Top Ten Tuesday – My Favourite Books from the First Half of 2022

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme that currently resides at The Artsy Reader Girl and features bloggers sharing lists on various book topics.  The official topic for this week’s Top Ten Tuesday involved listing your favourite upcoming books for Winter 2022.  However, as I had already done this list a few weeks ago, I thought I would instead take this opportunity to celebrate the fact that we are already nearly into the second half of 2022.

2022 has already proven to be a pretty fantastic year for books, and I have already read some incredible 2022 releases, including impressive standalone books, amazing new entries in established series and fantastic debuts.  Because of this, I thought that I would take the time to work out what my top ten favourite books from the first half of 2022 were.  To be eligible, a book had to be released in the first half of this year in some form.  I have also excluded any books released during this period that I have not so far read, although a couple of releases I have my eye on might have appeared on this list if I had read them in time.

Coming up with this list proved to be a rather bigger task than I originally intended, as I ended up amassing nearly 20 different releases, all of which I consider to be some pretty outstanding reads.  I ended up being able to eventually whittle this down to an acceptable Top Ten list, although I did include my typical generous honourable mentions section.  I am rather happy with how this list turned out, although I am surprised at some of the great recent books that ended up being excluded.  Still, the entries below represent what I considered to be some of the best books from the first half of 2022, and I would strongly recommend each and every one of them. 

Honourable Mentions:

Everyone in My Family Has Killed Someone by Benjamin Stevenson

Everyone in My Family Has Killed Someone Cover

A clever and hilarious take on the classic murder mystery story from a talented Australian crime fiction author.

 

Her Perfect Twin by Sarah Bonner

Her Perfect Twin Cover

An impressive debut by Sarah Bonner that imagines a woman murdering her twin and impersonating her.  Featuring a very twisty story that goes in some surprising, but fantastic directions, this was a very awesome read that sets Bonner up as an amazing new talent.

 

Warhammer 40,000: Steel Tread by Andy Clarke

Steel Tread Cover

A captivating and powerful Warhammer 40,000 tie-in novel from the start of the year that was an excellent piece of sci-fi military fiction.  Following the crew of the tank, Steel Tread, on a hellscape of a battlefield, this was an intense and action-packed story that I quickly flew through.

 

Master of Furies by Raymond E. Feist

Master of Furies Cover

Raymond E. Feist finalised The Firemane Saga (previously featuring King of Ashes and Queen of Storms) in a big way this year.  This was a great read that featured an addictive classic fantasy adventure with some very interesting surprise elements.

List (no particular order):

The Hunger of the Gods by John Gwynne

The Hunger of the Gods Cover

Let us start this list off with the book that has the best cover, The Hunger of the Gods by John Gwynne.  Following on from Gwynne’s epic 2021 novel, The Shadow of the Gods (one of my favourite books and audiobooks of 2021), The Hunger of the Gods perfectly continues the dark fantasy masterpiece, pitting men, gods and monsters against each other in a brutal, Norse-inspired fantasy world.  Featuring some outstanding new character perspectives, a bunch of great twists, and a ton of action, this sequel was a worthy addition to this fantastic series, and I had such an incredible time reading it.

 

Desperate Undertaking by Lindsey Davis

Desperate Undertaking Cover 2

One of my favourite historical fiction authors, Lindsey Davis, continues to shine with her long-running Flavia Albia historical murder mystery series.  This latest entry, Desperate Undertaking, features a complex and entertaining new mystery in ancient Rome when a troupe of actors start getting murdered in brutal, theatrical ways.  Easily one of Davis’ best stories, Desperate Undertaking grabs your attention right off the bat and refuses to let go.

 

A Practical Guide to Conquering the World by K. J. Parker

A Practical Guide to Conquering the World Cover

One of the very first novels that I read in 2022 ended up being one of the very best: the hilarious fantasy novel, A Practical Guide to Conquering the World by K. J. Parker.  Set in the same universe as his previous connected releases, Sixteen Ways to Defend a Walled City and How to Rule an Empire and Get Away with It, A Practical Guide to Conquering the World follows a scribe and translator who uses his scholarly knowledge and skills at manipulation to conquer the entire world.  Containing whip-sharp satire and a brilliant story, this was such an addictive and fun read I honestly could not put down.

 

Usagi Yojimbo: Tengu War! by Stan Sakai

Usagi Yojimbo - Tengu War!

