Unsung Excellence: Who Do You Wish Were More Widely Known?

During the Hanukkah giveaway madness, I asked people to tell me which authors they wish were more widely known, and in the comments, I was asked to share some of the answers. But of course!

The following are the authors and/or books which received mention more than three times from separate people (I am nothing if not highly scientific, by which I mean the opposite of scientific but doing my best) in the course of the giveaway. Over 450 people contributed answers to my question.

Where possible, I'm including links to the specific book and author mentioned, or the most recent title from an author, with descriptions and links should you wish to clicky-buy-buy some of these. I find it amazing how many of these books and authors fit in more than one genre. 

If you have recommendations aside from these, or you support the brilliance of the books and authors mentioned, please share in the comments- because we are all looking for the next wonderful book to read and talk about, right? Right.


Anne Bishop – The Others Series – Paranormal/Urban FantasyBook Written in Red

As a cassandra sangue, or blood prophet, Meg Corbyn can see the future when her skin is cut—a gift that feels more like a curse. Meg’s Controller keeps her enslaved so he can have full access to her visions.

But when she escapes, the only safe place Meg can hide is at the Lakeside Courtyard—a business district operated by the Others.

Shape-shifter Simon Wolfgard is reluctant to hire the stranger who inquires about the Human Liaison job. First, he senses she’s keeping a secret, and second, she doesn’t smell like human prey.

Yet a stronger instinct propels him to give Meg the job. And when he learns the truth about Meg and that she’s wanted by the government, he’ll have to decide if she’s worth the fight between humans and the Others that will surely follow.

Goodreads | Amazon | BN | Sony | Kobo | All Romance eBooks








Book The Sun Wolf and Starhawk Series - Barbara Hambly

Barbara Hambly – The Sun Wolf and Starhawk Series – Epic/High Fantasy

In one volume, Barbara Hambly’s complete Sun Wolf and Starhawk series chronicles the journey of a mercenary and his army to defeat a dark wizard—before he can destroy them.

Gifted with courage, strength, and the intelligence to know when to fight, Sun Wolf is the greatest mercenary in a land overrun by war. With his first lieutenant, Starhawk—a woman more deadly than any man—at his side, he has laid waste to countless cities.

In The Ladies of Mandrigyn, a woman comes to him, an emissary from the town of Mandrigyn, a lush port city recently sacked by a powerful, mad wizard of unmatched abilities. She offers Sun Wolf untold riches for the use of his army, but the captain is not fool enough to wage war against a magician. He refuses her offer, but that is not the end of it.

The women of Mandrigyn can be very persuasive . . .  

The story continues in The Witches of Wenshar, which finds Sun Wolf crossing the desert in search of a witch who can teach him the ways of sorcery, and then The Dark Hand of Magic, in which he must use his immature magical powers to rescue his old army from the evil wizard’s curse.

Goodreads | Amazon | BN | Sony | Kobo | All Romance eBooks




Book Barry Hughart - Bridge of Birds

Barry Hughart – Bridge of Birds: A Novel of an Ancient China That Never Was – Historical Fiction/Fantasy

When the children of his village were struck with a mysterious illness, Number Ten Ox found master Li Kao.

Together they set out to find the Great Root of Power, the only possible cure, and together they discover adventure and legend, and the power of belief….  

The quest led them to a host of truly memorable characters, multiple wonders, incredible adventures—and strange coincidences, which were really not coincidences at all. And it involved them in an ancient crime that still perturbed the serenity of Heaven.

Simply and charmingly told, this is a wry tale, a sly tale, and a story of wisdom delightfully askew. Once read, its marvels and beauty will not easily fade from the mind.

The author claims that this is a novel of an ancient China that never was. But, oh…it should have been!

Goodreads | Amazon | BN





Book Cherise Sinclair - If Only

Cherise Sinclair – If Only – Erotic/BDSM/Menage Romance

After the last fiasco, Sally gives up. She'll never find a Dom of her own. Instead the computer whiz is job hunting in between bending the law–just a bit–to unearth the bastards who'd enslaved her friends. The clueless cops and Feds obviously need her help.  

