Top Ten Tuesdays is an original and weekly feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.  




2014 was a pretty big year for me (as much as 2012 was a big year for me discovering my obsession with YA books).  In 2014, not only have I reached a new book reading high, but I developed a new taste in the Romantic Suspense genre; and despite the fact that I already love a good crime thriller or murder mystery or anything else of the same ilk, I found that I will also do just about anything to get my hands on the tried and true formulas of Happily Every After.  If it happens to come with a good murder mystery or crime thriller, then that's just a bonus.


2014 also started for me several new and fun Reading Challenges to keep me exciting for my reading lists; in partaking of various Reading Challenges, I expanded my reading list with a new motivation to read books that have been sitting in TBR piles forever as well as picking up a few books I had always put off for one reason or another.  I even managed to pick up some books with genres that don't usually interest me.


So I've certainly touched upon many authors I'd never read before, never heard of before, or who were simply 2014 debut authors.


The necessity to narrow down to ten is kind of difficult... and my attempts were quite grueling.


The number of New-To-Me Authors I read this year is spread quite even between the two genres I have the greatest interest in.  Many have caught my attention with a single book; others just grew on me with several books.  At least ten new-to-me authors were good, but I haven't quite formed a solid opinion of them yet.  And then there is an equal amount of authors who just didn't work out for me.


(Book title links will take you to my personal reviews if they are available.)


In no particular order, this week's Top Ten Tuesdays:  

New-To-Me Authors I Read in 2014





1.  Elizabeth Lowell

I have read the following:


The Donovans:  Amber Beach, Jade Island, Pearl Cove, Midnight in Ruby Bayou


Rarities Unlimited: Moving Target, Running Scared, Die in Plain SightThe Color of Death


For some strange reason, I have enjoyed every single Elizabeth Lowell book I've read.  It's either her wit, her writing style, or her hit-or-miss characters.  Maybe it's the bullet list of history lessons she includes involving a number of cultures, ancient relics, precious jewels, or ancient trades.  I don't know what it is.  Because an Elizabeth Lowell book really doesn't have much else going for it aside from the factors I've listed above--her story lines are often times scattered and random and haphazard... or non-existent.  And sometimes I'm not even sure that a lot of her history lessons are really that accurate.


But her formulas are tried and true and they somehow just work for me.  For the first time, I really wish I had a dual star-rating system for how much I like a book versus how good the book actually is, because so far, I've rated all of her books fairly mediocre to be fair to the public.  I like them a lot, but I know that others will more than likely find fault with her writing (the lack of a story will probably do it).


One thing is for sure: she does pretty damn hot sex scenes, even if a lot of her romances are purely based on lust.  Also, her books really DO emphasize the standard Gorgeous Man meets Beautiful Woman scenario--everyone in Romantic Suspense novels are built to perfection after all.




2.  Kylie Brant

I have read the following:


Mindhunters:  Waking Nightmare, Waking Evil, Waking the Dead, Deadly Intent, Deadly Dreams, Deadly Sins


When I started reading Waking Nightmare it felt pretty mediocre to me.  It was a typical Romantic Suspense formula for a murder mystery, serial crime thriller.  But the more I continued into the Mindhunter series, the more I started to love it.  They aren't as suspenseful as most others in this same genre, but what I loved the most were the procedural, formulaic, investigative process that take place in the majority of these books.  It gave it a touch of realism that wasn't all flashy and expensive like the CSI's of television glory.


Most importantly, all of the women presented in the series are strong, level-headed, highly skilled, intelligent, resourceful, and independent professionals of their trade (a forensic writing analyst, a medical examiner, profilers, investigators).  They aren't the typical Damsel in Distress types; and despite the fact that it seems they might border on TSTL lines, to be honest, given the same situation with a male character, other people wouldn't put that kind of descriptor forward at all.  These are women doing their jobs the way they need to do their jobs.


And mainly, it satisfies me that there are women depicted as the main investigator, or having an equal partnership with their male counterpart.  Too many romantic suspense novels bring in the woman as a "just happens to be part of the investigation somehow" with the man as the main investigator and hero and what not, saving the day and saving "his woman."  Having each of the women depicted in the Mindhunter series as part of the investigation as a main part of the investigating team just brings a smile to my face.




3.  Cindy Gerard

I have read the following:


The Bodyguards:  To the Edge, To the Limit, To the Brink, Over the Line, Under the WireInto the Dark


I mainly fell for this author because she was one of the first Romantic Suspense authors I became a fan of.  I loved her Bodyguards series and (for the first time in a long time) fell in love with one (or three) of the main male characters in particular (something that has only really happened with my YA obsessions in prior years).


Cindy Gerard's writing (as far as I've read) contains some ideals and factors I'm appreciative of, but doesn't stray far from the typical Romantic Suspense formulas that make me cringe at the typical Romantic Suspense.  However, like Elizabeth Lowell, I've found her formulas tried and true in their own way and can't help that even some of the tacky dialogue works for me.




4.  Leslie Kelly (Leslie A. Kelly, Leslie Parrish)

I have read the following:



Black CATs:  Fade to Black, Pitch Black, Black at Heart

(second set of covers uses one of Leslie Kelly's pseudonyms, Leslie Parrish)


Extrasensory Agents:  Cold Sight


Walker Brothers:  She Drives Me Crazy, She's Got the Look


I've always found procedural investigations, murder mysteries, and crime thrillers to be exciting and intriguing.  I read the Black CATs trilogy and found the books to be quite good; then read the first book of Extrasensory Agents which I also found that I liked.  Leslie Kelly has a very decent, descriptive writing style, a good sense of romance, and just as well, a good touch for criminal mysteries.