My love affair with one of my favourite comics, Stan Sakai’s Usagi Yojimbo series, continued this year with the latest volume, Tengu War!  Containing several epic new stories, loaded with cool art and impressive world building, Tengu War! was another amazing volume that got a full five-star rating from me.  I loved this new volume so much and I can’t wait to get my hands on Sakai’s next release, Crossroads, later this year.

 

Sierra Six by Mark Greaney

Sierra Six Cover

Bestselling thriller author, Mark Greaney, is having a great year in 2022, with both the upcoming film adaptation of his debut novel, The Gray Man, and two awesome books coming out.  The first of these, Sierra Six, is one of his best, following iconic protagonist, Court Gentry, the infamous Gray Man, on another intense mission connected to one of his earliest assignments for the CIA.  I had a brilliant time with this new Gray Man novel (the 11th in the series), as it featured an impressive, split-time narrative with some great characters.  Another impressive book from Greaney that is really worth reading. 

 

Against All Gods by Miles Cameron

Against all Gods Cover

The always inventive Miles Cameron continues to shine brightly with a bold and compelling start to a new fantasy series with Against All Gods.  Set in a bronze-age inspired setting, Against All Gods follows a group of mortals who attempt the impossible and declare war on their violent and selfish gods.  With an addictive, over-the-top story, Against All Gods was a ton of fun, and it ended up being a truly amazing novel.

 

The German Wife by Kelly Rimmer

The German Wife Cover

Last year Australian author, Kelly Rimmer, produced a very impressive and extremely moving historical drama, The Warsaw Orphan, which really stuck with me.  As such, I was very excited to receive her new book, The German Wife, which ended up being a truly incredible read.  This fantastic novel follows two intriguing protagonists up to the 1950s as they traverse some of the worst parts of world history.  With a particularly intense focus on the rise of Nazism in Germany and the subsequent recruitment of German rocket scientists by the Americans, The German Wife is a captivating read that contains powerful emotional hit after powerful emotional hit.

 

Amongst Our Weapons by Ben Aaronovitch

Amongst our Weapons Cover

One of the leading authors of urban fantasy fiction, Ben Aaronovitch, returned with another superb entry in his Rivers of London series.  Featuring another exceptional fusion of a police procedural story with unique fantasy elements, Amongst our Weapons was a fantastic addition to the series.  Slick, clever and constantly entertaining, Amongst our Weapons once again showed off Aaronovitch’s talent and is an outstanding book to check out.

 

Ghazghkull Thraka: Prophet of the Waaagh! By Nate Crowley

Ghazghkull Thraka - Prophet of the Waaagh! Cover

I have been having so much fun reading Warhammer fiction over the last few years, and 2022 has already produced some amazing reads.  My favourite of this year so far had to be Nate Crowley’s outrageous and amusing Ghazghkull Thraka: Prophet of the Waaagh!  Following the most iconic ork in the Warhammer canon, this was an excellent retelling of Ghazghkull Thraka’s life from a unique source.  Filled with non-stop laughs, explosive action, and a real appreciation for the ork faction, this was a wildly appealing book that I had to feature here.

 

Death of the Black Widow by James Patterson and J. D. Barker

Death of the Black Widow Cover

The final novel I want to highlight is Death of the Black Widow, written by the superstar team of James Patterson and J. D. Barker.  A crime thriller with an intriguing horror twist, Death of the Black Widow was a surprising hit for me, and I really was drawn into its terrific story.  One of the more memorable and enjoyable books I have so far read this year, I had a lot of fun with Death of the Black Widow, and I deeply enjoyed its compelling tale of obsession, mystery and death.

 

 

I have already read some amazing and epic books so far in 2022 and we are only halfway through the year.  I am pretty happy with how this list turned out, and it features some extraordinary reads that all come highly recommended.  It will be interesting to see which of these books ends up being amongst my top reads of 2022, as there is some impressive competition coming out in the second half of the year, not to mention some outstanding current releases I need to check out.  Still, all the novels above come very highly recommended, and you are guaranteed to have a wonderful time reading them.  Let me know what your favourite releases for the first half of the year are in the comments below, as well as which of the above books you liked the most.

Book Haul – 3 April 2022

I have been having an absolutely fantastic couple of week for books, as I have been lucky enough to receive several incredible and amazing new novels from some of my local publishers.  These novels include some truly awesome new releases, several of which I have been eagerly awaiting for some time.  I am extremely keen to check out all of the books below (indeed, I have already gotten through a couple), and they should make for some amazing reads.

