WWW Wednesday – 31 July 2019

WWW Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Taking on a World of Words, where bloggers share the books that they’ve recently finished, what they are currently reading and what books they are planning to read next. Essentially you have to answer three questions (the Three Ws):

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

So, let’s get to it.

What are you currently reading?

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Ghosts of the Past by Tony Park (Trade Paperback)

I am about half way through this book at the moment and I am really enjoying this complex and multi-layered tale from history.  Make sure to check out my review for Park’s previous book, Scent of Fear.

Howling Dark by Christopher Ruocchio (Audiobook)

I am only a few hours into Howling Dark, but already it is shaping up to be a pretty epic piece of science fiction.  I really loved the previous book in the series, Empire of Silence, and have been looking forward to getting Howling Dark for some time.  I did get a physical copy of this book a couple of weeks ago (with my blog mentioned in the acknowledgements!!!), but decided to try out the audiobook version instead, as it was honestly the only way I could read this book any time soon with my current reading schedule.

What did you recently finish reading?


The Lost Ten
by Harry Sidebottom (Hardcover)

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Star Trek: The Captain’s Oath
by Christopher L. Bennett (Audiobook)

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Graveyard Shift in Ghost Town
by Michael Pryor (Trade Paperback)

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Dark Blade
by Steve Feasey (Trade Paperback)

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Usagi Yojimbo: The Hidden by Stan Sakai (Trade Paperback)

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What do you think you’ll read next?

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The Collaborator by Diane Armstrong (Trade Paperback)

The Blue Rose by Kate Forsyth (Trade Paperback)

I am currently planning to pull together a historical fiction column for the Canberra Weekly, featuring the above two novels and Ghosts of the Past.  All three books sound really interesting, and they are all from talented Australian authors.  This column should published in two weeks and I will post it up when it comes out.

That’s it for this week, check back in next Wednesday to see what progress I’ve made on my reading and what books I’ll be looking at next.

Waiting on Wednesday – Cyber Shogun Revolution by Peter Tieryas

Welcome to my weekly segment, Waiting on Wednesday, where I look at upcoming books that I am planning to order and review in the next few months and which I think I will really enjoy.  I run this segment in conjunction with the Can’t-Wait Wednesday meme that is currently running at Wishful Endings. Stay tuned to see reviews of these books when I get a copy of them.

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Now, this is an upcoming book that I know is going to have a cool concept and be filled with some epic action sequences. If you could not tell from the funky title or awesome-looking cover, Cyber Shogun Revolution is a very unique book, and one that I am very keen to read. Cyber Shogun Revolution follows on from author Peter Tieryas’ previous books, United States of Japan and Mecha Samurai Empire, all of which are set in the same universe. I had the great pleasure of reading Mecha Samurai Empire last year after seeing and falling in love with the plot and the cover in the bookshop. Mecha Samurai Empire was an extremely fun and compelling read, and I cannot wait to check out the latest book in the loosely connected United States of Japan series, which is quite rightly described as a cross between The Man in the High Castle and Pacific Rim.

The United States of Japan books are set in a clever alternate version of our world, where Japan and the Nazis won World War II instead of the allies. The war was mainly won thanks to Japan’s creation of the mecha, gigantic piloted military machines, which allowed the Japanese to soundly defeat the American forces. In the aftermath of the war, the former United States of America was split between Japan and Germany, with the western states becoming the United States of Japan, a territory of the Japanese Empire. American society has since been strongly influenced by Japanese culture and customs, world history has been re-written to paint Japan’s war conduct in a better light and the world is in a golden age of technology, with the mechas making Japan the main military superpower. However, ever since the end of the war, tensions between Japan and the Nazis have slowly been increasing, and Germany even attacked the United States of Japan with their biomorphs (organic mechas) during the last book.

Cyber Shogun Revolution, which is set 20 years after the events of Mecha Samurai Empire, will apparently follow a whole new group of characters in this inventive alternate history universe and has a really intriguing plot synopsis:

Goodreads Synopsis:

NO ONE SURVIVES AN ALLIANCE WITH THE NAZIS. NOT WITHOUT USE OF FORCE.

California, 2020. After a severe injury, ace mecha designer and pilot Reiko Morikawa is recruited to a secret organization plotting a revolt against the corrupt governor (and Nazi sympathizer) of the United States of Japan. When their plan to save the USJ from itself goes awry, the mission is only saved from failure because the governor is killed by an assassin known as Bloody Mary. But the assassin isn’t satisfied with just the governor.

