Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: Debut Authors Who Had Me Anxiously Awaiting Their Future Releases!

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme established by The Broke and the Bookish. I don't always participate (mainly due to lack of time), but was particularly interested in this one regarding authors whose debut novels have me anxiously awaiting further releases! 

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!
Growin' Up White by Dwight Ritter
One of the best books I have ever read! 
If you haven't, you should read it, in my humble opinion!
I was fascinated by the synposis of this book and particularly to learn the author had used his own life experience as a child in Indianapolis, Indiana, during the '50's as inspiration for this book. Oh, my...who could NOT love Georgie? 'Cause I definitely do! My grandmother was my main caregiver and I love(d) her dearly, but Georgie has many of the same characteristics! I found Ritter's writing to be forthright and so much more than just poignant! I felt that Ritter not only had me sympathizing with these characters, but I actually had the same visceral reactions I might have had if I'd been present at these scenes. Hatred can be so damaging and overwhelming at times. I keep telling myself our world is now so much better than it was in the openly racist '50's, but sometimes I wonder...just how much better? Though overall, I have faith in humanity. I believe we will reach a pivotal point at which the "good" accepting and appreciative souls will outnumber those who remain hate-filled to an overwhelming degree! And, really, perhaps we already have! :) That's the eternal optimist in me!

Finding Jake by Bryan Reardon
This was another absolutely excellent read! It was dense and complex, yet easily read and felt so personal! I could relate to Simon's thought processes, especially doubts and yet faith in his own son. Perhaps because I have raised children and been through some rather tough times with them I could empathize to some degree and definitely sympathize with him. And Jake. Ah, Jake. I cried with both relief and grief...You should really read this one if you haven't! When I met Mr. Reardon, I pulled out my phone and read him my one-sentence summary...and he just looked at me, his jaw kinda dropped, and he said, "That's exactly what I was going for." I will share that sentence in the forthcoming blog post. I was thrilled with confirmation that I had 'gotten the message the author intended,' since that is always my goal! 

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!

In the Woods USThe 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?


  1. Great list, Lynn! I loved several of these (Harold Fry, Rosie Project, Everything I Never Told You). And, now I have a few more on my list. I'm especially interested in hearing about Growin' Up White and Finding Jake. It sounds like you've been on a roll with the good books over here!

    1. Honestly, as I look back on the books I've read this year I realize I am very very fortunate! But I believe my likes cover a broader territory than some other readers. I consider that to be a good thing, too. Rarely am I truly disappointed! :)

  2. I completely agree about Celeste Ng. Everything I Never Told You was my favorite novel of 2014.

    There have been a lot of great debuts this year (lucky us!). I especially liked Claire Fuller's Our Endless Numbered Days.

    1. Wow...that is high praise, especially since you read a lot more than I do! I loved the ending. I loved knowing what her thoughts were... Our Endless Numbered Days does not, on the face of it, sound like a book I would typically like, but so many of the reviewers I follow (and typically agree with) loved it. I really should check it out!

  3. Oh I loved Harold Fry! I also used to read that Sue Grafton series years ago and really enjoyed it. I have Everything I Never Told You and The Rosie Project on my shelves at the moment, so that's another push for me to finally read them!

    1. I hope you enjoy Everything and Rosie as much as I did! It was so humorous to be inside Don Tillman's head! Let me know what you think when you do read them!

  4. Celeste Ng made my list as well! And - Bill Clegg would have except I didn't consider Family his debut since he'd written 2 memoirs before it. But, it's one of my overall favorites of the year!

    1. True about Clegg and the memoirs, but I chose to define "debut" a bit loosely when it came to him! I had just finished reading DYEHAF and loved it so much!! :)