Waiting on Wednesday – Retribution and Headcase

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.  For my latest Waiting on Wednesday I check out two fantastic upcoming crime fiction novels from some of the very best authors Australia has to offer.

Due to my location I tend to receive a lot of fiction written by Australian authors and I have really grown to appreciate the talent that my countrymen have for writing brilliant crime fiction reads.  I have already had the pleasure of reading some truly impressive Australian murder mysteries and thrillers this year, including several great debuts.  However, for this post I want to highlight two outstanding sequels coming out later this year that I am very excited for.  Both books are written by exceptional writers, and I can’t wait to see how their respective series continue.

Retribution Cover

The first book I want to look is Retribution by Sarah Barrie.  Last year Barrie presented an incredible and deeply powerful book in Unforgiven, a gripping Australian thriller that ended up being one of the best Australian fiction releases of 2021Unforgiven followed former child abuse victim turned vigilante, Lexi Winter, who spends her days hunting down and destroying paedophiles around Sydney.  However, Lexi is forced to work with the detective who failed her years ago when evidence emerges that suggests that the monster from her past is still out there.  This resulted in an impressive and deeply captivating read that saw Lexi and the police dive into a particularly dark part of Sydney’s criminal underbelly only to be thwarted at every turn by a master manipulator.  I had an outstanding time with this book, and I was utterly enthralled all the way to the final epic twist, especially as Barrie left the story open for a potential sequel.

This sequel is set for release in a few months’ time with the intriguing follow-up RetributionRetribution, which has a release date of 30 November 2022, will bring back the main characters from the first book and set them on a new thrilling case, as threads from the previous investigation continue to haunt them.  I am quite excited for this new book, especially as it will feature an evolution for the compelling main protagonist, while also continuing the dark crime fiction elements that Barrie set up so well in the first book.  I have no doubt that this is going to be one of the most intense Australian reads of 2022 and I can’t wait to see how this latest mystery unfolds.

Plot Synopsis:

Once a vigilante, she’s now a cop … but she still plays by her own rules. A fast-paced, suspenseful thriller for readers of Candice Fox and Sarah Bailey.

Ace hacker, ex-prostitute, Jack Daniels drinker and part-time vigilante Lexi Winter returns, now working with the police – mostly – with a new enemy in the target and an old foe at the back of her mind.

Most probationary constables would baulk at chasing a drug dealer into a train tunnel in the dead of night. Not Lexi Winter. She emerges injured but alive, to face the wrath of her boss. Lexi may now be in uniform, but she has as much trouble with authority as ever, and is quietly using her hacking skills to investigate a notorious drug-dealing Sydney crime family with links to her old prey, the paedophile Damon Vaughn.

Meanwhile, Detective Sergeant Finn Carson investigates a death on a Sydney building site … which oddly enough, leads him to the picturesque Wondabyne station on the Hawkesbury River, and Inspector Rachael Langley oversees an investigation that could tie it all together. Lexi holds the key … if only she’ll toe the line …

Amazon     Book Depository

The next upcoming book I want to highlight is Headcase, written by fellow Canberran Jack Heath.  Heath is swiftly working his way up the list of Australia’s best crime fiction authors, especially as he has delivered some absolutely cracking reads in the last couple of years.  While he has written some great young adult thrillers, Heath is probably best known for his ongoing Timothy Blake series, which follows a deranged cannibalistic serial killer as he investigates impossible crimes throughout America.  The Timothy Blake books are thrilling, gory and utterly entertaining reads, and I had a lot of fun with the last book, Hideout (one of my favourite Australian releases of 2020), which saw Blake trapped in a house with a group of other serial killers, which predictably resulted in a massive bloodbath.  I also deeply enjoyed Heath’s last book, Kill Your Brother, a five-star read that saw a woman caught in a terrible situation where the only way to survive is to kill a fellow captive, her beloved brother.  Loaded with clever twists and with some amazing characters, Kill Your Brother was an exceptional read that has made extremely keen in checking out anything else Heath releases.

Headcase Cover

Luckily for me, Heath has a new book coming out in a few months’ time, and I am very happy to see that it is another Timothy Blake thriller.  This new Timothy Blake entry, which is set for release around the same time as Retribution, has the very intriguing title of Headcase, and it sounds like it is going to be quite the awesome read.  Following the psychotic Blake as he investigates a mysterious murder of a Chinese astronaut in a highly secure NASA base, Headcase sounds pretty damn epic book that will blend together a spy thriller narrative, with the dark psychological aspects of Heath’s amazing protagonist.  I have a feeling that Headcase is going to be one of the craziest books of 2022 and I will love every single second I spend reading it.

Plot Synopsis:

Timothy Blake returns in a tense, unputdownable thriller from the author of Hangman.

A Chinese astronaut is found dead in a NASA training environment in Houston, Texas. No one can explain how he got there. Amid fears of a diplomatic catastrophe, the CIA dispatches Timothy ‘Hangman’ Blake to investigate, because a convicted kidnapper works in the facility – someone Blake put away a long time ago.

