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It's a Mystery

Have you ever finished a book that just knocked your socks off? So far off you felt like shouting its praises from the top of someplace very high. And have you then gone trolling around looking for reviews and discussions on said book and been absolutely flummoxed to find...nothing? Or, if not nothing, small pockets of devoted readers here and there but nowhere near the following you feel it deserves. Last week Diana Peterfreund wrote a thoughtful post about Under-the-Radar Books in which she listed a few of the books she wishes everyone were reading and threw the question out to her readers. A lot of it, for better or worse, has to do with money and marketing but in this day and age it seems like authors and readers and bloggers can do a lot to spread the word on a few hidden gems and why they deserve the love. I can think of a host of excellent books--books that have ended up on my Beloved Bookshelf--that I would never have picked up on my own. But because of some other reader's heartfelt recommendation I looked them up, ran down a copy, read them, and loved them. Seems only fair to pass them on.

Here are a few at the top of my list:
Honestly? Anything by the woman. They are all unbelievably excellent. You think you know smart writing and then you pick up an EEW book and you realize all that other stuff was witty and whatnot but this, THIS is smart writing. About tough, strong girls who don't know the meaning of the words "back down." Don't believe me? Others are addicted as well.
Based on her enthusiastic review, I'd say Leila could be characterized as a Fan.
And as Trisha points out in her review, it's to do with the awesome.
Just talking about them makes me want to go re-read one right now. The President's Daughter series (The President's Daughter, White House Autumn, Long Live the Queen, and Long May She Reign) was recently re-released by Feiwel & Friends and I'm really hoping the new issues will garner the attention they've long deserved. I also highly recommend The Road Home and Life Without Friends. Just a cut above the rest.

Speaking of a higher caliber, if you're looking for sophisticated fantasy with an utterly irrepressible, irresistible (and every other irre-) hero, subtle humor, political espionage, and achingly intense emotions then The Queen's Thief series is for you. Reading order: The Thief,The Queen of Attolia, and The King of Attolia. Diana mentioned them in her post as well (for the love of all that is holy, Diana, get it back from Sailor Boy now!) Megan Whalen Turner can do no wrong in my book. Everything you've heard is true. This series does have an incredibly devoted fanbase. They can generally be found hanging out here. How's about we swell the ranks? You have a year until the fourth one comes out to get caught up. Go!

So you say you like vampires. You blew through some of the more ubiquitous titles and you like what you've read so far. You like it enough that you want something more but you're just not sure what that is. Well, I'll tell you. You want Sunshine. Because when Robin McKinley does vampires the result is haunting and beautiful. I re-read this one every year, usually when the autumn wind starts to blow the fallen leaves around. Then the smell of cinnamon rolls inexplicably fills my nostrils and I have to go pull my copy off the shelf and read those wonderful first few lines again.
It was a dumb thing to do but it wasn't that dumb. There hadn't been any trouble out at the lake in years. And it was so exquisitely far from the rest of my life.
And then I just continue right on through to the end. Even if she never writes a sequel, it's perfect. In fact, SFX Magazine recently ran an article about the book that came before Twilight, arguing that Sunshine deserves to be bigger than Twilight. I wholeheartedly agree.

4. Sword-Dancer Saga by Jennifer Roberson
I've been reading Jennifer Roberson's books for a long time now. I still remember wandering into a Crown Books in San Pedro, California (I think I was 14) and not being able to leave without purchasing Lady of the Forest for its lovely cover alone. My love of Robin Hood retellings aside. And the thing is whenever I read an article or review about her books, it never fails to say something along the lines of, "probably best known for her Sword-Dancer Saga...". If that's true why do I almost never so rarely run across anyone else who's read them? I adore this sword and sorcery series. The six novels of Tiger and Del follow Northern sword-singer Delilah and the Southron sword-dancer known as the Sandtiger on their many adventures. Told from the incredibly arrogant yet lovable Tiger's perspective, this series has got fighting galore, a killer friendship, subtle romance, kick-a** heroine, and is all kinds of win. Recommended for fans of Sharon Shinn, Moira J. Moore, and Lisa Shearin.

