19 April 2009

Shilling for book suggestions

I will be leaving on Saturday and will be gone for a whole week -- such an opportunity to read books (no kid and no husband...). I want some new stuff to read. I need some new books and authors. I primarily read genre fiction, especially mysteries and science fiction. I like fantasy novels, too, as long as they aren't one of a series of umpty-ump books (my patience runs out...). And I hate vampire books, so don't suggest Jim Butcher, Laurell Hamilton, or their ilk.

My favorite SF author is Lois McMaster Bujold, but I like Niven, Heinlein, Scalzi, Poul Anderson, early David Brin, Vernor Vinge, and a whole host of others. Clearly, I like space opera and semi-hard SF. My favorite fantasy author is Megan Whelan Turner who cranks out a book every 5 freaking years, but I also like Diana Wynne Jones, Naomi Novik, Bujold, JK Rowling, and Caroline Stevermer. With respect to mysteries -- I like a whole boatload of authors. I don't like my mysteries mean or gritty. I like historical mysteries and old-fashioned whodunnits.

So, any suggestions?

Update 4/29, 11:15 pm
Book follow-up:
Dread Empire's Fall: The Praxis (Walter Jon Williams) -- Really good space opera. I will definitely be buying more.

Snake Agent (Liz Williams) -- Holy shit, this one was good, and I am not as much into fantasy as I am into SF. I went into a B&N in Seattle looking to see if they had a sequel, but I was out of luck. I want to read everything in this series RIGHT NOW.

Death at La Fenice (Donna Leon) -- very nice standard whodunnit in which one of the "characters" is almost the city of Venice. Very evocative of a city where I have never been...

Still Life (Louise Penny) -- very readable Agatha-Christie-like multiple-character murder mystery with some interesting characters and a reasonably good plot (I literally had no clue who the baddie was). I'll read more of this series, as well.

Up next:
Agent to the Stars (John Scalzi)
Voodoo Science: The Road from Foolishness to Fraud (Robert L. Park)

I forgot these two at home:
Beggars in Spain (Nancy Kress)
The Fencing Master (Arturo Perez-Reverte)


Random Michelle K said...

Where to begin...

A little off the beaten path is Madeline Robert's series starting with "Petty Treason" Victorian mystery set in a whore house.

If you have not read her, you MUST get Kate Ross' Julian Kestrel series. There are only four books, because Kate Ross died right before the 4th was published, but they're *fantastic*! My mom, grandmother and I all had the same reaction of, "what so you MEAN she's dead and I can't have any more books? WAIL!"

If you like dark fantasy at all, I adore Simon R Green's Nightside series. Very dark, but also fun.

If you've never read her, try Ellen Kushner's Swordspoint. This is one of my favorite books. She unfortunately writes very very slowly.

Steven Brust. Anything he's written. The Vlad Taltos series is kinda hard boiled mystery meets magic. But The Phoenix Guards may be my favorite book. It's "The Three Musketeers" with magical creatures. Yes, those series aren't anything at all alike except that they do have some similar characters.

Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett, on the off chance you haven't read it.

If you want to branch into comics: The Fables series by Bill Willingham.
Sandman by Neil Gaiman
Rising Stars by J Michael Strazinski

All of the above are very good, and also finished.

If you want something to later share with TPT, check out Runaways, which was started by err...Brian K Vaughan and Agatha Heterodyne Girl Genius by Phil and Katja Folio. Both are on going series.

Oh, I also like Peter Tremayne's Sister Fidelma mystery series. Set in Ireland during the "Dark Ages"

More here: http://klishis.com/reading/

Random Michelle K said...

Also, The Fencing Master by Arturo Perez Reverte, Bangkok 8 by Johb Burnett, and Donna Leon's Guiod Brunetti series.

Random Michelle K said...

I could go on...


neurondoc said...

I read Cut to the Quick shortly before A Broken Vessel came out. Whom the Gods Love is my favorite. I, to this day, can't believe there will never be another one.

Loved Swordspoint. Amazing how you can despise every character but still root for some of them...

Am so-so on Steven Brust. I feel that I should like him but I really don't.

I have Good Omens somewhere.

Will try Petty Treason and The Fencing Master, for sure.

You should try The Thief by Megan Whelan Turner. I don't think she is quite as slow as Ellen Kushner, but she's sloooooow.


neurondoc said...

I did like the Phoenix Guards. I just can't get into Vlad Taltos, I guess.

Random Michelle K said...

Madeline Robins for Petty Treason. oops!

The Phoenix Guard has a sequel, Five Hundred Years After. :)

Anonymous said...

