I read 25 debut novels this year, which is exactly one more than I read last year. It's fun to discover new authors just as their books are coming out and to be part of the excitement that comes from that first publication. We also love participating in That Artsy Reader Girl's Debut Author Challenge. A big congratulations to all the first-time authors we were able to feature on Intellectual Recreation this year! Here are some of my (JoLee's) favorites.
Charlotte Holmes and James Watson are the great-great-grandson and the great-great-granddaughter of the famous detective duo. I loved this gender-swapped homage to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. I can't wait to read the sequel! (featured here)
Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly:
Lilac Girls is my (not-so) sneaky adult fiction addition to this mostly YA list. I couldn't leave it off because it's one of the best World War II novels I've ever read. I am amazed that this is Martha Hall Kelly's debut.
Frannie and Tru by Karen Hattrup:
I read this gorgeous debut all in one day. It's set in Baltimore, which is close to home, and I was able to meet Karen Hattrup and tell her how much I loved her book at her launch party. (featured here)
The Smell of Other People's Houses by Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock:
Set in 1970's Alaska and revolving around the tough lives of four teenagers, this book has a simple elegance that only comes with superb writing. (featured here)
Trouble is a Friend of Mine by Stephanie Tromly:
I'm cheating a bit on this one because it was actually published in November 2015, but, because that is so close to the end of the year, I couldn't get it in before the calendar switched over. This book deserves to be on a favorite debut list, so I'm putting it on this one! (featured here)
Our Chemical Hearts by Krystal Sutherland:
This debut is so compulsively readable despite the fact that it is not an action-heavy plot. I think I finished it in two sittings. The overarching themes deal with friendship and romance and trying to figure out which is which when the line gets blurry. (featured here)
The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner:
What a surprise this stunning debut turned out to be. Wonderfully evocative of place, this book took me through the entire gamut of emotions. I laughed out loud and cried while reading this book.
The Crown's Game by Evelyn Skye:
I really enjoyed the mix of magic, competition, and old Russia in this book. It reminded me a bit of The Night Circus, which, in my book, is always a very good thing.
Wait for Me by Caroline Leech:
Okay, so I'm cheating bit with this book too because it doesn't come out until January of 2017. But, I loved Caroline Leech's Scottish WWII novel so much that I just couldn't bare to leave it off the list. (featured here)