I'm gonna stop there for now. And those are all books that are still in print and readily available! Don't get me started on the ones that are out of print. That's another post...


  1. Hmm. With you with Sunshine. Thought The Thief was OK but have to read the rest. Sword Dancer = Did not like this!! *GASP*. Usually I'm with you on my opinion! Which makes me wonder if I need to reread this? I only read the one book, maybe I need to continue? I'll go see if this book is still in my shelves first.

  2. Janice! Okay. Here's the thing. With THE THIEF and SWORD-DANCER you have to read past the first book. A lot of people agree THE THIEF is slower going, but the other two are so freaking good. If you don't love QUEEN OF ATTOLIA then you can sign off, no problem. But definitely give it a shot. :) As far as SWORD-DANCER goes, I felt the same way after the first one. Not sure at all I wanted to continue. But after the second one I was hooked and they got better and better. Still got the book?

  3. Yeah, must get my copy of The Thief. Thing is, right now i"m so snowed under with KU2 deadlines...

  4. Meant to add (sorry, deadline brain) that I've loved the Meg White stories since I was a teen, lo, these many years ago, and I love that they are out anew.

    Also, that's the thing with the thief I've heard (without too many spoilers, thankfully) that you finish it and are like, "Oh, that's good" and then you read the others and are completely ga-ga.

    Which, oddly enough, is what I've heard about my own series. that it really starts warming up as you go on. Which makes it weird for people who have been hearing people talk about certain characters in the series and then read SSG and are mystified about what the big deal is. 'Cause it's kind of a spoiler.

  5. Wow, thanks for this post. I just put the Thief on my TBB list, and I'm glad to see this warning in the comments about it being a slow start to a great series. I'll be prepared. There are far too many great books under the radar!!

  6. Diana, I bet you are swamped right now. At least you know there's a copy in house when you do have some time. And yay for someone else who read the Meg books when they were a teen! There aren't that many of us. I love Meg and could not believe it when LONG MAY SHE REIGN came out after all these years. Such an unexpected treat.

    What you've heard about THE THIEF is correct. The ending is totally unexpected and then there's no looking back from there. You will swoon. Big time.

    That's pretty funny about the SSG series. But totally true. You took us all by surprise after the first one as well. What with the complete all-encompassing awesomeness of...certain characters. But also with the way Amy grows. It was all just right. You have such a lovely touch.

    CJ, you bet! And yes, the series starts slow but when you realize what she's been crafting the whole time--you won't be able to wipe the smile off your face.

  7. What a great post. I've read half of these books, but not the other half. I still have your copy of Sword Dancer I think, and I totally need to read The Pres daughter's series and re read Long May She Reign. I will get through my stack slowly...

    I sure loved The Road Home and Life Without Friends. They need to re-release though also.

  8. Samantha R.6:06 PM

    I totally agree with you about Jennifer Roberson!! I love her Karavans series (Rhuan is one of my favorite characters-dare I say it-EVER)!
    And I'm reading Sunshine right now, so I'm really excited! :D

    Oh, and you know another author I feel I should mention, especially if you like Sharon Shinn , would be Deborah Chester's The Pearls and The Crown. It's a great story about the strength of love and redemption. I haven't had the chance to read any of her other stories, but those two are worth getting the word out about. :D

    Thanks for the great post. It reminded me of some books I should probably go re-read. :D

  9. Anonymous8:01 PM

    I very very close to buying The Thief but that day, at the bookstore, I'd already bought a good nine books already so I thought I should let it go... (I spent a small fortune that day). Now I'm regretting it! There is suddenly so much hype about it, on your blog and at among others.

  10. Just gotta tell ya, I love Will. He and Mason remind me of us when we were little. Mason just told me of their plans to sell their marble works creation to kids when they are grown ups. he he. didn't we have tons of things we were going to do when we were grown up....and even if neither of us play the saxaphone....we still had fun making all those plans.