Blake is deeply insane, afflicted by terrible urges he can barely control – but he’s also brilliant. Zara, his beautiful and deadly CIA handler, suspects a secret Chinese spacecraft is surveilling the United States, but Blake can see something much more sinister is going on. Something connected to the kidnapping seven years ago, to the technologies being developed at NASA, and to the serial killer known as the Texas Reaper.

Will Blake survive long enough to uncover the truth? And if he does, will anyone even believe him?

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Waiting on Wednesday – Dead of Night by Simon Scarrow

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.  In this week’s Waiting on Wednesday, I look at a fantastic upcoming historical murder mystery with Dead of Night by Simon Scarrow.

Dead of Night Cover

Amazon     Book Depository

I have been in a real historical fiction mood over the last week, having read several awesome and enjoyable reads with great historical settings to them.  As such, I wanted to feature a historical fiction book in my Waiting on Wednesday post and who better to look at then one of my favourite authors, Simon Scarrow.  Readers of this blog will know I have been a major fan of Scarrow for years, and reviews for several of his latest books, such as The Blood of Rome, Traitors of Rome, The Emperor’s Exile and The Honour of Rome, can be found here.  The above books all fall within his Eagles of the Empire series, and I have a lot of love for his Roman historical fiction work.  I am especially keen for his next novel, Death to the Emperor, which is out very soon, however, the Eagles of the Empire books aren’t Scarrow’s only ongoing series.

Last year Scarrow released an intriguing and enjoyable historical murder mystery novel with Blackout.  Set in Nazi controlled Berlin just before the outbreak of World War II, Blackout followed an honest police detective who attempts to investigate a series of brutal murders throughout the city during a harsh winter.  This case was complicated by the political implications of the murders, and the protagonist was forced to go up against the dangerous and insidious Nazi party, while trying to maintain his own soul.  I deeply enjoyed Blackout and I had an amazing time exploring Scarrow’s foray in the crime fiction, especially as it worked well with the exceptional historical elements.

Due to how much I enjoyed Blackout (as well as my general love of all things Scarrow), I have been keeping an eye out for a potential sequel for a couple of years now, and I was very happy when some details about it where released.  This second Blackout novel will be Dead of Night, which is currently set for release in February 2023, and it appears that it will continue some of the excellent elements contained in the first book.

I really like the sound of the plot for Dead of Night, especially as the book will continue to follow the first novel’s protagonist, Criminal Inspector Horst Schenke, as he finds himself caught up in another complex and problematic murder investigation.  This time, Schenke finds himself barred from investigating the suspicious death of a SS doctor and must once again contend with the machinations of his Nazis superiors as he attempts to solve the crime.  The plot sounds amazing, and it looks like Scarrow will once again combine a great mystery, with an examination of the Nazi regime and how it took over key German institutions, like the police.

As such, I am pretty excited for Dead of Night, and I already know I am going to have a brilliant time getting through this book.  Not only am I excited for the sequel to Blackout, but I am just generally happy to get another Scarrow book so soon after the upcoming Eagles of the Empire book.  I have no doubt that Dead of Night is going to be one of the best historical fiction reads of 2023 and I look forward to getting through this compelling mystery.

Synopsis:

The stunning new thriller set in wartime Berlin from the author of Blackout: ‘A wonderfully compelling thriller, reeking of authenticity, and a terrific depiction of the human world within the chilling world of the Third Reich’ Peter James

BERLIN. JANUARY 1941. Evil cannot bring about good . . .

After Germany’s invasion of Poland, the world is holding its breath and hoping for peace. At home, the Nazi Party’s hold on power is absolute.

One freezing night, an SS doctor and his wife return from an evening mingling with their fellow Nazis at the concert hall. By the time the sun rises, the doctor will be lying lifeless in a pool of blood.

Was it murder or suicide? Criminal Inspector Horst Schenke is told that under no circumstances should he investigate. The doctor’s widow, however, is convinced her husband was the target of a hit. But why would anyone murder an apparently obscure doctor? Compelled to dig deeper, Schenke learns of the mysterious death of a child. The cases seem unconnected, but soon chilling links begin to emerge that point to a terrifying secret.

Even in times of war, under a ruthless regime, there are places in hell no man should ever enter. And Schenke fears he may not return alive . . .

Waiting on Wednesday – Red Dirt Road by S. R. White

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.  For this latest entry, I check out an intriguing and fantastic upcoming new Australian murder mystery novel with Red Dirt Road by S. R. White.

Red Dirt Road Cover

Amazon     Book Depository

Last year I was lucky enough to receive a copy of a fantastic novel from a new-to-me author, S. R. White, with PrisonerPrisoner was an awesome and compelling crime fiction read that featured a complex and deeply impressive investigation in the remote Australian outback.  Emphasising interrogation scenes and clever crime scene investigation, this was an extremely good piece of Australian crime fiction that I had an outstanding time reading.  As such, I have been very interested in reading more books from White, and I was very happy to find out that he has a new novel coming out in a few months’ time.

