Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The best author "discoveries" of the year

I usually wait to publish my best new author list until late December, but I don’t think that’s necessary this year.

I’ve already gotten my reading lineup set for the next few weeks – and I just don’t have any room to “discover” anyone new. In fact, I’m focusing on older authors over the remainder of 2012 – like J.R.R. Tolkien, Terry Brooks and Yann Martel.

In other words, I’m revisiting ‘The Hobbit,’ checking out the latest installment from Terry Brooks’ Shannara world, giving ‘Life of Pi’ a chance and delving into another zombie apocalypse in ‘World War Z.’

That’s not to say I didn’t discover a handful of great authors this year – because I did. I just don’t think I’ll be discovering anymore until 2013.

Like I do every year, though, I want to give a shout out to these authors so you can check them out if you’re interested. Most of the authors I “discover” are indie authors – and I think they deserve a little publicity – especially in a world that holds up ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ and pretends it is great while they toil in relative anonymity even though their writing is 10 times better than a lot of other drivel out there.

I want to thank these authors, they continue to make me pursue my own books (when I have time) and their dedication to their craft is really appreciated.

This year’s authors include:

Liliana Hart – A former public school teacher, Hart writes a variety of different books -- including erotica. The series I fell in love with, though, was her “whiskey” series – which currently consists of two books. The first, ‘Whiskey Rebellion’ debuted on Feb. 19. The follow-up, ‘Whiskey Sour’ hit shelves in June. The books follow Addison Holmes, a private detective that defines herself by her abilities – not who she is dating. That’s not to say that Addison doesn’t have solid love interests – because she does – but my favorite thing about Addison is that she’s perfectly capable of taking care of herself. I read a lot of books – a lot of them – and the one thing I can’t abide is a weak heroine. That is something you definitely don’t have to worry about in Hart’s work. Also, for those who like “that sort of thing,” the sex scenes in Hart’s work really are topnotch. They’re hot without being inappropriately raunchy.

Chanda Hahn – Next up is a young adult series. I know a lot of people think that books aimed at the “younger” crowd aren’t worth checking out. If I believed that, I would have missed out on ‘Harry Potter’ and ‘The Hunger Games.’ Of course, if I did follow that rule I would have been spared having to read the putrid ‘Twilight’ series – but that’s a whole other conversation. I discovered Hahn this summer when she offered ‘UnEnchanted’ – the first book in her ‘An Unfortunate Fairy Tale’ series for free. The story followed Mina Grime, an unlucky girl that finds out she’s actually a member of the historic Grimm fairy tale family. As such, she has to survive a series of fairy tales that basically take over her life – including influencing her friends. Mina is the character Bella from ‘Twilight’ should have been. Mina does want a boyfriend – desperately – because she’s been forced into relative seclusion for most of her life while her mother tried to shelter her. Mina doesn’t, however, let the yearning for love distract her from what has to be done. So far, there are two books in the series. The follow-up – which came out this summer – is called ‘Fairest’ and actually improves on the first book. They were both involving – and I actually found myself feeling for Mina. Hahn has crafted a rich world that has a lot of room for expansion. I’m hoping Mina’s “fairy tales” last for a long time.'

Ann Charles – Charles writes romantic mysteries that have a certain amount of flair. And, by flair, I mean they’re funny. I discovered her “Deadwood” series when she offered the first book in the series – ‘Nearly Departed inDeadwood’  for free this summer. The books revolve around Violet Parker – a single mother that has her hands full – and that’s before she finds herself being caught up in supernatural mysteries. In other words, the dead really do talk in Violet’s world. What I really like about Charles’ work is that she manages to bring a small-town setting to life in a realistic way. I’ve never been to Deadwood, S.D., but somehow Charles makes me think that I have been to the rural town. Charles has littered her world with a bevy of entertaining characters that actually make the story better – instead of distracting from it, which is a mistake I find a lot of indie authors make. So far, Charles has three outings in the series. The second book, which came out in May 2011, is called ‘Optical Delusions in Deadwood' and the third book, which debuted March 9, is called ‘Dead Case in Deadwood.’  For paranormal romance fans – and I know there are a lot of you – this is really a great series to check out.

Deanna Chase – I’ve always been a big fan of the New Orleans culture. There’s just something magical about the way it’s portrayed. In Chase’s work, which began with ‘Haunted on Bourbon Street’ – which came out on July 24, 2011 – the city of New Orleans feels like a virtual character in the series. The series itself revolves around Jade Calhoun, a powerful empath that moves into an apartment above a strip bar on Bourbon Street. I don’t want to ruin the story of these books too much – and revealing too much would be a letdown for a lot of readers. In a nutshell, Jade is traumatized by the disappearance of her mother at a young age – although the hot owner of the strip bar thinks he might be able to make her feel better about the situation. Is that too much of a cheat? Chase’s world is expansive. It involves angels, demons and eternal questions about the human soul. The books are actually pretty deep for the genre they come from. In addition to the first book, Chase released ‘Witches of Bourbon Street’ in February and ‘Demons of Bourbon Street’ in September.

Terri Reid – This is another paranormal mystery series that caught my attention this summer. I read more in the summer for some reason – even I can’t explain it. Reid offered her first book in her Mary O'Reilly series – ‘Loose Ends’ – for free. Once I read it, I was enamored with the world. O'Reilly is a solid heroine that sees ghosts and tries to solve mysteries that will help them to move on to Heaven. There is a solid religious aspect to the books – which I usually don’t like – but it’s not so heavy-handed in these books that it becomes distracting. While I like some of the smaller mysteries that Mary solves – I am really invested in the central mystery in the books revolving around Mary’s love interest and his, well, I don’t want to ruin it for readers. Let’s just say he has ghost issues of his own. For those looking for sex, these aren’t the books for you. Mary’s relationship with her paramour Bradley is much more chaste than most books of the paranormal romance ilk. Still, the mysteries are solidly developed and the characters are believable. I am invested in finding out what’s going to happen next in this series – which saw book eight ‘Broken Promises’ – debut this summer.

What do you think? What new authors did you discover this year that you want to share?


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