Bishop Wakana used to be a cop. Now he’s an agent of the Tokko, the secret police. Following the trail of a Nazi scientist, Bishop discovers a web of weapons smuggling, black market mecha parts–and a mysterious assassin. This killer once hunted Nazis but now seems to be targeting the USJ itself. As the leaders of the United States of Japan come to realize the devil’s bargain they made in their uneasy alliance with the Nazis, Bishop and Reiko are hot on the trail of Bloody Mary, trying to stop her before it’s too late.

I really like the sound of this plot synopsis and I am looking forward to checking out the latest book in this awesome series. This sounds like such a different adventure to the last one, which mainly focused on the training of the mecha pilots and their skills in battle. Instead, the synopsis indicates that Cyber Shogun Revolution will be a lot more like a spy thriller, and I am curious to see how such a book plays out in this inventive alternate universe setting.

From some of the comments that Peter Tieryas has written on Goodreads and Twitter, it looks like the book is going to spend a good amount of time looking at Bloody Mary, the assassin who is targeting high-ranking members of the United States of Japan government. I am extremely curious about this character and I hope we get to see a lot about her history and motivations. I am also pretty excited because Tieryas noted on his latest Goodreads post for Cyber Shogun Revolution that the machine featured on the outstanding cover of this book is called the Sygma, an anti-mecha machine. Based on its nifty blood-red covering, I am going to go out on a limb here and assume that it belongs to Bloody Mary. If that is the case, that offers some rather intriguing options for this book, and I am imagining some epic mecha fights between Rose and her targets or pursuers.

I am actually really looking forward to this book. I had such a good time reading Mecha Samurai Empire last year that I have been eagerly keeping an eye out for any news of a potential sequel. The details of this third book in the United States of Japan series sound very encouraging, and at this point Cyber Shogun Revolution is extremely high on the list of books I want to read next year, especially if it contains more of the amazing mecha action that was such an awesome feature of Mecha Samurai Empire. Cyber Shogun Revolution is set to be released in March 2020, and I could not be any more excited for it.

Top Ten Tuesday – Series I Want to Get Into

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme that currently resides at The Artsy Reader Girl and features bloggers sharing lists on various book topics. For this week, participants get a freebie and get to choose any topic that they want to, and I have decided that I will use this post to look at the top ten series I want to get into.

Over the last few years, I have gone out of my way to try out several series which I had heard good things about or read intriguing reviews about. In most cases, I have found myself absolutely loving the first book in the series, and I will go on to keep reading all the books that follow on. For quite a lot of these, I really wish that I had tried them out a hell of a lot sooner, such as the Powder Mage series or The Stormlight Archive. Clearly there are a number of amazing series out there that I have not yet had the opportunity to sample, and I really need to start expanding my horizons.

So, for this list I will be looking at the top ten series that I have not had the opportunity to read, but that I wish I had. There are several reasons why I have not been able to read these books, such as availability, time constraints or simply not knowing the books existed until years after their release (try as I might, I can’t keep track of every book that is released). For some of these, I did have the opportunity to read the later books in the series, but I chose not to because I thought it would make more sense to start at the beginning with the first book. There are a great many series out there that have caught my eye, but I am going to limit myself to the top ten ones I want to read, with a few honourable mentions.

For some of these series, I have heard amazing things about them from other reviewers; for others, I really like the plot idea and want to check it out. There are also a few series where I have enjoyed some of the author’s other works and I am interested in seeing what else they have produced. All of these are at the top of my reading list, and I hope to check them all out in the next couple of years, although it is probably going to be a slow process to get through all of them.

Honourable Mentions:


Villains – V. E. Schwab

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This series is apparently an intriguing take one the superhero genre which focuses on two friends who gain superpowers and the dramatic consequences of this. This a rather shorter series than most of the others on this list, currently featuring only two books. However, the sheer amount of love I saw for the second book when it was released last year was just insane. Nearly everyone seemed to be reading this book, and I honestly felt like I was missing out quite a bit. I love a good superhero story and really need to check this book out. I have also heard good things about Schwab’s Shades of Magic series, and I figure I will move onto that once I get through the Villains series.

Jack Reacher – Lee Child

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Ever since I started up my blog, I have been meaning to read more thrillers, as I have a bit of a dearth of knowledge and appreciation of the genre. There are a number of intriguing-sounding or classic thriller series out there that I want to check out in the future, including Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan series or Stephen Hunter’s Bob Lee Swagger series. However, the one I think I am most likely to check out in the immediate future is Lee Child’s Jack Reacher series. I enjoyed the Tom Cruise movies that were based on these books and I would like to check out some of the extremely interesting cases featured within. As the series currently features 23 novels, this may be one of those series where I check out the later books in the series first. In this case, I might look up the 24th novel, Blue Moon, when it comes out this October.