This new novel from White is Red Dirt Road, which is currently set for release in January 2023.  Red Dirt Road has another great sounding narrative to it that will see White’s recurring protagonist, Detective Dana Russo, travel to a new town and investigate two crazy murders.  Set in a very remote location, it appears that Russo will be trapped in town with the potential murderer and must work to uncover why and how this crime occurred.  I really love the sound of the cool plot that White has come up with for Red Dirt Road, and I have a strong feeling that this is going to be one of the better Australian novels of 2023.  I love the sound of this unique case and I look forward to grabbing this book next year.

Synopsis:

One outback town. Two puzzling murders. Fifty suspects.

In Unamurra, a drought-scarred, one-pub town deep in the outback, two men are savagely murdered a month apart – their bodies elaborately arranged like angels.

With no witnesses, no obvious motives and no apparent connections between the killings, how can lone police officer Detective Dana Russo – flown in from hundreds of kilometres away – possibly solve such a baffling, brutal case?

Met with silence and suspicion from locals who live by their own set of rules, Dana must take over a stalled investigation with only a week to make progress.

But with a murderer hiding in plain sight, and the parched days rapidly passing, Dana is determined to uncover the shocking secrets of this forgotten town – a place where anyone could be a killer.

A gripping and vividly atmospheric story from the international bestseller, this is a searing story perfect for fans of Jane Harper, Chris Hammer and Garry Disher.

Waiting on Wednesday – Khaos by Jeremy Robinson

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.  In this latest Waiting on Wednesday, I check out one of the most awesome upcoming books of 2022 the utterly insane sounding Khaos by Jeremy Robinson.

Khaos Cover

Amazon

Over the last year I have been getting very attached to the writings of the very skilled and highly inventive Jeremy Robinson.  Robinson has been a fantastic fixture of the science fiction thriller genre for years, writing several impressive series and standalone reads, including the Nemesis Saga and Chess Team novels, both of which sound really cool.  However, the novels that I have been getting into are part of Robinson’s latest series, the massive and elaborate Infinite Timeline series.

The Infinite Timeline books are a collection of epic and over-the-top reads that initially started off as standalone reads.  However, as the series continued, the books gradually became more interconnected, with characters from previous novels appearing in later entries, and the storylines started to merge.  This series was broken into three loosely connected groupings of books, all of which will lead up to combined novels.  So far, I have all enjoyed the excellent entries Tribe, The Dark and Mind Bullet (the latter two were amongst my favourite books and audiobooks of 2021), which were part of the same connected sub-series.  All three of these novels were very fun in their own right, with Tribe’s action-packed take on Greek demigods, The Dark’s intense and powerful horror narrative, and Mind Bullet’s ultra-fun adventure story about a telekinetic hitman.  I had an incredible time with these books, and I especially enjoyed Robinson’s fantastic style, especially as he combines some compelling concepts with intriguing characters, insane storylines, side-splitting humour, and a ton of crazy action, which is just so epic to behold.

As such, I have been very excited to see what awesome novels that Robinson planned to release this year, especially as the novels that combine some of the standalone plots and characters together were set for release this year.  Robinson has already released one book in 2022 with The Order, which had a very awesome concept to it.  Unfortunately, I didn’t end up reading The Order, mainly because I haven’t read the three books leading up to it (The Others, Flux and Exo Hunter), although I should probably also go back to the very start and read Infinite.  However, there is no way in hell that I am going to miss out on Robinson’s next book, Khaos.  Set for release in October 2022, Khaos will bring together all the characters from Tribe, The Dark and Mind Bullet in one exceptional sounding narrative.

Synopsis:

Several months after his neighborhood was cloaked in darkness and invaded by the demon-like denizens of a hellish world, life has returned to normal for Miah Gray, aka: Laser Chicken. No longer burdened by PTSD, he is free to enjoy his family and to help pick up the pieces of a pillaged world. And at night, he trains with his eight-year-old companion, Bree, aka: Demon Dog and their neighbors, Henry and Sarah, the god-like descendants of Helen of Sparta and the mythological Zeus.

All is calm…until new neighbors move in across the street and shatter the peace. Jonas, aka: Mind Bullet, a telekinetic assassin, and his artificial intelligence, Bubbles, are pursued by strange and powerful enemies. The neighborhood is rocked by sudden violence, but the unlikely heroes band together to save the residents once more. However, their victory is short-lived when it’s interrupted by the appearance of a superhuman figure who has been influencing their lives for years: Linda.

Aka: Zeus.

In classic mythology fashion, Zeus, supreme god of Olympus, sends them on an urgent quest: descend into the underworld, travel through the realm between worlds—Khaos, face whatever trials await, find the gate to Tartarus, and summon the gods and Titans residing there to war. A grave evil is coming, and only Earth’s oldest and most powerful heroes can stop it.

TO SAVE MANKIND…

…THEY MUST RAISE THE GODS.

