Yes, there are many authors I've read who have impressed me so much that I search out everything else they've ever written and/or schedule myself to purchase their future release(s) just as soon as they're available!
I will begin this list in reverse chronological order since I have experienced several debut novels just this year that have impressed me so very much! Just another note: for virtually all of the authors I have identified as spectacular, I have also loved their sophomoric and further releases! Usually, just as much as the debut. That IS impressive! :)
Did You Ever Have a Family by Bill Clegg
I loved this book! Amazing characterization and the interconnectedness of humanity that Clegg was able to depict was eye-opening. I think this would especially be true for those who may not yet be convinced that, in effect, we humans are all connected in one way or another. I heard on NPR not so long ago that there is a project to genealogically map the human race, demonstrating that we are all indeed related...to some degree! Currently, we have many ways to connect with each other that extend our 'reach' way beyond face-to-face relationships! Any relationships can be very strong and provide much social support...and though we may not realize the force of certain connections, even in our daily lives, we dare not overlook them, for they are genuine. We do need to keep ourselves open to others to create, develop, and maintain relationships, however. And never put off until tomorrow, or even the next hour or minute, telling that bit of positivism to someone you love, or like, or appreciate, or barely know very well at all. Don't miss your opportunities to make life better for yourself and others!
Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng
This book was so bittersweet. I remember thinking within the first few pages--so where is this author going to take me now? I already know what happened... Oh, but I was in for a "ride" with these people! Another book of relationships, relationships, relationships, and inevitably, interconnectedness. And how we can be oblivious to the true nature of those with whom we live and love dearly. Not that we necessarily mean to be negative, but due to preconceptions, expectations, and perhaps especially, unrealized dreams.
I was so glad for the ending! To know what Lydia was really feeling...thinking...and planning! :) Ah...my heart expanded with hope and love! Much like Clegg, Ng urges us to pay attention to each other and truly get to know and care for one another.
Crooked River by Valerie Geary
Valerie Geary is one of the most approachable authors I've encountered. Period. Not only was she gracious enough to grant me an interview, but she also provided a free copy of her book to a lucky reader and she mailed it! Amazing!
And what an incredible mystery! Though that isn't what most impressed me...it was the way she made me feel as if I personally knew these characters...and the place, the setting. Not many authors can make me feel as if the setting is a character in and of itself, but she did! I don't know how any reader couldn't root for Sam, Ollie, and Bear! These three make quite the trio and unexpectedly set some wrong things right! This is soooo much more than just a murder mystery! Sometimes that parent who seems so "attentive" and "good" can be so...bad! But others may never know until they get close enough...which could be too close!
Another mystery writer I 'discovered' this year was actually raised in the local area where I now live, though she currently makes her home in Chicago. That is Lori Rader-Day and her debut novel is The Black Hour which was an absolutely amazing plot of deception, betrayal, and psychoses! (I have the best intentions of composing a more detailed review for this blog, but for now, only have my Goodreads review to share!) This was one of the best mysteries I have ever read. To imagine this is the first book she ever wrote...well, that is nothing short of amazing! Since I was going to meet the author, I also went ahead and read her second novel which had just been released, Little Pretty Things. It was also impressive, though I believe her first novel may be my favorite thus far. I don't know how you couldn't relate to Juliet! I am proud of her progress by the book's end, however! And, if you ever have the opportunity to meet Ms. Rader-Day and/or hear her speak...be sure you don't miss it! She is a hoot! :) It is my hope that we can get her to present at our local library (which was her local library as a child!) over the holidays. And she also agreed to an author interview. These are projects for later this month!
Two of my favorite reads from earlier in the year, were both debut novels and two of my favorite books ever! And, no, I have not yet shared these on my blog. It is more difficult for me to compose reviews of those "favorite" books for some reason...as if I just want it to be "perfect" to depict exactly how much I love them! :) (Doesn't that make you feel better to be you?!? I sometimes feel it is utterly exhausting being me!) :) I was also lucky enough to meet both of these authors and speak with them about their books, writing, and publishing! It was fascinating and I promise to share all that in the forthcoming blog posts/reviews!
