You are asking for recommendations, which mean you want other people's opinions. I've always got at least one of those to spare!
For VB and Microsoft SQL Server, I'd recomment Quilogy. in my opinion, Alan Groh is one of the best teacher/mentor types in the business.
For the really, really interesting SQL, I'd recomment Joe Celko. Joe was on the committee that defined what SQL ought to do, and he has been a consultant for years teaching and helping folks figure out just what the existing SQL engines really do, especially when that deviates from the standard. If nothing else, he's fun to listen to when he discovers a new "feature" in one of the SQL dialects!