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marthawells

Martha Wells

My Flying Lizard Circus


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marthawells

Book Recs

I'm looking for something to read, so rec me books! New books, or books that are about to come out, including your own books. Comment with title, author, and why you liked it/are looking forward to it.

ETA: Fantasy, mystery, science fiction, romance, it's all good.
ETA2: And historical fiction or non-fiction!
Tags:

I really enjoyed Neil Gaiman's latest book, The Graveyard Book. (Of course, I listened to him read the whole thing to me, so that made it extra fantastic.)

I'll veer off the fantasy - sf trail for a bit and recommend a couple books I've enjoyed.

Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin. One of the best books about Lincoln, ever. Brilliant narrative and chewy political goodness. Not a dry scholarship paper but a vibrant, page-turning epic.

Guns of August by Barbara Tuchman. One month that led to the War to end All Wars. Moves effortlessly between the macro and micro, giving equal time to geopolitical forces and personal ambitions.

If you like more in-depth history and political maneuvering, I'd also suggest A History of Venice by John Julius Norwich. Entertaining, though it kind of fizzles out towards the end (as did Venice). Great one-volume view of how to affect neutrality amidst warring neighbors and countries.

The Even by T.A Moore (My supersekrit disguise. Shhhh, don't tell anyone)

A dark urban fairy tale that Elaine Cunningham described as a 'grim little fable'. With over 20 internal illustrations by fantasy artist Stephanie Law.

You can get it from the publisher's site or through Amazon.

http://www.morriganbooks.com/?page_id=132

...pimp over :)

C.S. Harris' mysteries set in Regency England are my current most frequent recs.

http://www.csharris.net/sebastian.php

The First Law Trilogy, by Joe Abercrombie, which begins with The Blade Itself. These books are grim like Glen Cook's Black Company series, and darkly funny like Scott Lynch's Gentlemen Bastard novels. I'm only halfway through the third book, so Abercrombie may end up dropping the ball and I'll have to retract my recommendation, but nothing I've read so far makes me think this is likely. :-)

Anything that compares with Cooks Black Company (especially the first 3) sounds good to me.

Speaking of Glen Cook, he has a new Garrett novel out, "Cruel Zinc Melodies." It in my TBR pile, but I've enjoyed all of his Garrett P.I fantasy novels.

Kim Harrison's "Dead Witch Walking." is a great first book, start of the UF Hollows series. She's very clever, with new takes on witches, vampires and pixies. The fairy assissins are even fun.

Hope you don't mind links?

And on a non-partisan front -

Chalice by Robin McKinley is a marvellous read. I reviewed it on the Green Man Review.
http://www.greenmanreview.com/book/book_mckinley_chalice.html

Sharp Edges by Gillian Flynn. Southern Gothic detective novel with a brittle, edgy heroine.
http://crimesceneni.blogspot.com/2008/07/wee-review-sharp-objects-by-gillian.html

I like John Connolly as a writer too. Reapers was the last book of his I read - and works quite well as a stand alone novel- but the entire series is great. There's a blend, especially in the later books, of detective fiction and the paranormal.
http://crimesceneni.blogspot.com/2008/08/wee-review-reapers-by-john-connolly.html

Another Roadside Attraction by Tom Robbins. I love this book. It's a bit odd in place...the places being the paper...but I really enjoyed it.

Re: Hope you don't mind links?

No, links are fine! The more the merrier. :)

I just read "Stand by Your Hitman" which, while not one of the masterpieces of the modern era was a genuinely amusing romance novel. There's two others in the series (Excuse me While I Kill This Guy and Guns Will Keep Us Together) but they're not as good.

Have you read the Donna Andrews mystery books? Her latest (Cockatiels at Seven) was in my to read pile, but I apparently moved from a mystery mood back to a romance mood with no forewarning, so it's going back to the library.

Oh! There's some good vampire mysteries out. No, seriously. Two are NA vampire novels, by a couple named Thurlo. Amiee and David, I think. I've only read the first one so far (Second Sunrise?), but much better than the standard Paranormal Urban Fantasy books. The Vamp is a Navajo police officer from the 1940s. Likewise, Nymphos of Rocky Flats by Mario Acevedo, with a main character who became a vampire in Iraq. I have the next two of that series on hold at the library.

