Becky's Book Recommendations
Last updated May 26, 2011
Reading is probably my most favorite hobby. Those who know me can tell you I read rather incessantly. Starting in high school forward, I took a book with me about everywhere I went. I can sit for hours reading, especially if the story is involving and engaging. These are some of my favorite books and series from over the years. The main genre I read is scifi/fantasy, but I also read a few mystery authors and some Christian fiction.
My main genre and where I go to first in the bookstore. Any bookstore.
Anne McCaffrey's The Dragonriders of Pern series
This series was my first true introduction to the world of scifi/fantasy. I had outgrown the "teenage" books about horses and teen romances around age 14 and was looking for something more adult and interesting. My dad (also a scifi fan) suggested that I try Dragonflight by Anne McCaffrey and that was that. I've read all the novels in the series and this includes all those by her son, Todd McCaffrey, who appears to be taking over the series; I will admit to missing Anne's characters (like Lessa and F'Lar). This is one of the few series I will buy hardbacks for.
Anne McCaffrey's Brain and Brawn Ship series
If I remember correnctly, my dad recommended The Ship Who Sang to me as soon as I mentioned I liked her writing in the Dragonriders of Pern series. Very, very intriguing concept and excellently written. Probably my second favorite series by this author. I can tell because it's a concept I've pondered many a time using for an AU for a certain fandom I write for. :-)
Mercedes Lackey's Heralds of Valdemar series
Although this was the second big fantasy series I started to read, Mercedes is actually my favorite fantasy author. I picked up the first novel, Arrows of the Queen, by chance and adored it from the start and rapidly devour books in this series. I must admit to liking her "mainstream" Valdemar-focused novels more than the books centered on other characters in the universe, but they're all good stories. She tends to write in trilogy subsets and my favorite subsets are the Last Herald-Mage trilogy and the two Exile novels.
Katherine Kurtz's Deryni series
My third favorite fantasy series. Again, I picked up the first book, Deryni Rising, by chance and enjoyed it enough to buy others in the series which got better and better as each book was published. Good buddy stuff for the buddy fans and angsty romance for the romance fans and lots of intrigue and magic.
Jim Butcher's Dresden Files series
I found this author's books via looking at a James Marsters' site as he was doing the audio books. I decided to try the first book, Storm Front, and found it fairly enjoyable so I got the second novel and by then was thoroughly hooked. They're written in first-person POV, which usually turns me off reading something fairly quickly, but the writing is excellent and now I can't imagine this particular series being written in any other way. Also one of the few series I'll buy in hardback.
Marion Zimmer Bradley's Darkover series
The second scifi/fantasy series my dad introduced me to. I can't remember which novel I read first since they weren't written in chronological order, but whichever it was had me reading all the others and hunting down the then out-of-print novels that also fell into that universe. This series introduced me to the concept of anthologies of stories written by other authors set in the same universe and the Sword and Sorceress anthologies which gave many a current author (including Mercedes Lackey) their start into the book publishing world. Excellent series that is world-building at its best.
Lois McMaster Bujold's Vorkosigan/Dendarii series
I think I actually picked up the standalone novel, Falling Free, by her first and then later picked up Shards of Honor and decided I liked her writing fairly well. I started enjoying the tales more when Miles Vorkosigan and the Dendarii showed up and things started getting more complicated. Very entertaining space opera.
Lois McMaster Bujold's The Sharing Knife series
Once I enjoy an author's writing, I'll pretty much read anything by them in my preferred genre. This series by LMB is wonderfully written, deep, and full of character and pathos. Enough romance for me to like but not so much as it's too much. Adventure. Danger. And somethng suitably magical for a fantasy setting.
Sharon Lee and Steve Miller's Liaden series
I started reading these when they were re-issued in the past couple years, starting with Local Custom, which I really liked and then getting each subsequent novel as it appeared on the shelves. I just wish there were more books and that some of the gaps and questions were filled in and answered. I'm assuming some of the side-published short stories fill in some of those gaps, but I'm too lazy to buy them.
Jim C. Hines' Princess Series
Entertaining and lots of fun to read; great twist on the "damsel in distress" Disney princesses.
Elizabeth Moon's Vatta's War series
I picked up the first in this series, Trading in War, in April 2009. I'd been looking for more in the space opera, which is surprisingly hard to find, and this series showed up on several lists as recommended. I believe I've read things co-authored by Elizabeth Moon previously, but nothing by her alone. So I tried it. And devoured the first novel fairly quickly. And then went out and purchased the remaining four (thus far) books in the series.
Sharon Shinn's Samaria series
I picked up the first novel, Archangel, mostly because I loved the cover artwork and partially because I found the concept of the story intriguing. Not quite as much romance as I like in a series that touted to have such a thing, but still good.
Sharon Shinn's Twelve Houses series
Excellent "sword and sorcery" type novels with lots of great characters, good plots, and mountains of twisty intrigue.
Banewreaker and The Godslayer by Jacqueline Carey
This author is more well-known for her Kushiel series but since I've read reviews that say they have more erotic content in them than I like, I've skipped them. When the first in the duology was published, reviews were different, so I picked up the first one -- and pretty much devoured it in a few days. Wow! I loved the whole reverse-LotR storyline. I really wish she'd write more books like these.
Shadowfall and Hinterland by James Clemens
This author is also known as James Rollins under which he writes popular fluffy action novels. I tried one once and was bored silly. I did not know that, however, when I picked up the first in this fantasy series. Under *this* name, he writes some good stuff. I'm waiting impatiently for book three in this series.
