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December 31, 2019

What Authors or Books Did You Discover This Year?

Compass on white background with text: Share Your Reader Discoveries

As we wrap up 2019, I thought it might be fun to concentrate on something good and reaffirming this week. As I mentioned last week, seemingly endless scandals—including plagiarism and publisher issues, as well RWA’s shenanigans—can be discouraging for authors, but readers can make everything worthwhile.

So let’s take a minute to give a shout out to a book or author we’ve discovered this past year. Our praise can not only help the author of whatever books we share, but the reminder of how much stories mean to readers can also encourage all of us who write. *smile*

(Quick note on the implosion of the RWA: I’m waiting for a few more shoes to drop before digging into the issues in a post. Romance Sparks Joy created a Twitter moment with threads of the biggest news for those interested in the general story. Given all the evidence of ugliness emerging from the aftermath, if RWA has any chance of surviving the controversy, I think members will need to rebuild the organization (including the permanent staff) from scratch to ensure it fulfills its job of advocacy and support for all.)

What Do We Mean by “Discover”?

Why am I asking about what books or authors we’ve discovered rather than just asking for our favorite books of the year?

Have you discovered any books or authors this year? Click To TweetMany of our favorite books are likely to be written by our favorite authors. (There’s probably a reason they’re one of our favorite authors after all.) And if they’re our favorite author, there’s a good chance they’ve been around for a while and are already plenty of others’ favorite authors as well.

Discovery is more about sharing something new—or at least new-to-us. With this post, I want us to spread the news about a new-to-us book or author so others can discover them too.

So let’s share books we’ve discovered by new-to-us authors or authors new to our “favorites” list. What makes them a great discovery?

My Discoveries

The “My Books” section of Goodreads shares all the books I’ve read this past year. The list makes it easy to skim through the books I’ve read and see which ones were “discoveries.”

Series Highlight: Broken Earth Trilogy by N.K. Jemisin

I read the first book in the trilogy last December, so this entry might be bending the rules a bit. However, I didn’t get around to reading the rest of the trilogy until this December (which of course meant that I did a reread of that first book too), so I’m saying it counts. *grin*

Last year, I shared how much The Fifth Season was a triumphant example of how authors can successfully break the rules. Now that I’ve read the whole series, I can add several more ways the books don’t follow the usual advice and yet work fantastically well anyway.

I never would have guessed that a fairly unemotional protagonist (often called “steelheart” by other characters) with a largely second-person point-of-view story would have appealed so much to me, an author of high-emotion, deep POV romance stories. But the author captured my imagination, and sometimes that’s worth more than all the rules and guidelines added together.

I didn’t find the trilogy’s ending quite as emotionally satisfying as I would have liked (again, I’m a romance author with a fondness for happily ever afters *wink*), but it surpassed my hopes for an intellectually satisfying ending. The worldbuilding throughout is amazing, and I’ll definitely be checking out other books and series by this author.

Romance Highlight: Luck of the Draw by Kate Clayborn

Coming from a new-to-me author, this was probably the book that prompted the most tears from me this past year. So for an emotional read, this book was a definite highlight.

As I said in my BookBub recommendation for it:

“I loved this whole series, and it’s no wonder that 2 of the 3 books in the Chance of a Lifetime series were finalists for the RITA award for Long Contemporary Romance. However, this book (#2 in the series) was my favorite…at least if the number of tears I shed was any indication. 😉 The third book (Best of Luck) was a close second, but it’s worth starting with book 1 (Beginner’s Luck) as well, just to meet all the characters. Did I mention I loved this whole series? LOL!”

My writing besties and I compared notes on how every aspect of the characters’ arcs and conflicts create a story greater than its parts. The result was a touching, insightful, realistic, emotional romance that exceeded the expectations of the genre.

New-to-Me Author Highlight: Jackie Lau

With all my health issues of the last few years, I’ve often relied on fun romance stories to keep me going. Like many readers, when I discover an author whose style is perfect for my mood, I glom onto several of their stories.

