Book Recommendations?

Robear wrote:

Rivers of London series, definitely. Ben Aaronovitch.

I've been meaning to start this series. Thanks for the kick!

LeapingGnome wrote:

My wife reads all three of those series and she recommended looking at the Felix Castor books too. Also books by Simon R Green, specifically the Ishmael Jones series.

Thanks to you both!

If you've liked Verus, Dresden and Grant, and you want more Urban Fantasy set in modern times, Mike Carey's Felix Castor books are probably the next ones I'd recommend also. They're more dark-toned than those other three, but very good.

Other than that, the Bartaemius books are set in Victorian times (and YA), so I don't know if that's your thing or not. The Iron Druid books are more mythological and less urban, so they have a very different feel (2000 year-old Druid living in Tempe has to deal with arsehole Gods). Same with Neil Gaiman's American Gods.

The Iron Druid books aren't that great. I'd probably give those a pass. I don't remember specifically why I didn't like them, but I definitely remember that I thought they were kinda crappy.

DudleySmith wrote:

Same with Neil Gaiman's American Gods.

Did somebody say Neil Gaiman? Fantasy stories that intersect with the real world are one of Gaiman’s specialties. The following titles fit that description:

American Gods
Anansi Boys
The Graveyard Book
The Ocean at the End of the Lane
Good Omens co-written with Pratchett
Coraline

Also his Neverwhere does as well.

China Meiville's Kraken is a really fun book in the same style. Secret societies and their battles set in London.

Zwickle wrote:

Made it through all of 10 the Alex Verus books to date. They are right up my alley. I'm now waiting for book 11 which is expected to release in November 2020, which I hope is accurate. I was totally spoiled getting to read/listen to all 10 back-to-back-to-back and now the idea of having to wait two whole months is going to drag.

Anyone have recommendations for similar series? Other than the Dresden Files.

I'll second Rivers of London.

Here are several that are in the genre. The genre being urban fantasy. One is superhero, but it's tonally similar. That one (Super Powereds) is set in a college setting, though.

Kevin Hearne's Iron Druid Chronicles
Ilona Andrews' Kate Daniels Series
Patricia Brigg's Mercy Thompson series
Carrie Vaughn's Kitty Norville series
Drew Hayes has several series, but in tone, the Super Powereds is closest. The others are more humor driven.

Trigger warning for Mercy Thompson series....I don’t remember if it’s book 1 or 2 where she is attacked. It’s grim. I enjoy the series a lot, but that bit was very tough (rape attempt...don’t recall if it succeeds)

RawkGWJ wrote:
DudleySmith wrote:

Same with Neil Gaiman's American Gods.

Did somebody say Neil Gaiman? Fantasy stories that intersect with the real world are one of Gaiman’s specialties. The following titles fit that description:

American Gods
Anansi Boys
The Graveyard Book
The Ocean at the End of the Lane
Good Omens co-written with Pratchett
Coraline

I've probably said this before, but I'm a Gaiman-purchasing skeptic. I've read American Gods, Neverwhere, and The Graveyard Book in their graphic novel adaptations (Coraline in all three, including the film), and while I love where his imagination takes him, the stories don't always cohere for me. But I still want to read Anansi Boys (in this version, someday) and Ocean, which of course I own. I think Gaiman is in some ways a better ambassador for modern fantasy than its leading virtuoso.

I would read them in their prose forms before deciding they don't cohere. And I have. And they do.

I've read most of Gaiman's prose fiction, and remember all of them fairly well. He's extremely inventive and able to paint fascinating alternate realities, ones that will stick with you. But at the same time, I'm a little mixed on his plotting; I've never felt that any of his books were wasted time, but neither have I felt like any of them were grand slam home runs, either. They're often resonant and lyrical, but maybe I feel like I was never quite the target audience? It's hard to explain, but I haven't ever felt like I took much away from anything he's written.

When reading Gaiman, I've always been entertained, and occasionally wowed, but never awed.

I’m mostly in the same boat. I found American Gods a slog. I did really like Neverwhere, given I read it while living in London, but I generally don’t find his stories really stick with me.

Except for Ocean at the End of the Lane. Part of it may be that I listened to him read the audiobook version, and it’s spectacular.

For Audible subscribers, the new Audible Plus library that you get access to for free includes a lot Lois McMaster Bujold. She's very well know for the sci-fi Vorkosigan Saga, which is great. But I also really enjoy her novellas in the Penric & Desdemona series. Even her Sharing Knife books are good (and a bit more romance based it seems).

