Thursday, December 22, 2016

Challenge Wrap Up: Debut Author Challenge

In the month of December I've been doing weekly posts and challenge wrap ups. In addition to doing a favorite books of the year thing, I want to talk about some of my favorite books in the categories that I did challenges for. I did a total of four challenges this year and I think they each deserve some individual attention. This week I am doing debuts and the Debut Author Challenge.

The actual challenge is to read 15 debuts a year but I always go crazy and read way more. My goal for the year was to read 25 debuts and I beat that. I read a total of 31 debuts for the Debut Author Challenge hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. Yes, that's right, I read twice as many debuts as the challenge, because I couldn't help myself. And as I have read 155 books so far for the year which means 20% of the books I read in 2016 were debuts. That's a lot of debuts.

And while I found some really fantastic ones, I wasn't totally in love. Usually at least one debut is in my top ten books of the year and I don't think that is the case this year. And don't get me wrong, there were some really fantastic ones, and there is a book that was one of my favorites but it's not in the top tier I guess. But seriously, a handful of them were big disappointments. Although we're not here to talk about those books. We're here to talk about the good ones. Here is the list of some of my favorites. In no particular order...

1.) The Smell of Other People's Houses by Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock - My Review
(Amazon / Goodreads )

This book was on my list of favorite books of the year for most of the first half of 2016 but unfortunately some fall releases kicked it off. Sorry, book. But honestly, it was really good. It's a very close call whether this was my favorite debut of the year or not.

This is one of those books where the lives of seemingly unrelated people all connect in an interesting and compelling way. It feels very much like a contemporary even though it is technically historical fiction. But honestly, I loved that. But I also liked the historical fiction elements. It's set in Alaska during the 1970's making it one of the most unique historical novels I've read in awhile. Plus I really connected with the characters who were looking to get out of their small towns and make something of themselves.

All in all this was a really fantastic and emotional story. I totally loved it and would recommend it to basically everyone. It flew a bit under the radar I think and I wish more people would read it, it's really good.

2.) The Abyss Surrounds Us by Emily Skrutskie - My Review
(Amazon / Goodreads)

This is one of those books that was not what I expected but it ended up being way better than my wildest dreams. I'm not sure I knew what I was getting myself into with this book but I thought it was going to be more hard sci-fi with space travel and it was more science fantasy/dystopia/I don't know what to call it.

The only thing I really want to call it is amazing. It had a little bit of everything. For one thing it had pirates, which was honestly super hot this year which I am not complaining about. That would have been enough but it also had sea monsters, trained sea monsters, who attack pirates. Then there is the fact that it has diverse characters and a great f/f romance. see how it had a little bit of everything? Not to mention that the plot was amazingly thrilling that I flew through and loved every second of. It was a really fantastic and engaging story.

This is another debut that I think flew under the radar for a lot of people. It's a really fantastic read that has a little something for everyone. And if you are looking for SF/F with diverse characters then you should definitely pick this one up. But even if you aren't looking for that, read it.

3.) The Only Thing Worse Than Me is You by Lily Anderson - My Review
(Amazon / Goodreads)

As soon as I learned about this book I knew I needed to read it. I mean come on, it's a Much Ado About Nothing retelling (shout out to one of the many Shakespeare retellings which I loved this year) with nerdy teen protagonists. That's super up my alley.

And it was honestly so good. Of course when we are talking about Much Ado it's all about the humor and the awkward interations between the characters. This had some really amazing ones. The perfect love to hate romance, great friendships, and just generally great characters. I'm not a huge contemporary reader but I love ones like this. Ones with humor and heart. Plus on top of that there was a fun mystery here and you all know I love a good mystery.

 I would totally recommend this book. If you are a contemporary reader or not, this is a book I think you will enjoy. It's a fast and fun read that you should check out as a palette cleanser or if you are looking for something fluffy. Or if you know, you like nice things.

