My Auto-buy Authors: The 2013 Fantasy Edition

Auto-buy Authors definition: You don’t have to know anything about their latest book, you just buy.  As soon as the release hits the shelves.

It’s been a while since I last wrote about my auto-buy authors (in the romance genre), but here’s the fantasy edition.  Even before I was a romance reader (and by that, I really mean before I was allowed into the Romance aisles in the bookstores), you would find me camped out in the SF/F section (and yes, it’s arguable whether some of the books in this section were more age-appropriate than those in the Romance section).  I pondered whether to tackle the two genres together, but decided to give each of them their own page time.

My auto-buy authors in the fantasy genre:

Urban fantasy

This post would have been very different had it been written when I first started my blog back in 2006.  Back then, it would have been all about Laurell K Hamilton, Charlaine Harris, Kelley Armstrong…  Now the latter two are wrapping up the main series that made them bestselling authors (and while I’m sad to say goodbye to their characters, it’s the right time IMO).  As for LKH – well, I’m not quite sure where she’s going with the Anita Blake series, but it’s probably crossed over into erotica.

But then again, back in those days, vampires/werewolves/[name your paranormal creature of choice] was so rare that having them in a book pretty much guaranteed I would read it.  Talk about change.

Untitled-2Back to my current autobuy authors – I have the obvious ones: Seanan McGuire, Patricia Briggs, Ilona Andrews, Jim Butcher.  Or should I say Toby Daye, Mercy Thompson, Kate Daniels, Harry Dresden. Long-running series are obviously the way to go in urban fantasy – not that I’m complaining, as I’m hooked on the various series arcs and completely invested in the outcome.

13023039Less frequently mentioned online (though I may just be hanging out in the wrong places), but very much auto-buy authors for me: Karen Chance, Kalayna Price, Eileen Wilks.  All three have created worlds that stand out from the many other UF series out there, whether it’s by having a time-travelling seer as a protagonist, a rather sexy Death as a love interest, or a Chinese-American heroine and a werewolf figuring out how their lives fit together.

I don’t think I read a lot of YA UF, with the exception of Sarah Rees Brennan – I find her writing hilarious (in a good way!) plus I really loved her Demon’s Lexicon trilogy.

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Traditional fantasy

I kind of steer away from the bigger names in this genre – I’ve not read any of George RR Martin’s books and while I like Brandon Sanderson’s works well enough, I’m no die-hard fan (and I haven’t read Wheel of Time either).  Raymond Feist and Terry Brooks were on my bookshelves when I was growing up, but I’ve a feeling I DNF’d their latest releases that I borrowed from the library.

My fantasy credentials (or lack of) established – here are my auto-buy authors:

12594400Andrea K Höst*: The newest addition to my list of autobuy authors, but two of her books made my top favourites of 2012 (plus I cheated and counted omnibuses as one book).  I really enjoy her refreshing take on fantasy tropes.

Juliet Marillier*: Lyrical, captivating, and romantic historical fantasy.  I adore her Sevenwaters books.

Jacqueline Carey: Her Kushiel series leans towards dark fantasy and captured my imagination.  She’s just ventured into urban fantasy (which I’m also liking).

Kristin Cashore*: I wasn’t convinced by GRACELING (*ducks*), but FIRE and BITTERBLUE made her very much an auto-buy author.

Megan Whalen Turner*: Smart, clever, twisty writing.

13515074Tanya Huff: I fell in love with her latest release THE SILVERED, though I also like her urban fantasy books (most recently, the Gale Family books, though her Blood books are probably better known).  And her high fantasy books were mainstays on my bookshelves when I was a teenager.

Sharon Shinn*: I’ve loved pretty much all of her fantasy books – I first started with her Samaria books (reading them well out of order and ruining the twist, but never mind), then devoured her standalones, and finally fell in love with her Twelve Houses books. Like some of the other authors, she’s started writing in the urban fantasy genre – it’s a trend.

9708616Sherwood Smith*: Like many other readers out there, her YA fantasy CROWN DUEL was my introduction to Sherwood Smith’s writing, but I quickly collected her backlist.

Tamora Pierce*: Unlike the other YA authors in this list, I actually did read Tamora Pierce when I was a teen.  Her Alanna books are on my favourite-series-of-all-time list, and her other books aren’t far behind.  I love how her females totally hold their own – Alanna was doing the kick-ass heroine thing before UF made an appearance on the block.