Not all of her books are included, but the majority seem to be.

In the Vorkosigan Saga, it was always about Miles Vorkosigan for me. He doesn't really debut until book 4, which I think was probably first in publishing order. It's NOT included for free in the Plus library. But that's where I started originally.

If you look at the actual chronological order, Falling Free is really book 1, but it's 200 years before the real Vorkosigan family story starts with Mile's parents in Shards of Honor (book 2). I am glad I did not start with Falling Free, because it probably won't likely hook you like Shards or Warrior's Apprentice. Just the Miles books are denoted as such in the series info on Audible, a

To wrap up the rambling, if you have not read these books and like good military sci fi based around a rascally, charismatic yet physically challenged protagonist, try the Miles Vorkosigan books. These books are some of the few that I've ever listened to that have actually had me laugh out loud a few times about some of the situations. If you like these, then go read some of the side story books.

*These are also available on Overdrive and maybe even Hoopla if you have access to library downloads and your library has licensed them.

::rolls up sleeves::

Natus wrote:

I've probably said this before, but I'm a Gaiman-purchasing skeptic. I've read American Gods, Neverwhere, and The Graveyard Book in their graphic novel adaptations (Coraline in all three, including the film), and while I love where his imagination takes him, the stories don't always cohere for me... and Ocean, which of course I own.

In hind-sight, I feel that American Gods, though probably his most famous novel, is actually one of my least favorite novels in Gaiman’s body of work. Which is not to say that I don’t like it. I love it. I just love his other novels more.

Neverwhere, on the other hand, is a novel that I’ve always been luke warm on. I never recommend that one to folks.

Robear wrote:

I would read them in their prose forms before deciding they don't cohere. And I have. And they do. :-)

HELL YEAH!! I don’t often cry when reading a novel, but most of Gaiman’s stories make me verklemt. Some turn me into a blubbering heap.

firesloth wrote:

I’m mostly in the same boat. I found American Gods a slog. I did really like Neverwhere, given I read it while living in London, but I generally don’t find his stories really stick with me.

Except for Ocean at the End of the Lane. Part of it may be that I listened to him read the audiobook version, and it’s spectacular.

I agree that American Gods is a slog in some places. Gaiman uses an economy of language in his other stories which is missing from American Gods. Oddly, I feel like with AG Gaiman was still finding his voice.

If you enjoy audiobooks, I implore you to listen to The Graveyard Book. The one read by Gaiman, NOT the one with an ensemble cast. Gaiman does a wonderful job of performing his audiobooks and he delivers The Graveyard Book with loving care.

Vorkosigan reading order suggested by Bujold.

I haven’t finished the series, but the next one on my list is Diplomatic Immunity. I have really enjoyed all that I’ve read and recently bought the rest, so they are all waiting for me!

Really fun Space Opera. And Miles is the fun character, although I did start with the two Cordelia books.

If you're looking for a long-running series that sticks with a given setting and very slowly moves through characters, C.J. Cherryh's Foreigner is excellent. She's up to 19 books on that world, and has plans for at least 21. She writes a very good alien species, the atevi. They look a lot like humans, and react somewhat similarly in some ways, but when humans crashland on their world, well-intentioned dialog on both sides leads to an accidental but large war through a total lack of understanding of each others' psychologies. The atevi win, quite thoroughly, simply through force of numbers, even though their technology is far behind that of humans. (early electronics compared with openly spacefaring technology.)

They don't exterminate humans: they isolate them on a good-sized island (I always thought of something about New Zealand-sized, although I don't remember whether that's accurate), and set up a diplomatic office to keep all contact contained, to prevent further misunderstandings. The early stories are mostly about Bren Cameron, the human diplomat to the atevi, and his adventures and misadventures in trying to liaise with an alien civilization. Later books focus more on atevi politics and culture, mixing them with humans as protagonists.

I've had a ton of fun with these; they're populated with sharp, interesting characters that don't act in stupid ways, but sometimes act in very alien ones. The atevi become somewhat more humanlike over time; I've attributed that to Cherryh aging and becoming just a wee bit lax with her mental modeling. But it could also be attributed to human influence on their culture, as well. With at least one character, the influence is obvious and deliberate. The overall less-alien feel of the atevi over time could be a conscious choice on her part, but it bothered me just a little bit.

Well worth the time. You don't need to read the whole thing, it's grouped into trilogies, so you can drop the series pretty easily if you get tired of it.