FBI special agents Galen and Vance have waited to play with Sally for a long time. When the mischievous submissive returns to the exclusive Shadowlands BDSM club after an ugly relationship, the experienced co-tops are more than pleased. Realizing she's suppressing deep-seated emotions, the powerful Doms push her–only to find that her sassiness conceals a scarred and vulnerable heart.  

Shaken by the unexpected emotional exposure, Sally flees the demanding Masters and the Shadowlands. And that should be the end of that, since both Galen and Vance have reasons not to seek a long-term relationship, especially with a submissive who doesn't want what they can give. But when a brutal attack by her ex-Dom sends Sally into their home, the two agents are driven to protect her. To help her. To take her under command. Falling in love isn't in the plans.  

But the little imp brings light into their lives, and just as they begin to want more, they discover she's hacked into an organization that delights in burning people alive. Now more than hearts are on the line, and Sally's submission could save her life.  

Goodreads | Amazon | BN | Sony | Kobo | All Romance eBooks




Book The Countess Conspiracy - Courtney Milan

Courtney Milan – The Countess Conspiracy (brand new) & The Heiress Effect – Historical Romance

The Heiress EffectCarrie's review (A) | RedHeadedGirl's review (A)

Sebastian Malheur is the most dangerous sort of rake: an educated one. When he’s not scandalizing ladies in the bedchamber, he’s outraging proper society with his scientific theories. He’s desired, reviled, acclaimed, and despised—and he laughs through it all.

Violet Waterfield, the widowed Countess of Cambury, on the other hand, is entirely respectable, and she’d like to stay that way. But Violet has a secret that is beyond ruinous, one that ties her irrevocably to England’s most infamous scoundrel: Sebastian’s theories aren’t his. They’re hers.

So when Sebastian threatens to dissolve their years-long conspiracy, she’ll do anything to save their partnership…even if it means opening her vulnerable heart to the rake who could destroy it for good. 

Goodreads | Amazon | BN | Sony | Kobo | All Romance eBooks







Book Diana Wynne Jones  - Archer's Goon

Diana Wynne Jones – Archer's Goon – YA/Middle Grade Fantasy

The trouble started when Howard Sykes came home from school and found the “goon” sitting in the kitchen. He said he'd been sent by Archer. But who was Archer? It had to do with the 2,000 words that Howard's author father had failed to deliver.  

It soon became clear not only that Archer wanted those words, but that his wizard siblings, Hathaway, Dillian, Shine, Torquil, Erskine, and Venturus, would also go to any lengths to get them.  

Although each wizard ruled a section of the town, he or she was a prisoner in it. Each suspected that one of them held the secret behind the words, and that secret was the key to their freedom. Which one of them was it? The Sykes family become pawns in the wizards' fight to win their freedom, wrest control from one another, and fan out to rule the world.  

Diana Wynne Jones skillfully guides the reader through a riveting, twisty plot, with satisfying surprises at every amazing turn. An exciting science fiction adventure where, happily, nothing is what it first seems to be.  

Goodreads | Amazon | BN | Sony | Kobo | All Romance eBooks





Book Unexpected Mrs. Polifax

Dorothy Gilman – The Unexpected Mrs. Pollifax – Cozy Mystery

The most lovely reader comment from the contest entries:

DOROTHY GILMAN!!! Mrs. Pollifax series. As a grandmother she decided to be a CIA agent. Due to mistaken identity she is accepted; and turns out to be amazing. Mrs P is forever traveling as an Innocent Tourist; saving the day; making the world safe for democracy; and growing prize winning geraniums.”  

Mrs. Virgil (Emily) Pollifax of New Brunswick, New Jersey, was a widow with grown children. She was tired of attending her Garden Club meetings. She wanted to do something good for her country. So, naturally, she became a CIA agent. This time, the assignment sounds as tasty as a taco. A quick trip to Mexico City is on her agenda. Unfortunately, something goes wrong, and our dear Mrs. Pollifax finds herself embroilied in quite a hot Cold War–and her country's enemies find themsleves entangled with one unbelievably feisty lady.  

Goodreads | Amazon | BN | Sony | Kobo

Book Eowyn Ivey - The Snow Child



Eowyn Ivey – The Snow Child –  Historical Fiction/Magical Realism

Alaska, 1920: a brutal place to homestead, and especially tough for recent arrivals Jack and Mabel. Childless, they are drifting apart–he breaking under the weight of the work of the farm; she crumbling from loneliness and despair. In a moment of levity during the season's first snowfall, they build a child out of snow. The next morning the snow child is gone–but they glimpse a young, blonde-haired girl running through the trees.  

