49 books like Zoe's Tale

By John Scalzi,

Here are 49 books that Zoe's Tale fans have personally recommended if you like Zoe's Tale. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Seraphina

Danika Dinsmore Author Of Brigitta of the White Forest

From my list on adventurous girls in fantastic worlds.

Why am I passionate about this?

Since my first trip to Oz, Dad’s voice traveling me to sleep, I’ve been in love with fantastic worlds, from the microscopic to the intergalactic. I’m drawn to the observations of poets, astronomers, and metaphysicians, but there’s a special place in my heart for children’s authors. Someone once told me middle grade is the “sweet spot.” Readers start making independent choices, exploring stories that resonate with them. I’ve been teaching world-building to students and writers of all ages since 1998, and there is something magical about those 8-12 year-olds with their wild imaginations and eagerness to explore. I wrote my fantasy series for 10-year-old me, lost in such worlds.  

Danika's book list on adventurous girls in fantastic worlds

Danika Dinsmore Why did Danika love this book?

I love books where dragons feature as complex characters, and I’m particularly interested in their relationships with humans. Hartman’s dragons are magnificent creatures and, like humans, full of paradoxes. Our heroine, Seraphina, lives in a kingdom celebrating a forty-year peace treaty with the dragons, though not everyone is happy about this treaty.

Seraphina is quirky, clever, and a geek for intellectual pursuits like art and philosophy, and a talented musician. But she’s also moody and reclusive, isolating herself not just because of her insecurities… she has a dark secret, revealed over the course of the story. In addition to the mystery of a royal murder and in the background of a plot to destroy the peace treaty, Seraphina falls in love with the Captain of the Queen’s guard, who is engaged to someone else.

I’m not generally drawn to romance novels, but this romance developed in such an organic way,…

By Rachel Hartman,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Seraphina as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 12, 13, 14, and 15.

What is this book about?

The kingdom of Goredd is populated by humans and by dragons who fold themselves into a human form. Though they live alongside each other, the peace between them is uneasy.

But when a member of the royal family is murdered, and the crime appears to have been committed by a dragon the peace and treaty between both worlds is seriously threatened . . .

Into this comes Seraphina, a gifted musician who joins the royal court as the assistant to the court composer. She is soon drawn into the murder investigation and, as she uncovers hints of a sinister plot…


Book cover of Victories Greater Than Death

Dan Rice Author Of Dragons Walk Among Us

From my list on YA fantasy and sci-fi with diverse perspectives.

Why am I passionate about this?

As an author of young adult fantasy and science fiction, I’ve read many books that fall within that rubric. This list captures the most exciting young adult novels I’ve read over the past few years. All have aspects of storytelling and themes I strive to capture in my writing. One thing I love about the young adult genre is the characters go on an adventure full of excitement and danger. The adventure is a metaphor for growing up. So if reads chock-full of death-defying odds, mystery, wonder, and a sprinkling of romance are your jam, the books in this list are for you.

Dan's book list on YA fantasy and sci-fi with diverse perspectives

Dan Rice Why did Dan love this book?

I was blown away by how good Victories Greater Than Death is. It reminds me of the original Star Trek with its optimism and inclusiveness. Charlie Jane Anders puts inclusiveness front and center with the sheer diversity of her characters in ethnic origin, neurodiversity, and LGBTQA+ identification. This is done brilliantly in a manner that is in your face, lighthearted, touching, and nuanced. All this is accomplished without sacrificing the yarn's sci-fi suave.

The protagonist is Tina, a teenage girl destined to transform into an alien superhero. Her story thrums with fantastical adventure while exploring questions of identity and purpose with gravitas. I explore similar themes in my writing and hope I handle them with the aplomb Charlie Jane Anders does.

By Charlie Jane Anders,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Victories Greater Than Death as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 13, 14, 15, and 16.

What is this book about?

Outsmart Your Enemies. Outrun the Galaxy.

“Just please, remember what I told you. Run. Don’t stop running for anything.”

Tina never worries about being 'ordinary'--she doesn't have to, since she's known practically forever that she's not just Tina Mains, average teenager and beloved daughter. She's also the keeper of an interplanetary rescue beacon, and one day soon, it's going to activate, and then her dreams of saving all the worlds and adventuring among the stars will finally be possible. Tina's legacy, after all, is intergalactic--she is the hidden clone of a famed alien hero, left on Earth disguised as a…


Book cover of Exo

Dan Rice Author Of Dragons Walk Among Us

From my list on YA fantasy and sci-fi with diverse perspectives.

Why am I passionate about this?