I personally like these a little better than the Vorkosigan series, as the subject is quite different, and one I thought held my attention a little better, but the long-running format definitely shares some strong similarities. If you like one, you'll probably like the other.

Book 1 of Foreigner is $3 on kindle.

I’ll be reading Downbelow Station later this year. Looking forward to it.

MathGoddess wrote:

Vorkosigan reading order suggested by Bujold.

I haven’t finished the series, but the next one on my list is Diplomatic Immunity. I have really enjoyed all that I’ve read and recently bought the rest, so they are all waiting for me!

Really fun Space Opera. And Miles is the fun character, although I did start with the two Cordelia books.

Thanks so much for the link! These have been on my radar for a while and I am pumped to give them a whirl.

RawkGWJ wrote:

If you enjoy audiobooks, I implore you to listen to The Graveyard Book. The one read by Gaiman, NOT the one with an ensemble cast. Gaiman does a wonderful job of performing his audiobooks and he delivers The Graveyard Book with loving care.

HEAR, HEAR!!! (pun intended)

I was just wondering about that audio version of The Graveyard Book. There is a deal on Chirp for the full-cast version of it. The narrator on the audio sample actually sounds very good, but I hesitated because of how much I LOVE to listen to Neil Gaiman read his books (and probably anything else, for that matter). I was hoping he did a version of it himself. Glad to hear that is a thing!

I read and listened to The Ocean at the End of the Lane—one of my all-time favorites at this point. It must be that intersection of reality and fantasy that I enjoy. Definitely going to check out the other authors suggested above.

MathGoddess wrote:

Book 1 of Foreigner is $3 on kindle.

I’ll be reading Downbelow Station later this year. Looking forward to it.

Bought. And I checked out the first Vorkosigan book from the library. Thanks for the recommendations!

Foreigner is great, but I really feel like it starts to drag once Cherryh starts getting into the double digits of the series. Maybe it picks back up a little later.

Downbelow Station is an underappreciated masterpiece. And in that vein, no one has mentioned Julian May's "Saga of Pliocene Exile" recently. Essentially fantasy with some SF elements, or vice versa, I'm never sure which. But excellent writing and an exciting story.

Robear wrote:

Downbelow Station is an underappreciated masterpiece. And in that vein, no one has mentioned Julian May's "Saga of Pliocene Exile" recently. Essentially fantasy with some SF elements, or vice versa, I'm never sure which. But excellent writing and an exciting story.

I have the double-volume physical version. Thanks for the reminder about its quality.

I actually have a signed, numbered set of those books. I was a real May fan. She is underappreciated these days.

Nearly done with Alistair Reynolds "Shadow Captain", which is the second in the Revenger series. I'm thinking of this as Defoe or Stevenson in space. They have all the barn-burning, page-turning excitement of the famous pirate novels, but set in a space opera environment far in the future. The characters language in particular calls back to the old pirate stories, with deliberately "old timey" word choices and sentence structures in dialog. It creates a particular ambiance that constantly feels different, but still feeds and creates expectations of the story, which it gladly fulfills. Twists, turns, setbacks and successes abound.

Highly recommend the series.

Malor wrote:

If you're looking for a long-running series that sticks with a given setting and very slowly moves through characters, C.J. Cherryh's Foreigner is excellent. She's up to 19 books on that world, and has plans for at least 21.

Book 21 just released.

I have also recommended the Foreigner series here. I'm up to book 19.

quasiChaos wrote:

HEAR, HEAR!!! (pun intended)

I was just wondering about that audio version of The Graveyard Book. There is a deal on Chirp for the full-cast version of it. The narrator on the audio sample actually sounds very good, but I hesitated because of how much I LOVE to listen to Neil Gaiman read his books (and probably anything else, for that matter). I was hoping he did a version of it himself. Glad to hear that is a thing!

I’ve listened to both versions. The ensemble cast has some mixing problems. Some characters come through louder than others. It’s distracting. Besides, the performances were good but not great. The sound effects and music seemed out of place and jarring.

Try Libby or Overdrive and listen to the one read by Neil himself. Or listen to both of them on Libby.

edit. I just checked chirp and the one read by Neil is only $3.00 more than the cast version.

I read the first Revenger book awhile back and remember enjoying it. I'll have to check on that 2nd one. Although I may have to read the 1st one again it has been so long.

The third one is also out, finishing the series, for those completionists among us.