This little girl, who calls herself Faina, seems to be a child of the woods. She hunts with a red fox at her side, skims lightly across the snow, and somehow survives alone in the Alaskan wilderness. As Jack and Mabel struggle to understand this child who could have stepped from the pages of a fairy tale, they come to love her as their own daughter. But in this beautiful, violent place things are rarely as they appear, and what they eventually learn about Faina will transform all of them.  

Goodreads | Amazon | BN | Sony | Kobo | All Romance eBooks






Book River of Stars

Guy Gavriel Kay – River of Stars – Alternative History/Epic Fantasy

Ren Daiyan was still just a boy when he took the lives of seven men while guarding an imperial magistrate of Kitai. That moment on a lonely road changed his life—in entirely unexpected ways, sending him into the forests of Kitai among the outlaws. From there he emerges years later—and his life changes again, dramatically, as he circles towards the court and emperor, while war approaches Kitai from the north.

Lin Shan is the daughter of a scholar, his beloved only child. Educated by him in ways young women never are, gifted as a songwriter and calligrapher, she finds herself living a life suspended between two worlds. Her intelligence captivates an emperor—and alienates women at the court. But when her father’s life is endangered by the savage politics of the day, Shan must act in ways no woman ever has.

In an empire divided by bitter factions circling an exquisitely cultured emperor who loves his gardens and his art far more than the burdens of governing, dramatic events on the northern steppe alter the balance of power in the world, leading to events no one could have foretold, under the river of stars.

Goodreads | Amazon | BN | Sony | Kobo | All Romance eBooks



Book Kate Locke - God Save the Queen

Kate Locke – God Save the Queen – Urban Fantasy/Steampunk

Queen Victoria rules with an immortal fist.  

The undead matriarch of a Britain where the Aristocracy is made up of werewolves and vampires, where goblins live underground and mothers know better than to let their children out after dark. A world where being nobility means being infected with the Plague (side-effects include undeath), Hysteria is the popular affliction of the day, and leeches are considered a delicacy. And a world where technology lives side by side with magic. The year is 2012.  

Xandra Vardan is a member of the elite Royal Guard, and it is her duty to protect the Aristocracy. But when her sister goes missing, Xandra will set out on a path that undermines everything she believed in and uncover a conspiracy that threatens to topple the empire. And she is the key-the prize in a very dangerous struggle.  

Goodreads | Amazon | BN | Sony | Kobo | All Romance eBooks





Book Cordelia's Honor - Lois McMaster Bujold

Lois McMaster Bujold – The Vorkosigan Saga – Science Fiction/Space Opera

Carrie's Review (B)

 In her first trial by fire, Cordelia Naismith captained a throwaway ship of the Betan Expeditionary Force on a mission to destroy an enemy armada. Discovering deception within deception, treachery within treachery, she was forced into a separate peace with her chief opponent, Lord Aral Vorkosigan he who was called 'The Butcher of Komarr' and would consequently become an outcast on her own planet and the Lady Vorkosigan on his.

Sick of combat and betrayal, she was ready to settle down to a quiet life, interrupted only by the occasion ceremonial appearances required of the Lady Vorkosigan. But when the Emperor died, Aral became guardian of the infant heir to the imperial throne of Barrayar and the target of high-tech assassins in a dynastic civil war that was reminiscent of Earth's Middle Ages, but fought with up-to-the minute biowar technology.

Neither Aral nor Cordelia guessed the part that their cell-damaged unborn would play in Barrayar's bloody legacy.

Publisher's Note: Cordelia's Honor is comprised of two parts: Shards of Honor and Barrayar. Together they form a continuous story following the life of Cordelia Vorkosigan nee Naismith from the day she met her then-enemy Lord Aral Vorkosigan through the boyhood of her son Miles. Barrayar won the Hugo Award for best science fiction novel of the year.  

