Rachel Neumeier

Fantasy and Young Adult Fantasy Author

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Favorites of the Last Five Years

Here’s a great idea from Brandy at Random Musings of a Bibliophile: Favorite Books of the Last Five Years. If you’re ambitious, I suppose you could do it as Favorite Books of the Decade! I, on the other hand, have only been keeping track of books-read for about three years, so it’s tricky to go back further than that.

I love most of the books on Brandy’s list, but books blur together for me in time, so it’s hard to remember when I first read a book. It’s easier for me to do this list:

FAVORITE AUTHORS DISCOVERED IN THE LAST FIVE YEARS

And even this may be more like the past three years. But it’s still easier than picking out specific books. I suppose it’s not surprising that some of the authors on my list only debuted recently, while others, no matter how new-to-me, have been around for a while.

Anyway, top ten new-to-me authors from the last five years (or so), in the order they occur to me. In order to appear on this list, I decided it was important that a) I have read at least three books by the author, because how else can I know the author consistently suits my taste? And, b) never have read a book that I really disliked by the author.

Martha Wells. You all know how I feel about Martha Wells’ books! I couldn’t really get into the Star Wars one, RAZOR’S EDGE — I’m simply not very into the Star Wars world and never have been. Maybe I’ll go back to it eventually. But her original-world work suits me right down to the ground.

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Andrea K Höst. Of course. I still think wistfully of my Höst blow out two years ago, when I read almost all her books one after another. You know what would make a GREAT TV series? The Touchstone trilogy. Start when Cass gets rescued by the Psychic Space Ninjas, then insert the lost-in-the-woods bit as flashbacks as you move forward with the story. That ought to hook viewers right away and keep them hooked. I don’t know actors, so I can’t cast this series. Who would make the world’s best Kaoren? Anybody got any ideas?

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NK Jemisin. Her books suck me right in. My favorite is in fact the second of the Dreamblood books, which is why I’m picturing it below. I’m a bit tired of the first-woman-to-whatever plot element, but this was an exception.

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Sherwood Smith. Hard to believe I’d never read anything by her before, what, last year? I still have a lot of her backlist on my Kindle / TBR shelves / in audio format / on my wishlist. My favorite so far is definitely A STRANGER TO COMMAND.

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Laura Florand. As you all know. I particularly the cover of THE CHOCOLATE ROSE.

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Elizabeth Bear. Which is pushing a point, since I have only read one (1) full book by Bear: RANGE OF GHOSTS. I’m really looking forward to reading the sequels, which look at me when I walk by my TBR shelves. But I loved A COMPANION TO WOLVES, which she co-wrote with Sarah Monette, and I loved the Shadow Unit series, so there you go.

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Sarah Addison Allen. Another author that I seem to have known forever. No. I believe I discovered Allen in 2012.

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Sarah Rees Brennan. I’ve only read the Demon trilogy, but whoa. I’m dying to read more by Brennan, hopefully in 2015.

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Patrick Lee. His SF thriller series starting with THE BREACH is one of the best, if not the best, thriller I’ve ever read. I haven’t read RUNNER yet, but I really need to!

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Okay, that’s nine! Can I get to ten? Let me think.

Fine! What good is a rule if you can’t break it, right?

Django Wexler. I’ve only read one book by him, but hey. I really loved it, and I’ve heard good things about the sequel. So.

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4 Comments Favorites of the Last Five Years

  1. Mary+Beth

    Well, I think I discovered you about three years ago (through the Griffin Mage trilogy), so there’s definitely one!

    Andrea K. Host, of course. (Your recommendations almost never lead me astray!) The second Darest book left me pretty cold, but I’ve adored almost all the others. As for casting Kaoren… I never had a very clear mental picture of him (aside from Asian and no-visible-sense-of-humor), and I don’t know enough Asian-American actors, so I’m going with strictly fantasy casting. Perhaps a young Won Bin? I’ll have to think about this…

    Guy Gavriel Kay — I’d tried his Fionavar series in high school, bounced off pretty hard, and never picked up one of his books again until I stumbled across UNDER HEAVEN a couple of years ago and fell in love. I’m working my way very slowly through his backlist now, trying to savor instead of rush.

    I’ve come to a new appreciation of Kate Elliott as well. I tried the Crown of Stars sequence in high school and didn’t make it far, but started again this year with JARAN and raced through that whole sequence. Now I’m slowly working my way through the Spiritwalker and Crossroads trilogies.

    Max Gladstone, of course! He only debuted two years ago, but he’s got three novels and several short stories out, and I’ve loved everything he’s written.

    Maggie Stiefvater, for the Raven Cycle and THE SCORPIO RACES.

    Martha Wells, for the Raksura books — I’m slowly working through the rest of her backlist as well, though the Raksura books remain my strong favorites.

    I recently discovered Mary Stewart’s Gothic novels, and binged on those. They’re delightful, though probably better read spaced-out than five-in-a-weekend. (Same with Rosamunde Pilcher, whom I also binge-read this year. It’s one of the reasons I’m trying to pace myself on Kay and Elliott).

    Karin Lowachee, whom I only discovered last year. She’s working on a new Warchild book, and I can’t wait.

    And for a tenth… let’s say Ann Leckie, because I loved ANCILLARY JUSTICE and ANCILLARY SWORD, and I’m looking forward to the third book of the trilogy and then to seeing what she does next.

    (I really need to pick up RANGE OF GHOSTS, once I recover from holiday shopping…)

  2. Rachel

    Well, thank you, Mary Beth!

    I need to try something by Max Gladstone, obviously. I loved THE SCORPIO RACES and THE RAVEN BOYS, but wow did I bounce off the first book of the Shiver trilogy, so that’s why I didn’t put Stiefvater on my list. And you’re not the only person to recommend WARCHILD. I didn’t care for THE GASLIGHT DOGS, but I definitely need to try WARCHILD. And I want to read the Spiritwalker trilogy.

  3. Mary+Beth

    Max Gladstone has published several short stories on Tor.com, if you want to get a feel for his style. A Kiss With Teeth is probably my favorite, for its prose and for its fierce and beautiful and kind feminism, but as I said, I love everything he’s written. (Perhaps especially because his Craft books are fantasy legal thrillers, and I discovered them when I was fresh out of law school.)

    I think I would have liked THE GASLIGHT DOGS a lot more if the following books had ever been published. You could see all the groundwork she was laying for character growth and overarching plot, but the book doesn’t stand alone very well — it ends on a note of despair, instead of hope.

    I DID, however, manage to pick up two Laura Florand books over Christmas — THE CHOCOLATE KISS and THE CHOCOLATE TOUCH, I think. I wasn’t particularly fond of the domineering prince-type in the first one (though I loved all the women), but I loved the kicked-puppy/bad boy male lead in the second one and really believed in his relationship with the female lead. So I’m converted, and searching my library for more!

  4. Rachel

    Yes to that ending on a note of despair thing! I could see she was setting up the situation to probably improve, but I was already backing away slowly; I wouldn’t have read the second book.

    I loved Magalie so much that nothing could have bothered me about that book. But The Chocolate Touch is definitely my favorite. I hope you enjoy the others!

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