The Dresden Files – Jim Butcher

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The Dresden Files is one of those series that I see a lot of other reviewers gush about and place at the top of their favourite book lists. Featuring a modern world beset with magic, The Dresden Files follow magical PI Harry Dresden as he works a series of intriguing magical crimes. While the whole concept sounds amazing, The Dresden Files has been one of the series that I was mostly unaware of until recently, and now that it is on my radar, I have not been able to make time for it. Currently featuring 15 books, this is one that might take a while to get through; however, it might be worth the effort if they end up making that television adaption that is currently being planned.

Top Ten List (No Particular Order):


Newsflesh – Mira Grant

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A zombie series from one of the best modern authors of horror fiction is definitely something that I need to check out. Mira Grant is an extremely talented author, and I absolutely loved her 2017 release, Into the Drowning Deep, which was just spectacular. Grant has several intriguing series out at the moment, but I really like the sound of the Newsflesh books, which follow a band of blogger journalists as they investigate dark conspiracies in the aftermath of the zombie apocalypse. Currently made up of four books, this sounds like a really cool series and, frankly, after seeing how terrifying Grant can make mermaids, I cannot wait to see what she can do with zombies.

The Divine Cities – Robert Jackson Bennett

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When I read and reviewed Bennett’s latest book, Foundryside, last year I could not help but notice that quite a number of people were already massive fans of Bennett thanks to his The Divine Cities series. The Divine Cities series is set in a fallen city which used to utilise the vast power of its gods to rule the world. However, when the gods fell the city was brutally conquered and made to suffer for its past injustices. I really like the sound of that setting, and the plot then follows a protagonist who investigates a series of mysteries in this broken city. I already know that Bennett can create some intriguing mysteries and conspiracies thanks to Foundryside, so I am very curious to see his earlier work. I also see that a number of reviewers whose opinions I respect have a lot of nice things to say about The Divine Cities series and, as a result, I really think I need to read these books.

The Dinosaur Lords – Victor Milan

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I have to admit that the main reason I want to check out this series is its extremely cool concept. How can I possibly not want to read a fantasy series where the characters go to war riding giant dinosaurs? Honestly, it is impossible to resist, and the moment I heard about this series I knew I would have to read it. But there is one disadvantage that makes me slightly weary, and that is that the series might not be 100% complete. The author, Victor Milan, unfortunately passed away in 2018. While he was able to complete the first three books in The Dinosaur Lords series, the entire series was apparently going to consist of six books. I am slightly worried that I will get into The Dinosaur Lord books only to find myself disappointed with some open plot points when I finish the third book. I don’t think this will be enough to stop me trying out these books, but it is a potential concern I need to keep in mind.

Red Rising Saga – Pierce Brown

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The Red Rising Saga is a series that has been on my reading radar for a while. This is another series which is held in extremely high regard by a number of reviewers I follow, and it actually sounds very interesting, as it follows a war to end caste oppression in a futuristic space society. I have had the opportunity to read one or two of the later books in the series in the past, but I never did. This is mainly because I always though the storylines sounded so complex that it would be best to start the Red Rising Saga from the beginning. This is definitely a series I need to read in the future, especially as Brown is continuing to add to it, with the latest book, Dark Age, literally coming out today.

Mistborn – Brandon Sanderson

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Brandon Sanderson is an extremely talented author whose books I have really enjoyed in the past, especially The Way of Kings and Skyward. As he is an extremely prolific author, he has a huge number of awesome-sounding books out at the moment and I am hoping to read all of them at some point in the future because he is an amazing writer. However, the main body of his work that I want to read next is his Mistborn books. The Mistborn series of books are part of his huge overarching Cosmere novels and are set in the same universe as some of his other series, such as The Stormlight Archive. Featuring a really cool magical system based around different metals and made up of six highly regarded books (with a seventh on the way), the Mistborn books sound spectacular and I look forward to eventually reading them.

Throne of Glass – Sarah J. Maas

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This one has been on my radar ever since I read Maas’s excellent comic book novel, Catwoman: Soulstealer last year. Maas is probably one of the best young adult fiction authors out there at the moment, and the Throne of Glass series is considered by many to be her magnum opus. Featuring eight lengthy books, the Throne of Glass follows teenage assassin Celaena as she battles for freedom in the lands of Adarlan. This is a really cool-sounding series which has received a lot of praise from bloggers who specialise in young adult fiction. As such, it is really high on my to-read list and I hope to enjoy it in the near future. I also have my eye on Maas’s other main series, A Court of Thorns and Roses, which looks like another interesting collection of books.

