright who lived and wrote during the first half of the twentieth century.

1. Sylvia Engdahl

I read a lot of YA fantasy and science fiction, but almost all of it was written in the last five years. Sylvia Engdahl has been publishing since the 1970s, and is still an active YA and adult writer today. I just reviewed her Newbery Medal book Enchantress from the Stars, and I also have This Star Shall Abide in my TBR pile.

Bonus round! Authors 1, 2, and 3 above were recommended to me by Jo Walton via Among Others (fiction, but contains a lot of book recommendations) and What Makes This Book So Great (nonfiction collection of essays about her favorite books). Although I haven’t liked all of her recommendations, she’s pointed me towards some really excellent reads in many different genres. If you find my above suggestions interesting, you should read one or both of her books.

dtime tasteench_stars3tenses518714


Why I Never Fire an Author

goldfinchI’m back from the wilderness.

Vacation, sure. I went on a week long camping trip in September. But I’m also back from a six-week reading freeze that was induced by trying to read The Goldfinch for book club.

I’m not going to attempt a review of The Goldfinch. I can’t do it objectively. I’m pretty sure the author accomplished what she set out to do: the book makes you love the main character, Theo, as a vulnerable young child, and then builds suspense by making you watch all of the bad decisions and wrong turns and abuses in his life. It’s the extreme version of ‘make the worst possible thing happen to your character’, and Donna Tartt does it over, and over, and over again.

It worked on me. By about page 400, I had a sense of dread every time I opened the book. By page 600, I was experiencing near-constant anxiety as I tried to squeeze in just a few more pages. My reading pace crawled, and then stopped completely. I did not finish it in time for book club; in fact, I didn’t finish it at all. I wasn’t reading anything else, either.

Of course, what I’m describing is a very powerful book that was able to influence my emotions in a significant way. You could say the same of my sixth grade teacher. She was a horrible witch who taught me to hate school and dread waking up in the morning. Powerful.

I’m not sure I ever found an antidote to that teacher. But I did find an antidote to The Goldfinch, and it came from a surprising source.

Because I hadn’t been reading at all, my sole library loot this week was Night of a Thousand Stars by Deanna Raybourn. I’d put it on hold before its release, back in my pre-Goldfinch days. This particular author, if you’re not familiar with her, has written a 5-book series of gothic romance/mystery novels starting with Silent in the Grave. For me, the best book was #3, Silent on the Moor, and my interest tapered off a bit after that. She followed up with four standalone books: a Dracula novel, a book set in colonial Africa, a book set in the 1920’s about a fictional aviatrix. Most recently, she published Night of A Thousand Stars which was a travel adventure-romance also set in the 20’s.thousstars

I didn’t finish the book on Africa or the one about the aviatrix, but I was still willing to try Raybourn’s latest. I’ve never really fired an author. I may never find my way back to her again. My interests may change. But once I’ve really enjoyed an author, it’s like first love: I have never completely gotten over it.

Here’s why: a huge part of our reading is what we bring to it, and it’s always possible to pick up the right book at the wrong time. Sometimes we need to think, or be challenged. Sometimes, we need to escape. Sometimes (this is usually not me) we need some emotional stimulation. And sometimes we just need to have fun.

Romance, in particular, is good at the fun part. Night of a Thousand Stars was pure joyous entertainment. I felt like the author set out to write a book that she herself would enjoy, and tucked a lot of readerly pleasures into the pages. Good food, a spa trip, three attractive men, costumes, mystery, and travel. In a different mood, I could have found all the Gothic awesomeness a little cheesy. Maybe that is what happened with her last two books. This time, with The Goldfinch recently under my belt (most of it, anyway), Night of a Thousand Stars was the perfect counterpose. It hit my reset button, and reminded me why I love reading.

Readers, have you ever fired an author, once you’ve enjoyed at least two of her books?

Library Loot: author biographies



Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by The Captive Reader and Silly Little Mischief that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries


This week:  One Writer’s Beginnings, by Eudora Welty. I love author biographies, especially autobiographies, so I realeudoraly hope this is a good one. Any other suggestions?