Cherry Saturday, November 2, 2019

Today is Author’s Day.

Which means it’s a great day to tell us who your favorite authors are (not me, this is not me trolling for compliments, it’s me trying to find new authors).

Some days mine is Terry Pratchett, and some days it’s Georgette Heyer or Dorothy Parker. But my favorite sentence in all of literature is from Mark Twain, not my fave author ever, when Huckleberry Finn writes a letter to tell the owner of his friend Jim, a runaway slave, where he is because it’s the god-fearing thing to do. But when he has the letter in his hand:

It was a close place. I took it up, and held it in my hand. I was a trembling, because I’d got to decide, forever, betwixt two things, and I knowed it. I studied a minute, sort of holding my breath, and then says to myself:

“All right, then, I’ll go to hell”- and tore it up.

Every time I read that line, I think it’s the best encapsulation of the great possibilities of the human spirit, to reject everything we’ve been taught as right and wrong and go with what we know is right. “All right then, I’ll go to hell.” There’s the Great American Novel right there.

So thank an author today. (Thank you, Samuel Clemens.) Or if you are an author, write something.

Also, how the hell did it get to be November already?

49 thoughts on “Cherry Saturday, November 2, 2019

  1. I’d like to thank all the nameless authors who abridged the Ladybird books, from fairy tales to classics, and even wrote non-fiction.

    They opened up worlds for so many of us and didn’t even get recognised for it. Much respect. 💌

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    1. My gratitude to their illustrators too, The Elves and the Shoemaker was the first book I ever bought at the School bookshop and I thought one of the Ladybird Cinderella illustrations were just lovely.

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  2. For years, the answer was Dorothy Dunnett, and she is still one of my favourites, but I think actually it is Philip Pullman – the Dark Materials trilogy is wonderful, but I think he’s raised his game several notches with Belle Sauvage and The Secret Commonwealth. Michael Ondaatje is also an autobuy for me as is Amy Bloom.

    And over the past 18 months, I’ve re-read both the Iliad and the Odyssey for teaching purposes. I last read them properly at university, 30 years ago. For some reason, the Iliad in particular has become really important to me – at university, I loved the Odyssey far more, but that’s switched around, and for some reason, Sarpedon’s words to Glaucus in Book 12 of the Iliad have become a touchstone: ‘Friend, if we were spared this battle, and ageless could live forever, I would not choose to lead this charge, nor send you into glorious battle, but now, while the threat of death is upon us, death that is everywhere, death that no mortal can evade, let us advance, either to our own glory or that of others.’

    For me, that sums up the way we humans make decisions. We know we are not immortal. If we were immortal, there would be no risk, no stakes, no glory in facing the possibility of our own deaths. This isn’t about the fighting, it’s about the resolve, the courage, the integrity it takes to make the choice to risk everything, to stand and be counted.

    But my all time favourite line is Hamlet’s – ‘There’s a special providence in the fall of a sparrow.’ I’m a heathen, but I like the idea that even the smallest bird has a soul that matters. Which takes me back to Pullman and his amazing invention of the daemon that each of us has, our animal alter ego and conscience.

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  3. I tend to remember the authors of children’s books fondly. Zilpha Keatley Snyder comes to mind. I met her once in my favorite children’s bookstore as an adult. The owner introduced me. I was so excited. I loved her books so much and they were a huge help in difficult times.

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      1. I loved it too. The first one of hersI read was The Changeling, illustrated by Alton Raible. I think the illustrations were beautiful.

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  4. I second the November thing. Already there are Christmas movies on TV. Christmas! Wasn’t it just spring?

    And thanks for mentioning it’s author day. Didn’t even know there was one, but I can get on board with author appreciation.

    I have so many fond early memories of books and my fave library. But probably it was the Nancy Drew books (original and early editions) that really got me hooked on reading, partly because it was a series and I could move from one book to another yet stay in essentially the same world. So it probably also got me hooked on series, too, which probably explains why now I write one as well. I think it somehow wired me with an episodic brain, lol:)

    But as for lovely writing examples like your Mark Twain, many great phrases stick with me. Too many to choose just one. But I do remember being struck with the lyrical quality of Toni Morrison when I started in on her books years ago. Such a gifted lady.