Goodreads | Amazon | BN



Book Spider's Bite - Jennifer Estep

Jennifer Estep – Spider's Bite – Urban Fantasy/Paranormal

After Gin’s family was murdered by a Fire elemental when she was thirteen, she lived on the streets and eventually became an assassin to survive.

Now, Gin is given an assignment by her handler to rub out an Ashland businessman, but it turns out to be a trap.

After Gin’s handler is brutally murdered, she teams up with the sexy detective investigating the case to figure out who double-crossed her and why.

Only one thing is for sure —Gin has no qualms about killing her way to the top of the conspiracy.  

Goodreads | Amazon | BN | Sony | Kobo | All Romance eBooks









Book The Spymaster's Lady - Joanna Bourne

Joanna Bourne – The Spymaster's Lady – Historical Romance

Sarah's review (A-)

She's never met a man she couldn't deceive…until now.

She's braved battlefields. She's stolen dispatches from under the noses of heads of state.

She's played the worldly courtesan, the naive virgin, the refined British lady, even a Gypsy boy.

But Annique Villiers, the elusive spy known as the Fox Cub, has finally met the one man she can't outwit.  

Goodreads | Amazon | BN | Sony | Kobo | All Romance eBooks









Book Flame of Sevenwaters - Juliet Marillier

Juliet Marillier – Flame of Sevenwaters – Young Adult/High Fantasy

Maeve, daughter of Lord Sean of Sevenwaters, was badly burned as a child and carries the legacy of that fire in her crippled hands. After ten years she’s returning home, a courageous, forthright woman. But while her body’s scars have healed, her spirit remains fragile, fearing the shadows of her past.  

Sevenwaters is in turmoil. The fey prince Mac Dara is desperate to see his only son, married to Maeve’s sister, return to the Otherworld. To force Lord Sean’s hand, Mac Dara has caused a party of innocent travelers on the Sevenwaters border to vanish—only to allow their murdered bodies to be found one by one.  

When Maeve finds a body in a remote part of the woods, she and her brother, Finbar, embark on a journey that could bring about the end of Mac Dara’s reign—or lead to a hideous death. If she is successful, Maeve may open the door to a future she has not dared to believe possible….  

Goodreads | Amazon | BN | Sony | Kobo | All Romance eBooks






Book Finnikin of the Rock

Finnikin of the Rock – Melina Marchetta – Young Adult/High Fantasy (Currently $1.99) 

Finnikin was only a child during the five days of the unspeakable, when the royal family of Lumatere were brutally murdered, and an imposter seized the throne.

Now a curse binds all who remain inside Lumatere’s walls, and those who escaped roam the surrounding lands as exiles, persecuted and despairing, dying by the thousands in fever camps.

In a narrative crackling with the tension of an imminent storm, Finnikin, now on the cusp of manhood, is compelled to join forces with an arrogant and enigmatic young novice named Evanjalin, who claims that her dark dreams will lead the exiles to a surviving royal child and a way to pierce the cursed barrier and regain the land of Lumatere.

But Evanjalin’s unpredictable behavior suggests that she is not what she seems — and the startling truth will test Finnikin’s faith not only in her, but in all he knows to be true about himself and his destiny.  

Goodreads | Amazon | BN | Sony | Kobo | All Romance eBooks





Book A Witch's Handbook of Kisses and Curses - Molly Harper

Molly Harper – A Witch's Handbook of Kisses and Curses – Paranormal Romance

Nola Leary would have been content to stay in Kilcairy, Ireland, healing villagers at her family’s clinic with a mix of magic and modern medicine. But a series of ill-timed omens and a deathbed promise to her grandmother have sent her on a quest to Half-Moon Hollow, Kentucky, to secure her family’s magical potency for the next generation. Her supernatural task? To unearth four artifacts hidden by her grandfather before a rival magical family beats her to it.  

Complication One: The artifacts are lost somewhere in vampire Jane Jameson’s occult bookshop. Complication Two: Her new neighbor Jed Trudeau keeps turning up half-naked at the strangest times, a distraction Nola doesn’t need. And teaming up with a real-life Adonis is as dangerous as it sounds, especially since Jed’s got the face of an angel and the abs of a washboard. Can Nola complete her mission before falling completely under his spell?  

