New authors tried so far this year

>> Friday, October 28, 2005

And now for an exercise in geekdom... In the past couple of years, I've been making a conscious effort to try new authors. By new, I don't mean necessarily debut authors, simply authors I haven't read before.

Last year, I managed to try a whopping 79 new authors, and while I'm not doing quite that well this year, I just started a book by my 48th new author of the year, a pretty good number anyway.

Some stats:

  • Even if these new authors weren't necessarily debut authors, 9 of them were (that I know of, at least. It could be more).
  • Half the books tried were at least newish (copyright from 2003 onwards). 12% were published in 2005, 24% in 2004 and 14% in 2003.
  • A quarter of the books read were Series Romance titles.

    Next came Contemporaries (including Romantic Suspense) with 18%. If I include Chick Lit in that category, the percentage reaches 24%.

    All the Historical subgenres (including Regency Historicals, Trad Regencies, Victorians, Medievals, Westerns, American Historicals and so on), were 27% of the total.

    And Alternate Reality books (Sci-fi & Fantasy, Fantasy Romance + Futuristic Romance) added up to 14%.

    Straight Fiction and Mystery were 6% each.
  • I tried a full fifth of these authors in July, while only 4% of the books were read in September.
  • But the most important thing: how did I like these new authors? Was it a waste of time or did I find plenty of new backlists to glom?

    I'd say it's been a success. 57% of the books I tried I graded a B- or better. In fact, a quarter were B+ or better! (I include one I'm still reading, The Shadow Side, by Linda Castillo. Can't really grade it without finishing it, but unless it really plummets in the last 100 pages, I'm looking at a B+ here, maybe better if the ending is just brilliant)
Here's a list of the books themselves. I'm feeling to lazy to actually provide links to my comments about each, but you can look them up in my index if you want to know more.

>> I read only 1 book by a new author that was pretty much perfect:

  • The Fairy Godmother - Mercedes Lackey - Fantasy Romance - A - After this one, I've gone on and got quite a few more books by Lackey.
>> Books that were not quite perfect, but were very, very good an enjoyable. As soon as I finished them, I either immediately started looking for these authors' backlists or, if they were debut authors, decided I'll most probably be buying their next releases.

  • Behind Closed Doors - Shannon McKenna - Romantic Suspense - B+

  • About a Boy - Nick Hornby - Fiction - B+

  • I Capture the Castle - Dodie Smith - Fiction - B+

  • 32AA - Michelle Cunnah - Chick Lit - B+ - I've also now read Confessions of a Serial Dater and it was just as good.

  • What Do You Say To A Naked Elf? - Cheryl Stirling - Fantasy Romance - B+ - Debut author, I believe.

  • Gabriel's Ghost - Megan Sybil Baker - Futuristic Romance - B+

  • The Veil of Night - Lydia Joyce - European Historical - B+ - Debut author.

  • Day of Fire - Kathleen Nance - Futuristic Romance - B+

  • His Secondhand Wife - Cheryl St. John - Western Romance - B+

  • On a Pale Horse - Piers Anthony - Sci-Fi Fantasy - B+

  • Midnight Angel - Lisa Marie Rice - Contemporary Romance - B+ - I've read the two other titles in the trilogy (Midnight Man and Midnight Run), and while Midnight Angel was the best of them, I liked the others, too.
And probably, as I said:

  • The Shadow Side - Linda Castillo - Romantic Suspense
>> Books that were pretty good... enough to get a B or B-. I liked these authors well enough to keep an eye out for other books by them, and I looked at their backlists to see if there was anything that sounded interesting there.

  • St. Oswald's Niche - Laura Frankos - Mystery - B - I want to read more by this author, but I don't think she every published anything else!

  • A Cold Day for Murder - Dana Stabenow - Mystery - B

  • Tempting Adam - Dorie Graham - Series Romance - B

  • Glory Bound - Billie Green - Series Romance - B

  • The Damsel in This Dress - Marianne Stillings - Contemporary Romance - B

  • Getting What You Want - Kathy Love - Contemporary Romance - B

  • The Man That Got Away - Harper Allen - Series Romance - B - This was her debut, I think. I've already read one more by her, The Night in Question, and it was even better.

  • The Daughters of Freya - Michael Betcherman & David Diamond - Mystery - B

  • To Love and to Cherish - Joan Elliott Pickart - Series Romance - B-

  • Kinsman's Oath - Susan Krinard - Futuristic Romance - B-

  • Starting From Square Two - Caren Lissner - Chick Lit - B-

  • Miranda Blue Calling - Michelle Curry Wright - Chick Lit - B-

  • The Real Deal - Lucy Monroe - Contemporary Romance - B-

  • Still Waters - Deanna Lee - Futuristic Romance - B-

  • The Linnet - Elizabeth English - Medieval Romance - B-

  • Child's Play - Bethany Campbell - Series Romance - B-
>> Starting the not quite successful part of this listing, books that got C grades: either plain average or only slightly better or worse than average. Some of these did have enough sparks of something good that I'd actively look for something else by the authors (not without some feedback, though), but most I don't think I'd be that interested in trying again, not without hearing some loud raves, at any rate:

  • Widow in Scarlet - Nicole Byrd - European Historical - C+

  • The SwanSea Destiny - Fayrene Preston - Historical Romance - C+

  • All I Ever Wanted - Ellen Fisher - Contemporary Romance - C+ - The hero was wonderful enough that I'd try Fisher again.

  • Master of Castle Glen - Ana Seymour - European Historical - C+

  • Zoey Phillips - Judith Bowen - Series Romance - C+

  • The Lady and the Lion - Cynthia Kirk - European Historical - C+ - Some things were so much fun, that I might be willing to try another one.

  • Some Kind of Sexy - Jamie Sobrato - Series Romance - C+ - Ruined by something pretty extraneous to the main relationship. I'd try another by her.

  • ... And a Sixpence for her Shoe (short story in A Wedding Bouquet anthology) - Anne Barbour - Regency Romance - C+

  • Angie and the Ghostbuster - Theresa Gladden - Series Romance - C

  • Silent Confessions - Julie Kenner - Contemporary Romance - C - I hope for better results with The Givenchy Code, which I've already bought. And I think I have something else by her... something with a superhero or heroine.

  • Waking the Princess - Susan King - European Historical - C - Might possibly try something else.

  • Crescendo - Adrienne Staff & Sally Goldenbaum - Series Romance - C-

  • Circle of the Lily - Jill Jones - Fiction - C- - It's been two mediocre ones in a row with this author (the other one was written as Emily La Forge), but her books just sound so damned interesting that I've bought a bunch more.

  • The Basque Swallow - Leigh Daniels - Series Romance - C- - Flawed, but there was a good story trying to get out.

  • Something Blue - Patricia Rice - Regency Romance - C-

  • Resurrection (short story in Everlasting Love anthology) - Linda Lael Miller - Western Romance - C-
>> And now for the painful part: these were definitely NOT successes. Bad, bad, bad, and I don't think I'll be reading anything else by these authors any time soon, but since you never can tell with short stories, I might just make an exception for Neggers and Oliver, if I get very good recs:

  • This is All I Ask - Lynn Kurland - Medieval Romance - D+

  • Tricks of Fate (short story in Everlasting Love anthology) - Carla Neggers - Contemporary Romance - D

  • Something Old (short story in A Wedding Bouquet anthology) - Patricia Oliver - Regency Romance - D-
And that would be it. Took a bit longer to write than I thought it would! So, which great new authors have you discovered this year?


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