I debated whether to include Mercedes Lackey in the list above, and reluctantly decided not to.  I loved all her Valdemar books when I was a teenager, but I’m a lot more selective about which of her recent releases I buy nowadays.  And when I do buy, it’s more out of nostalgia than anything else.

Also, the asterisks indicate if the author writes YA as well (or exclusively).  I actually had the YA authors in a separate list, but then realised there was so much overlap that it didn’t make any sense.

 

Others

13151638I know.  The categories I’m using is somewhat arbitrary (okay, very), but hey, my blog.  So other authors that don’t fit into my urban/traditional categorisation are Diana Gabaldon (I don’t know – time-travel?  Historical?) – her last Jamie/Claire book was so heavy that I had to read it with the book propped up on pillows, but she is very definitely an auto-buy for me.

And  Wen Spencer – I came across her when someone recommended her Ukiah Oregon books (which are urban fantasy and which I glommed), but her more recent Tinker books are this hybrid of elves-technology-magic which somehow totally works.

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I think that’s it for me – tell me your auto-buy authors writing fantasy today?

Short Reviews

Another lot of older reviews, this time from November 2011 – I (almost) finished a historical romance series, read my first Sarah Mayberry, and well, other books in various ongoing series (yes, no real theme here). As always, these are cross-posted from Goodreads, with additional comments added in italics.

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Tempt Me at Twilight (The Hathaways, #3)Tempt Me at Twilight by Lisa Kleypas (historical romance)

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I forget why I abandoned Lisa Kleypas’s Hathaways series midway – I’m glad I returned to it though, as this was really good. I like the feel-good family element to this series, and having Harry be the proprietor of a hotel meant the setting was slightly unusual for a historical. I loved the humour, and Harry and Poppy’s relationship just worked for me. There was a bit of an obvious set-up for the next book – which I already had in my TBR pile, so I didn’t mind.

It had been a while since I’ve read a Lisa Kleypas historical, and I always wonder why I’ve left her books languishing in my TBR for so long.  I read the first book in the Hathaways series way back when, and bought the second book, but never got around to reading it.  And then I couldn’t find it, but refused to buy another copy.  Hence the skipping ahead to this book, the third in the series.

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Married By Morning (The Hathaways #4)Married By Morning by Lisa Kleypas (historical romance)

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I read this straight after Tempt Me at Twilight, so it was slightly strange seeing Leo in the role of hero at first, instead of the protective brother. While the plot and setting was not as unique as in the previous book, the romance was just as satisfying. Though it would have been perhaps more interesting if Cat hadn’t been revealed as hiding behind a governess disguise – why does the heroine always have to be a beauty?

And this was the fourth in the Hathaways series – nothing groundbreaking romance-wise, but I enjoyed it regardless (or maybe because of that).

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Love in the Afternoon (The Hathaways, #5)Love in the Afternoon by Lisa Kleypas (historical romance)

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I was dying to read this after the excerpt in the previous book, Married By Morning, which had Beatrix starting a correspondence under false pretences with the world-weary soldier on the battlefield (all for the very best of reasons, of course) – you just knew that there would be tears.

It was a good read, though it didn’t quite meet my (very) high expectations. I loved the correspondence between Beatrix and Christopher, and I am a sucker for a wounded hero. I think the PTSD was slightly skimmed over though.

All in all, I’m glad I finished the Hathaways series, and I loved seeing the whole family together one more time – with the hint of changing times ahead.

Now this one wasn’t in my TBR pile and I had to go and track it down just because of the excerpt in the previous book.  With the exception of the second book (which I did find the other day), I’ve now finished Lisa Kleypas’ Hathaways series.  I much prefer her historicals to her current contemporary/magical realism books – I wonder if she’ll ever go back to historicals? 

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Red Glove (Curse Workers, #2)Red Glove by Holly Black (YA urban fantasy)

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really like this twisty and imaginative world of Holly Black’s and this didn’t suffer from the “middle book in trilogy” syndrome. I think we got to know Cassel and Lila a lot better – I’m looking forward to the final book now.

I’ll post about it eventually (ahem), but I’ve now finished this trilogy.  As a whole, I liked it, but the books don’t have me rushing out to read the rest of Holly Black’s backlist (though I have heard very good things about her Modern Faerie Tale books).  I don’t know – perhaps it’s because there’s been quite a large gap between me reading each book and my overall experience suffered somewhat?