Goodreads | Amazon | BN | Sony | Kobo | All Romance eBooks








Book Fangirl

Rainbow Rowell – Fangirl – Young Adult /Contemporary 

Sarah's Review (A-)

In Rainbow Rowell's Fangirl, Cath is a Simon Snow fan. Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan, but for Cath, being a fan is her life—and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving.

Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.

Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to.

Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words . . . And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone.

For Cath, the question is: Can she do this? Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?

| Amazon | BN | Sony | Kobo | All Romance eBooks


Book The Luckiest Lady in London

Sherry Thomas – The Luckiest Lady in London – Historical Romance

Carrie's Review (C+) | Guest Review from Shari (A)

Felix Rivendale, the Marquess of Wrenworth, is The Ideal Gentleman, a man all men want to be and all women want to possess. Even Felix himself almost believes this golden image.

But underneath is a damaged soul soothed only by public adulation.

Louisa Cantwell needs to marry well to support her sisters. She does not, however, want Lord Wrenworth—though he seems inexplicably interested in her. She mistrusts his outward perfection, and the praise he garners everywhere he goes.

Still, when he is the only man to propose at the end of the London season, she reluctantly accepts. Louisa does not understand her husband’s mysterious purposes, but she cannot deny the pleasure her body takes in his touch. Nor can she deny the pull this magnetic man exerts upon her.

But does she dare to fall in love with a man so full of dark secrets, any one of which could devastate her, if she were to get any closer?  

Goodreads | Amazon | BN | Sony | Kobo




Who are your unsung favorites, the authors and books you wish more readers would discover? Do you recognize any favorites in the list above? 

Comments are Closed

  1. 1
    Artemiz says:

    One of my happy discoveries this year was Giuliana Sica’s book Among the Cloud Dwellers https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13823479-among-the-cloud-dwellers?ac=1 and I, really wish that more people would read it, since it really is a wonderful book about love and food.

  2. 2
    Miranda says:

    I’m glad someone mentioned Barbara Hambly, but I’ll go further and say that all of her books are wonderful. In particular, Homeland, about the friendship between 2 women in the Civil War, comes under the heading of lifechanging for me. She also has several other series, including the Ben January mysteries, the Dragonsbane fantasy series, and the James Asher vampire series.

    Ben Aaronovich’s Peter Grant series, starting with Midnight Riot. A British constable discovers he can do magic. These books are hilarious. Sort of Harry Dresden crossed with Midsomer Murders.

  3. 3
    Kelly Stemple says:

    I wish I could get everyone to read JEANNIE LIN. Her Tang Dynasty books are amazing. They managed to take my non-interest in anything Chinese and beat the hell out of it. Now I gobble her books like candy. I want MORE!

    My favorite was THE DRAGON AND PEARL but she hasn’t written a bad one.

    (SB Sarah: fixing link! Here it is!) http://amzn.to/1bPwmzG

  4. 4
    Jo says:

    I have been a long time fan of Kris Tualla. The Hansen series, which traces a family through generations, is filled with romance, suspense and surprising plot twists. The Discreet Gentleman, a mystery/romance series, is set apart from the norm by the Hero being deaf. All her books are beautifully written historicals. Check them out!!


  5. 5
    Emily Brach says:

    I really enjoy the books by Inez Kelley.  Her characters are witty and the books are steamy.  The stories she crafts are so unique, too – so it makes reading them so fun and NOT predictable, which I love!


  6. 6
    Lil says:

    Let me echo Kelly’s comment. I adore JEANNIE LIN’s books. Beautiful writing, deft characterization, intriguing plots, and love! She transports me to Tang Dynasty China and I believe every word of it. If that isn’t magic, I don’t know what is.

  7. 7
    Lyssa says:

    Okay I can second many of the authors above (Bujold and Bishop’s Others novels especially), but many of the authors I read are known well known. Ilona Andrews Kate Daniels Series, (and if you haven’t read this most wonderful urban fantasy series…do so…world building at its finest.)  But I have limited the books I read these days, sticking with a few authors. Some of the ones I would recommend are:

    Seanan Macguire’s October Daye series,  (urban fantasy), the romance is not so much HEA as happily ever…today. But its a fairy book, so we just haven’t come to the end yet. (if you want lighter fair, try her Incriptid series (urban fant) as well, it well, combines ballroom dancing and buffy the vampire slayer sort of )