Saga – Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples

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Probably considered one of the best comic book series of all times, Saga is a major comic book series that I have not had the pleasure of reading. Considering the regard that many comic book fans hold this series in, it is a bit odd that I have never gotten around to actually reading it, especially as I have the first volume sitting on my shelf at the moment. I have enjoyed a number of Vaughan’s other works in the past, so I am unsure why I have not checked these comics out. Hopefully I will not rue my oversight too much when I finally get around to reading the first volume.

The Broken Empire – Mark Lawrence

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If there is one author that I really regret never reading before, it is Mark Lawrence. Lawrence has been a cornerstone of the fantasy genre for several years now, but somehow I have never had the opportunity to read any of his books. This seems like a pretty big oversight on my part, especially as a number of reviewers and bloggers paint him as one of the very best fantasy authors in the world today. His books do sound extremely interesting, and he has written a number of major fantasy series, including The Red Queen’s War and The Book of the Ancestor series. I think I would go back and read The Broken Empire series first though. Not only does this feature his first book, Prince of Thorns, which I have heard is a pretty amazing debut, but I believe that The Broken Empire series is connected to some of his other works and serves as a prequel. As I really intend to read all of Lawrence’s books in the future, it makes sense to start here, and I hope to get around to reading The Broken Empire books quite soon.

Grishaverse series – Leigh Bardugo

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I am slightly cheating here by including several different series as one entry, but I think I can justify it as the series are all set in the same world. Bardugo’s Grishaverse series is currently made up the Grisha trilogy, the Six of Crows duology and the Nikolai duology, which currently features one book, 2019’s King of Scars. Each of the books in the Grishaverse sound extremely interesting, and there is a lot of love for them in reviewing circles. I could not believe how many reviews King of Scars got earlier this year in such a short period of time. Clearly Bardugo is doing something right, and I really need to get aboard and start enjoying her work.

Gaunt’s Ghosts – Dan Abnett

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I was a massive fan of the Warhammer and Warhammer 40,000 universe when I was younger, and I used to collect a lot of the models and booklets. One of the main things that always appealed to me was the extensive lore and fiction that accompanied the modelling side of Warhammer, and I often found it as awesome as the modelling and the battling. I still really enjoy parts of the Warhammer franchise to this day, such as the Dawn of War computer games, and I still like to keep an eye on the lore. Most people would not realise that there is a huge amount of fiction associated with this modelling franchise, with some good books attached to it. I have read a few pieces of Warhammer extended fiction over the years, but the one I have always meant to try out is the Gaunt’s Ghosts series by Dan Abnett. Made up of 16 books, including January 2019’s release Anarch, this series follows the Tanith First-and-Only, a penal unit of Imperial Guardsman fighting under the command of Colonel-Commissar Ibram Gaunt, nicknamed Gaunt’s Ghosts. Throughout the course of the books, the Ghosts are deployed to some of the worst combat areas in the Imperium, fighting against the various enemies of the Emperor. I love the whole concept of this series, which is essentially The Dirty Dozen in space, and I used to read some of the excerpts of the books that appeared in the Games Workshop magazines. Definitely one that is high on my list, I look forward to eventually checking these books out.

I hope you enjoyed my list. It was a bit of a hard one to put together, as there are several additional series I really want to check out, and some, such as The Faithful and the Fallen series and The Nevernight Chronicle, only just missed out from being included. I am hoping to have a look at some of these series soon, although it might be best if I finish off the Joe Ledger, Powder Mage, The Stormlight Archive and The Drenai Saga series that I am currently reading first. Let me know in the comments which series you think I should prioritise reading first and let me know if there are any series that you love that are missing from my list.

Book Haul – 29 July 2019

I’ve had another great week on the book front, getting my hands on several excellent sounding novels that I think I will have an amazing time reading in the near future.  I’ve got a pretty interesting mixture of books and I am looking forward to checking them out.

The Dirty Dozen by Lynda La Plante

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The latest book in La Plante’s fantastic Jane Tennison thriller series, which acts as a prequel to author’s Prime Suspect television show.  I’ve really enjoyed the last two books in the series, Good Friday and Murder Mile, and the plot of The Dirty Dozen sounds really cool.

The Warehouse by Rob Hart

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This sounds like a really interesting piece of science fiction, especially as it looks at some current social issues.

The Second Sleep by Robert Harris

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This is one that I am going to have to read as soon as possible.  I have read some of Robert Harris’ stuff in the past and he has written some great pieces of historical fiction before.  However, I’ve been informed that there are some interesting twists occurring quite early on in the book.  I haven’t gotten any more details than that, but I am extremely curious to see what happens.