As an author of young adult fantasy and science fiction, I’ve read many books that fall within that rubric. This list captures the most exciting young adult novels I’ve read over the past few years. All have aspects of storytelling and themes I strive to capture in my writing. One thing I love about the young adult genre is the characters go on an adventure full of excitement and danger. The adventure is a metaphor for growing up. So if reads chock-full of death-defying odds, mystery, wonder, and a sprinkling of romance are your jam, the books in this list are for you.

Dan's book list on YA fantasy and sci-fi with diverse perspectives

Dan Rice Why did Dan love this book?

On the surface, Exo is a tale of Earth occupied by aliens. What makes this story interesting is the protagonist, Donovan, is trapped between two worlds. He is the son of a prominent liaison between humanity and the aliens, and he is a member of the police force employed by the aliens to keep the recalcitrant humans in line. But when human freedom fighters capture him, he identifies with aspects of their cause while disagreeing with their tactics and believing the aliens are not evil.

Lee does an excellent job of creating a world where nothing is black and white. Donovan is a sympathetic character trapped by his divided loyalties without easy solutions to his conundrums.

By Fonda Lee,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Exo as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 13, 14, 15, and 16.

What is this book about?

“A deeply immersive story that balances fantastic, original world building with spine-tingling adventure.” —Sabaa Tahir, #1 New York Times–bestselling author

It’s been a century of peace since Earth became a colony of an alien race with far reaches into the galaxy. Some die-hard extremists still oppose alien rule on Earth, but Donovan Reyes isn’t one of them. His dad holds the prestigious position of Prime Liaison in the collaborationist government, and Donovan’s high social standing along with his exocel (a remarkable alien technology fused to his body) guarantee him a bright future in the security forces. That is, until a…


Call Me Stan: A Tragedy in Three Millennia

By K.R. Wilson,

Book cover of Call Me Stan: A Tragedy in Three Millennia

K.R. Wilson Author Of Call Me Stan: A Tragedy in Three Millennia

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Novelist Reader History enthusiast Occasional composer Sometime chorister

K.R.'s 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

When King Priam's pregnant daughter was fleeing the sack of Troy, Stan was there. When Jesus of Nazareth was beaten and crucified, Stan was there - one crossover. He’s been a Hittite warrior, a Silk Road mercenary, a reluctant rebel in the Peasant’s Revolt of 1381, and an information peddler in the cabarets of post-war Berlin. Stan doesn't die, and he doesn't know why. And now he's being investigated for a horrific crime.

As Stan tells his story, from his origins as an Anatolian sheep farmer to his custody in a Toronto police interview room, he brings a wry, anachronistic…

Call Me Stan: A Tragedy in Three Millennia

By K.R. Wilson,

What is this book about?

Long-listed for the 2022 Leacock Medal for Humour

When King Priam's pregnant daughter was fleeing the sack of Troy, Stan was there. When Jesus of Nazareth was beaten and crucified, Stan was there - one cross over. Stan has been a Hittite warrior, a Roman legionnaire, a mercenary for the caravans of the Silk Road and a Great War German grunt. He’s been a toymaker in a time of plague, a reluctant rebel in the Peasants' Revolt of 1381, and an information peddler in the cabarets of post-war Berlin. Stan doesn't die, and he doesn't know why. And now he's…


Book cover of The Witches of Vegas

Dan Rice Author Of Dragons Walk Among Us

From my list on YA fantasy and sci-fi with diverse perspectives.

Why am I passionate about this?

As an author of young adult fantasy and science fiction, I’ve read many books that fall within that rubric. This list captures the most exciting young adult novels I’ve read over the past few years. All have aspects of storytelling and themes I strive to capture in my writing. One thing I love about the young adult genre is the characters go on an adventure full of excitement and danger. The adventure is a metaphor for growing up. So if reads chock-full of death-defying odds, mystery, wonder, and a sprinkling of romance are your jam, the books in this list are for you.

Dan's book list on YA fantasy and sci-fi with diverse perspectives

Dan Rice Why did Dan love this book?

The Witches of Vegas is a bewitching read that is hard to put down. Mainly, the narrative is divided between two high school-aged teens, Isis and Zack. Isis is a young witch kept in relative social isolation for her safety and the safety of others. The magic system in this world stems from emotion, and a young witch unable to control their feelings might magically lash out by accident. Zack is an apprentice magician, practicing card tricks and sleight of hand under his Uncle Herb's tutelage.

The Witches of Vegas is an enjoyable and quick read with a unique premise. I found Rosendorf's insight into how street performers pull off their tricks of particular interest.

By Mark Rosendorf,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Witches of Vegas as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Where can Witches and their vampire mentor practice their powers without being discovered or persecuted?