    Julia Spencer Flemming’s Miller’s Kill Series (mystery):This one I learned about through smart bitches Trashy books…And have not regretted it once. Mystery and a grown up romance…really excellent story telling…

    Mary Robinette Kowal’s The Glamorist histories, (Alternative history fantasy/mystery set in regency England) What if there was a formal magic during the time of Austin, and Byron? And what if that magic had just as many rules as the rest of society. A mixture of magic, etiquette, and romance in a not so urban fantasy setting. ((really well researched and written))

    Sharon Shinn’s Thirteen houses series (fantasy) and her newer Elemental series (fantasy) are both lovely fantasy series with layers of romance built in. While I did read her Angelica and shapeshifter novels I did not find them as accessible as the other series.

    Naomi Novik’s Temeraire series (Alt History /Fantasy) There is little romance unless you count the love between a man and his dragon. But its a really well done Alt History set in the Napoleonic war era.

    Karen Chance’s Cassandra Palmer series (Urban Fantasy) Humor, and books that keep the reader on their toes. The main character bounces through time like a ping pong ball, which can be very entertaining, amusing, and confusing, but Chance keeps up with the layers of time change very well in this novel of vampires, magic, and paranormal politics.

    Patricia Briggs, Nalini Singh, and Kim Harrison I assume everyone reads already if they read Urban fantasy.

  8. 8
    Lynnd says:

    I thank you for this list and the comment thread that is sure to follow.  My wallet does not :-).

    I defnintely agree with the comments above about Jeannie Lin.  Between Guy Gavriel Kay and her, my interest in Chinese-set books has been peaked (Kay also wrote Under Heaven which is set in the Tang Dynasty – my favourites of his still remains a tie between Tigana and The Lions of Al-Rassan).

    Meredith Duran,  C.S. Harris and Elizabeth Chadwick are also authors who I wish were more widely known.

  9. 9

    I just finished reading The Republic of Thieves by Scott Lynch, so I’m going to do another shout-out for his books, especially because this one has a romance at its core. And it’s a great romance, although there are clearly more books to follow. One should start with The Lies of Locke Lamora to get the full experience.

  10. 10
    LG says:

    I second the Jeannie Lin recommendation – I particularly loved her My Fair Concubine. Such a wonderful book.

    In the past year or two, I’ve been on the hunt for either unusual romances or books with unusual romantic elements. Both of my recommendations are for authors who don’t write romances, sadly, but they do write books with romantic elements.

    I’ve recently fallen in love with M.C.A. Hogarth’s writings, particularly her longer works. She’s self-published, writes very fast, and could use someone to tighten her stories up, but her works hit all my buttons – interesting alien cultures, soft sci-fi with unusual romantic elements. A good place to start would be Mindtouch, a slice-of-life style soft sci-fi novel I picked up because there were indications it might feature asexual romance. The book ends aggravatingly, particularly from a romance reader’s perspective, but the second book recently came out. I plan to read it this weekend.

    Jane Fletcher is another author I wish were more widely known. So far, I’ve only read her Celaeno series, which is f/f soft sci-fi that takes place on a planet where men died out long ago. The world-building has some rough spots but is still interesting. Rangers at Roadsend would be a good place to start – it begins slow but has some interesting murder mystery elements. It also introduces some characters who are mentioned in other books.

  11. 11
    Liz H. says:

    Its hard to know who is considered well known or not, but here are a few for the list-

    Katie Allen- (http://www.ktallen.com) Writes contemporaries. Breaking the Silence is a favorite. Unfortunately she seems to have stopped writing.

    Lisa Lutz- (mystery/humor) This is what the Stephanie Plum series would be if it had lived up to the promise of the first book.

    For those looking for gift books that are completely- Yiddish is my go-to language for humor, but this is pretty good.
    Schottenfreude: German Words for the Human Condition by Ben Schott
      A great little coffee table book. The printing is beautiful, bits of it can be read quickly, and its interesting and well researched.

    I second Lyssa on a few authors, with a few differences-
    Seanan McGuire- October Daye (UF/noir) series is fantastic. Incriptid (UF) not so much. The two are completely different in every way, so if you didn’t like one, still give the other a try.

