Rachel Neumeier

Fantasy and Young Adult Fantasy Author

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Top 10 wonderful authors I have only read one book by and this is terrible

You know what I think every time I think of Sarah Rees Brennan? (Which, I grant you, is not every day, but still.) 

I think, “I loved the Demon’s Lexicon series so much (even if minor character xxxxx died, which I hated) — no, really, I loved this series so much, and she has all these other books out, and I would probably love them, and I might have some on my TBR pile at this very minute, and WHY have I not made time for more of her books?”

This year the answer is, “Because I have been obsessively working on my own books,” so the amount of guilt is trivial compared to this same thought in previous years, but I am still sad.

Something interesting is going on besides the standard So Many Books So Little Time phenomenon: I’m a little put off because I worry that I wouldn’t love another book of hers as much as I loved the trilogy I read first. This doesn’t happen all the time, but more often than not, if I just loved the first story I read, I may feel this kind of hesitation about going on to another, unconnected book by the same author. 

This difference is exacerbated by feeling like I need to be able to give a book my undivided attention. In contrast, if I liked-but-didn’t-love a book, I will just go on to the next book by that author whenever I happen to have time to spare, even if I can’t offer it unadulterated attention. 

This pause between falling in love with the first book of a new-to-me author and the second book from that author doesn’t happen every time, by any means, but for me it’s not uncommon. Does anybody else feel this way?

Anyway: Here is a Top Ten List of authors where my first feeling whenever I think of them is I really should go on with their backlist, damn it, and quit hesitating. For some, I have in fact read more than one story, but the backlist is extensive and I’ve wanted to dip further into it for a long time, but haven’t.

These authors are not in any particular order, just the order in which I happened to think of them:

  1.  Sarah Rees Brennan
  2. Laura Ruby. I’ve read only Bone Gap so far. 
  3. James Hetley / James A Burton. I read Powers and Dominions and this is an excellent duology, but I’ve never tried any others of his, even though I have four or five on my Kindle at this moment.
  4. RJ Anderson. I’ve only read Knife. I really want to go on with more books by this author.
  5. Naomi Kritzer. I loved the Freedom’s Gate series, which was absolutely my favorite read of the year a couple years ago. She has another series out, and have I tried it? No. 
  6. Joan Aikin. When I found out that Wolves of Willoughby Chase was the first book of a series, I was delighted. I read the second book, liked it very much, got the next book, and stalled out.
  7. Michelle Sagara / West. Kind of not right for this list because I have read two series by Sagara/West. One I didn’t like all that well, one I loved, there are so many more books in her backlist, I really want to try another series.
  8.  Francis Hardinge. I’ve read two of her books, liked one a lot and loved the other, picked up two or three more of her books, and have never even opened them.
  9. Laini Taylor. I (mostly) loved the Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy, but have not been able to bring myself to read more than the opening paragraphs of Strange the Dreamer. This is one where I feel I need to give the book my undivided attention, and I don’t have undivided attention very often, so …
  10.  China Mieville. I’ve read four of his, plus one DNF (Un Lun Dun), but it’s hard to think of another author where the hesitation to try another is stronger. I have at least two or three of his on my physical TBR shelves, but heaven knows when I’ll actually read any of them.

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7 Comments Top 10 wonderful authors I have only read one book by and this is terrible

  1. Elaine T

    Isn’t the Joan Aiken you stalled out on Nightbirds on Nantucket? FWIW, I had trouble with it, too. Also the next (in series chronology). Fortunately the next one I actually picked up before finding #3, and long before #4 was published, was The Cuckoo Tree , which was just as odd, but worked better for me than Nightbirds ever did.

    Also for what it’s worth, I also checked out James Hetley after greatly enjoying his work under the Burton name, and I didn’t care for those I tried at all.

    I did read Anderson’s Knife trilogy and enjoyed it. And have enjoyed what Kritzer I’ve read, but that was years ago.

  2. Hanneke

    Michelle Sagara (West) has several different ‘flavors’ of series out, but also several linked series in her Essalieyan (Averalaan) epic universe that have a similar style. So if you bounced off one of those you might not like the others in that universe.

    – I’ve not read her first series, Sundered. They sound a bit dark for me.

    – The Queen of the Dead trilogy is sort of YA contemporary UF, with the last (Grave) getting pretty close to horror for my taste – though she did bring off a convincing ending I won’t be rereading that one, while I really liked the first book (Silence).

    – The Chronicles of Elantra is (to me) UF set in a fantasy city, with some police/detective elements thrown in. Though the protagonists’ backstory is horrific, the books are a *relatively* lighter read. 15 books and counting.

    – The epic fantasy universe of Essalieyan/Averalaan starts off with the Hunter duology (set in a neighboring forest kingdom) – a slightly simpler entry point, but still very epic in style.
    Then there’s the Sun Sword series (6 books) set in Averalaan and a southern desert land. Though the culture and flavor of these lands is very different, the epic, detailed and emotionally charged storytelling is the same, so if you don’t like one, chances are you won’t like the other.
    The same goes for the overlapping House War series about Jewel’s den, set mostly in the city of Averalaan (7 books, 2 to come); and the six short stories in the same universe.

  3. Rachel

    I didn’t really care for the Hunter duology; too many pov and I never cared much about any of them. I did like the entire Queen of the Dead trilogy. It’s the Elantra series I keep wanting to try.

    Yes, it was Nightbirds, so I’ll keep your comments in mind, Elaine. I’ll just have to see what I think of “Hetley” vs “Burton.”

  4. Kristina

    I heartily recommend the rest of Anderson’s Knife trilogy, which I thought only got stronger as it went along. But I loved A Pocket Full of Murder and A Little Taste of Poison even more. There’s a really interesting magic system in those two, and the very end of the second book has – to me at least – a particularly satisfying twist.

  5. Rachel

    Maybe next year I can make a serious point of reading more by all these authors, including at the very least the rest of the Knife trilogy.

    Except maybe Mieville. I really have to be in the right mood to try one of his books.

  6. Hanneke

    If you liked Queen of the dead, chances are you’d like Elantra. If you want to try just a taste, you could start with the prequel novella, Cast in Moonlight, which introduces the protagonist as a foolhardy young woman, before she got her job with the city police.

    If you bounced off all the different viewpoints in Hunter there’s a good chance the rest of those fat epic fantasy books in the Essalieyan universe will not be to your taste, though both House War and the Sun Sword primarily feature brave young women protagonists.

    I’ve read some of Joan Aiken and Francis Hardinge, but then got a bit repelled by some of what I read about some of the latter’s books – they didn’t sound as if I’d like them, too unpleasant and dark.
    Life is stressful enough that I want to read books that make me feel good, not depressed, angry or disgusted.

  7. Rachel

    I think there’s a good chance I’d like the Elantra series … if I ever, ever, try it.

    The specific thing which made me pause with Hardinge, other than not being sure I’d like anything else as well as I liked A Face Like Glass, is that someone … Sherwood Smith? … wrote a review of The Lie Tree that made it clear it was one more exercise in the Science VS Religion thing, since obviously that dichotomy can never be handled in a nuanced way in fantasy. I was repelled by that, and moved The Lie Tree dead last in my TBR pile. I’d give it away unread if I could give away ebooks.

    But I should still try others of hers. I have at least two others on my Kindle right now.

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