Paul Maier is an author I greatly enjoy. He has served Russell H. Seibert Professor of Ancient History at Western Michigan University.
In addition to his academic work (like translating Josephus and Eusebius and writing 200 articles and reviews in such journals as Archiv für Reformationsgeschichte, Harvard Theological Review, Hermes: Zeitschrift für Klassische Philologie), he has also made accessible his historical studies through books for children and through historical-reconstruction novels.
If you've never checked out his books, I'd recommend looking at The Flames of Rome (on ancient Rome) and Pontius Pilate. These are engaging books, in novel form, where you can learn a great deal about ancient history. Obviously the dialogue is often (though not always) invented, but all the characters and plot are historical. (I first saw Flames of Rome on a recommended reading list from Doug Moo for an NT class!)
Today Professor Maier sent me a very nice endorsement for the ESV Study Bible, which may be of interest to some readers.