David Eddings' Belgariad and Mallorean series
One of the few male authors I read and have enjoyed enough to go back to again later. These two "quest" series are complex and filled with intriguing characters and back stories and great writing. It's unfortunate that I'm not liking his current series at all but I did like these.
As of late, my new favorite genre is steampunk - typically the mix of Victorian age sensibilities and steam-powered technology, those the time frame can vary. It's actually becoming quite popular and easier to find. Some favorites thus far.
The Clockwork Century Series by Cherie Priest - Sent during the American Civil War and has the added "bonus" of zombies.
Leviathan and Behemoth by Scott Westerfeld - Young adult but really very good.
Darkborn Trilogy by Allison Sinclair - *Very* intriguing of two sets of people, one who live in complete darkness and one in complete light.
The Native Star and The Hidden Goddess by M.K. Hobson - Magic, conspiracy, intrigue, and a little romance.
This deserves a category all its own because I read so many Trek books. I used to read a lot of them during the late 80s and early 90s when TNG was at its peak and then tapered off slowly sometime during Voyager's run. However, sometime after DS9 (my Trek fave) ended, a group of newer (to me) Trek writers did a DS9 Relaunch, starting up *after* the series finale and creating a published "season 8", beginning with Avatar, complete with new characters to join canon characters and sharing said characters among themselves and opening up all new doors in the published Trek world. Relaunches of TNG and Voyager were quick to follow, along with all new series being produced about totally original characters. There have been some interesting - and potentially questionable - plot choices but even with those, I am so loving the "Trek bookverse."
DS9 Relaunch series
A whole series of books. Though technically they start with Avatar, Books One and Two, I would also suggest reading the Millennium Trilogy, which has "bookends" set after the series finale. Season 8 continues with the four books of Mission Gamma series, along with a few standalones here such as Rising Son (focusing on Jake) and there and ends with the highly anticipated Unity by S.D. Perry, the same author who wrote Avatar. After Unity, "season 9" picks up with the Worlds of Deep Space Nine trilogy which *warning* ends on a cliffhanger! I am greatly looking forward to each novel as they're published, which sadly is not as often as it used to be.
Spinning off from Nemesis, this starts a whole new adventure for Captain Riker and his wide and varied crew, most of which are totally new characters, plus one created character who has been around since the beginning of the DS9 Relaunch and a few familiar faces. I was very impressed with the first handful of novels and look forward to more.
TNG Relaunch series
These books have been hampered a bit by the movies being written since the series ended, but truly began with the A Time To... series which spanned the time between Insurrection and Nemesis, explaining how the characters got where they were from one movie to the other. The next book after that was the recently published Death in Winter focusing (finally!) on the long-denied relationship between Picard and Beverly. The next novel, Resistance, is due out next year and as one might guess from the title, the Borg come into play. While I usually am tired of the Borg (mostly because of overuse on Voyager), I find them more interesting when put next to Picard because of his history with them.
Vulcans series by Josepha Sherman and Susan Shwartz
Starting with Vulcan's Heart and then to the Vulcan's Soul trilogy, these two authors are focusing on Spock and the Reunification movement. Intriguing and interesting. Very enjoyable.
Imzadi and Imzadi II: Triangle by Peter David -- The two novels dealing specifically with Riker and Troi. I think Imzadi was the one of the first Trek hardbacks I ever purchased.
Mosaic and Pathways by Jeri Taylor -- Voyager novels by one of the actual show creators/writers. The first is focused on Janeway; the second is focused on everyone else. Both books delve into how the crew got where they were. Great tales.
I didn't ever read much mystery until I was at my parents' house some years back, visiting for Christmas vacation, and I ran out of things to read and went hunting through their stacks. At that point, my dad's reading choices had shifted to Civil War histories and that just had no appeal to me. My mom was reading mysteries, so I delved into her piles and found a few choice authors that I truly enjoy.
Elizabeth Peters' Amelia Peabody series
Adventure, humor, a little romance, mysteries, intrigue, "another shirt ruined," pyramids, mummies running amuck, Sethos, and Ramses. Hugely entertaining and always a joy to read.
Anne Perry's William Monk series
Beginning with a detective for hire in the late 1800's who has lost his memory and slowly becomes someone else and along the way makes a few friends and solves mind-boggling crimes. Very enjoyable and only once have I figured out what happened before the end of the book.
Anne Perry's WWI series
A newer series by this author which looked good to me. I decided to try No Graves As Yet and really enjoyed the characters and the writing and the mysteries that entwined themselves together and got that much more intriguing in the second book, Shoulder the Sky. There are five books in the series which I believe is now complete.
Ruth Downie's Roman Empire novels
My dad suggested I read Medicus by this author a couple years ago; it's about a physician during the Roman Empire who finds himself involved in some mysteries. I found it entertaining enough so I picked up the second one in the series, Terra Incognita, when it hit paperback.
I've read a ton of Christian fiction over the years, most of which by the same few authors.
Bodie and Brock Thoene's assorted Zion series
Excellent historical fiction set anywhere from the 1970's to World War II to Christ's time. Great characters which carry over from series to series.
Francine Rivers' Redeeming Love
Instead of a series, this is a single novel, recommended because I think it's one of *the* best Christian novels available that demonstrates God's love for us. It's a 1850's western rewrite of the book of Hosea and it is *very* *very* good.
Karen Hancock's Legends of the Guardian-King series
This series, with four books total, is complete. I've always trying to find good Christian fantasy and it's usually very hard to find. This series, however, is very well-written and very enjoyable. If I could write Christian fantasy, *this* would be what I would write.