    Julia Spencer Flemming- Mystery series; fantastic but emotionally tough.

    Karen Chance- Her series’ are intertwined UF. They’re both excellent, as are her short stories (which is rare IMO).

  12. 12
    Amy Raby says:

    Wow, so many great authors on this list! I’m especially happy to see Barbara Hambly, who was writing kick-ass, three-dimensional fantasy heroines back in the 80’s, before it became fashionable.

  13. 13
    Heather S says:

    My experience with Jeannie Lin was quite the opposite – I read one of her books and it irritated me so much that it put me off her work completely. Was also totally underwhelmed by Sherry Thomas’ “Private Arrangements”.

    Two authors I discovered as a teen were Garth Nix and Meredith Ann Pierce (the “Abhorsen” trilogy and “DarkAngel” trilogy, respectively). They definitely cultivated an interest in fantasy with a strong female protagonist to me, and I liked that the romance was firmly secondary in importance to the rest of the story – that always seemed more interesting and realistic to me.

    I know she’s new-ish, but I wish more people would discover Madeline Miller, winner of the Orange Prize back in 2011 for her first book, “The Song of Achilles”. Can’t wait for her next one.

  14. 14
    Lesa says:

    I really enjoy the books by Inez Kelley.  She writes timely, engaging, sexy novels with interesting plots.  Plus, I enjoy reading different types of books, and Inez writes a wide range of fiction, including historical, fantasy, and contemporary. 


  15. 15
    Kara says:

    I’ve recently found an author named Debora Geary. She writes modern magical romance. Good witches, people who don’t know they have magical gifts, and romance. It’s a loosely interconnected series. Start with A Modern Witch, and go from there.

    I’ll second the recommendation for Lisa Lutz. I love the Spellmans!

    An author that’s probably not a romance write, but who I love is Jasper Fforde. The Thursday Next series is chock full of literary references and is a delight to read.

  16. 16
    Rose says:

    Some of the authors are pretty well-known, I think, but if this convinces more readers to try them, that can’t hurt :)

    Of the non-romance ones, Bridge of Birds is fantastic, I definitely recommend it.

    I’ll add Dorothy Koomson, since I’m not sure how well-known she is in the US.

  17. 17
    Darlynne says:

    Barry Hughart FTW! I am tickled and astonished to see his books mentioned; they are, sadly, usually lost in obscurity, although I did score a digital edition of all three books for a song on Kindle. Master Li and Number Ten Ox are two of my favorites characters.

    Kate Locke’s books have continually surprised and impressed me with a wonderfully unexpected heroine. I’m eager to see where the books go from here and, hopefully, gather more readers.

  18. 18
    Courtney says:


    HOLY crap you can get Bridge of Birds on Kindle (albeit in a collection). *click*

    Bridge of Birds is one of the few perfect books I’ve ever read. It’s the best fantasy novel that most fantasy readers have never heard of.

    It’s stunningly, achingly, beautiful, and there’s a sweet, utterly adorable romance among secondary characters that weaves through the story in ways you don’t notice, with a punchline that had me in tears.

    Here’s the Kindle edition link (yes, it’s $9.99, it is three books and definitely worth it): http://www.amazon.com/Chronicles-Master-Li-Number-Ten-ebook/dp/B005ISOYLK/

    Please note that the book description for the collected edition may not have been chosen for mass commercial appeal. (Mild understatement.)

  19. 19
    Lisa says:

    It is nice to see Barry Hughart mentioned. Bridge of Birds is really excellent, however the sequels were not. BoB is really different and I’ve reread it so many times.

    It is also nice to see Barbara Hambly on the list. I have only read a few of hers, but I’ve lived them all.

    Martha Wells is another hugely underrated fantasy author. I love all of her books, more people should read them.

  20. 20
    ktg says:

    While I liked Fangirl, I LOVED Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell. It is hands down the best book I’ve read in years. So much so that I’ve given it as a Christmas gift to all of my friends that read romance. Seriously. Made me cry twice when I first read it and was just as good when I read it again.

  21. 21
    Daena says:

    My favorite new author of the year is A. J. Aalto.  I’ve bought 3 paperback copies of her book Touched to give to friends and I’ve loaned out my nook to other friends to share my copy.  I also started reading Courtney Milan this year, as well as Jennifer Estep—in fact, my book club is reading the Elemental Assassin series now.  I first read Molly Harper’s werewolf series a couple years ago; it’s pretty awesome.