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  5. I have so many favorite authors. Dick Francis, Laurie R. King, KJ Charles, our hostess, Georgette Heyer, Carla Kelly, Aaron Elkins, Stella Riley, Shakespeare, Carrie Vaughn …

    Today I am my favorite author. It is NaNoWriMo and I can’t decide whether finishing the novella expansion that is already almost done should be my project (it is cheating but I don’t think anyone is actually keeping score) or whether I should devote maximum available time to finishing the entirely new thing that crossed 32000 words last night. Also I have received, for the first time ever, possibly due to Kindle Unlimited, a royalty payment in excess of $20.

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  6. Favorite authors–oh, so many and so little time (and money)! Since Jenny’s not trolling for the compliments she deserves, I’ll go on to…Mysteries-Todd Borg’s Tahoe books, J. A. Jance’s J. P. Beaumont stories, and most especially Nancy Warren’s Vampire Knitting Club cozy mysteries. And mind you, I do not do vampires. It’s just that these books are so good.

    Currently reading The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield, which seems very appropriate for today because it’s about a bibliophile sometime writer who is doing a biography of a famous writer. And it’s really making me think about the differences between genre fiction and whatever-it’s-called-now fiction. Mass Market? Not literary, but whatever’s between genre and literary. I. alas, am firmly ensconced in genre even though I sometimes read and am jealous of the authors who can write the other stuff. 🙂

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    1. Oh, I didn’t enjoy The Thirteenth Tale that much, but I really did have a good read with her latest book, Once Upon a River, which is Victorian melodrama, very nicely constructed, interesting characters and very atmospheric. Definitely would recommend. I wouldn’t have read it normally, but it is my book club’s November book.

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    2. You’re thinking of mainstream fiction. Yeah, sometimes, it is good. I dislike literary fiction, but mainstream is occasionally fine. Depending on the author, I guess. Anyway, I like genre better too. Its faster action and the absence of frilly text passages appeal to me.

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  7. My favorite author varies along with what I need to read at any particular time. If I’m not allowed to put Jenny in the running, I think that Laurie Colwin is the one I return to over the years. And Calvin Trillin’s humor and nonfiction are an enduring pleasure for me.

    3+
  8. I do have a blog of my own, though not kept up so faithfully as yours. “Favorite Authors” is a topic I have repeatedly addressed. I made a series of posts in March, 2007, for example. No less than five. I differentiated between “fan” (fanatic) and enthusiast, and whether one was a fan of an author or of particular works. (Even then, I was a Crusie Fan. Feel free to blush.)

    Anyway, I’m quoting my own blog here:

    Who Is Your Favorite Writer?
    gary_jordan
    October 27th, 2014
    Current Mood:stonkered

    I got asked this at work, and I opened my mouth to answer, but nothing came out.

    That’s such an open-ended question, I couldn’t begin to say anything but “It depends.” Doesn’t it for you? I mean, look at all the variables; genre, sub-genre, length, target age group, style, and I’ve probably only scratched the surface. Mark Twain and Eric Flint both wrote Alternate History Speculative Fiction—was 1632 better than Connecticut Yankee, or just different? This is one of those things where you take a couple thousand writers and pop their names up, two at a time and say “pick one” until you narrow it down. Best go for double elimination.

    Okay, I’ll say this much: On any given Tuesday, I will admit to loving Lois McMaster Bujold’s science fiction and fantasy above most of her/our contemporaries. I only wish she was more prolific. But a funny thing there, interacting with her and other fans on Baen’s Bar Miles To Go conference, I’ve picked up other “favorite” authors, like Jennifer Crusie and Susan Elizabeth Phillips in the romance genre and Patricia Wrede in young adult fantasy.