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Death Magic (World of the Lupi, #8)Death Magic by Eileen Wilks (urban fantasy)

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I like how we get more and more reveals as this series progresses, giving you hints that Eileen Wilks is building up to something big. Having said that, while this was a good read, it wasn’t a standout one for me – I’m still looking forward to the next Lupi book though.

Eileen Wilks is an autobuy author for me – this was the eighth book in her Lupi series.  As you can tell, it wasn’t my favourite of her books, but I love this series as a whole.

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The Wild Ways (Gale Women, #2)The Wild Ways by Tanya Huff (urban fantasy)

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I liked this book, but didn’t connect as much with Charlie and her story as I did with Allie in the previous book, The Enchantment Emporium. The eventual ending was great, but the fantastical elements of the world itself didn’t really capture my imagination this time around. I would have loved to have seen more of the family as well (loved the very teenage cousin Jack!).

All in all though, I hope Tanya Huff continues with this series – I want more of the Gale family.

The first Gale book caught me by surprise (in a good way), and I was hoping for more of the same in this book – it didn’t work quite as well as the first, but Tanya Huff is on my list of autobuy authors by now.

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The Vintage Vendetta (Wine Country Mysteries #5)The Vintage Vendetta by Ellen Crosby (mystery)

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

After a bit of a break, I’ve returned to this series again – I tend to wait for the paperback release for these books.

I liked this – a tad too much re-capping throughout perhaps, but good mystery plot. The wine-making backdrop is interesting as always, and this time around, there’s some Washington DC politics thrown into the mix.

I guess the fact I wait for the paperback release of these books is pretty telling – they’re enjoyable mysteries, but I don’t get enough emotional payoff to want to pay hardcover prices for them.  I still would rec them for those on the lookout for cosy-type mysteries.

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Her Best FriendHer Best Friend by Sarah Mayberry (contemporary romance)

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’ve heard a lot of good things about Sarah Mayberry’s books, and they’re not unjustified. Talk about packing a punch – the friends-to-lovers theme is explored in-depth here and in a believable manner. I liked – I’ll need to explore her backlist more now.

I’ve always enjoyed the friends-to-lovers plotline and really loved what Sarah Mayberry did with it in this one.

Around the Web

Another set of links, old and new:

Books for February

Have you ever been in one of those situations where you’re not really into the book you’re reading* but also too lazy to reach out and pick another book?  I’m hoping one of these new releases will get me out of this almost-but-not-quite reading slump (with the exception of the first, because I read that last month).

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15802940Sharon Lee & Steve Miller‘s NECESSITY’S CHILD (SF): It’s the 16th in the Liaden Universe series, but the authors have made a point of branding this as a “portal” book into the series.  I finished this back in January when Baen released the e-version, and while I agree it is a pretty standalone book, I don’t know if the story would have been compelling enough for me to search out the previous books in this series if I hadn’t read any of the Liaden books before.

Bonus link: Sharon Lee and Steve Miller did a Big Idea guest post about NECESSITY’S CHILD at John Scalzi’s blog, where they talk a bit more about the ideas and inspirations behind the story.

Space ships, action, adventure – all tied together with a strong dollop of romance and clan intrigue – make this a compelling series for a wide range of readers, from romance to military SF lovers.

The kompani sees none as an enemy, and yet few as friend. The kompani exists in many places, living quietly in the shadows, thriving off the bounty that others have no wit to secure, nor skill to defend. Their private history is unwritten; their recall rooted in dance and dream.

The humans of Clan Korval is in many ways the opposite of the kompani. The interstellar trading clan is wealthy in enemies, fortunate in friends.  Korval protects itself with vigor, and teaches even its youngest children the art of war.

And when representatives of Clan Korval arrive on the planet Surebleak where the kompani has lived secret and aloof, it seems to the kompani that they are borne by the very winds of change.  Change can be a boon for in change lies opportunity.

But the arrival of Clan Korval, establishing itself upon Surebleak with its friends, its enemies, and, most of all, its plans may bring catastrophe, changing the culture and the kompani, forever.

In this time of change, the lives of three people intersect — Kezzi, apprentice to the kompani‘s grandmother; Syl Vor, Clan Korval’s youngest warrior; and Rys, a man without a world, or a past.