Shoot Through by J. M. Green

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This is a fun sounding Australian thriller, I am looking forward to checking this out.

Wild by Nathan Besser

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Another intriguing historical fiction novel, this one sounds like it could be quite a compelling read, and I look forward to checking out this unique historical tale.

Spaceside by Michael Mammay

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I was lucky enough to get an advanced e-copy of Spaceside this week.  Spaceside is a book I have been looking forward to for a while, as the first book in the series, Planetside, was one of my favourite books of last year.  I have so far featured Spaceside in one of my Waiting on Wednesday articles and my recent Top Ten Most Anticipated July-December 2019 list and I hope I love it as much as Planetside.

That’s this week’s book haul.  I better start diving into these books, so much to read, so little time.

DEV1AT3 by Jay Kristoff

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Publisher: Allen & Unwin (Trade Paperback – 17 June 2019)

Series: LIFEL1K3 – Book 2

Length: 423 pages

My Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

From one of the most prolific young adult fiction authors, Jay Kristoff, comes the follow up to his electrifying 2018 smash-hit LIFEL1K3, DEV1AT3.

Over the last few years, Australian author Jay Kristoff has been one of the leading contributors to young adult fiction, writing several bestselling series. His works include The Lotus War series, the highly regarded The Nevernight Chronicles, and The Illuminae Files, which he co-wrote with fellow Australian Amie Kaufman. DEV1AT3 is actually the second of three Kristoff books being released this year, as he has already released the first book in his second collaborative series with Kaufman, Aurora Rising. Darkdawn, the third and final book in The Nevernight Chronicles, is set to be released in early September.

People who keep an eye on my blog may have noticed that I did a short review of DEV1AT3 a few weeks ago in a Canberra Weekly column. I have been meaning to write up an extended review of the book for a while now, as it was quite an enjoyable book with a lot of cool features. DEV1AT3 follows on from the incredibly popular first book, LIFEL1K3. The LIFEL1K3 series follows the adventures of four young friends in the dangerous post-apocalyptic remains of America, now controlled by rival mega-companies and gangs of religious fanatics.

DEV1AT3 is set in the immediate aftermath of the dramatic conclusion of LIFEL1K3, when the protagonist of the first book, Eve, found out the terrible truth of her origin: she is secretly a lifelike, an android who can ignore the Three Laws of Robotics. Worse, she is actually a replica of Ana Monrova, the daughter of the creator of the lifelikes, Nicholas Monrova, whose creations rebelled against him and killed his entire family. With the realisation that everything she has ever known is a lie, Eve begins to plot with the murderous Gabriel and the other lifelikes to find the comatose body of Ana. While Eve simply wants to kill the woman whose life she is imitating; the other lifelikes will use Ana’s body to unlock Monrova’s secrets in order to start a robot revolution.

Out in the post-apocalyptic wastelands surrounding Babel, Eve’s friends, Lemon Fresh, Ezekiel and Cricket, have seen better days. Not only were each of them forced to abandon Eve for different reasons but they must all face their individual consequence of the events that occurred within Babel. When unexpected events force them to separate, each of these friends find themselves in a whole world of trouble.

Lemon Fresh’s status as a deviate, a genetic mutant with the ability to manipulate electricity, has always landed her in trouble, but now she finds herself the ultimate pawn in a war between two of the major corporations that rule the land. Kidnapped by an agent of BioMaas Incorporated, Lemon eventually finds herself falling in with a band of fellow deviate teenagers, each with their own unique abilities, and whose leader, the Major, may hold the secrets to her past.

At the same time, the logika Cricket is stolen and sold to the Brotherhood, a group of religious fanatics determined to destroy every android, deviate and genetically modified being they can find. As the Brotherhood edges closer to a war with the Major’s deviates, Cricket is forced to fight as a robot gladiator while learning the dark secrets at the heart of the cult. Meanwhile, Ezekiel, the one lifelike with any love for humanity, teams up with an old enemy in order to track down Lemon Fresh and Cricket. However, when Ezekiel’s mission leads him into the path of Eve and his other lifelike brothers and sisters, he attempts to find a way to stop their destructive crusade and save his beloved Ana.

This was a fantastic piece of young adult fiction that does a wonderful job of following up the first book in the series. Kristoff tells an exciting story which not only continues the plot lines of the first book but which also takes the characters in some intriguing new directions. However, despite some differences in plot focus, the book continues to feature the cool allusions to other works of fiction that made the first book such a treat to read, and it continues to explore aspects of this intriguing post-apocalyptic setting. Readers who did not get the chance to read the first book, LIFEL1K3, last year will easily be able to start by reading DEV1AT3. Not only is the story quite accessible but it also starts off with an extremely detailed summary of the events and characters from the first book, which allows anyone to fully catch up with where the plot is.

