As followers of this blog know, I have just returned from a wonderful conference in Oregon. Many of the questions and my interactions there caused me to re-evaluate my way of approaching how and what I read during my personal time. Please note: I am in no way changing my philosophy regarding what I represent as an agent. I’m still focusing on all forms of Christian romance and representing other select categories from fantastic authors in fiction and nonfiction.
But since I’m a reader, I’m sure you can imagine how much reading material I consume in a day. I’m grateful for this challenge regarding my personal reading, even though the very cool people I was talking to had no idea they were taking me into new territory. It’s good to step back and rethink old habits every now and again, and I’m grateful for this exercise. So hence, today’s post.
Of course we know that a novel is a work of fiction. But of course, as an adjective, “novel” means new. An untried idea.
So here is the question I’ll pose today:
What is the best published novel — with the freshest idea — you have recently read? This can be general market or CBA. This is a no-judgment zone. Let us know what you think!
Yvonne Anderson’s Gateway to Gannah series. Fantasy/SyFy with a touch of romance. In short, what happens if the gospel is spread to another planet? I normally read mostly romance, but this sounded intriguing. FANTASTIC writing with amazing characters (whoever thought that some human-like being’s ears could smile?) and all four books kept me riveted!
I believe I was in on one of those interactions. 🙂 So thankful I got to meet you, Tamela.
What Have We Here: Essays About Keeping House and Finding Home by Susan Bono is the first book that came to mind.
In this beautiful book Susan defines the valley I grew up in and the nostalgia of home in ways I could only dream of. Humor, lyrical language, the reality of memories. She infuses each page with details that transport the reader.
Thanks for asking. I look forward to seeing what other people share.
There is a certain uncomfortableness with the honesty that I only read 1older novel in at least 5 plus years. I read at least 5 major Christian magazines a month, research for enjoyment and projects in 5 to 15 major classical Christian research books, and the same reasons for reading a huge dictionary and thesaurus, and then a couple biographies over the years. I’m not sure why I changed. That would take thought and probably be some guesses.
I read everything you write in these blogs because someway or other they have to do with the non-fiction I produce, I like listening, and it is often something I can share with other writer friends and someday my daughter who has a novel in her.
Tamela Hancock Murray
Carla Jo, that’s a lot of reading! As you have seen, it takes a lot of reading to be informed, and that’s okay! In fact, I am considering writing a blog about periodicals. Thanks for sharing.
By the time I make it to the daily blog, I usually find a plethora of answers and comments. Today, it feels like I walked into the middle of a dark room; everyone is holding their breath and waiting for the “right” answer.
As for recent books with fresh ideas? I can’t think of any book in particular that made me feel the way I did when I walked out of the movie “The Matrix” or read “One Second After.”
Recently, I find myself going backwards to read, into Austen and both Brontes. Soon, Shakespeare will insert himself into my life through my high schooler. I admit, I also keep one foot firmly planted in the YA that my kids read and find the writing of some of the authors refreshing (in the sense of how they relate to their target audience).
Right now I’m reading Hope Harbor by Irene Hannon. The story is told in 3 POVs, and I almost gasped when the third person showed up. It is an intriguing romance with a mysterious angle. I’m excited to see how the story turns out.
Jaded by Varina Denman, recommended to me by author Andrea Grigg who also recommended Kept by Sally Bradley (also brilliant) and Sway by Amy Mateyo (which I have yet to read).
I enjoy contemporary Christian romance with an edge – like Tamela, I’m looking for the novel in my novels. Unfortunately, much of the CBA market seems to be in a same-old same-old rut.
I read so much out of obligation–friends in ACFW and our local chapter, people who reviewed my books, Carol Awards entries, United Methodist Women book selections. After deciding that my writing would benefit from more tension, I took the ACFW monthly course on tension by Robin Patchen and then bought books by Brandilyn Collins and Terri Blackstock. Wow! What an adrenaline boost! I’ve decided to read more of what I want to read, not just what I have to read.
Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel. Gorgeously written, a daring subject matter kin to the Harry Potter series with nuggets of similar redemption.
Unwritten by Charles Martin. It was published in 2013. I love his writing style and the story I thought was very interesting. Great character interaction, which for me is the best part of a novel. I’m pretty picky about what I read. I don’t have a lot of time to read, so I like to choose wisely.
The Invention of Wings has been out for a while, but it remains my favorite book of 2014-2015. Without using flowery language, she takes our emotions to places we rarely go. It’s literary, not romance, but I encourage you to give it a try!
By the way, your were a treat to visit with at OCW!
Linda Riggs Mayfield
When I taught college strategic learning classes and worked with individual students by appointment, several semesters freshmen came to me for help with Maya Angelou’s The Bluest Eye, their comp assignment. To be of maximum help to my students, I read it, and decided that reading one Angelou novel would be an adequate sampling. Wasn’t a fan. But this summer I bought and read I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, and was riveted. I’m passing it around to other family members and urging them to read it, too,. Most of the settings are in AR and LA, and I have children in both places. Some of my children are engaged in ministries that include building inter-racial peace bridges. Difficult concepts, some places rough and painful to read, but this was the time for this book for me and us: it provided context for so many things we see. Highly recommended..
Linda Riggs Mayfield
Oops, typos! My PC crashed, and I’m trying to get used to using a laptop; but the font was like size -0 and I forgot that I can enlarge my View with the touch pad. Couldn’t even see the punctuation well enough to know it had duplicates. Now, I have it set to HUGE! Sigh–learning curves. ;-D
I have to say that this poses quite a challenge for me to answer. I have, of late, purchased lots of novels that I thought were fresh and new, only to put them down after a few chapters to do something else and never gotten back to them.
There have been some that I finished and enjoyed, but not many that I might like enough to read again.
Only one series and one single novel have stood out the most, both in fresh approach and just plain joy of reading. Neither are Christian in theme exactly.
Hild by Nicola Griffith was a great read. It is the fictitious story of a young girl living during the middle ages and how she became the adviser to the leaders of the time when Christianity was just reaching the area. Its very pagan but I really love the story and the politics. The character was based on a single mention of a real person called Saint Hild.
The other, and my favorite of the moment, is a series called Touchstone and comes in 3 books with a full novel Epilogue. The books are Stray, Lab Rat One, Caszandra, and Gratuitous Epilogue by Andrea K Host. Its about an Australian Teen who walks through a gate to another world and into a cosmic battle. It is written as a series of diary entries. And frankly, I have yet to pin point exactly why I like it so much but I am on my 6th or 7th “read” through of all 4 books. They are just so rife with tension and twists. And they do a wonderful job of increasing conflicts and strife as the series goes on. But you could easily pick up any book and start any where in the series and it would still be good.
I put quotes around read because I have both read the books and listened to them. They are not perfect in grammar, partially because the POV is learning a new language. I have some qualms about when she employs it in the last two books, but they are all still great reads and I keep coming back to them when my latest find disappoints me.
Hoping to find something in the near future that I like to re-read as much as these. Until then, they keep me company on my drives to and from work.
Maybe I will purchase some old favorites in ebook that I used to like and “re-read” them on the way to work. Though I did that with one series and realized I didn’t like it again as much as I thought I had before. You have to be careful about memory playing tricks on you.
Not new, but excellent books.
“The Disappeared” by Kristine Kathryn Rusch, as well as all of the sequels. Google “Retrieval Artist series” for the complete list. Sci-Fi detective/forensic type stuff.
Takes place on the Moon, Mars, as well as Earth. Great characters, great character growth from one book to the next, unexpected plot twists, and great plot development from one book to the next, as well.
I recently read The Orphanmaster and really enjoyed the writing, the concept, the historical factor combined with chilling suspense, and the characters. It was a novel out of my usual reading repertoire but well worth the time spent on it!