Wednesday, December 21, 2011

2011 debut authors and why I picked them to read

Here's a list of the 2011 debut authors this year that I read, and what made me pick them to read. I'm really curious what draws people to books by authors they aren't familiar with. I know a lot of it is recommendations, but when a first time author's book comes out, personal recommendations take a while to accumulate. None of these books had personal recommendations by anyone I know (other than general blog buzz in some cases). 

12 out of 14 of them are young adult titles (I'm writing YA right now), and a majority are paranormal or SF which are the genres I write in, so that was part of my motivation. But here's some more specific reasons why I picked them:

1. Unearthly, Cynthia Hand (YA Paranormal)
Set in Wyoming, my home state - this always makes me curious. Also it had very high ratings on the Goodreads 2011 Debut Books list. 

2. Falling Under, by Gwen Hays (YA paranormal)
Amazing first chapter with a strong voice, I discovered it while researching an agent.

3. Starcrossed, Josephine Angelini (YA paranormal)
Couldn't resist when it was billed as Percy Jackson for the YA world.

4. Divergent, Veronica Roth. (YA dystopian)
Blog buzz, high ratings. First chapter had similar voice to the Hunger Games.

5. Across the Universe, Beth Revis. (YA dystopian)
Blog buzz, high ratings. First chapter TOTALLY hooked me.

6. Fairer Than Morning, Rosslyn Elliot (Christian historical)
Love her blog and her comments so I wanted to support her. The book's premise did not intrigue me initially, but boy was I pleasantly surprised. 

7. Shifting, Bethany Wiggins (YA paranormal).
Interesting premise (have always loved shapeshifters), plus she was one of the first to comment on my blog. Never underestimate the power of a positive comment!

8. Bestest. Ramadan. Ever., Medeia Sharif (YA contemporary)
Interesting premise in a culture I haven't read about before. A prolific blogger, commenter, and reader - another case where I wanted to support the author. 

9. Possession, Elana Johnson  (YA dystopian)
A prolific blogger and she does does SO MUCH for others, so this was a small thing to do in return, and well worth it for the entertainment. I lucked out getting an ARC but if I hadn't I would have bought it anyway. 

10. Like Mandarin, Kristen Hubbard (YA contemporary)
Tempted me because it is set in Wyoming, my home state, and the premise (good girl/bad girl friendship) resonated with me.

11. The Near Witch, Victoria Schwab (YA paranormal).
Free e-galley. It had a slow start and I wouldn't have finished it, but a blogger buddy said it was worth finishing. I guess this is one case where I did get a personal recommendation, but not initially. Anyway, she was right. It had a riveting ending and I am definitely buying the author's next book even though it's not a sequel. 

12. Jacob Wonderbar and the Cosmic Space Kapow, Nathan Bransford (MG)
Admired his blog very much. He asked his blog readers to buy his book as a return favor if they got a lot of useful stuff from his blog (which I did) (boy did his request raise some controversy though!).

13. Timeless, Alexandra Monir (YA with time twist - not sure if that qualifies it as paranormal or historical or what!)
I pretty much can't resist anything with a time twist!

14. XVI, Julia Karr (YA dystopian)
Blog buzz, controversial premise, and strong first chapter.

Of these 14 books, 10 of them I enjoyed so much I'll definitely read more books by that author.

Though these were actually 2010 debuts, I also wanted to mention Eldala by Michele Gregory  (high fantasy) and Life, Liberty and Pursuit by Susan Kaye Quinn (YA contemporary). I bought these to support two blogging friends, but I will definitely buy more books by these authors - the books were very enjoyable. (Susan just published her second book - Open Minds).
2011 debut authors I'm still planning to read:

Shatter Me - Tahereh Mafi (YA dystopian)
Blog buzz and unusual first chapter. Surprisingly low on the Goodreads 2011 Debut list after all the hype. Admired her funny, honest, heart-felt blog posts, so that helped too. Hope she gets back to posting regularly. 

Legend, Marie Lu. (YA dystopian)
Interesting premise, combined with one of my favorite plots: enemies cross paths and discover reasons not to hate each other after all. Highly recommended by blogging friend Elizabeth Briggs.

Clockwise, Elle Strauss (YA paranormal)
Interesting premise, blog buzz. Can't resist time travel, and it had GREAT logline: A teenage time traveler accidentally takes her secret crush back in time. Awkward.

Die for Me, Amy Plum (YA paranormal)
Interesting premise (sort of a take-off on guardian angels but with a dark twist), high anticipation and high ratings. Doesn't hurt that its set in Paris.

Saving Redwind, Kris Yankee (MG)
Interesting premise (discovering a world within the wallpaper of a kid's room), blog buzz

The Latte Rebelllion, Sarah Jamila Stevenson (YA contemporary)
Won in a contest but I would have picked it up anyway based on its premise: a girl starts a movement in support of mixed race students which gets out of control.

Screwing up Time, C.M. Keller.
Interesting premise (a girl from the Middle Ages kidnaps a present-day high school senior back in time with her). The author is a blogging friend. 

Coming soon: my Top 10 reads from 2011 (a couple of these debut books made the list!)

So, I'm really curious. What reasons tempt you to try out a brand new author without a track record?

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