One of the most interesting changes between this book and LIFEL1K3 is that the protagonist of the first book, Eve, is instead cast as an antagonist, and we end up seeing very little of the book’s plot from her point of view. Instead, the plot of DEV1AT3 is mostly split between the three perspectives of Lemon Fresh, Cricket and Ezekiel, who each have their own unique storylines. Each of these storylines is noticeably different, with all three of them making use of some unique features to help create an intriguing and emotionally strong story. The reader gets a real feel for all three of these point-of-view characters throughout the course of their individual plots, and several intriguing new side-characters are introduced. These separate storylines come together to form one amazing overall narrative, which ends with an amazing cliff-hanger for each of the main characters that will ensure readers will have to check out the final book in this series when it comes out.

One of the most intriguing aspects of the LIFEL1K3 series is that each of the books is marketed as a crazy mash-up of several different works of fiction. For example, the first book in the series had a real Alita Battle Angel crossed with Mad Max and Blade Runner vibe to it. Many of the references to the plots of various other media titles that were started in the first book are continued in DEV1AT3. For example, the whole Mad Max vibe of life in the wasteland is actually really enhanced in this book, as the vast majority of the story is spent out in the nuclear wastes and smaller outposts that make up the ruins of America, with a number of crazy car chases in souped-up doomsday vehicles featured throughout. We also get a deeper look at the whole Bladerunner aspect of the story, as Eve comes to terms with actually being a lifelike and attempts to get revenge for her creation.

In this second book, Kristoff’s plot also makes allusions to several other pieces of fiction in the three various storylines. For example, Lemon Fresh’s storyline is an interesting post-apocalyptic take on the X-Men, with the super-powered teen finding kinship with a group of similarly gifted individuals in a world that hates and fears them. The new deviates introduced in this storyline have a pretty cool range of powers, have all been attacked because of their abilities and even have a wise old mentor character in the Major. The various twists associated with this storyline are really clever, and it was interesting to see more deviates aside from Lemon. Ezekiel also has a great storyline within DEV1AT3. While much of his story is still tied up with his feelings for Eve, the lifelike copy of the woman he loves, and all the Bladerunner-esque emotions and thoughts he and his lifelike family experienced in the first book, Kristoff adds a fun new element to his storyline in this book. For much of his storyline, Ezekiel actually teams up with Preacher, the cyborg bounty hunter who was an antagonist of the first book. This is a very fun team-up, and it harkens back to a lot of classic odd-couple crime movies, with the two having a very rocky relationship that kind of improves as the story goes along.

I personally liked Cricket’s storyline the most. Cricket is a logika, a sentient robot who must obey the Three Laws of Robotics. Cricket, who was previously a small assistant robot, had his personality transferred into a massive combat robot in the last book. However, he is kidnapped by members of the Brotherhood, the insidious religious group fighting against Lemon Fresh’s new deviate brethren. Cricket, who has to obey all the orders given to him by the Brotherhood due to the Three Laws of Robotics, is forced to fight in a series of gladiatorial combats. This storyline gives the reader the best insight into the ranks of the Brotherhood, and Cricket uncovers certain secrets while working for them. With the whole Three Laws aspect, this storyline is obviously very reminiscent of the science fiction classic I, Robot; however, Kristoff comes up with some humorous takes on the Three Laws. Thanks to the assistance of the snarky logika Solomon (who I found to be one of the funniest characters in DEV1AT3), Cricket starts to learn how to utilise the loopholes in people’s statements, so he has a degree of freedom and he also makes use of a simple solution to counteract one of the laws, which was pretty funny. All of these references to these established pieces of fiction are great, and I really liked how the author adapted them to fit his compelling young adult story. I especially enjoyed seeing some complex science fiction ideas, such as Isaac Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics, explained to a younger audience, with some cool tweaks to make a more entertaining and modern story.

In addition to fun story and clever references to other works, one of the most interesting things about the LIFEL1K3 series is the cool post-apocalyptic setting that the author has come up with. The nuclear ruins of America always makes for an intriguing setting for a story, and I really enjoyed the cool combination that Kristoff makes in this series with savage nuclear wasteland and high-tech cities. The sheer amount of creativity that Kristoff utilises for the setting is really impressive, as this book alone features wars between rival corporations, desert-dwelling religious nuts, mutants, rebelling androids, bandits and mutated monsters. All of these are utilised extremely well in the story, and I look forward to seeing what other cool aspects of this broken world become apparent in the next instalment of this series.