By using their magic, the Witches of Vegas become the number one act performing on the Las Vegas Strip—a great achievement for them, but not so much for the magicians—who can't possibly keep pace.

Isis Rivera is the adopted fifteen-year old daughter of The Witches of Vegas. Zack Galloway is the teenage nephew and assistant to the last magician left in the city. Although they should be rivals, when Valeria, a four-hundred-year-old witch with a long-seeded grudge against humanity arrives in Sin-City, both teens act…


Book cover of Old Man's War

Bennett R. Coles Author Of Virtues of War

From my list on military sci-fi books that actually understand what it feels like to be in the military.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was 4 years old when I first saw Star Wars, and it changed my entire world view. Basically, from that moment forward everything was cooler if it was in SPACE! Eventually, I grew up, and today, I’ve served more than 20 years in uniform, but I discovered along the way that most sci-fi doesn’t portray the military accurately. When I started writing, one of my goals was to present as realistic a depiction of the military as I can (in space!) and I’ve always enjoyed books like the ones on my list that do the same. 

Bennett's book list on military sci-fi books that actually understand what it feels like to be in the military

Bennett R. Coles Why did Bennett love this book?

The premise of Old Man’s War is basically every old man’s fantasy (no… not what you think). But if there really was a way to combine the wisdom of age with the virility of youth, I think we’d all be on board.

From a military point of view, it does a great job of bringing a civilian through the recruiting and basic training process without resorting to the trope of a wide-eyed, innocent youth who finds his strength.

In this case, our recruit already comes with a lifetime of experience and his observations of military training and philosophy are pithy, grounded and very entertaining. It’s a fresh look at basic training and it goes a long way to explain why recruits are trained the way they are.

By John Scalzi,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked Old Man's War as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Perfect for an entry-level sci-fi reader and the ideal addition to a veteran fan’s collection, John Scalzi's Old Man’s War will take audiences on a heart-stopping adventure into the far corners of the universe.

John Perry did two things on his 75th birthday. First he visited his wife's grave. Then he joined the army.

The good news is that humanity finally made it into interstellar space. The bad news is that planets fit to live on are scarce-and aliens willing to fight for them are common. The universe, it turns out, is a hostile place.

So: we fight. To defend…


Book cover of Ciaphas Cain: Hero of the Imperium

Andrew Claydon Author Of The Simple Delivery

From my list on fantasy and sci-fi to make you laugh.

Why am I passionate about this?

For me the best fantasy and sci-fi is made up of many themes. Take one of my favorite fantasy movies, Willow. It has heart and comedy but also drama, action, and high stakes. This is something that I want from my writing. I want the reader to laugh, and a few paragraphs later be gasping as the main character faces mortal peril. With the very best books, you get taken on a roller coaster of emotional responses. As a UK fantasy author, my goal is to make sure that you put my books down only when you absolutely have to, which includes falling asleep holding them because you’ve stayed up too late reading.

Andrew's book list on fantasy and sci-fi to make you laugh

Andrew Claydon Why did Andrew love this book?

Nothing about the Warhammer 40,000 universe says ‘funny’. The fact that it’s fans call it the ‘grimdark’ is a proud testament to this. I’ve read a lot of Warhammer books, but was surprised when I came across this series. It follows Ciaphas Cain, a Commissar who is trying to survive and find the cushiest job for himself in a universe of constant war, yet somehow, he constantly ends up being the hero.

This book really opened my eyes to the fact that you can humor even in the grittiest settings, and that just because a book is funny, it doesn’t mean it can’t be action-packed and have high stakes. Much of the humor comes from Cain’s futile attempts to avoid any sort of combat and save his own skin.

By Sandy Mitchell,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Ciaphas Cain as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The first three action-packed adventures of Commissar Ciaphas Cain, and his malodorous aide Jurgen are collected together into one amazing volume. His brand of sarcasm and self-preservation are a hit with Black Library fans and provide a unique counterpoint to the usual darkness of the Warhammer 40,000 universe.


Book cover of Halo: The Fall of Reach

Matthew Michaelson Author Of Daughters of Astrid

From my list on licensed books from settings that inspired me.

Why am I passionate about this?

All of the books I’ve recommended here involve various game series, or at least subseries in a larger franchise like Star Wars, that has come to influence my own writing, be it with the technology, the setting details, or just various writing quirks I’ve picked up over the years. I’m a long-standing fan of video games and strategy games or RPGs in particular, and I’ve been told in the past that my novels feel very video-game-y, though such was not my original intention. I should hope that the books I recommend here will give you some insight into what sources I draw from as I write my own novels!

Matthew's book list on licensed books from settings that inspired me

Matthew Michaelson Why did Matthew love this book?