Usagi Yojimbo: Tengu War by Stan Sakai

Usagi Yojimbo - Tengu War!

I was extremely happy to get my copy of the latest Usagi Yojimbo volume, Tengu War!.  The Usagi Yojimbo series by Stan Sakai is one of my favourite comic series and I have been eagerly waiting for this comic for some time (it was one of my most anticipated reads of 2022).  I actually read Tengu War! the day I received it and it was pretty damn amazing.  I am hoping to get the review for it up soon and needless to say it will get a five-star rating from me.

 

An Empty Throne by Robert Fabbri 

An Empty Throne Cover

Another recent acquisition that I have been looking forward to for a while was the third book in Robert Fabbri’s Alexander’s Legacy series, An Empty Throne.  Following on from the previous books in the series, To the Strongest and The Three Paradises, An Empty Throne will continue to follow the chaos that emerged in the aftermath of Alexander the Great’s death as his former advisors, relatives and friends, fought for his empire.  I have been really enjoying this series over the last few years and I cannot wait to see what wacky events from history are contained in this next book.

 

Everyone in my Family has Killed Someone by Benjamin Stevenson

Everyone in My Family Has Killed Someone Cover

I was very happy to receive this very fun book from Australian author Benjamin Stevenson, Everyone in my Family has Killed Someone.  Stevenson, who previously wrote the murder mystery novels Greenlight and Either Side of Midnight, has come up with something pretty spectacular here with Everyone in my Family has Killed Someone, which I have already finished.  This awesome novel, which brilliantly mixes comedy, mystery and multiple homages to classic whodunits, places a troubled Australian family in the midst of several suspicious deaths at a remote location, and forces them to solve it.  Utterly hilarious and extremely clever, I had an absolute blast from this book and I will be putting up an extremely positive review for it soon.

 

Three Assassins by Kotaro Isaka

Three Assassins Cover

I was also extremely fortunate to receive a copy of the English translation of Three Assassins by Japanese author Kotaro Isaka, which I am extremely excited to read.  I had an amazing time reading Isaka’s previous novel, Bullet Train, last year and Three Assassins sounds like it is in a similar vein to it, setting someone against three outrageous assassins.  Sure to be filled with laughs, odd characters and brutal action, I cannot wait to check this book out and will probably dive into next.

 

Esther’s Children by Caroline Beecham

Esther's Children Cover

I just received an electronic advanced proof of the intriguing upcoming historical drama, Esther’s Children by Caroline Beecham.  Set around World War II, this novel follows a young woman who works at an organisation that tried to rescue Jewish academics and scholars from Europe.  Sure to be powerful, romantic and moving, I am curious to check this book out, especially after enjoyed Beecham’s last novel, Finding Eadie.  I was very happy to see that they have used my Canberra Weekly review for Finding Eadie inside this new book, and I hope to read this latest novel soon.

Esther's Children Front Page

 

Amongst Our Weapons by Ben Aaronovitch

Amongst our Weapons Cover

I was naturally extremely happy to receive the latest Rivers of London novel by Ben Aaronovitch, Amongst our Weapons.  The latest book in one of the best urban fantasy series out there, Amongst our Weapons is one of the most anticipated fantasy novels of 2022 and I am extremely keen to read it.  I had a great time with Aaronovitch’s previous two novels, Lies Sleeping and False Value, and Amongst our Weapons has a great plot to it involving someone using magic to rob the London Silver Vaults.  I already know this is going to be a top read and I look forward to seeing how it all comes together.

 

Death of the Black Widow by James Patterson and J. D. Barker

Death of the Black Widow Cover

Superstar crime fiction author, James Patterson, returns with another collaboration, this time with acclaimed writer J. D. Barker, for their new book Death of the Black Widow.  This cool new is a gripping and intriguing crime fiction read that sets a rookie police officer chasing after a mysterious, alluring and very dangerous woman.  I really like the sound of this awesome book and I am hoping to read it in the next few weeks.

 

Nobody But Us by Laure Van Rensburg

Nobody But Us Cover

One of the more intriguing novels I  recently received was Nobody But Us by new author Laure Van Rensburg.  This dark and compelling thriller sees a mismatched couple take an unusual trip to the remote countryside, with both lying about their intentions for being there.  I am very taken by this mysterious and awesome novel, and I look forward to seeing what sort of devious tale Van Rensburg has come up with.