  11. Liza, I think you would dig the Sword-Dancer ones once you get through the first one, fall in love with the characters, and feel comfortable in the world. You've also been very patient with my Ellen Emerson White fanaticism. Think you'll really like the President's Daughter ones. Apparently the subtle way she updated them is great.

    Samantha, yay! I was hoping another Jennifer Roberson-ite would pop out of the woodwork. :) I quite liked Rhuan as well. Haven't read DEEPWOOD yet, though. I can't wait to hear what you think of SUNSHINE. And thank you So Much for the Deborah Chester rec! I will definitely be checking her out.

    xalwaysdreamx, sounds you really did have a haul that day! I think with the announcement of the 4th book, a lot of us big Megan Whalen Turner fans wanted to get the word out. I read bookshelvesofdoom's re-read review of THE THIEF and loved it. Hope you get around to the series soon.

    Liz, it's good to hear my boy's doing all right. We sure miss him around here. I'm glad he and Mason are budding entrepreneurs. We were great plan makers. So the sax plan didn't pan out. We were still awesome. ;) Can't wait to see you.

  12. I don't still have Sword Dancer, maybe I borrowed it. Pretty sure I can check my library. Meanwhile, I don't have The Thief, I have The Queen of Attola. Maybe I read just the second book and missed something by not reading the first? Puzzled.

  13. Janice, lol. Truly weird.

  14. Anonymous10:27 AM


    I read The President's Daughter over 20 years ago! Possibly 25. (When was it published?) After reading so many wonderful things about it, I may have to order the series and try it out again.

    I'm currently reading the Heroes series by Moira J. Moore (even though I picked up all of those great books at BEA) and loving it. I read her blog the other day and got the impression the series isn't selling well. Despite that bad news, she has signed a contract for books 5 and 6, so I'm happy about that. The fourth is out in August.

    Karen S.

  15. Karen, another kindred spirit! It has been 25 years, in fact. The first one was published in 1984. With the publication of the 4th one, LONG MAY SHE REIGN, in '07 I do recommend ordering the updated versions of the first three books. Feiwel & Friends put them out last year and then you can move right on to the new 4th one. It is SO good.

    I'm so glad you're enjoying the Hero series! Don't you love Taro? And I'm quite fond of Lee although I know her stubbornness/lack of clarity gets to some people. Yeah, they haven't sold as well as I'd like. And her loyal readers were really nervous knowing she'd written the 5th book and outlined the 6th but hadn't sold them yet. So we were tickled when she announced that she had. Now if we can just spread the word so they sell better. I can't wait for the 4th one next month!

  16. Anonymous7:29 AM

    I love Taro. And Lee. Her personality doesn't bother me at all and I think it's due to the writing style. She's comes off very likeable to me.

    I'm reading the third book now. I thought I could read something else after reading the first two, but I couldn't focus on the book I chose and ended up going back to Heroes Adrift. I'm glad I did.

    Yes, I was probably 14 when I read The President's Daughter. Wow, that's amazing. Its also a great series to keep in mind if anyone ever asks me for a recommendation for a teen girl. I remember enjoying The President's Daughter - I wish I still had my 1984 copy. (There are so many teen novels from the 80s I regret giving to my local library. I kept some and still have them on my shelf, but there are so many I'd love to read through again that no longer exist.)


  17. I haven't read Sunshine yet, but after reading what you wrote, smell of cinnamon, mmm I think I just might have to!!!

  18. Karen, I'm so glad. I adore the boy. And I love Lee. Must be able to relate to her particular insecurities somehow. :) I was very pleased with the direction the 3rd one took.

    And I know what you mean. I have a few rather large regrets over books I donated. Hindsight...

    BrittLit, love your name, btw. SUNSHINE is probably at the top of my books that induce food cravings list. The main character is a baker and what I'd give to try some of her concoctions...It's a lovely book.


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