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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
Courtney Milan – The Countess Conspiracy (brand new) & The Heiress Effect – Historical Romance
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Lois McMaster Bujold – The Vorkosigan Saga – Science Fiction/Space Opera
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.
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.
Joanna Bourne – The Spymaster's Lady – Historical Romance
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.
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….
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.
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?
Rainbow Rowell – Fangirl – Young Adult /Contemporary
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?
Sherry Thomas – The Luckiest Lady in London – Historical Romance
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?
Who are your unsung favorites, the authors and books you wish more readers would discover? Do you recognize any favorites in the list above?