    Speaking of Baen Books and Baen’s Bar, there is a whole stable of authors I’ve come to enjoy. David Weber, Eric Flint, David Drake and Dave Freer, Ryk Spoor, John Ringo, Tom Kratman… Heck, by contagion with Eric Flint I’ve come to enjoy Chuck Gannon, Georg Huff, Paula Goodlette and a host of writers for the Ring of Fire. Ringo was associated with Weber, especially on the very first promotional CD from Baen Books, before he was independently published. My first Kratman was a co-authoring with Ringo.

    But then there are action/adventure novels, and I’ve always been fond of Tom Clancy and his Jack Ryan or “Mr. Clark.”

    I won’t even try to rank web cartoonists as writers. I follow about twenty religiously, all of which have plots and story arcs just like all-print novels.

    Just to add to the confusion, I still have “favorite” authors from various precious metal ages, like Robert Heinlein and Isaac Asimov, Niven and Pournelle, Norton and Nourse, Schmitz, Silverberg, Marion Zimmer Bradley and on and on! Poul Anderson alone occupied several shelves of my tiny library. (I liked his future history better than Heinlein’s.)

    Hopefully no one will seriously bring up screenwriters. All I can say there is, “Joss Whedon.” Bound to start arguments, since he didn’t write any of Star Wars and some folks like Michael J. Strazinsky or whatever his name was of Babylon 5 fame.

    Have I sewn enough confusion without answering the original question? Good.
    Tags: books, ebooks

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  9. My favourite author would have to be Margaret Mahy, she wrote everything from simple picture books to complex teenage stories and she did it with so much panache.

    Even in her children’s books she delighted in using beautifully strange words and phrases (she’s the reason I know what psittocotic means).

    She used to show up to readings at schools and bookstores in costumes (sometimes as a penguin, a possum or just in a glorious wig). NZ kids read a lot of books from the US and the UK, hers were the first I remember that properly conveyed a sense of the country we live in.

    Like a lot of writers, her books were often about writing or the creative process but she had a wonderful sense of humour about it.

    “If people fainted from too much thinking I’d scarcely ever be conscious,” Tabitha began at once. “I think and think all the time, and I’ve never fainted – not once.” She looked over at Barney enviously. “Why do the best things always happen to other people and not to a promising writer?”
    ― Margaret Mahy, The Haunting

    “Pulverized by literature,’ thought Miss Laburnum. ‘The ideal way for a librarian to die.”
    ― Margaret Mahy, Great Piratical Rumbustification: & the Librarian and the Robbers

    “Reading is very creative – it’s not just a passive thing. I write a story; it goes out into the world; somebody reads it and, by reading it, completes it.”
    ― Margaret Mahy

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    1. Oh yes. She’s one author who, the more you re-read her, the more you find in her words. I wrote my honours thesis on her young adult fiction, and I’m still constantly surprised by more layers each time I read them again.

      3+
  10. I wish tv show authors (other than Aaron Sorkin perhaps and J. Michael Straczinski and the guy whose name eludes me who wrote the Rockford Files) were better known and appreciated. I just tried to watch a series “by the producers of Broadchurch,” and I’m guessing it didn’t have any of the same writers, because while Broadchurch was brilliant, I couldn’t get past the first episode of this series that’s compared to it. The characters in Broadchurch all have flaws, but the characters in the other series are nothing but flaws, and the pacing is not just molasses but frozen molasses.

    So while I have some favorite book authors (Pratchett, Donna Andrews, Jim Butcher, Ben Aaronovitch), I’m offering a pitch for television writers today! Unfortunately I can’t even offer the names, even after looking it up on Wikipedia (they name everyone except the writers!) but whoever did the bulk of the writing for Leverage, that’s my favorite tv writer(s)!

    3+
  11. The answer fluctuates over time, but some writers’ names remain on the short list: Georgette Heyer, Lois McMaster Bujold, Wen Spencer, Sharon Shinn, Julia Quinn. Even though I can’t say I love everything they have written, I re-read the majority of their back lists again and again. Jenny too – I own all her books and re-read them occasionally – but she doesn’t wish to be included, so I don’t include her.

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  12. My favorite since I’ve found her is Jodi Taylor and her St. Mary’s Chronicles. I’ve read them and listened to them on Audible. If you love history and great characters, this is a fabulous historical fiction series.