 

The Diamond Eye by Kate Quinn

The Diamond Eye Cover

Another fantastic historical drama I was lucky enough to receive is The Diamond Eye by the extremely talented Kate Quinn.  The Diamond Eye follows a young woman from Kiev who becomes a notorious and deadly sniper during the Nazi invasion in World War II.  I love the sound of this awesome book, especially as it is particularly topical at the moment, and I am extremely confident that Quinn has come up with a compelling and powerful tale here.

 

Ordinary Monsters by J. M. Miro

Ordinary Monsters Cover

I was also extremely fortunate to receive a copy of Ordinary Monsters by J. M. Miro, an intriguing and comprehensive young adult fantasy novel set in 19th century London and Edinburgh.  This fascinating novel will follow individuals with unique abilities who have been gathered together in a mysterious institute.  I have been hearing some good things about this book and it sounds like this could be the start of the next big young adult series.  As such, I should probably clear some room in my reading schedule soon in order to get through this fantastic novel.

 

Mr Mercedes by Stephen King

Mr Mercedes Cover 1

I also recently had a successful visit to a second-hand book shop and picked up a couple of older books from author’s I have been enjoying recently.  The first of these is the classic Mr Mercedes by legendary author Stephen King.  I had an amazing time reading King’s 2021 novels, Later and Billy Summers, and I thought it was time I expand my King knowledge.  Mr Mercedes seemed liked a great place to start, especially as one of the protagonists from it is apparently set to appear in some of King’s upcoming books, and I cannot wait to see how this gritty thriller comes together.

 

The Late Show by Michael Connelly

The Late Show Cover

The other second-hand book I got was The Late Show by Michael Connelly, which serves as the very first Renee Ballard book.  I have had a great time reading all of Connelly’s other books featuring Ballard, including Dark Sacred Night, The Night Fire, and The Dark Hours, so I thought it would be worth my time going back and seeing the first book she appeared in.  The Late Show has a really intriguing sounding mystery to it and I can’t wait to see the earlier adventure of this tenacious protagonist.  I will hopefully feature The Late Show in a Throwback Thursday article soon, I just need to find sometime to read this book in between all the fun new releases.

 

 

Well that’s the end of this latest Book Haul post.  As you can see I have quite a bit of reading to do at the moment thanks to all these awesome books that have come in.  Let me know which of the above you are most interested in and make sure to check back in a few weeks to see my reviews of them.

WWW Wednesday – 23 March 2022

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?

The Justice of Kings by Richard Swan (Audiobook)

The Justice of Kings Cover

I started listening to the awesome new novel, The Justice of Kings, this week and boy is it really good.  The debut fantasy novel of author Richard Swan, The Justice of Kings is a unique book that combines intriguing crime fiction elements with an excellent fantasy setting as a magically-empowered justice tries to solve a murder. This was one of my most anticipated fantasy books of 2022 and it is proving to be just as awesome as expected.  I should hopefully finish The Justice of Kings off soon and I look forward to seeing how everything unfolds.

What did you recently finish reading?

The Kaiju Preservation Society by John Scalzi (Trade Paperback)

The Kaiju Preservation Society Cover 2

 

Sierra Six by Mark Greaney (Audiobook)

Sierra Six Cover

 

Firefly: Carnival by Una McCormack (Hardcover)

Firefly Carnival Cover

 

Daughters of Eve by Nina D. Campbell (Trade Paperback)

Daughters of Eve Cover

 

Moonlight and the Pearler’s Daughter by Lizzie Pook (Trade Paperback)

Moonlight and the Pearler's Daughter Cover

What do you think you’ll read next?

Everyone In My Family Has Killed Someone by Benjamin Stevenson

Everyone in My Family Has Killed Someone Cover

 

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.

Top Ten Tuesday – Books on my Autumn 2022 TBR

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme that currently resides at The Artsy Reader Girl and features bloggers sharing lists on various book topics.  The official Top Ten Tuesday topic for this week was around Dynamic Duos, however, I decided to instead move up my quarterly post about the best upcoming books to read (TBR) for the following three months.  This is a regular post I do at the start of each season, and as this Tuesday is just before Autumn (Spring for you folks in the Northern Hemisphere), this is the ideal time to put this up.