  22. 22
    Emily B says:

    Thank you so much for including Anne Bishop.  I adore her novels and Written in Red is one of my favorite books this year.  And after reading how much Sarah liked Fangirl I had to give it a try and I loved it.  Eleanor and Park is next up on my reading list.  And Juliet Marillier is always a pleasure to read.

    While I am glad that several readers enjoyed Jeanine Lin’s books, I really did not like her novels.  I loved the setting but if you have ever studied Chinese culture from that period you will have a real hard time believing the storylines.  I have read two books by her and both times I kept thinking “Yeah, right.  I don’t think so.”

  23. 23
    Aly says:

    Thanks for this list!

    I’m always very interested in finding hidden gems!

    *notes down titles*

    I’d love some more posts like these, maybe for each subgenre?

  24. 24
    Hannah says:

    I’d love some more posts like these, maybe for each subgenre?

    Yes, me too especially more specifically subgenres of romance (historical, contemporary, time travel, etc)!

  25. 25
    Michelle A says:

    YES times a million to FINNIKIN OF THE ROCK! And I say this as someone who is not usually drawn to high fantasy. But I’ve loved Melina Marchetta’s contemporary novels, so decided to give it a shot. It blew me away! Such a perfect combination of excellent world-building, a fascinating plot, and characters you’ll fall in love with. And the best part is there are two other books in the series!

    Melina Marchetta’s other novels are just as incredible. (My favorites are JELLICOE ROAD and SAVING FRANCESCA. Both are contemporary YA.)

    Happy reading!! :-)

  26. 26
    Anne says:

    Thanks for all the recommendations, just in time to add to my post-christmas wish list, so I can spend my gift cards from amazon and itunes several times over. 

    I second the Joanna Bourne recommendation, although Black Hawk, which won the RITA was my favorite.  I do love those Regency spies.  Also the Courtney Milan books, which I started to read because of recommendations I found here.

    Marillier is on my TBR list, but I haven’t gotten around to her books yet, so I’m pleased to see another recommendation.

    I also second the recommendation of Elizabeth Chadwick in one of the comments.  I like historicals and although hers are mostly medieval (Henry II and that era) and long, they are always enjoyable.

    Finally, I’m happy to see the recommendation of Cherise Sinclair’s latest release.  I started reading some erotica last year, using the SBTB posting as a guide (no 50 shades for me) and although I found some that I liked and DNF others, I stumbled across Sinclair’s books because I think one was on sale at amazon.  I read them out of order and actually never finished the first.  I was not sure that I would like the BDSM, but I found it interesting rather than distracting and that there is enough story and character development to keep me interested.

  27. 27
    Jane A says:

    Laura Florand writes the most yummy books. Once you’ve read any of her “chocolate” books, you’ll have to run out & buy 5 lbs of chocolate to try and satisfy your craving until you read her next book.

  28. 28
    Darlynne says:

    @Courtney: There is a slight flaw in my character. ;)

    Man, I love that book, so glad to see others who do as well. And BoB is available separately for $5.99.

  29. 29
    Vasha says:

    I think I’ve talked before about my fondness for Ginn Hale, author of m/m romance. In the course of reading all her works, I finally got to her enormous serial fantasy novel The Rifter, and… wow. Just wow. I finished it over a week ago, I’m still haunted by it, and I keep going back, rereading bits, and appreciating over again how perfect it is. Besides being a fully-developed fantasy with lots of interest, besides having lots of well-depicted secondary characters, besides having amazing main characters, it’s extremely emotionally intense. The elements of grief and horror just tore me up—but of course it ends well.

    The only thing keeping it out of people’s hands is likely to be the price—I’m scared to say how much it costs. But if you’re feeling like an indulgence, do, do read it. I also created a TV Tropes page for this novel, in case anyone else who loves it wants to contribute to edpanding the page.

  30. 30
    L. says:

    Oh yes, read all three of Barry Hughart’s books – Bridge of Birds, The Story of the Stone, and Eight Skilled Gentlement. I recommend them all.

Comments are closed.

↑ Back to Top