Now this is a very awesome sounding book that is very typical of Robinson’s history of theatrical storylines.  I love the idea of a bizarre group of established protagonists coming together and then heading straight to hell (well Tartarus) to unleash the gods and Titans for the upcoming fight against the long-hinted series big bad.  There is so much potential for action and outrageous moments in this fantastic sounding story, and I can’t wait to see what happens during the travel through the Khaos and the eventual descent into Tartarus.  You have to imagine there are going to be a ton of obstacles and monsters straight out of Greek mythology there, as well as some hints at the upcoming big-bad that is going to need every hero in the Infinite Timeline to face off against.  I have a lot of faith that Robinson is going to come up with some very wacky and powerful, and I will no doubt end up getting very caught up in the story.

One of the other major aspects that I am interested in for Khaos is how Robinson is going to bring together the protagonists of three of his previous novels.  Tribe, The Dark and Mind Bullet had their own distinctive blend of characters, styles, and storylines, so seeing all this combined into one single story is going to be quite interesting.  This is probably going to result in several different point-of-view perspectives, and it will be intriguing to see how all these big personalities are going to get along and how they will perceive the weird people they are suddenly working with.  Throw in some potential interpersonal issues, such as one hero being a Titan and two others being Greek Gods whose ancestors are responsible for his parent’s imprisonment, and I imagine you are going to have a few bust-ups and fights.  I am extremely confident that Robinson will use this opportunity to continue the fantastic character development contained in the preceding three books, and it will be awesome to find out what happens to these damaged and unique protagonists next.

After having so much fun with the three Jeremy Robinson books leading up to Khaos, there is no chance that I will miss out on this upcoming book.  I loved everything about Tribe, The Dark and Mind Bullet, and I cannot wait to see how this chaotic combination with work out.  I am expecting The Dark to be one of the funniest and most action-packed novels of 2022, and I am very excited to see what new insanity and over-the-top adventure that Robinson will come up with next.  I will probably end up checking Khaos out in its audiobook format (due to the presence of one of my favourite narrators, R. C. Bray), and this is easily one of the books I am most looking forward to in the next few months.

Waiting on Wednesday – Falling Sky by Harry Sidebottom

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.  For my latest Waiting on Wednesday, I look at an impressive upcoming historical fiction novel I am extremely excited for with Falling Sky by the always exciting Harry Sidebottom.

Falling Sky Cover

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I have a mentioned a few times before that my reviewing career began with a singular focus on historical fiction, a genre I was very keen on at the time, and I spent multiple years purely reading historical books.  As such I got very familiar with several impressive authors and to this day historical fiction remains one of my favourite genres which I keep coming back to.

One of all the authors I grew especially attached to during my historical fiction phase was the very talented Harry Sidebottom.  Sidebottom, an expert on writing Roman historical fiction books, is a very skilled author, who has written several amazing novels over his career, most noticeably his Warrior of Rome and Thrones of the Caesars series, both of which told exciting stories of action, adventure, and intrigue in various points of ancient Rome’s history.  I am a particular fan of the first Warrior of Rome book, Fire in the East, which features one of the better historical sieges I have had the pleasure of reading.

In more recent years, Sidebottom has been producing several truly impressive and captivating reads, that also featured a bit of an interesting experimental edge to them.  This started in 2018 with The Last Hour, an impressive and highly exciting novel that acted as an addition to the Warrior of Rome series, and which brought back Sidebottom’s original protagonist, the Germanic warrior turned defender of Rome, Ballista.  I loved The Last Hour’s story, especially as it combined historical fiction with a thriller storyline that saw Ballista, stuck in a 24-esque situation, where he is forced to make his way through a hostile Rome in a tight time limit in order to save the Emperor and his own family.  Loaded with tight, gritty action, this was an extremely awesome read and I had such a brilliant time getting through it.

Sidebottom has since followed up The Last Hour with several other great books, all of which I have eagerly grabbed as soon as I could.  This includes two great standalone reads, The Lost Ten and The Return, as well as another Warrior of Rome book, The Burning Road.  All three were excellent reads, and I loved the amazing stories that they all had.  The Lost Ten featured a military-thriller storyline that saw a team of specialist legionnaires attempt to break into a notorious enemy prison, while The Return featured a brilliant Scandi-Noir inspired storyline about a returned Roman solider who is suspected of a series of gruesome murders in his home village.  The Burning Road on the other hand once again focused on Ballista and showed him and his young son forced to fight through a brutal slave revolt on Sicily, which ended up being quite an impressive and intense survival adventure story.  All these books, and more, from Sidebottom have been quite outstanding and I am naturally inclined to seek out and grab any additional novels that Sidebottom writes as soon as I can.

Well, my wait for his next book is nearly over as Sidebottom has an intriguing and awesome upcoming novel coming out in a few months with Falling Sky.  Currently set for release in October 2022, Falling Sky is another addition to the Warrior of Rome series and follows Ballista as he and his Emperor embark on another campaign.  This time, Ballista is going up into the alps to fight a mountain campaign against a usurper Emperor and must face off against rebellious Roman troops in a bloody civil war.  However, unbeknown to Ballista, he is travelling with the secret antagonist of The Last Hour and must try to survive the inevitable assassination attempt that comes his way.