No, I haven't read Donna Andrews yet. And ooh, I think you may have got me with the Navajo vampire police officer in the 1940s. I'll have to find that one.

But The Queen's Bastard by C.E Murphy is good too. Elizabethan era world, politics, a heroine you probably won't like but can usually sympathise with.
http://www.sfsite.com/10a/qb281.htm

(Promise, no more!)

Books I read recently that I really liked were "Flesh and Spirit" and "Breath and Bone" by Carol Berg (I rattled on about the first book here, but the main reason I liked them both in a nutshell is that they're really fun fantasy adventure stories with a wry, interesting POV character).

Also, the Kitty Norville books by Carrie Vaughn are really great. The main character is a werewolf, and a great female protagonist (always nice to find). The first book left me a little uncomfortable due to some of Kitty's self-confidence and powerlessness issues, but what I especially liked about the subsequent books was that it was clear that having to deal with those issues in the first book caused Kitty to reevaluate herself and her life and assert her strength of personality/will/etc. She becomes a really awesome (and complex) protagonist very quickly. Plus rest of the cast of characters are neat and interesting.

"Temples, Tombs and Heiroglyphs" is an *immensely* fun book about Egypt by Barbara Mertz. Her Amelia Peabody style carries over into her non-fiction writing.

One of my favorite non-fiction books ever is "A World Lit Only By Fire: The Medieval Mind and the Renaissance" by William Manchester. Interesting and engaging read.

I'm about to read a book by Charles de Lint called "The Onion Girl;" have you ever read anything by him, or that book in particular? I'm wondering if I'm going to enjoy it...

I second the Kitty Norville books. Great fun.

Glenda Larke's The Aware. Fantasy with amazing characters and world-building. Don't be put off by the lurid cover.

Kay Kenyon's Bright of the Sky. Science fiction with mindblowing, complex worldbuilding.

Andreas Eschbach's The Carpet Makers. Science fiction, translated from German, unlike anything else I've ever read. Premise: a whole world's economy is based on the carpet makers, each of whom spends his entire life weaving a single carpet from his wives' and daughters' hair, for the glory of the galactic emperor. The rest of the book addresses how/why such a world would ever come about.

I recently finished Michael Gruber's The Book of Air and Shadows, which was scintillating, intricate and compelling. Very well written modern/historical intrigue about a possibly lost, possibly fake never-before-seen Shakespearean manuscript. I highly reccomend it.

Lindsey Davis's historical detective series about Falco, set in the Rome of Vespasian, are excellent. The first is 'The Silver Pigs.'

I second the recommendation for Barbara Mertz's 'Temples, Tombs and Hieroglyphs,' which I practically memorised when I was an Egypt-mad teen.

Another Barbara Tuchman which is just superb is 'A Distant Mirror: the calamitous 14th Century.' A good counterpoint to cod-mediaeval fantasy that ignores the brutal realities of plague and war.

(Also: it is so exciting that, having recommended your books to anyone who stands still for two seconds, I can suggest books to you, too! I love the Internet! /fangirling)

In the historical fiction category:

The Master of Verona by David Blixt
Review from Reading the Past:
In 1314, Pietro Alagheiri arrives in Verona, Italy, with his younger brother and father, the brilliant poet Dante, still in exile from Florence. At the court of Francesco “Cangrande” della Scala, Verona’s charismatic ruler, Pietro forms a strong bond of friendship with two young men, Mariotto Montecchi and Antonio Capecelatro. They remain inseparable until Mariotto falls in love with Antonio’s fiancée, the beautiful Gianozza. Meanwhile, Cangrande causes a scandal by bringing an infant boy to court, a child who may be his illegitimate son. This swashbuckling tale, complete with cinematic action scenes, creatively imagines the origins of the Montague-Capulet feud from Romeo and Juliet. It all plays out against a vivid, large-scale backdrop of early fourteenth-century Verona. Even if you know nothing about Shakespeare or Dante, The Master of Verona will make you want to find out.

Hmm, off the top of my head, here are some books I’ve read in the past few months and really enjoyed. They run the gamut from speculative scifi to gritty urban fantasy to escapist fantasy gay mysteries to lighthearted romance. A common thread is that I enjoy strong female characters who don’t play into sterotypes (although not everything I’m reccing is high on female characters), interesting world-building, and humor rather than nonstop angst.