What sealed the deal for my love of Leslie Kelly were her Walker Brothers books (surprisingly, since they're standard Contemporary Romances, and I'm not much for Contemporary for the most part).  There was humor, there was romance, there was hotness, and then there was also Nick Walker.  And the couple was extremely adorable.


On top of that, I like that her female characters aren't the typical Damsel in Distress types.  That's always a plus in my book.  Nor are they TSTL.  That's double awesome.



Random tidbit:  Leslie Kelly writes mainly Romance novels.  According to sources, she began writing Romantic Suspense under the name Leslie Parrish, but has since dropped that pen name in favor of Leslie A. Kelly when writing Romantic Suspense.  Contemporary Romances are written under the name Leslie Kelly without the middle initial "A."




5.  Brenda Novak

I have read the following:


Stillwater Trilogy:  Dead Silence, Dead GiveawayDead Right



The Last Stand:  Trust Me, Stop Me, Watch Me, The Perfect Couple, The Perfect Liar, The Perfect Murder 


Brenda Novak knows how to do her suspense and I think that is mainly why her name is on this list.  There have been a lot of books I've read before that I can finish within one sitting--the typical page-turners that are exciting and un-put-down-able.  A Brenda Novak novel is definitely a page-turner; however, once you've finished reading it and have given some time to think them over, aren't really all that great.


But somehow, I manage to have trouble setting the book down and must get to the very end of it before I'm satisfied.




6.  Leslie Tentler

I have read the following:


Chasing Evil Trilogy:  Midnight Caller, Midnight FearEdge of Midnight


Stand alone novels:  Fallen 


While Leslie Tentler isn't the first Romantic Suspense author I've ever read (I have touched upon Iris Johansen, Tami Hoag, and Kay Hooper years before), she is the first Romantic Suspense author I read in 2014 as well as the first Romantic Suspense author I read after realizing such a genre existed.  And to my delight, her books have been fairly decent as a rainy day murder mystery read with an underlying quiet melo embedded.  Descriptions are gritty and dark.


It's only unfortunate that she tends to have TSTL heroines that make me want to cry and alpha males who always have to take care of and protect everything and be broody and such.  Extremely formulaic romance books, but decently written nonetheless.




7.  Rae Carson

I have read the following:



Fire and Thorns:  The Girl of Fire and Thorns, The Crown of Embers, The Bitter Kingdomnovellas: The Shadow Cats, The Shattered Mountain, The King's Guard


This name is on this list because I loved Fire and Thorns.  In continuation, I hope that the rest of her books in the future are just as awesome.  Fire and Thorns had an extremely well-built world and culture, great characters, and a progressive story line.


And also, Elisa is so badass!  Carson dared to start a story with a non-standard female heroine described as "useless" and "portly" (which is a nicer way of saying overweight and big?).  Granted, Elisa loses the bulk of her fat later on in the first book, but still...  She's a girl who develops well into a strong leader, and still enjoys luxurious eats.




8.  Robin LaFevers

I have read the following:


His Fair Assassin:  Grave Mercy


Nun Assassins.  Strong female characters, rich historical setting, well-developed fictional setting of culture, religion, blended with factual historical happenings and political intrigue.


I'm not a fan of historical fiction nor am I a fan of political intrigue.  But despite there being a vast set-up of both of these in the His Fair Assassin series, I managed to love the first book in the series and not get bored over the stuff that I normally don't like.


To be honest, despite only having read the one book, because LaFevers was able to make me enjoy the political and historical aspects I don't normally enjoy, I think that's pretty awesome.  I have every intention of finishing the series.





I wasn't able to come up with ten authors for this top ten list, and being anal about my standards for this list, there were other authors I would like to give special mention that couldn't make it onto the above list.  I like these authors, but I haven't necessarily made a decision about how much I like them (enough to make it onto a Top Ten list).




-- Sherry Thomas

I have read:  The Burning Sky (Book 1 of The Elemental Trilogy)

I hadn't decided how I feel about Sherry Thomas's works, but what I've read so far, I'm intrigued.  Sherry Thomas typically writes Historical Romances, which are not my cup of tea.



-- Marie Lu

I have read:  The Young Elites (Book 1 of The Young Elites)

I have plans to read Marie Lu's debut work, Legend trilogy.  But I got interested in The Young Elites first and found that I loved the descriptive, colorful, and well-built world that Marie Lu creates in this book.  Unfortunately, despite really liking the book itself, there was still something about The Young Elites I didn't quite take to.


-- Danielle L. Jensen

I have read:  Stolen Songbird (Book 1 of The Malediction Trilogy)

I typically don't like basing my love for an author due to just one book (something I've done above with Robin LaFevers, I know, but it happened).  While I thoroughly enjoyed Stolen Songbird, there were flaws and enough reserves that made it so that Danielle L. Jensen didn't make it into my Top Ten, even if she's a special mention and I will continue to keep an eye out for her work (specifically in this trilogy).  As her debut work, it definitely deserves a special mention for how well the book drew me in.


-- Jessica Khoury

I have read:  Origin (Book 1 of Corpus)

I very much enjoyed this book and the vivid imagery created to go with it.  I'm interested in reading the rest of the books she's written.


-- Richard Castle

I have read:  Heat Wave (Book 1 of Nikki Heat)

I'm listing this one just because.  Despite the fact that I didn't think Heat Wave was written all that well, this is an author-name used by various authors to help bank on the television series Castle and I read enough to become curious enough to continue reading the series.