Needless to say, I am exceedingly excited to read Falling Sky and I am already fairly confident it is going to be one of the top historical fiction books of 2022.  I am going to have so much fun seeing Ballista getting back into action, and I hope that we get to see the protagonist indulge in his speciality of siege warfare.  It sounds like Falling Sky is going to have a fantastic combination of war, historical elements (at which Sidebottom excels), and a good dose of intrigue and espionage, which should make for quite an epic read.  I already know I am going to love this latest Warrior of Rome book and I can’t wait to get my hands on Falling Sky later this year.

Plot Synopsis:

AD 265, Gaul – The Roman Empire is on the brink.

Emperor Gallienus has amassed a huge army across the Alps to seize back the mountains from the usurper Posthumus.

War has come.

Ballista and his cavalry are on the frontline, battling in the most brutal of conditions. But if he is to survive the campaign and finally retire to his beloved Sicily, it’s not just the battlefield he needs to navigate.

As he and Praetorian Prefect Volusianus lay siege to Posthumus’ armies, it becomes clear the greatest threat to Ballista’s life might just come from within his ranks. After all, Volusianus has shown he will go to any distance for his own ends. Is Ballista just another pawn in his game?

Waiting on Wednesday – Son of the Poison Rose by Jonathan Maberry

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.  For my latest Waiting on Wednesday, I look at the dark fantasy book I most excited for in the early days of 2023 with the second Kagen the Damned novel from Jonathan Maberry, Son of the Poison Rose.

Son of the Poison Rose Cover

Amazon     Book Depository

Earlier this year I was very excited to read and review the first fantasy book from one of my favourite authors, Jonathan Maberry.  Maberry is a very talented and impressive author who most people would recognise from his excellent science fiction, thriller, and horror novels.  I have had a brilliant time over the last few years getting through some of Maberry’s exciting, clever, and often exceedingly brutal novels, with pretty much all of them getting five-star ratings from me.  This includes the novels in his incredible Joe Ledger series, such as Patient Zero, The Dragon Factory, Code Zero, Dogs of War and Deep Silence, the fantastic Rogue Team International sequel series, which has so far featured Rage (one of my favourite books and audiobooks of 2019) and Relentless (one of my favourite books and audiobooks of 2021), as well as some standalone reads like Ink (one of my favourite books and audiobooks of 2020).  However, even after enjoying all that I was unprepared for the awesomeness that was Kagen the Damned.

Kagen the Damned was Maberry’s first full foray in the fantasy genre, which turned out to be an exceptional and high octane read.  Set in an elaborate new fantasy realm, the book follows former hero Kagen Vale, who loses everything in a single night when the forces of the Witch-king of Hakkia invade his empire, kill the Empress and butcher the children he was sworn to protect.  Forsaken by his gods and broken inside, Kagen wanders the countryside in a haze, now calling himself Kagen the Damned, before eventually regaining his senses and launching an assault on the Witch-king and the dark powers he commands.  However, while the final battle is partially successful, it reveals several dark secrets that push Kagen even further as he tries to understand the full implications.

I had a remarkable time with Kagen the Damned and it is easily one of the better books I have had the pleasure to read in 2022.  The exceptional blend of powerful narrative, intense action, complex characters, and outstanding world-building was extremely impressive, and I loved every second I spent listening to it.  As such, I am now a pretty major fan of the Kagen the Damned series, and I was very excited to discover that I really don’t have that much longer to wait till I get my next fix of it.

The second entry in the Kagen the Damned series will by Son of the Poison Rose, which is currently set for release in January 2023.  Son of the Poison Rose will continue many of the storylines from the first novel and set the protagonists on a dangerous adventure to try and understand the enemy they are facing.

Plot Synopsis:

Son of the Poison Rose marks the second installment of New York Times bestselling author Jonathan Maberry’s epic, swashbuckling Kagen the Damned series.

The Silver Empire is in ruins. War is in the wind. Kagen and his allies are on the run from the Witch-king. Wild magic is running rampant everywhere. Spies and secret cabals plot from the shadows of golden thrones.

Kagen Vale is the most wanted man in the world, with a death sentence on his head and a reward for him—dead or alive—that would tempt a saint.

The Witch-king has new allies who bring a terrible weapon—a cursed disease that drives people into a murderous rage. If the disease is allowed to spread, the whole of the West will tear itself apart.

In order to build an army of resistance fighters and unearth magical weapons of his own, Kagen and his friends have to survive attacks and storms at sea, brave the haunted wastelands of the snowy north, fight their way across the deadly Cathedral Mountains, and rediscover a lost city filled with cannibal warriors, old ghosts, and monsters from other worlds. Along with his reckless adventurer brothers, Kagen races against time to save more than the old empire… if he fails the world will be drenched in a tsunami of bloodshed and horror.