    3+
  13. Oh so many. Tamora Pierce, Jim Butcher, Katie Fforde, Dorothy Gilman, Donna Andrews, Andre Norton from my youth…

    And those are just the ones who popped into my head in the first second.

    I do love me some authors.

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  14. Just mentioning ones not already stated: Francis Hodgeson Burnett (some brilliant, some sappy, some both) and Judith Merkle Riley, both sadly no longer with us, and the under promoted, under recognized and wonderful Kathleen Gillies Seidel.

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  15. Trying to think of authors I don’t see mentioned here…

    One of my favorite mystery authors is Anne Cleeland, mostly because of the main characters in her Doyle and Acton series. The first book is fabulous (although confusing at one point, and I’m still not sure whether it was intentional), and the others are all good, especially the latest (#10)). She doesn’t follow anybody’s rules, though. She uses lots of semi-colons, which I hear are a no-no nowadays. (Why? I love semi-colons. They have their own special functions.)

    I also like Donna Leon’s mysteries that take place in Venice. The setting plays a huge part.

    Jaima Fixsen is one of my auto-buys. Her romances are well-written but I particularly loved The Dark Before Dawn, which is not a romance — it’s more a historical adventure story which takes place in Vienna. The protag is perfect — can’t wait for a sequel.

    If you like dark Victorian stuff, Kate Griffin’s Kitty Peck series is great. The latest will be out in a few days.

    Lastly… P. F. Chisholm, aka Patricia Finney, writes the Sir Robert Carey series of Elizabethan-era mysteries. I’m not a big fan of stories about that era, but her writing has an energy that totally grips me.

    3+
  16. I could never pin it down to one author, and it shifts. Some of them are:
    Georgette Heyer
    Jane Austen
    Agatha Christie
    Margaret Mahy
    L.M. Montgomery
    Sharon Shinn
    Kelley Armstrong
    Jennifer Fallon
    Tamora Pierce
    Hisaya Nakajo
    Terry Pratchett…

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  17. so many of my favourite authors mentioned already. I would add Keith Laumer, EE Doc Smith and Robert Heinlein in Sci-FI. Phoebe Atwood Taylor in comic mysteries. I adore Leonidas Witherall. Essie Summers – a Harlequin romance writer who introduced me to romances. And all the authors of the Childhood of Famous American authors who fed my new-born love of reading. On and the Bue, Gold and all the other colours fairy books edited by Andrew Lang. (I am writing a book set in England and Grammarly changes all my spelling to British.)

    2+
    1. I just had to comment after seeing Essie Summers’ name in your list because it’s the first time I’ve ever seen anyone else talk about her. I was a kid when she stopped writing so I’ve only been able to find 2 or 3 of her books over the years. I know she wrote several so I keep a lookout for her. I just so enjoy her style – kind of innocent while also mature and forthright. It’s the kind of thing that makes me feel nostalgic for no reason that I can name. Anyway, I’m glad to know she hasn’t been forgotten and is thought of fondly by other people besides me.

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  18. Ones already listed (Bujold, Shinn, of course Heyer and Pratchett) plus Diana Wynne Jones. But there are so few authors who make me want to read every word they’ve ever written. In some cases I read a whole series (e.g. Peter Wimsey novels, Elizabeth Peters Egypt cycle) but never really want to dip back into that world over and over again. Somehow it makes me feel like the former group are being true to themselves in some way I can’t put my finger on, whereas others are writing to meet a temporary need or to earn a living, neither of which are bad things, but neither of which inspire me.

    2+
  19. Like many here, I have “too many” favorite authors, beginning with childhood and Louisa May Alcott and going on to Dorothy Sayers, Chaim Potok, Georgette Heyer, Eloisa James, Julia Quinn, [yes, I love Regency romance] and Haven Kimmel. And I would be remiss not to mention a few writers of nonfiction: Annie Dillard, Patricia Hampl, and most especially Julian of Norwich. I suppose some of my favorite lines come from Julian, including the one T. S. Eliot took, “All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be most well.” Even in November.