For this list, I have come up with 10 of the most anticipated novels that are coming out between 1 March 2022 and 31 May 2022.  There are quite a few very cool novels set for release in the next few months that I am extremely excited for, including some of my most anticipated books and fantasy novels of the year.  Due to how impressive some of these upcoming books are, it took me a little while to finalise my list but I was eventually able to whittle it down into a Top Ten list (with a few honourable mentions).  I have primarily used the Australian publication dates to reflect when I will be able to get these awesome novels, and these might be somewhat different to the rest of the world.  I have previously discussed a number of these books before in prior Top Ten Tuesdays and Waiting on Wednesday articles and I think all of them will turn out to be pretty incredible reads.  I have extremely excited for the next three months as quite a few up these upcoming reads are easily going to be amongst the best books of 2022.

Honourable Mentions:

The Kaiju Preservation Society by John Scalzi – 15 March 2022

The Kaiju Preservation Society Cover

A fun romp with giant monsters that is going to be so very entertaining.

 

Everyone in my Family has Killed Someone by Benjamin Stevenson – 29 March 2022

Everyone in My Family Has Killed Someone Cover

A great upcoming book with a fantastic concept, Everyone in my Family has Killed Someone is the latest thriller from Australian author Benjamin Stevenson (Greenlight and Either Side of Midnight).  This cool novel will see an entire family with murderous secrets start killing each other during a deadly family reunion, and I know I am going to love it. 

 

Amongst our Weapons by Ben Aaronovitch – 12 April 2022

Amongst our Weapons Cover

Impressive fantasy author Ben Aaronovitch returns with the latest book in his Rivers of London series that follows a special police unit that investigates magical crimes in London.  This series perfectly blends urban fantasy with police procedural elements (check out my reviews for Lies Sleeping and False Value), and I look forward to seeing what happens next.

 

One Foot in the Fade by Luke Arnold – 26 April 2022

One Foot in the Fade Cover

After having a brilliant 2020 with his first two novels, The Last Smile in Sunder City (one of the best debuts of 2020) and Dead Man in a Ditch, Luke Arnold returns to the deadly Sunder City, a former stronghold of magic that has fallen into devastating ruin following the destruction all magic in the world.  One Foot in the Fade will continue to follow Arnold’s detective character as he attempts to bring back magic and save the former magical creatures he doomed to an early grave.

Top Ten List:

Usagi Yojimbo: Tengu War! by Stan Sakai – 22 March 2022

Usagi Yojimbo - Tengu War!

The first entry on this list is the next upcoming Usagi Yojimbo comic, Tengu War!.  I had this book on my last TBR list, but the release date got knocked back to March, so I am featuring it again here.  I am extremely keen for this comic and I cannot wait to see what epic adventure Usagi gets into next.

 

Kingdoms of Death by Christopher Ruocchio – 22 March 2022

Kingdom of Death Cover 2

An incredible sounding entry in one of the best current science fiction series.

 

An Empty Throne by Robert Fabbri – 1 April 2022

An Empty Throne Cover

More chaos in the aftermath of Alexander the Great’s death.

 

The Bladed Faith by David Dalglish – 5 April 2022

The Bladed Faith Cover

Assassins, deposed kings, and dead gods should lead to an epic read.

 

Desperate Undertakings by Lindsey Davis – 7 April 2022

Desperate Undertaking Cover 1

The next Flavia Albia novel from legendary historical fiction author Lindsey Davis, who has produced some outstanding books in recent years (check out my reviews for Pandora’s Boy, A Capitol Death and The Grove of the Caesars).  This next entertaining sounding novel will follow its protagonist as she investigates several despicable deaths around ancient Rome.  Sure to be a ball of fun, I am extremely keen to check it out.

 

The Hunger of the Gods by John Gwynne – 12 April 2022

The Hunger of the Gods Cover

Still my favourite cover of 2022.

 

Three Assassins by Kotaro Isaka – 12 April 2022

Three Assassins Cover

Last year I was lucky enough to receive a copy of Kotaro Isaka’s Bullet Train, the English translations of one of his impressive Japanese books.  I had a ton of fun with this clever thriller and I was extremely excited to find out that Isaka had a new book coming out this year with Three Assassins.  His new book will pit another unique group of assassins against each other and should make for an extremely captivating read.

 

The Girl and the Moon by Mark Lawrence – 4 May 2022

The Girl and the Moon Cover

One of the most intriguing current masters of fantasy fiction, the impressive Mark Lawrence brings his clever Book of the Ice trilogy to and end this year with The Girl and the Moon.  I have deeply enjoyed this cool series over the last two years, with the first two entries, The Girl and the Stars and The Girl and the Mountain, being extremely impressive reads.  I cannot wait to see how this series ends I am expecting heartbreak, destruction and some powerful moments.