4.) Kingdom of Ash and Briar by Hannah West - My Review
(Amazon / Goodreads)

I didn't even know about this book until BEA. On the first day I was walking around with one of my friends (shout out to Rachael) and she stopped by the publisher to pick this book up and I was intrigued so I too asked for a copy. I'm so glad I did.

This was probably one of the most creative fantasies I read this year. It reads a little bit like a retelling with elements from some of your favorite fairy tales (yes, Sleeping Beauty like the title alludes) but it also had a very amazing fantasy world. It's one of those books that feels familiar and creative at the same time and those are some of my favorite kinds of fantasies. It's not a perfect read but it was a really great YA fantasy standalone and one of my favorite debuts of this year,

If you haven't read this book and you are at all interested in it, definitely read it. I think it's something that will appeal to a broad audience because it's one of those books that is reminiscent of the classic fairy tales and fantasies that we loved as kids but still feels new and different.

5.) Enter Title Here by Rahul Kanakia - My Review
(Amazon / Goodreads )

This book makes my list of favorite debuts because I was honestly surprised by how much I liked it. It's not the kind of book that I would usually gravitate towards but I think that was one of the reasons why I ended up liking it so much.

I'm not a big contemporary reader and one of the things that I liked about this book is that while it is definitely a coming-of-age story it is a book that plays with the tropes of contemporary YA and it does that in such a creative way. There's sort of this book within a book thing where the main character is trying to live the ideal bookish life so she can write the ideal book. That in and of itself was fascinating. But on top of that, the main character of Reshma was kind of terrible. And I mean this in the best possible way. Like this is a book about an unlikable character and I love that.

This is a book that I think will appeal to fans of contemporaries or those who don't necessarily like them. The way that it plays with the tropes will appeal to a broad audience and makes for an interesting read for sure. If you're like me and like unlikable characters then definitely check this out.

6.) Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco My Review
(Amazon / Goodreads)

Last but certainly not least, is my favorite debut of 2016 and the one that will be making my favorites of the year list. This is another book that was one of mymost anticipated debuts of 2016 and didn't disappoint. Nope, this book was everything I was hoping it would be and more.

I was super excited when I heard that there was going to be a YA historical mystery centered around Jack the Ripper so obviously I picked up a copy of the book at BEA and met the author who is a delight, by the way. And it was seriously amazing. For one thing it had an amazing historical fiction setting. I love books set in Victorian England because of the built in drama that comes with that setting. But one that had mystery and CSI elements made it even better. And while the mystery was easy to solve, it didn't feel predictable and there was actually a really interesting twist at the end that had me all the more interested and engaged.

Basically this book is total Cassi bait and I loved it. I couldn't stop reading it and I really can't wait for the next book in the series. It was so amazing and without a doubt my favorite debut of 2016.

Honorable Mentions:

7.) The Crown's Game by Evelyn Skye - My Review
I was going to include this in my top 6 but I already talked about it in my favorite audiobooks of the year and I honestly think that the main reason I loved this is because it's the perfect book in the audio format and it's narrated by Steve West who is utter perfection.

8.) Ivory and Bone by Julie Eshbaugh - My Review
This was one I really did consider putting in my top six as well. It was really really good. I loved how creative it was with the genderbent Pride and Prejudice, the prehistoric setting, and the semi-first person perspective.

9.) Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton - My Review
This is a case where I loved a book in the moment, or should I say immediately after finishing it, but over time I lost a little bit of my love. Although honestly it was a really great YA fantasy and I am super excited for the sequel/

There you have it, all my favorite debuts of the year. I loved a lot of them and despite being disappointed by many I did read some really great debuts this year. But the biggest victory for this is that I read a total of 31 debuts. I doubled the challenge which is not too shabby. For a full list of all 31 books check out my Debut Author Challenge tab.

What debuts did you read this year? What were your favorites? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!

1 comment:

  1. Congrats on 31 debuts read this year! I really want to read The Smell of Other People's Houses but haven't gotten to it yet. It looks like you read some great ones!

    Tracy @ Cornerfolds