Oftentimes with the first book of an author, you might not be very impressed and hope that in time their writing and stories improve. In the cases of these talented novelists, I couldn’t wait for their next release because the debut was incredible. Here are my 19 Can’t Miss Debut Reads in no particular order.
Calling Me Home by Julie Kibler
As soon as I finished this one, I wanted to give it a hug and never let go. This was the best women’s fiction novel I had read in years. It broke my heart and comforted me at the same time. Aside from the main story focusing on race relations, it tells a story of an unlikely friendship between a young and old woman as they take a road trip.
The Magician’s Lie by Greer McAllister
I’ve always been fascinated by illusionists and magicians, so I knew this story of a female illusionist would be a perfect match. I read this in 24 hours because of how compulsively readable it was. If you liked The Night Circus, don’t miss this one. So excited to see a movie in the works too!
Beautiful Malice by Rebecca James
Imagine being a teenager and having to move to a new city. You’re the kind who doesn’t intentionally draw attention to yourself but now you are befriended by the most popular girl at school. Would you trust her to keep your secrets? This is a true “not everyone is who they seem” story.
Julia’s Chocolates by Cathy Lamb
Once I finished this book, I became a lifelong fan of Cathy Lamb. She puts so much love and personality into her characters. After leaving her abusive fiancé at the altar, Julia is on the run. This novel has a hopeful message but is filled with funny and unusual characters and scenarios along the way.
Once We Were Brothers by Ronald H. Balson
A legal thriller and a story of a family torn apart during the Holocaust, this book had me flipping the pages to discover what happens next. It was originally self-published but came so highly recommended and popular that St. Martin’s Press had to publish it under their imprint. If the WWII era is a must read for you, don’t miss out on this one.
What Was Mine by Helen Klein Ross
This novel asks the question, What defines “motherhood”? Is it the act of giving birth or raising a child? Can it be one or the other? Book clubs will have lively discussions surrounding those questions as they learn a 4-month-old baby is kidnapped from a shopping cart and raised by a woman eager to have a baby.
Before I Go by Colleen Oakley
Have tissues handy. The protagonist in this novel, Daisy, beats cancer once only to find out it has returned and she only has months to live. In her short time left, she wants to make sure her husband is taken care of, so she sets out to find him a wife. Oakley sprinkles some humor throughout so the book isn’t a complete downer and had me thinking of what I would do in a similar situation.
The Promise of Stardust by Priscille Sibley
Another great read for book clubs, this thought-provoking novel is a ripped from the headlines story and has you questioning your beliefs. Sibley is a former nurse and writes from experience. As a family is torn apart dealing with an ethical dilemma, the reader is left wondering how it will play out.
Still Missing by Chevy Stevens
This disturbing thriller put Stevens on the map for page-turning mysteries and now I won’t miss one. If you want an easy to read book, the short chapters make for one that won’t take you forever. If you like shows like CSI and Criminal Minds, be sure to give this author a try.
A Paris Apartment by Michelle Gable
Art, antiques, love, Paris. That was enough to win me over. But I loved how Gable combined two storylines, one historical and one in the present to unearth the truth. So much of that reminded me of a favorite author, Sarah Jio.
Shelter Me by Juliette Fay
I was worried a book about a widower and her young children wouldn’t be able to hold me captive but I was glad I was wrong. You will find yourself cheering for this flawed mother as she takes the year to reflect on heartbreak and forgiveness and realizes you don’t have to do it all alone.
Letters from Home by Kristina McMorris
In this day and age, when we so commonly communicate with emails and texts, reading this historical fiction told through handwritten letters was refreshing. The story is based in part on the love story of her grandparents. So if you need a book to pull you out of your fast-paced and hectic life into a romance of an earlier generation, this is it.
The Forgetting Time by Sharon Guskin
As soon as I finished reading this one, I started recommending it to friends. It is absolutely going on my best reads of 2016 list, as it had the most unique storyline I’ve ever read. I was completely caught up in this spellbinding premise and loved how Guskin was even able to incorporate a mystery.
Roses by Leila Meacham
Roses is a saga in every sense of the word, one that spans three generations of three families over the 20th century. Even though it’s hefty at over 600 pages, it reads quickly because you’ll be eager to learn the fates of these families. Gone with the Wind fans will especially enjoy this one.
The Good Girl by Mary Kubica
When you see a psychological thriller debut being compared to Gone Girl, you are likely to be skeptical. But Kubica really hit it out of the ballpark with this novel and did it with such ease. New writers will be having their books compared to hers in the future. Read more about this book and Kubica’s writing process in my interview with her here.
A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman
I did not know what to expect when I received this book. Hailed as an international bestseller, this novel from Sweden didn’t seem like it was up my alley. It follows Ove, a grumpy widower not sure how to spend his days other than doing daily neighborhood inspections. As the book quickly grew on me, so did Ove. I dare you to read this and not feel good when you’re done.
A Walk Across the Sun by Corban Addison
This is a beautifully written story about an extremely ugly topic, human trafficking. Addison seamlessly weaves an important message throughout this story. With a background in law and activism, his books always teach me something new.
Five Days Left by Julie Lawson Timmer
When a new book is blurbed by Jodi Picoult, I know I’m in for a treat. And sure enough, this didn’t disappoint. Told in two separate storylines of two characters with five days left before the world they know is changed forever. This novel constantly had me asking myself, what would I do in their situation?
Hush Little Baby by Suzanne Redfearn
This emotionally charged story of domestic violence had me so captivated that I neglected my responsibilities while reading it. It was one of those books where you know what’s going to happen, but you don’t know when or how, like a car crash you can’t turn away from. All the characters felt so real to me. It’s impressive when fiction reads like it could be nonfiction.
What debut novels did you love that didn’t make the list? I would love to hear your recommendations and your reviews on the ones I loved.
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