Son of the Poison Rose weaves politics and espionage, sorcery and swordplay, treachery and heroism as the damned outcast Kagen fights against the forces of ultimate darkness.

Well damn, now this sounds like it is going to be incredibly awesome.  I already knew that I was going to really love Son of the Poison Rose, but some of the details revealed above have made me even more excited, which I didn’t think was possible.  The mentions about a rage disease are pretty interesting, especially as that is something that Maberry has utilised in several of his previous novels, and its frankly terrifying to see every single time.  In addition, you have politics, espionage, battles on the sea, cannibals and so much more, which I am extremely keen in seeing unfold.  The idea of sea battles is particularly intriguing to me, and I am going to love seeing how a Maberry-written sea-battle turns out.

I am also very excited to see what sort of character development or emotional damage occurs amongst the various protagonists in this second book.  Maberry unleashed some deep personal bombs at the end of Kagen the Damned, and these are going to really hit Kagen hard, especially the reveal about who the Witch-king is and the two prisoners he is holding.  Both revelations are going to rattle the already unstable Kagen, and I know that Maberry is going to spend a lot of time breaking Kagen down again.  I am also quite interested in seeing some scenes from the Witch-kings perspective, and I am extremely curious to see what events led him to take up this dark mantle and stage an attack on the Silver Empire.

So, I doubt anyone is too surprised that I am really, really excited for Son of the Poison Rose by Jonathan Maberry.  This book was already one of my most anticipated reads for 2023 even before I started reading Kagen the Damned, just because I love Maberry’s writing that much.  However, the extra plot details revealed about have raised my anticipation levels even higher, and this will probably be one of the first things I read next year.  I have no doubt in my mind whatsoever that Son of the Poison Rose will be one of the best books of 2023 and I cannot wait to see how the epic Kagen the Damned series continues.

Amazon     Book Depository

Waiting on Wednesday – The Lake House by Sarah Beth Durst

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.  In this week’s Waiting on Wednesday, I check out a fantastic upcoming young adult thriller from impressive author Sarah Beth Durst, The Lake House.

The Lake House Cover

Back in 2020 I was lucky enough to get a copy of a clever fantasy novel, Race the Sands, from a then unknown author to me, Sarah Beth Durst.  While I was unfamiliar with Durst at that point, I had read some incredible positive reviews of this book, and some of her previous novels, and I was curious to check it out.  It helped that Race the Sands also had an extremely compelling plot that revolved around jockeys riding monsters in deadly races out in a dessert kingdom, which sounded pretty damn awesome to me.  Unsurprisingly, I had an exceptional time with Race the Sands, and it featured an epic and exceedingly clever narrative that I really got into.  Race the Sands ended up being one of the best books and audiobooks I enjoyed in 2020, and it pretty much made me an automatic fan of Durst and her writing.

Naturally I kept an eye out for more of the author’s intriguing novels, and I was not disappointed when Durst released another impressive fantasy novel in 2021 with The Bone Maker.  Following a group of retired adventurers years after their legendary defeat of a notorious necromancer, The Bone Maker was another outstanding read that combined an intense and action packed story with damaged characters and a cool new fantasy world powered by bone magic.  The Bone Maker was another great read from Durst, and I have been eager to see what cool book Durst is going to write next.

Well, I just found out some details about Durst’s next upcoming novel and I am very excited.  This book, which is set for release in April 2023, will take Durst back to her young adult roots with the deeply intriguing and awesome thriller, The Lake House.

Synopsis:

Yellowjackets meets One of Us Is Lying in this masterful survival thriller from award-winning author Sarah Beth Durst.

Claire’s grown up triple-checking locks. Counting her steps. Second-guessing every decision. It’s just how she’s wired-her worst-case scenarios never actually come true.

Until she arrives at an off-the-grid summer camp to find a blackened, burned husk instead of a lodge-and no survivors, except her and two other late arrivals: Reyva and Mariana.

When the three girls find a dead body in the woods, they realize none of this is an accident. Someone, something, is hunting them. Something that hides in the shadows. Something that refuses to let them leave.

Irresistible and action-packed until the very final page, The Lake House will have readers glued to their seats as tension builds and danger mounts-and a final, shocking twist is revealed.

I really like the sound of this book!  The Lake House has an awesome and extremely intriguing plot to it, that feels like a combination of a teen thriller book and a classic horror film.  Having teenagers being hunted in the woods by a mysterious presence is a classic story idea for a reason, and I am very interested in seeing Durst’s take on it.  It wouldn’t surprise me if at least one of the surviving girls that the story is focused on is going to have some dark secrets and will probably end up being revealed as either the killer or their accomplice.  I look forward to finding out which and I have a feeling that this is going to be a very impressive and captivating mystery to work through.

The Lake House is currently one of the books I am most excited about for early 2023 and I extremely certain I am going to have an absolute blast getting through it.  I honestly would have tried to get a copy of this book from the synopsis alone, but I am double excited by the fact that Durst is going to write it.  Durst has definitely proven herself to be an exceedingly skilled and impressive author with her recent fantasy work and I have no doubt whatsoever that her young adult thrillers are just as good, if not better.  As such, I have very high hopes for The Lake House next year and will dive into it the moment I get my hands on a copy.