The Halo Universe is a massive, sprawling sci-fi series that many assume to be just a random sci-fi shooter franchise. The Fall of Reach acts as a prequel to the first game and to the Halo series as a whole. Focusing on the initial creation of the Spartan-II Super Soldier program, the growth of Spartan John-117 into a super soldier, and culminating in the defense of the planet he’s grown up on, The Fall of Reach serves to set the stage for the Halo franchise. I recommend picking up the reprints from 2011 or later, as it fixes many continuity errors induced later on in the series.

Book cover of An Introduction to Planetary Defense: A Study of Modern Warfare Applied to Extra-Terrestrial Invasion

Fernando J. Ballesteros Author Of E.T. Talk: How Will We Communicate with Intelligent Life on Other Worlds?

From my list on humanistic answers from the skies.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am an astronomer and astrobiologist, and my field of work leads me to wonder about the origin of life in the universe and how scientific discoveries (and especially those related to space) affect culture, people's lives, or even civilization itself. All of the books listed here focus precisely on answering some of these concerns, which is why I find them extremely interesting.

Fernando's book list on humanistic answers from the skies

Fernando J. Ballesteros Why did Fernando love this book?

I find it is a very fun book that nevertheless finds a good balance between rigor, seriousness and sense of humor. It deals with a typical science fiction topic, "What would we do if aliens invaded us," but it does so from what is really feasible.

This captivating read immersed me in the complex world of cosmic defense, the boundaries of space exploration, and modern warfare. After reading it, I realize how unprotected we are.

Book cover of Gust Front

B.K. Bass Author Of What Once Was Home

From my list on ordinary people surviving the extraordinary.

Why am I passionate about this?

I lived in small towns with “ordinary” people most of my life, so books where people from small towns contend with situations beyond the ordinary fascinate me. I also served in the US Army as a nuclear, biological, and chemical operations specialist and am a military history buff, so anything with a military spin is all that more engaging for me and I developed a morbid fascination for just how easy it would be for us to end civilization as we know it. Therefore, military science fiction and post-apocalyptic fiction are among my favorite genres. 

B.K.'s book list on ordinary people surviving the extraordinary

B.K. Bass Why did B.K. love this book?

Parts of Gust Front hit home. I read this while living in the Appalachians, so seeing Cally preparing for an invasion in a remote valley in Georgia, and the subsequent fighting that takes place in and around the Appalachians, struck a nerve with me. If the worst happened, up to and including the alien invasion depicted here, would the mountains be the best place to hold out and resist? The scope of the novel covers many settings, including other familiar ones like Washington D.C., all of which ground the speculative premise of an alien invasion in a story that feels very real; something that any of us could be forced to live through.

Book cover of Star Wars The High Republic: Into The Dark

Ben Green Author Of Forged in the Fallout

From my list on YA with boys who defy stereotypes.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a grown man who reads and writes young adult fantasy books. I believe YA stories are perfect for nearly every audience. Let me tell you why. Our teenage years are filled with growth. As we mature, we forget what such rapid change feels like. We become less empathetic toward youth. And yet, many of our characteristics—positive and negative—develop during these years. I read YA to understand myself. It also helps me be a more understanding father and teacher. That said, I'm very picky. I despise teenage stereotypes. For young men, it is particularly hard to find books that depict empathetic male characters. Here’s a list of books where young men feel genuine.

Ben's book list on YA with boys who defy stereotypes

Ben Green Why did Ben love this book?

Reath Silas is a very relatable Jedi, though perhaps not the most heroic at first.

He deeply doesn’t want to leave the comfort of his home on Coruscant, especially for his first assignment in the outer rim. He would rather explore the Jedi archives and attend historiography. Maybe, like Anakin Skywalker, he too dislikes sand. But reluctantly he faces the challenge.

When his group’s ship is pulled out of hyperspace, they take refuge in an abandoned space station. Reath is thrust into a world of pirate looters, shady guild members, and a dark-side mystery concerning the station itself.

What lessons will this young padawan learn?

By Claudia Gray, Giorgio Baroni (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Star Wars The High Republic as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 12, 13, 14, and 15.

What is this book about?

Long before the Clone Wars, the Empire, or the First Order, the Jedi lit the way for the galaxy in a golden age known as the High Republic!

Padawan Reath Silas is being sent from the cosmopolitan galactic capital of Coruscant to the undeveloped frontier-and he couldn't be less happy about it. He'd rather stay at the Jedi Temple, studying the archives. But when the ship he's traveling on is knocked out of hyperspace in a galactic-wide disaster, Reath finds himself at the center of the action. The Jedi and their traveling companions find refuge on what appears to be…


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