 

Star Wars: Brotherhood by Mike Chen – 10 May 2022

Star Wars - Brotherhood Cover

Return to the Clone Wars with this awesome upcoming Star Wars novel.

 

Kagen the Damned by Jonathan Maberry – 10 May 2022

Kagen the Damned Cover

My favourite thriller author dives into fantasy fiction this year with an intense revenge story I am already predicting will be a five-star read.

 

 

Well, that is the end of my Top Ten list.  I think it turned out pretty well and it does a good job of capturing all my most anticipated books for the next three months.  Each of the above should be extremely epic, and I cannot wait to read each of them soon.  Let me know which of the above you are most excited for and stay tuned for reviews of them in the next few months.  In the meantime, it looks like I have quite a few books to get through soon and they should all be pretty awesome.

Top Ten Tuesday – Favourite Pre-2021 Novels

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme that currently resides at The Artsy Reader Girl and features bloggers sharing lists on various book topics.  This week participants of Top Ten Tuesday get a freebie to list whatever topics they want.  I am planning to take advantage of this by doing two lists.  Not only have a done a movie-related list ranking the James Bond movies, but I am also going to start my annual end-of-year lists here by looking at my favourite pre-2021 novels that I read this year.

Each December I have a lot of fun looking at some of the best and most impressive books and comics that I have read throughout the year in a series of Top Ten Lists.  While these lists usually focus on 2021 releases, for the last few years, I have also taken the time to list out some of the best novels with pre-2021 release dates that I have read in the last 12 months.  There are some excellent older novels out there that I haven’t had the chance to read before this year, and it is always fun to go back and explore them.  I ended up reading a bunch of awesome older books throughout 2021, including some pretty incredible novels that got easy five-star ratings from me and are really worth checking out.

To come up with this list I had a look at all the novels I read this year that had their initial release before 2021.  This included several 2020 releases I only got a chance to check out this year, as well as a few older novels that I had been meaning to read for a while.  I was eventually able to cull this down to a workable Top Ten list, with a descent honourable mentions section.  This new list ended up containing an interesting combination of novels, although there was a bit of an overload of entries from the Dresden Files’ series by Jim Butcher, as well as some Warhammer 40,000 novels, both of which I really got into throughout this year.  Still this honestly reflects the best pre-2021 novels I read throughout the year, so let us see what made the cut.

Honourable Mentions:

Trollslayer by William King – 1999

TrollSlayer-john-gravato-Gotrek-and-Felix-1st-edition-cover

I have been meaning to check out the awesome Gotrek and Felix series of Warhammer Fantasy novels for ages and the recent release of the early entries on audiobook gave me the perfect opportunity to finally do so this year.  The first book in this series was the fantastic, Trollslayer, which introduced the two mismatched companions, Gotrek the dwarven Slayer and Felix the human poet, and highlights some of their earliest adventures throughout the Warhammer Fantasy world in a series of exciting and fun short stories.  This was an excellent initial entry by William King and it made me a massive fan of the unique tandem of Gotrek and Felix.

 

Skavenslayer by William King – 1999

Skavenslayer Cover

I ended up loving Trollslayer so much that I immediately read its sequel, Skavenslayer, which proved to be just as fun as the first book.  Skavenslayer has a more connected story that shows Gotrek and Felix getting caught up in a Skaven invasion of Nuln.  I had an absolute blast with the humour in this novel, especially surrounding the bickering and backstabbing Skaven, and I powered through it in a couple of days.

 

The Return by Harry Sidebottom – 2020

The Return Cover

An epic and clever historical read by the impressive Harry Sidebottom, The Return is a compelling read that sees a damaged Roman soldier return home only to encounter a series of dark murders.  I was really glad that I got a chance to read The Return this year after missing out on it in 2020, and it ended up being a compelling read.

 

Either Side of Midnight by Benjamin Stevenson – 2020

Either Side of Midnight Cover

Another 2020 novel I read towards the start of the year, Either Side of Midnight is a compelling Australian murder mystery that serves as a sequel to Stevenson’s first book, GreenlightEither Side of Midnight had a brilliant thriller storyline, and it was one of the cleverest crime fiction books I had the pleasure of checking out this year.