I love Robert J. Sawyer's books. He explores all sorts of deep and interesting questions by way of SF. His latest, WWW:Wake is just out. Main character is a 15-yr old blind girl. Book has to do with consciousness, what is sapient, the web, visualization and other stuff. It is actually a very good intro to his novels and a very easy read, which makes you want to read it again more deeply. Also available in eBook, if you like that format.

Janiece said...

I vote for Robert Sawyer also, but if you want some stand-alone fantasy, Patricia McKillip's books are pretty good, too.

I'm also a fan of Greg Bear.

Nathan said...

This may sound weird, but I'm going to suggest Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. When I first picked it up, I thought it was just your basic run-of-the-mill time travel novel. (Claire is on her honeymoon in WWII era Scotland and is transported back to the early 1700's.)

I was half way through it before GF pointed out that I was reading a bodice-ripper!!11!!

It's terrific! Really.

There are a bunch more books in the series but I can't really recommend them much past the third installation. (I'll still buy the next one, but I'm stuck now.) Even if you just read the first one, it's totally worth it.

Lorraine said...

Did you ever try my recommendations for Charles Sheffield and Nancy Kress? If not, I would recommend the one I started with for Charles Sheffield, Cold as Ice. Made me a huge fan. Nancy Kress' Beggars in Spain trilogy deals with genetic manipulation and society. Very well done.

What fun things are you off to do??

neurondoc said...

Nathan, I liked Outlander a lot, and the 2nd one somewhat. Never could finish the 3rd.

Lorraine, I tried Charles Sheffield and liked a couple but not hugely. Haven't tried Nancy Kress. I am going to Seattle for the annual meeting of the American Academy of Neurology. Lots of old white guys in bow ties...

wandering over to amazon...

ExpatMom said...

K.J. Parker's "The Colours in the Steel" is wonderful. Do not, however, by any means be tempted to read the sequel(s). No matter how much you will love Colours, the sequels just ain't doing it.

Kage Baker's "The Anvil of the World" - have you read that? I can't recall. If not, do so.

Dave Duncan "West of January" is wonderful.

"Three days to never" by Tim Powers. Also, his "Drawing of the Dark."

"Hellspark" by Janet Kagan. First contact novel, nicely done.

"Snake Agent" by Liz Williams. I want to read everything by her now and I'm not usually a fantasy reader at all.

"The Lies of Locke Lamora" by Scott Lynch. Here also, the sequels aren't so great but the first one is very good.

It seems you'll miss out on Arne Dahl who is a fabulous Swedish mystery/thriller writer - no English translations, I'm afraid - I just checked. That's just too bad.

But if you want to branch out into the whole Nordic/Scandinavian mystery scene (very big in Europe), try the old but classic Per Sjowall and Maj Wahloo - try to read them in order. I love them but they do have what my dear husband calls the ever so "cheerful and upbeat Scandinavian background".

British Mystery: Reginald Hill.

Have you read any Daniel Pinkwater?

Walter Jon Williams, the Dread Empire series. Space opera par excellence.

I second Nancy Kress and "Beggars in Spain".

Ah, you probably read all of them already...

ExpatMom said...


It's Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo. I can never keep them straight.

ExpatMom said...

Oh, also: Alexander McCall Smith. Three series that are great: The Ladies Detective Agency, The 44 Scotland Street series, and the Isabel Dalhousie series.

ExpatMom said...

I can stop anytime I want to, really.

neurondoc said...

Thanks for the suggestions! I bought:
Dread Empire's Fall: The Praxis (Walter Jon Williams)
Snake Agent (Liz Williams)
Agent to the Stars (John Scalzi)
Death at La Fenice (Donna Leon)
The Fencing Master (Arturo Perez-Reverte)
Still Life (Louise Penny)
Beggars in Spain (Nancy Kress)

I even scrounged up some other books that I haven’t read and will be taking them, too. Look, I'll be gone for a whole week with no kid to take care of... I am not bringing my laptop!!!

neurondoc said...

Claudia -- stop kidding yourself; you can't stop. :-)

You gave the first Ladies Detective Agency book. And I tried the Isabel Dalhousie one, when we went on the cruise. I may retry that one...

Random Michelle K said...

Ohh! I love Snake Agent and Liz Williams!

Lorraine said...

Have a great trip! If you see Dr. Saperstein, tell him we said hello. I'm not sure when Alec is next scheduled to see him...

Glad to hear you will try Nancy Kress!

Hey, Claudia - did you love Daniel Pinkwater's Tooth-gnasher Superflash and Guys From Space, too??


Lorraine said...

I'll have to try some of your recces!