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  20. Several of my favorite authors have been mentioned already (Georgette Heyer, Sharon Shinn, Elizabeth Peters, Tamara Pierce, Jane Austen etc.). I also like Ellis Peters, Sarah Addison Allen, Rex Stout, Louis L’Amour, and (don’t laugh) I absolutely loved Edgar Rice Burroughs, especially the Tarzan books, when I was young. There are more but I can’t think of them right now. I have trouble believing how old I am since I don’t feel that age but I have a lot of reading years behind me and more books/authors than I can remember off the top of my head.

    3+
  21. I was just washing some fruit and remembered the conclusion from Annie Dillard’s essay Living Like Weasels in Teaching a Stone to Talk that I felt I needed to share with you lovely writers and readers.

    “I think it would be well, and proper, and obedient, and pure, to grasp your one necessity and not let it go, to dangle from it limp wherever it takes you. Then even death, where you’re going no matter how you live, cannot you part. Seize it and let it seize you up aloft even, till your eyes burn out and drop; let your musky flesh fall off in shreds, and let your very bones unhinge and scatter, loosened over fields, over fields and woods, lightly, thoughtless, from any height at all, from as high as eagles.”

    5+
  22. I share a good many of other posters’ likes, and threw together a divided-up list. I have to confess that the current political climate drove me to reading a good many Harlequins, but I did find several authors besides Essie Summers that I like quite well:

    SF and fantasy: Katherine Addison, Lois McMaster Bujold, Andrea K Höst, Katherine Kurtz, Sharon Lee & Steve Miller, Patricia Wrede & Caroline Stevermer

    Mystery: Ann Bridge, Margaret Frazer, Kerry Greenwood, Pat McIntosh, Emma Lathen / R. B Dominic, Elizabeth Peters / Barbara Michaels / Barbara Mertz

    Romance: Doris Sutcliffe Adams / Grace Ingram, Georgette Heyer, Elsie Lee, Judith McWilliams, Elswyth Thane

    HQ: Liz Fielding, Catherine George, Kim Lawrence, Sarah Morgan, Essie Summers, Sophie Weston

    Some but not all: Roberta Gellis, Grace Livingston Hill, Kathleen Norris, Gene Stratton Porter, Margaret Widdemer

    Nonfiction: Louise Bennett Weaver / Helen Cowles LeCron

    5+
    1. I like so many of the authors on your lists — especially Andrea K Host, one of my very favorites — that I am looking forward to exploring all the names I don’t know! Thanks for sharing! (Elsie Lee and Elswyth Thane, two of my very favorites that I’ve almost forgotten, since they’re not available in ebooks. I so wish they were available in ebooks!)

      2+
      1. Yes, and if you want to buy any of Elsie Lee’s regency books, be prepared to pay mega bucks (even for paperbacks); my sister has been collecting them.

        I also agree with Elswyth Thane; I haven’t read all of her books but the Williamsburg series is great. I also really like the one she wrote called “Tryst”, a ghost story set around WW1, I believe,

        1+
        1. TRYST is just before WWII — maybe 1937? Sabrina notices that the stamps in Hillary’s desk have the old King’s picture on them; pretty sure that’s George V.

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        2. I think Elsie Lee’s Regencies are the best after Georgette Heyer, specifically because she’s writing a very decent Regency comedy of manners — which I think Regencies should specifically be — but not plagiarizing GH.

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      2. I have DAWN’S EARLY LIGHT and YANKEE STRANGER in Kindle, but not the others in the Williamsburg books. FAMILY QUARREL also, but it’s not fiction.

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      3. I always search my public library for books mentioned on Argh. It does show a couple of Elswyth Thane are available in ebook (just not owned by my library, unfortunately). You may want to look again. 🙂

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    2. Oh, wow, Elswyth Thane. I read everything she ever wrote when I was much younger. I thought Tryst was wonderful. I should go back and see if those hold up because I read them over and over back when.