DEV1AT3 is another wild ride from Jay Kristoff that I had a lot of fun reading. Featuring an excellent story that makes great use of references to some classic pieces of science fiction and fantasy, DEV1AT3 is a fantastic read that refuses to slow down for everything. This is a highly recommended read for the older young adult market, and it will also appeal to older readers. I am extremely curious to see where Kristoff takes this story next and look forward to another electrifying adventure in this mad-cap world.

Knight of Stars by Tom Lloyd

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Publisher: Gollancz (Hardcover – 27 June 2019)

Series: The God Fragments – Book 3

Length: 440 pages 

My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Lynx, Toil and the rest of the Cards are back for another rip-roaring fantasy adventure, as the “heroes” of Tom Lloyd’s The God Fragment series prepare to bring all manner of violence and chaos to another unsuspecting corner of their fantasy world.

Knight of Stars is the third book in The God Fragments series, which follows the adventures of Anatin’s Mercenary Deck, a band of skilled mercenaries otherwise known as the Cards, whose adventures have caused havoc across the Riven Kingdom. The Cards are so called as each member of the band are given a card number or description based on a fictional deck of cards from this universe, which corresponds to their rank within the band. This is the third series from Lloyd, who has previously written the Twilight Reign and The Empire of a Hundred Houses series. The God Fragments series has so far consisted of Stranger of the Tempest in 2016 and Princess of Blood in 2017, with each of the book titles referring to the rank one of that particular novel’s major or most significant character.

In this third book, the Cards are celebrating after surviving and getting paid for their previous adventures in the Labyrinth under the city of Jarrazir. However, their last adventure had unexpected side effects as several of the band have also been magically marked by the powerful Dugar artefact they discovered in the Labyrinth. Not only have these marks magically bound many of the Cards together but they have also had unexpected effects on the Deck’s mages, who have found their magical abilities greatly increased.

The Deck’s employer, the dangerous relic hunter and intelligence officer Toil, has found them a relatively simple job in the distant Mage Islands to take over the holdings of a defaulting gang for a powerful bank. With the prospect of good food, sun, booze, bar fights and the chance to let loose in combat, the Cards are treating it like a holiday, especially as it moves them out of reach of several powerful enemies they have recently made. While Toil seeks out allies and resources for her patron city, the company’s mages attempt to research the magical consequences of their time in the Labyrinth.

However, no mission for the Cards ever goes as planned, and the Mage Islands are a very dangerous place to visit. Between the rival mage guilds, the various gangs and the thousands of giant serpentine tsyarn that surround the city, any miss-step could lead to disaster, and none of the Cards are known for treading lightly, especially as their number includes an infamous exile from the Mage Islands who has left many enemies behind. Unsurprisingly, the members of the Deck soon find themselves in conflict with many powerful members of the Mage Islands’ hierarchy. However, the real trouble comes when several of the Cards accidently awaken something dangerous that dwells beneath the islands.

I was initially drawn to Knight of Stars by the cool plot synopsis, but I found the first 50 or so pages, which detailed the actual journey to the Mage Islands, to be very slow and a little hard to follow. This may have been partly because this was my first time exploring The God Fragment series; I have not had the pleasure of reading the first two books in the series. As a result, I spent quite a bit of time trying to come to grips with the story and the large number of returning characters who were featured in the opening pages of the book. While the summary at the start of the book does a great job of detailing the major points of the adventures that occurred in the previous books in the series, this summary only focuses on a few of the main characters. This means that new readers will not have a good basis for several of the important side characters and may struggle to work out who they are. After getting deeper into the book I was eventually able to come to grips with all of the characters, especially as more details about them were released; however, it was easy to become lost when trying to figure out who was who to begin with. It also didn’t help that the real action and intrigue didn’t really start until the characters got to the Mage Islands, as before that they are mostly stuck talking on a couple of barges. There is a brief fight with some elementals, although what they were and the reason for their presence was a bit unclear in my opinion. While I am glad that I continued past it and enjoyed the rest of story, the first part of the book might not be able to hold some new readers’ interest.

While this is not the most ideal start to the book, those readers who persevere will find that Lloyd has created an excellent and highly entertaining novel. The author has done a wonderful job of taking his band of rogues to a deadly new location within his fantasy universe and the allowing them to run wild, resulting in all manner of chaos. The overall story becomes extremely compelling the deeper you get into it, and the last 150-odd pages are pretty darn epic, featuring some big moments with some significant stakes for the protagonists. All of this results in a very enjoyable story, and I ended up have an absolute blast reading this book.