Top Ten List (by original publication date):

First and Only by Dan Abnett – 1999

First and Only Cover

2021 was the year that I really dove into the Warhammer extended universe, a decision that I am very happy about as there are some exceptional works there.  While the Gotrex and Felix novels were my go-to series for Warhammer Fantasy, when it came to Warhammer 40,000 the clear choice was easily First and Only by legendary Warhammer fiction author Dan Abnett.  First and Only is the first book in the acclaimed Gaunt’s Ghosts series, which follows a group of Imperial foot soldiers as they fight and die across the myriad dangerous battlefields of the 41st millennia.  This first novel introduced the reader to the key Ghosts and takes them on a compelling and deadly series of adventures featuring war, death, and conspiracy.  A wonderful and deeply exciting read, I cannot wait to enjoy the rest of the series next year.

 

Storm Front by Jim Butcher – 2000

Storm Front Cover

Another series that I decided to really dive into this year was the exceptional Dresden Files series by Jim Butcher.  Generally considered the gold-standard of urban fantasy novels, this series blends fantasy and crime fiction elements in the city of Chicago.  I fell in love with this series last year when I checked out the awesome 17th novel, Battle Ground (one of the best books and audiobooks of 2020) which convinced me to go back and read some of the earlier entries.  As such, I read the initial novel, Storm Front, towards the front of 2021 and I had a wonderful time with it.  Storm Front contains an excellent story that introduces the protagonist, rogue wizard Harry Dresden, and follows his investigation of a series of magical murders around town.  I had an absolute blast with this novel, and while it isn’t Butcher’s best work, it was an excellent debut that serves as a great first entry in this iconic series.

 

Daemonslayer by William King – 2000

Daemonslayer Cover

Out of the three Gotrek and Felix novels I have so far had the pleasure of reading, I think that Daemonslayer is probably the best.  This cool novel sees the titular protagonists journey to the most dangerous place in the entire Warhammer Fantasy universe, the Chaos Wastes, to face daemons, monsters and warriors of Chaos.  This novel has a more complete and linear story than the preceding two entries, which makes for a stronger tale.  An extremely exciting and action-packed epic, I look forward to reading more of these novels in the future.

 

Fool Moon by Jim Butcher – 2001

Fool Moon Cover

The second Dresden Files novel I checked out in 2021 was the fantastic Fool Moon, which I found to be one of the strongest overall entries in the series.  Fool Moon pits the protagonist against multiple tribes of werewolves, each of whom have their own magical origins, as he attempts to solve the murder of a friend and clear his name.  This was a very clever and intense novel, and I deeply enjoyed the excellent story and powerful scenes that Butcher was able to craft together.

 

Grave Peril by Jim Butcher – 2002

Grave Peril Cover

I really got into the Dresden Files novel this year and quickly read Grave Peril right after finishing off Fool MoonGrave Peril was another exceptional read that saw Dresden face off against vampires, elves and a nightmarish being of pure evil.  This was another awesome novel that added in some great key characters, new antagonists, and substantial universe expansion.  Featuring some truly dark moments and some major character development, this was an outstanding novel that I had a lot of fun with.

 

Summer Knight by Jim Butcher – 2002

Summer Knight Cover

The fourth and final Dresden Files book I managed to get through this year was the awesome Summer Knight.  This book sees Dresden forced to work for the Winter Court of the elves who need him to solve a murder.  Summer Knight has a great story that moves at an extremely quick pace and takes the protagonist to some awesome new places.  I had an excellent time with Summer Knight, and indeed all the Dresden Files books I read in 2021 and I look forward to further exploring this series next year. 

 

The Gray Man by Mark Greaney – 2009

The Gray Man Cover

Another series that I decided to go back and check out this year was Mark Greaney’s epic Gray Man spy thriller series.  I have been deeply enjoying Greaney’s more recent Gray Man novels, such as Mission Critical, One Minute Out and Relentless, and I thought that it would be good to back and check this series out from the start, especially as there is a movie adaptation coming out next year.  I ended up having an incredible time with The Gray Man which set’s the protagonist, Court Gentry, against a horde of professional hit teams.  An exceptional and action-packed thrill ride, I cannot wait to see how the movie version of this turns out.  I am also extremely excited for some other Greaney books coming out in the next couple of months, as they should be pretty damn awesome.