Waiting on Wednesday – The Winter Soldier: Cold Front by Mackenzi Lee

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.  For this latest Waiting on Wednesday, I highlight a fantastic upcoming comic book tie in with the anti-hero focused The Winter Soldier: Cold Front by Mackenzi Lee.

The Winter Soldier - Cold Front Cover

Book Depository

Back in 2019 I was lucky enough to listen to a copy of a fantastic young adult tie-in novel, Loki: Where Mischief Lies, by the talented Mackenzi Lee.  Where Mischief Lies was an intriguing read that followed a young Loki and showed one of his unique adventures in 19th century London, where his lies, tricks and morality where strongly tested.  This was a fantastic book and it served as a great first entry in a new Marvel young adult tie-in series from Lee, with all the planned entries looking at conflicted anti-heroes and villains from the Marvel universe.  This series was followed up last year with the intriguing Gamora and Nebula: Sisters in Arms, which looked at the two fan favourite characters from Guardians of the Galaxy, Gamora and Nebula, as they worked a complex mission for their father.  While I have not had the pleasure of reading Sisters in Arms yet, it sounded really fun and I have been meaning to check it out for a while.  Luckily, due to the standalone nature of these series, I don’t have to read it before getting excited for the next Marvel novel from Lee, as there is a third book in the series coming out early next year with The Winter Soldier: Cold Front.

Synopsis:

1954: The Winter Soldier is the Soviet Union’s greatest weapon. Assigned the most dangerous covert missions from the USSR’s secret military branch, and guided by a handler who knows him better than he knows himself, he has only one purpose: to obey orders.

But he wasn’t always the Winter Soldier . . .

1941: As World War II begins, sixteen-year old Bucky Barnes is determined to enlist in the US army—if only the local commander will stop getting in his way. When Bucky is offered enrolment in a training program with the British Special Operations Executive—the UK’s secret service—he leaps at the chance to become a hero. But Bucky has hardly touched down in London when he finds himself running from a mysterious assassin and accompanied by an English chess champion fond of red lipstick and double crosses. She’s in possession of a secret every side is desperate to get their hands on. If only they knew what it was . . .

Decades later, the Winter Soldier struggles to solve the same mystery Bucky is just beginning to uncover. As their missions intersect across time, their lives collide too—in a way that neither of them would have expected, and that will change the course of their respective wars.

In The Winter Soldier: Cold Front, on-sale on February 7, 2023, New York Times best-selling author Mackenzi Lee explores the youth of one of Marvel’s most compelling characters, James Buchanan “Bucky” Barnes—and the enemy soldier he is forced to become.

Now, I first have to geek out a little about there being an upcoming book about the Winter Solider.  I love this cool character (pun intended) and have been a massive fan of the unique way they brought back Bucky ever since his appearance in the comics.  His brilliant use in the MCU movies has only increased my love of this character, and there are honestly few anti-heroes in the Marvel canon more conflicted than the Winter Soldier.  As such I am very excited to read a whole novel about him, especially one that sounds as great as Cold Front.

I am deeply intrigued by the amazing synopsis featured above, especially as it looks like Lee is going to use multiple time periods to tell a complex and interlocking story.  The plan to focus on various points in Bucky’s life, including his time in the army before meeting Captain America, as well as his early days as the Winter Soldier in the 1950’s Soviet Union sounds extremely awesome, and something I am very keen on.  Watching the various phases of this character’s life is going to be great, and I am particularly keen to see how the author portrays the brain-washed version of the Winter Solider in comparison to the carefree teenager.  I am also interested in seeing how the storylines interlock, and it sounds like the two time periods are going to come together in some fantastic ways.

I honestly was keen to check this book out the moment I heard that Mackenzi Lee was writing anything about the Winter Soldier.  However, Cold Front has a great plot to it, and it sounds like it is going to spend a lot of time diving into the mind of the titular character and show multiple key parts of his life.  Set for release in February 2023, Winter Soldier: Cold Front, is going to be epic, and I reckon that I am going to have an outstanding time reading this upcoming read.

Waiting on Wednesday – The Boys from Biloxi by John Grisham

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.  For this latest Waiting on Wednesday I check out the next brilliant novel from legendary author John Grisham, The Boys from Biloxi.

The Boys from Biloxi Cover

Amazon     Book Depository

There are many great and impressive crime fiction writers out there now, but one whose work tends to shine over the vast majority is the critically acclaimed John Grisham.  The author of a vast library of novels and with a career spanning over 30 years, Grisham has definitely entered the crime fiction hall of fame, and his focus on legal thrillers has produced some exceptional reads.  I am fairly new to reading Grisham’s work, having only checked out two of his novels so far, last years The Judge’s List and the recent short-story collection Sparring Partners.  Both books were exciting and fun pieces of fiction from Grisham, and I deeply enjoyed their unique and powerful stories.  As such, I have been keeping an eye out for Grisham’s next book and I was pretty pleased to see that he has a new one coming out in a few months with The Boys from Biloxi.