One of the main things that I liked about this book that was the non-stop fantasy action featured within it. It is obvious that Lloyd has a real talent for writing exciting combat sequences, which he uses to his full advantage by featuring a huge number of electrifying fight scenes throughout the course of his book. Many of these amazing scenes feature elements of the unique magical system that Lloyd has created for The God Fragments series, and I particularly liked the mage-guns that were a major feature of the action. Mage-guns are specialised weapons which all the Cards are armed with that fire various magical rounds of ammo to great effect. This includes electrical blast, ice shots, blasts of flame and devastating earth based shots designed to smash buildings and the ground. The author does an amazing job showcasing these unique weapons and the tactics behind them throughout the book, and they really add a whole new element to the combat sequences. While the combat for the first three quarters of the story is really cool, the fight between the Cards and the major opponents that they encounter in the last part of the book are extremely impressive and very ambitious. I would therefore heartily recommend Knight of Stars to those readers who are looking for a good piece of fantasy action, as it is an amazing feature of this book.

On top of the awesome action, the Cards of the Mercenary Deck are pretty fun. I really liked how Lloyd decided to set a story around a group of rough, fun-loving group of frankly oversexed mercenaries, as it makes for a very amusing tale. The story is told from the perspective of several members of the group, including Lynx, the original protagonist of the series; Toil, the secret agent who is funding the group; and Sitain, one of the group’s three mages. The Cards are a fun group of protagonists, most of whom have seen or done too much violence, so they now see the world through a rather cynical viewpoint. Their love for life is quite infectious, and they make for an entertaining group of narrators, with their rude and crude attitudes often coming to the fore. The Cards also have a very unique way of dealing with problems, and it is always fun to follow a group whose master plan involves starting a particularly violent bar fight. Several of the characters have interesting story arcs within this book, especially Teshen, the titular Knight of Stars, who returns to the Mage Islands to face the demons of his past. There are a couple of major developments for some of the characters in this book, and readers should be careful about some upcoming heartbreak. This is a wonderful group of characters, and I really enjoyed seeing how their story progressed in this book.

The location for this latest book, the Mage Islands, is a really cool setting for this action-packed story. The Mage Islands is a brand-new setting, located some distance away from where any of the previous books were set. The Mage Islands is home to a ramshackle city of canals, slums, lagoons and giant sloths as pack animals, and is a great backdrop for all the action and criminal activity that occurs throughout the book. Lloyd does an excellent job of portraying a hot, tropical location filled with all manner of dangers, criminals and pests. However, rather than the usual vast number of tropical bugs and insects, the city is surrounded by a huge swarm of giant monsters, the tsyarn (the monster on the cover). As you can probably guess from the name, the city is also home to a massive population of mages, and the Cards find themselves drawn into a conflict between some of the rival mage guilds. Overall, this was a fantastic location for this enjoyable story, and I look forward to seeing where the Cards end up next.

Knight of Stars is an exciting and captivating third instalment in Tom Lloyd’s The God Fragments series. While I did initially struggle to get into the story, once I stuck with it, I was able to enjoy its compelling plot, amazing action, great characters and excellent new location. This book is worth checking out, and I look forward to reading Lloyd’s future instalments in this series.

WWW Wednesday – 24 July 2019

WWW Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Taking on a World of Words, where bloggers share the books that they’ve recently finished, what they are currently reading and what books they are planning to read next. Essentially you have to answer three questions (the Three Ws):

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

So, let’s get to it.

What are you currently reading?

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The Lost Ten by Harry Sidebottom (Hardcover)

I’m currently halfway through this book and hoping to finish it off in the next day or so.  I have been really looking forward to this book for a while, especially after Sidebottom’s previous book, The Last Hour.  So far it has not disappointed and I am really enjoying it.

Star Trek: The Captain’s Oath by Christopher L. Bennett (Audiobook)

I am only a couple of hours into this but it is quite an interesting Star Trek book so far.

What did you recently finish reading?

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Star Wars: Thrawn: Treason by Timothy Zahn (Trade Paperback)

Knight of Stars by Tom Lloyd (Hardcover)

King of Assassins by R. J. Barker (Audiobook)

What do you think you’ll read next?

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Graveyard Shift in Ghost Town by Michael Pryor (Trade Paperback)

Dark Blade by Steve Feasey (Trade Paperback)

I am currently working on a young adult column for the Canberra Weekly, and I am planning to feature the two books above as well as War of the Bastards by Andrew Shvarts.  It should make for a good column, which will be published in two weeks.

That’s it for this week, check back in next Wednesday to see what progress I’ve made on my reading and what books I’ll be looking at next.