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  23. Besides many already listed, EB White, Anna Quindlen, Roger Angel, Thomas Boswell, for essays.
    Joanna Bourne and Courtney Milan and Sherry Thomas in romance. And Ruth Wind/Barbara ONeill.
    Patricia McKillip and Madeline L’Engle and Ursula K LeGuin in sci-fi/fantasy.
    Louise Erdrich, Norman Maclean, Tilly Olsen for short stories and novellas. Audrey Nieffenegger and AS Byatt in fiction.

    1+
  24. In Childhood:
    Milly Molly Mandy series by Joyce Lankester Brisley
    The Ordinary Princess by MM Kaye
    Green Knowe books by Lucy M Boston
    Hal & Roger Hunt series by Willard Price
    Dragon boy by Dick King Smith
    Jackie Webb’s Wilkes the Wizard, was fun, a new type of story for me, a scientist hired to be a wizard.
    Chalet Girls by Elinor Brent-Dyer
    Jan Pienkowski is an illustrator, but his silhouettes for A Necklace of Raindrops by Joan Aiken were amazing
    Kaye Umansky’s Wilma’s Wicked Revenge and Wilma’s Wicked Spell, funny take on fairy tales, what it is like being born into a family of Wicked Queens
    Honourable mention to Roger Lancelyn Green for Tales of the Greek Heroes and The Tale of Troy (must look those up again)
    Ice Dancing by Nicholas Walker, he wrote some excellent books on teenage ice dancers. Showing the pain and struggle of trying to be an athlete at that age.

    Mysteries: JD Robb, Janet Evanovich, Marian Babson, Robin Stevens (for fans of Enid Blyton & Chalet girls)

    Fantasy: Robert Aspirin, Patricia Wrede, Tamora Pierce (circle magic), Dianne Wynne Jones; Skirmish by Melisa Michaels; Barbara Sleigh, Eva Ibbotson

    Sci-fi/Fantasy: Harry Harrison (Stainless Steel Rat) Douglas Hill (Colsec Rebellion)

    1+
  25. I am fairly sure that all of my favorites have already been mentioned, many of them often. Hmm, but maybe not Ilona Andrews and Patricia Briggs?

    But I will re-mention a few of the others, just to encourage anyone who doesn’t know them: Andrea K. Host, Joanna Bourne, Dianna Wynne Jones, Kathleen Gilles Seidel, Sharon Lee and Steve Miller.

    4+
  26. So many writers I have enjoyed are listed here (and some others I will now try), but not many of my F-A-V-O-U-R-I-T-E-S: that short list includes William Stegner (Angle of Repose, in particular), Barbara Kingsolver (Prodigal Summer, in particular), Patricia Hempl (mentioned here), Robertson Davies (Fifth Business et al), Laurie Colwin (also mentioned here), Tana French, Mary Renault, Penelope Lively, Penelope Fitzgerald, Toni Morrison (Song of Solomon, in particular)… This is such fun, revisiting.

    2+
  27. Perhaps Jenny will consider a question on good children’s books or age-appropriate books (choose age) some day. Might not be a bad notion for suggestions for holiday gifts.

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  28. Late to the party, but I will say Seanan McGuire/Mira Grant. I’ve loved almost everything of hers she’s written, she’s very versatile, she puts out lots of books a year so I get to read like 3 or 4 series or so a year too. I did a very complicated fan site that just keeps track of all the foreshadowing in one of her series. I wish I could be friends with her IRL but alas, reality + fame = nope to that, right.

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  29. I don’t think anyone has mentioned L. M. Montgomery or Laura Ingalls Wilder – both huge favourites of mine when I was younger.

    Rex Stout, Robert B. Parker and Dick Francis are my go-to non-romance reads, and I have to second (or third or fourth) Courtney Milan – she is definitely one of my favourites.

    And don’t forget Susan Elizabeth Phillips. I love her books.

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  30. I reread a lot of books, so I’m fairly certain I’m still in love with: Deanna Raybourn’s Lady Julia series , Alan Bradley’s Flavia de Luce series, Julia Quinn, Robin McKinley, and Neil Gaiman.

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  31. Jenny Cruisie; Jayne Ann Krentz (in all her many names); Susan Elizabeth Phillips; Sarah Wynde; Carol J Perry; Kristen Ashley; Kerry Greenwood so many more

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