What’s on the bookshelf: Favorite Authors

I’m in the process of reading “Dream Smashers” by Angela Carlie, and since I’m not done yet, I thought I would take a different approach to my blog this time around.

We all have our favorite genres, but mine happens to be Young Adult and Science Fiction/Fantasy within that genre. It’s just “fun” to me, and I love reading the dream worlds my favorite authors come up with. With that in mind, I’d like to share why a handful of authors have earned a devoted following from me.

1. Cinda Williams Chima

She is by far my favorite author out there right now. About four years ago, I happened to pick up her first book, “The Warrior Heir,” read the back page and then return it to the shelf. It interested me, but I wanted to see what I could find out about it before I forked over the money for the hardback. I returned home, did a quick search and found her website. Chima posts the first chapter of her books on her website as a preview, and after reading the first chapter of “The Warrior Heir,” I got back in my car, returned to the store and bought the book because I could not wait to read more.

I have experienced the same hunger for her stories when reading each of her novels: “The Warrior Heir,” “The Wizard Heir” and “The Dragon Heir,” which make up the Heir series thus far; and “The Demon King” and “The Exiled Queen” in the Seven Realms series. She has others coming: Two more for the Heir series, although I believe those will follow when she finishes the fourth book in the Seven Realms series. Her third book in the Seven Realms series, “The Gray Wolf Throne,” is due out Aug. 30.

What I love most about her stories is that the characters come alive. You understand their motivations, their drives, what troubles them, what thrills them. They are never flat and instead feel as human as the reader. Their strength alone carries the page, but fortunately, there is so much strength to the world Chima crafts that they don’t have to. There are political and social forces at work and those forces can be felt through her characters’ struggles. And it is because of her that I fell in love with young adult literature, a genre I previously thought was full of drivel and nothing thought-provoking. I have sense been cleared of my disillusion three fold.

I would strongly suggest you check out the Heir and Seven Realms series. If you’re a fan of YA or even just a fan of wonderfully crafted worlds, Chima takes my number one recommendation.

2. Cassandra Clare

If you don’t know who Clare is, you really should. Her Mortal Instrument series is a best seller and will soon (although I’m not sure how soon) be made into a series of movies. But what really should make Clare stand out is her writing. The first time I picked up “City of Bones,” the first book in the Mortal Instrument series, I could not put it down. I would read from the time I got off work, until the time I went to bed, and then brought the book with me to work to read on my lunch break.

I cannot think of one bad thing to say about the first three Mortal Instrument books. They combined threads of theology with great characters, and a complete sub-world hidden to the Mundanes (people who aren’t Shadowhunters or Downworlders). She kept me guessing through the first three books, and avoided a major pet peeve: knowing the ending before I get there. She used foreshadowing subtly and just enough to make me question, but not “know” where she was leading me. In a word, spectacular.

Since I first read “City of Bones,” “City of Ashes” and “City of Glass,” Clare has published the first book in a prequel series, “Clockwork Angel” and recently what is now book four in the Mortal Instrument series, “City of Fallen Angels.” I haven’t read “Angels” yet, and just picked up a copy Saturday. But, my greatest fear is that it will wane in strength like “Clockwork Angel.”

I consider all her books worth reading, but I’ve recently noted that the power that made her first three books such a hit has fizzled. “Clockwork Angel,” which is part of the Infernal Devices trilogy, was a bit predictable, and I did find myself putting it down without that hunger I had before. However, in the end, she did manage to surprise me, so I’m hoping it’s something exclusive to writing a prequel series to such a popular original trilogy. (Will blog when I’m done with it and let you guys know.)

There will be two more additions to Mortal Instruments: “City of Lost Souls,” due out next May, and “City of Heavenly Fire,” due out in 2013. I am looking forward to those, and the next two books in the Infernal Devices series, “Clockwork Prince” (Dec. 6) and “Clockwork Princess” (Dec. 2012). She really is a spectacular storyteller. In fact, I’ve made it a point to get the hardbacks of her work, because the books will be on my bookshelf a long, long time.

3. J.K. Rowling

If I even dive into this one, I’ll get a “duh” response. If you don’t know why, well then you’ve been living under a rock.

4. Kristen Cashore

Cashore’s books “Graceling” and “Fire” are creative and definitely meant for older teens, but still on top of my good reads list. They are companion novels, not a series, but having read both, I have to recommend reading “Fire” first (her second novel), because timeline-wise “Graceling” comes after, and the events of “Graceling” make more sense if you know the history behind them.

5. To be determined.

I’ve had some pretty close hits for this lately and several authors battling for the spot, so I’ll have to get back to you when I’m finished devouring a few more books by these authors. I will recommend: the ladies at DarkSide publishing, Megg Jensen, G.P. Ching, Karly Kirkpatrick and Angela Carlie; also Markus Zusak, who wrote “The book Thief.”

If you have any recommend reads, give me a shout. What I read, I’m going to blog about when I’m done, and in the new age of indie authors trying to market their own work, I’d love to spread the love of a good book.

Gray Wolf Throne, Cinda Williams Chima

Note to authors: Any book cover images reproduced on this blog are linked images, not hosted. At anytime you wish me to remove them from the blog, please leave me a note and I will do so.