If you haven't, you should read it, in my humble opinion!
The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion
Although I have read several books whose protagonists exhibit symptomatic behaviors associated with autism or Asperger's Syndrome, this was one of the first that concentrates on an adult entering into a "romantic" (hopefully long-term) relationship. Those others that I can heartily recommend: The Kitchen Daughter by Jael McHenry, Love Anthony by Lisa Genova, and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon. Quite naturally, there was much potential for humor, and Simsion does an excellent job of allowing Don to tell his story while also depicting much humor and satire inherent in the social situations in which he finds himself. The reader also gets a glimpse into Don's thought processes, including many of those initially socially inappropriate reactions he has...and attempts to control and adjust to become more "socially acceptable" to the other humans with whom he must interact, no matter how irrational or illogical this may seem to him! Such an enjoyable read while educating readers about a very misunderstood disease. Our book club loved it! And I felt the sequel, The Rosie Effect was almost as enjoyable as the debut! Both of these books have so much to say about learning to accept, appreciate, and even love those who may seem so very "different" to us initially! My advice: read them! :)
The other debut novel that truly made an indelible impression upon me in 2015 was The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce. I loved this book so much that when it came to posting a review, I created two blog posts, Part 1 and Part 2, 'cause seriously, I just couldn't cut any more out of what I wanted to say and what all I wanted a reader to know about this book! I was the anomaly among our book club members--no one else even really liked it, and two of them didn't like it at all! But it's okay, I can handle being in the minority, so to speak! :) Although this book tackled many complexities and complications about life overall, it did it in a very subtle low-key manner which I found fascinating. I felt this story could be analyzed on so many different levels and should encourage discussion about so many aspects of such a journey. First, the commitment to complete such a spur-of-the-moment spontaneous very long trek! Then the people Harold meets along the way, both those who want to and do help, those who won't help, and those who actually high-jack it to serve their own purposes, sometimes with good intentions and other times with not-so-good intentions. And the unending curiosity regarding Queenie's health and fate. Perhaps one of the most poignant aspects of the story was Harold's wife and their marriage relationship--such spontaneity on his part was totally unknown to her within their lifetime spent together. They had had their own share of heartbreak as parents and partners. And what is the final result of this seemingly outrageous journey? I loved this book...such an untenable premise developed into a beautiful novel, in my opinion! Confession: I own the sequel, The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessey and have yet to read it! :( Hopefully I will have read it by year's end!
A book I just finished reading and loved is not actually a debut novel, but the 24th in a series and I love the very first novel in the Kinsey Millhone series, A is for Alibi by Sue Grafton, originally published in 1982. It is always the one book I recommend people read to see if they like this series, since it is an amazing introduction to Kinsey. So I recently read and reviewed X, 24th in this 'alphabet' series. I believe it to be one of Grafton's best in this series! Though I haven't disliked a single one! I believe one of the main things I find so appealing about her writing is that she develops her characters and her books are so much more than just a "whodunnit," in my opinion!
The last debut novel is again not one I read in 2015, but years ago. Tana French is one of my absolute favorite writers. She is one of the few mystery writers who can use some of the same "investigators," but create very different scenarios and story lines within each book. What impressed me so much with In the Woods was the fact that the setting felt like another character to me. And I remember thinking, before I picked up this book when I was working as a bookseller in Borders, "Ooohhh. Will that be too scary for me?" Due to the cover image, which I thought was very scary... :) Her second novel, The Likeness was one of the most unusual scenarios ever, in my reading experience and had me on edge the whole time... The third in this series, Faithful Place, read more like a family saga to me with a mystery included. It is one of my favorites in this series. Then the fourth installment, Broken Harbour, is my least favorite in this series. That has nothing to do with French's writing skill, in fact, probably EVERYTHING to do with it! This is because for me, an extreme wuss, it was just a bit too creepy. And, another confession, I own a copy of her fifth and most recent release, The Secret Place, and have yet to read it! I do intend to read it before the end of this year, however!
Have you read any of these? Have I managed to introduce some new titles and/or authors to you? I hope so. What debut novels have you read this year?