One of the most exciting times for a reader is the first blush of finding a new, great author. Everything is new and entrancing: The characters leap from the page and are three dimensional. They might be people you’d want to meet in real life—or maybe not so much. If you’re reading a suspense or thriller, coming face-to-face with the villain might not be so wonderful. If you read paranormal/fantasy, would stumbling over a vampire or werewolf be an experience you’d enjoy? As a reader, you can escape to this brave new world and be lost in the wonder of its newness for at least an hour or a day. Or, if you’re really lucky, the excitement lasts for the entire book, and you’re left hanging in anticipation for the next book. I wish this ailment upon every reader with every new book they find. Unfortunately, the promise of greatness is often lost after a few chapters.

Until I went to a writing class, where I quickly learned novel writing was not for me, I never knew how many authors polished the first three chapters until they glowed so the work could be shopped around. Think of it as a sample garment made to look like the best dress ever, and everyone should want it—but the 50th dress has snipped threads and it’s not so perfect. Unfortunately, books can be similar, with great first chapters descending rapidly into really boring and same-old-same-old middles. Then comes a fast ending that rapidly ties up everything and makes it “pretty.” And, for some reason, probably the insatiable need for more books for e-readers, our new books coming out are falling into this mold: great starts, followed quickly by boring middles and very unsatisfactory endings. So, when I find something extraordinary, which starts well and continues to capture my reading attention, I know I’ve discovered a gem and it’s so very exciting. Being a giving soul, I LOVE to share with my reading friends, and if you’re really lucky, anyone I talk to—even the dental hygienist. Poor thing, she’s learned to scribble down titles and authors in between cleaning my teeth. That’s not so bad, right? It keeps my attention off the gurgling noises.

This week, as Gwen showed on the Good Morning Texas Buy the Book segment on Spring Reading for every Taste, a new author and work is available. A.G. Howard takes a familiar children’s story and flips it. Splintered (Amulet, April 2013) is the Wonderland as you never imagined. Howard imagines that Lewis Carroll wasn’t just making up Wonderland: It really was a place, and it was Splinteredmany times darker and madder. What if the descendant of Alice Liddell thought she was going crazy, hearing bugs and flowers whispering, murmuring? And knew her mother was in a mental hospital because she had the same problem? What if the mental illness was inherited? By a young Alyssa Gardner? What if it turned out there was such a thing as a family curse, and low and behold, Alyssa had to solve the puzzle or die? Oh, and she must try to do this with the help or hindrance of her secret crush through the dark and twisted Wonderland. All these what-ifs make for a more than exciting read and as a debut book, Splintered should be on every one’s must read for the summer. And the cover is gorgeous!

For every young girl who sits down and writes in a journal, the possibility of such scribbling turning into a book and being read by others can be a real thrill. The media is full of the excitement over Beth Reekles’ sale of The Kissing Booth to Delacorte. According to reports, Reekles began her story as a 15-year-old writing of first love, after finding that her current reading didn’t fill the void. It might be a familiar tale, but, in this young woman’s case, her writing was followed and downloaded millions of times after posting it on a board, picking up the interest of publishers. The Kissing Booth is out in e-book format this week and in paperback next week. Billed as a Young Adult Romance, no paranormal elements are involved in the making of the story.

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Sometimes you just want to check out the familiar. I can still remember when Shelly Laurenston was a new-to-me author and, fortunately not being a by-the-numbers reader, I picked up a book in the middle of a series and was sucked in. So, I joined her growing legion of fans and eagerly waited for the next installment of the Pride series. Wolf with Benefits (Kensington April 2013) more than fulfilled its billing: “An overabundance of laugher and fun” was the opinion of one of our Fresh Fiction reviewers. Wolf with Benefits kept me up all night reading, and I was happy remembering bits and pieces of the story for days after. The lack of sleep was no deterrent, and finding a book that delivers such enjoyment to a reader is not to be missed.

So, who is new to you? Found a good book you want to share with others? Tell us about it.

Sara Reyes is the founder and partner at, a popular fiction web site for today's reader with new titles, contests, over 50,000 genre fiction author profiles with backlists, and permanently archived reviews, plus all the industry buzz. Fresh Fiction has a biweekly segment (Buy the Book) on WFAA Channel 8 Good Morning Texas to talk about new books not to miss. Believing face-to-face interaction is as important as virtual communities, Fresh Fiction sponsors an annual readers conference, monthly literary events, and book clubs. Follow Sara at @FreshFiction on Twitter or