This year, the new-to-me author that I glommed onto is Jackie Lau. Her books are just delightful and entertaining, often with absurd story details that add to my amusement. For example, One Bed for Christmas (currently free!) includes a hero who wears an inflatable T-Rex costume.

Do you have new favorite books or authors this year? Click To TweetIn addition, Jackie’s stories are filled with trope-y goodness, from the “one bed” scenario above to blind dates and a “fake boyfriend” arrangement. (Some even focus on the intersection of several tropes, like A Second Chance Road Trip for Christmas. *grin*)

Throughout, her characters, their family drama, and the unique settings lift these stories from feeling formulaic. Although none of her books have landed on my very-picky keeper shelf yet, they’re each thoroughly enjoyable.

What Books or Authors Did You Discover This Year?

Now that I’ve shared my examples, it’s your turn!

  • Share what books you discovered this year from new-to-you authors!
  • Or share what authors you’ve added to your favorites list!

Let other readers discover them as well. And if we’re writers, let this post remind us of how much our stories can mean to readers. *smile*

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Ken Hughes

Spellslinger, by Sebastien de Castell. It’s an absolute delight in how it starts with fantasy tropes (a young magic student who can’t get his spells right) and turns them on its head. And does it again in the next chapter, and the next, all the way through — without ever being disorienting or losing the excitement of the story. A pleasure for a reader and for a writer, and there’s a whole series to follow it.

Elle Love
Elle Love

Hi Jami,
I love these type of blog posts! I’m always looking for new authors and stories to read. I just discovered Kait Nolan and her small town southern romances. She makes me laugh and cry. Her stories about Wishful resonate with me. I’ll be buying more of her books in the new year.

My first purchase with my birthday book money in January, however, will be Stone Cold Heart. I can’t wait to read it.

Happy New Year!
Elle

Anne Kaelber
Anne Kaelber

Elle,

You’re going to LOVE Stone Cold Heart. I have a soft spot for gargoyles…. Very satisfying read.

Kathy

Thanks so much for your book recommendations. I am excited to check them out. I just ordered Jackie Lau’s book from your website link! I discovered Kirsty Greenwood and Minnie Drake. Happy New Year!

Camilla Lynn

This year I discovered the talented Domino Finn & his Black Magic Outlaw series. It’s a dark urban fantasy set in the streets of Miami with voodoo priests, vampires, ghosts, a 500 year old Conquistador bound to a magic horn, and a smoking hot Latino necromancer named Cisco Suarez who just happens to be a zombie. Finn weaves one kick butt story with lots of twists that will keep you on the edge of your seat until the very end.
I’ll be devouring more of his book this year.

Clare O'Beara
Clare O'Beara

Off the Beaten Path
by Gustavo Bondoni
This is a book I picked up autographed at Worldcon. Some of the SF stories are set in Argentina, the author’s home, but he has travelled a lot so some stories are set in African countries.

Anne Kaelber
Anne Kaelber

Thanks to my Audible Escape *and* my Kindle Unlimited memberships, I plowed my way through over 150 books last year. (Hey — laundry time is *also* audiobook time! *wink*) The series I binged worse than a package of Oreos: Lexi Blake’s Masters and Mercenaries. I love the interconnectedness (is that a word?) of the stories. Each book tells the story of two people becoming a couple, yet there’s two over-arching connections tying all the books (and people) together: they are part of a security company (“mercenaries”) *and* they are members of a BDSM club (“masters”). There’s even a “bad guy” which seems to get badder with each book. I think the last count was 19 books (including spin-offs and novellas). The series Christian Grey haters should read: Tara Sue Me’s “The Submissive” series, which starts with — wait for it — “The Submissive”. The beautiful thing about this series? The experienced Dom makes mistakes *and* has to own up to them — so he’s not only teaching her, but she’s teaching him, too! The series I laughed out loud through (and cried over it ending): Darynda Jones’ Charley Davidson. Charley’s snark/sarcasm and her refusal to take much of anything seriously is in direct contrast to the weight of the burden she has carried since the day she was born. Every chapter, there’s a little pithy quote from a t-shirt or a coffee mug, which fits with the goings-on or is something Charley herself is known to say. The entire series…  — Read More »

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