Out now (excerpt)

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13758481THE MAD SCIENTIST’S GUIDE TO WORLD DOMINATION, edited by John Joseph Adams (SF/F): Even the title sounds like fun, doesn’t it?  Plus some of my auto-buy authors are on the list of contributors (Seanan McGuire, Diana Gabaldon, Naomi Novik).  I’m definitely checking this one out.

From Victor Frankenstein to Lex Luthor, from Dr. Moreau to Dr. Doom, readers have long been fascinated by insane plans for world domination and the madmen who devise them. Typically, we see these villains through the eyes of good guys. This anthology, however, explores the world of mad scientists and evil geniuses—from their own wonderfully twisted point of view.

An all-star roster of bestselling authors—including Diana Gabaldon, Daniel Wilson, Austin Grossman, Naomi Novik, and Seanan McGuire…twenty-two great storytellers all told—have produced a fabulous assortment of stories guaranteed to provide readers with hour after hour of high-octane entertainment born of the most megalomaniacal mayhem imaginable.

Everybody loves villains. They’re bad; they always stir the pot; they’re much more fun than the good guys, even if we want to see the good guys win. Their fiendish schemes, maniacal laughter, and limitless ambition are legendary, but what lies behind those crazy eyes and wicked grins? How—and why—do they commit these nefarious deeds? And why are they so set on taking over the world?

If you’ve ever asked yourself any of these questions, you’re in luck: It’s finally time for the madmen’s side of the story.

Out Feb 13 (book site with excerpts and interviews)

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15744557Jennifer Echols‘ STAR CROSSED (contemporary romance): Nath and Ames @ Breezing Through brought this to my attention when they posted their list of February new releases.  I’ve only read one Echols (I know, hides), but GOING TOO FAR most definitely left an impression.  And STAR CROSSED sounds like plain fun.

The first novel in the sizzling new Stargazer series about a public relations firm, the stars they represent, and everything they’d rather keep private.

He said . . . She said.

Publicist Wendy Mann has always competed hotly with her rival Daniel Blackstone, but this time they’re headed for a collision. Wendy’s job is on the line if she doesn’t save the image of a spoiled young starlet who’s posting provocative pictures of herself all over the Internet in a snarky attempt at revenge on her former boyfriend. Daniel is representing the ex, a onetime teen heartthrob who never grew up. With the feuding Hollywood pair scheduled to appear on the same Las Vegas awards show, Daniel and Wendy are determined to do whatever it takes to defend their own clients.

Unfortunately, the chemistry between Wendy and Daniel is even more explosive than that of their Hollywood stars. L-O-V-E was always a four-letter word for these two ultra-competitors; they never counted on the scorching heat that erupts between them. But Wendy’s high-gloss exterior hides a dark past—one that’s lurking behind the bright Vegas lights. Their careers are on the line, and so is Wendy’s life…

Out February 26

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13456081Andrea K Höst‘s HUNTING (fantasy): I fangirl massively about all of AKH’s books, so I’m obviously thrilled we get a new one so soon after AND ALL THE STARS.  And I love what the author says about HUNTING:

“Hunting” was written in response to my extreme frustration with Georgette Heyer‘s Regency Buck. Much as I love Heyer’s books, on occasion she takes a promising young lady, and just…foils her at every turn. My need for a heroine capable of getting herself out of her own scrapes produced Ash Lenthard, who does not so much kick ass, as tap-dance across the heads of her enemies…

There’s a Goodreads giveaway happening at the moment, if you’re interested (although – *blinks* – with more than 7600 people entered, I’m not quite sure that it’s worth entering).

Ash Lenthard doesn’t call herself a vigilante. She’s merely prone to random acts of derring-do, and occasional exhibitions of tomfoolery. Her friends, the Huntsmen, have never stepped over the line while patrolling the streets of Luinhall.

That was before the murder of Ash’s beloved guardian, Genevieve.

Now, Ash Lenthard is out for blood and even when the hunt sends her to the palace, on a collision course with a past identity she would do anything to forget, Ash cannot, will not, back down.

Out February 28 (excerpt)

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*In case you were wondering, it’s LM Montgomery’s PAT OF SILVER BUSH.  I normally love LM Montgomery’s novels (and her Emily trilogy is up there on my list of all-time favourites), but I’m not really caring for Pat and her all-encompassing love for Silver Bush, and also struggling a bit with the way Judy’s thick accent is conveyed on the page.  Has anyone else read PAT and is it worth finishing?