The Boys from Biloxi, which is set for release on 18 October 2022, is a fantastic and gripping sounding crime fiction novel that will combine legal thriller elements with intense character interactions.  Set in the depths of Mississippi, The Boys from Biloxi will follow two lifetime friends who find themselves on opposite sides of a massive family feud.  One protagonist will be the son of the town’s fierce prosecutor, while the other will grow up as part of the criminal underworld.  Throughout the course of this book, this friendship will break down and the two families will face off for survival and pride, with everything eventually being settled in the courtroom.  I love the sound of this awesome book, and I cannot wait to see what sort of elaborate and deeply personal story Grisham will weave together here.  I have no doubt that The Boys from Biloxi will be another exceptional novel from John Grisham, and this may end up being one of the best books of the year.

Plot Synopsis:

#1 New York Times bestselling author John Grisham returns to Mississippi in his most gripping legal thriller yet, the riveting story of two sons of immigrant families who grow up as friends, but ultimately find themselves on opposite sides of the law. Grisham’s trademark twists and turns will keep you tearing through the pages until the stunning conclusion.

For most of the last hundred years, Biloxi was known for its beaches, resorts, and seafood industry. But it had a darker side. It was also notorious for corruption and vice, everything from gambling, prostitution, bootleg liquor, and drugs to contract killings. The vice was controlled by small cabal of mobsters, many of them rumored to be members of the Dixie Mafia.

Keith Rudy and Hugh Malco grew up in Biloxi in the sixties and were childhood friends, as well as Little League all-stars. But as teenagers, their lives took them in different directions. Keith’s father became a legendary prosecutor, determined to “clean up the Coast.” Hugh’s father became the “Boss” of Biloxi’s criminal underground. Keith went to law school and followed in his father’s footsteps. Hugh preferred the nightlife and worked in his father’s clubs. The two families were headed for a showdown, one that would happen in a courtroom.

Life itself hangs in the balance in The Boys from Biloxi, a sweeping saga rich with history and with a large cast of unforgettable characters.

Waiting on Wednesday – Downfall by Louise Carey

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.  Is this week’s Waiting on Wednesday I check out an awesome upcoming science fiction thriller with Louise Carey’s third book, Downfall.

Downfall Cover

Amazon     Book Depository

Over the last couple of years, I have been really getting into one of the more unique and compelling new science fiction series with the Inscape books by intriguing new author Louise Carey. This fantastic series is set in a dystopian future and follows an impressive pair of protagonists, security agent Tantra and brilliant scientist Cole, as they investigate a dangerous conspiracy in a cyberpunk setting, filled with controlling mega-companies and unique technology hardwired into their brains.  This series started with Inscape, one of my favourite debuts of 2021 which perfectly set up the characters, story and setting, and really grabbed the readers attention.  Carey perfectly followed this great debut off with a sequel earlier this year, Outcast.  This second novel brought back the characters from Inscape and set them to investigate another conspiracy, this time with massive implications for everyone they know.  Ending on a massive and powerful cliff-hanger, Outcast was an extremely awesome book, and I had an outstanding time continuing this brilliant series.

As such I have been quite excited to see how the Inscape books continued and I was very happy to find out some details of the next entry.  It looks like Carey will be concluding this series early next year with the third and final book, titled Downfall.  Set for release in January 2023, Downfall will see Tantra and Cole have their final confrontation with their former company InTech.  This new book has an outstanding plot, and I cannot wait to see how some of the established storylines are wrapped up.  I imagine we’ll be in for a rough and powerful time, as the protagonists will be forced to take on old friends who are now under the complete mental control of InTech, including Tantra’s former girlfriend.  I cannot wait to see how Carey ends everything in this final book and I have a strong feeling that Downfall is going to be a particularly impressive read.  I look forward to getting this book in a few months and I already know I am going to have a great time reading it.

Synopsis:

The exhilarating conclusion to the dystopian thriller series which started with Inscape, described as ‘chillingly plausible’ by Claire North.

THE SAFETY OF INTECH’S RESIDENTS IS PARAMOUNT.

INSURRECTION WILL NOT BE TOLERATED.

Tanta and Cole may have stopped the mass murder of InTech’s residents, but the cost was severe. Despite their efforts, Harlow 2.0 – the update to InTech’s mind-based operating system – fed out. Now its citizens are compliant zombies, and Tanta and her crew are trapped underground.

All except for Fliss, who has no system to update. She alone can go outside, and it’s Fliss the crew are relying on to help get them out.

For only then can they dismantle the damage Harlow 2.0 has done. If Tanta, Cole and InTech’s residents are to truly be free, it needs to be destroyed. But Tanta knows that task will put her on a collision course with the corporation that raised her, her oldest friends, and the woman who was once her soulmate.

And this last mission might ask more of her than she’s able to give.