I've read over 250 new books this year, so when I say I enjoyed these, it means I *really* enjoyed them (Un Lun Dun would be at the top of the list, but I know you already read it).

Urban Fantasy

The Fever Series by Karen Mae Moning - dark and gritty, takes place in Ireland, doesn’t conform to usual urban fantasy tropes. Be warned though, the third and most recent book ends with a major cliffhanger, and it’s going to be a year until the next one!


Young Adult

Anything by Shannon Hale (except for her Austenland book). I seriously can’t pick a favorite because I loved them all so much! Reinterpretations of fairy tales.

Sci-fi

The Disappeared Series by Kristine Kathryn Rusch – incredibly fascinating world building. I can’t even think of how to describe them and do them justice.

Straight-up Romance

Just One Of The Guys by Kristan Higgins – the heroine is in love with sports, is tall and athletic and muscular and proud of it, and has a billion male relatives – all of whom are cops and firefighters. I really enjoyed this book, even though I have zero in common with her.

Seduce Me At Sunrise by Lisa Kleypas – a totally enjoyable historical romance. Lisa Kleypas rarely does me wrong, and this one was especially good.

Romance with a Paranormal/Urban Fantasy twist

The Sensation Series by Nalini Singh - there are five of these out so far and I literally *inhaled* them, I enjoyed them so much! Well, I didn’t like the fourth one, but I adored the rest. She’s come up with such an interesting world! I am so sad it’s a year until the next book! Withdrawal!

The Dirk and Steel Series by Marjorie M. Liu – a lot of her characters aren’t white – which is so rare in romance these days. Her characters are also satisfyingly *real* - they say things I would say and think things I would think.

Driven by Eve Kenin – Futuristic, dystopic, apocalyptic romance, where most of the world is frozen over. Truck-driver heroine!


Escapist Fantasy

The Lord of the Fading Lands series by C.L. Wilson – this is the one exception to my strong and realistic female characters requirement. The main character is kind of a Sue, but I had a blast reading these anyway.

Gay Mysteries/Romps

The Adrien English Series by Josh Lanyon (available online! Very worth it!)

The Gumshoe, The Witch, and the Virtual Corpse (this one is only available used through amazon, but I’m super glad I got it, because it was extremely enjoyable)

The Shadow of the Templar series (found online and *free* here - wow, did I have a blast with these! Young hotshot FBI agent! Famous master thief! They solve crimes! And have capers! And hot sex! And there’s a team and they all rock too! I think all of the books so far clocked in at about 400,000 words. So, so much fun!


If you're interested in nonfiction, I'd rec Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver, The Billionaires Vinegar by Benjamin Wallace, The Man Who Ate Everything by Jeffery Steingarten, The Audacity of Hope, The Geography of Bliss by Eric Weiner, and The Know It All by AJ Jacobs (he reads the entire Encyclopedia Brittanica!)


Okay, back to reading!

Edited at 2008-11-11 05:08 pm (UTC)

Did you know Marjorie Liu is on LJ as webpetals? She's on a trip to China now and posting about it.

God Stalk by P. C. Hodgell. I've loved this book, and later series, for years. The heroine is strong, tenacious and creative without having all the answers, and the world she has to negotiate, where all gods and faiths exist simultaneously, is fascinating. It's a bit hard to find, but I believe Baen has recently re-released it as an e-book.

I read God Stalk when it was first published years ago and loved it.

M.T. Anderson's _Feed_, our future in a YA nutshell. More terrifying than any other Sci Fi book I've ever read, and more important.

I just read North River by Pete Hamill, and highly recommend it. I also recommend his book Forever, which was phenomenal. North River is set in NY in the Depression, and it's about a doctor who comes home from making house calls one day to find his 3 year old grandson deposited in the foyer of his house. His daughter, who had run away at 17 to Mexico to marry the boy's father has taken off for Spain. Anyway, the story is about the doctor, his relationship with his grandson and Rose, the woman he hires to look after Carlitto. Loved this book.

Forever is about an Irishman who comes to New York in the 17th c. to exact revenge on someone (an Englishman of course) who very seriously wronged him (killing his father). Cormac is granted immortality as long as he remains on Manhattan island. The story covers a few hundred years of NY history but also follows Cormac through time as he searches for the decendants of the Earl of Warren, the man who killed his father, and goes through to the modern age. I LOVED THIS BOOK. Loved it.

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