 

Star Wars: Maul: Lockdown by Joe Schreiber – 2014

Star Wars - Maul - Lockdown Cover

2021 was a great year for new Star Wars novels, many of which were pretty damn exceptional.  However, one of the downsides of this was that I had less time to read some older Star Wars novels.  I did however get a chance to read Maul: Lockdown by Joe Schreiber, whose previous Star Wars novel, Death Troopers, was an awesome horror read.  Lockdown has an awesome (and currently non-canon) story about Maul being sent to infiltrate a maximum-security space prison that runs a series of death fights.  This was a great and compelling read, and I loved all the fun elements featured within.  I am hoping to check out a couple more earlier Star Wars novels next year, and there are a few that I currently have my eye on.

 

State of Fear by Tim Ayliffe – 2019

State of Fear Cover

Another excellent book I checked out this year was the 2019 novel State of Fear by Australian author Tim Ayliffe.  I had been hoping to read this one for a while, especially after enjoying Ayliffe’s first novel The Greater Good, and I finally got the chance this year in the lead up to Ayliffe’s third novel, The Enemy WithinState of Fear was a great Australian thriller that set the protagonist against a dangerous terrorist threat both in Sydney and in London.  Featuring some intense emotional moments and an impressive story, State of Fear is an excellent read and I look forward to checking out more of Ayliffe’s novels in the future.

 

Kal Jerico: Sinner’s Bounty by Josh Reynolds– 2019

Kal Jerico - Sinner's Bounty Cover

The final entry on this list is the incredibly awesome Kal Jerico: Sinner’s Bounty, which is part of the Necromunda sub-series of the Warhammer 40,000 universe.  Sinner’s Bounty was initially released in 2019, but an audiobook version came out last year, which was a lot of fun to listen to.  Featuring one of the best characters in the Warhammer 40,000 canon, notorious bounty hunter Kal Jerico, this novel takes the protagonist and his team to an obscure Underhive town to get a rich bounty.  Forced to contend against monsters, religious zealots, rival bounty hunters and an army of mutants, the protagonists have a cool and fun adventure, filled with intense action, fun humour, and a ton of treachery.  An amazing and deeply enjoyable read, I am very glad I decided to check this book out.

 

 

And that is the end of this list.  As you can see I have managed to check out a bunch of epic pre-2021 novels this year.  Each of the above were exceptional and fun reads and I would strongly recommend them, especially if you are in the mood for some fun fantasy or science fiction adventures.  I look forward to reading some other older books in 2022, and it will be interesting to see what makes my next version of this list then.  I imagine it will end up looking a little similar, especially as I have plans to continue several of these series, especially the Dresden Files, as well as examining some other outstanding Star Wars and Warhammer novels.  Make sure to check back in next week for some other end-of-year lists as I continue to highlight some of my favourite reads from 2021.

 

WWW Wednesday – 27 January 2021

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?

The Bone Shard Daughter by Andrea Stewart (Trade Paperback)

The Bone Shard Daughter Cover

I finally got around to starting The Bone Shard Daughter by Andrea Stewart, which was one of the most highly regarded fantasy debuts of 2020.  I am only about 50 pages into this novel at the moment but so far I am really enjoying this book with its weird bone magic, Eastern influenced setting and sinking islands.  The Bone Shard Daughter looks set to be an awesome read and I am really glad that I’ve begun reading it.

Star Wars: The High Republic: Light of the Jedi by Charles Soule (Audiobook)

Star Wars - Light of the Jedi Cover

I have made some substantial progress on this latest Star Wars novel.  Light of the Jedi is a fantastic and compelling new addition to the canon set hundreds of years before the Skywalker Saga during the period known as The High Republic.  An awesome and exciting read, I should finish this off in the next few days.

What did you recently finish reading?

The Return by Harry Sidebottom (Trade Paperback)

The Return Cover

Colonyside by Michael Mammay (Audiobook)

Colonyside Cover

Either Side of Midnight by Benjamin Stevenson (Trade Paperback)

Either Side of Midnight Cover

What do you think you’ll read next?

Black Canary: Breaking Silence by Alexandra Monir

Black Canary - Breaking Silence Cover

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.

Top Ten Tuesday – Australian Books of 2020

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’s Top Ten Tuesday, participants were supposed to list their top new-to-me authors that they read in 2020, however, I am going to do something a little differently here at The Unseen Library.  I have actually already completed and published this list a few weeks ago as I knew in advance that I would be doing an alternate list today.  The reason for this is because 26 January is Australia Day, so I thought that I would take this opportunity to highlight some of the top pieces of fiction written by Australian authors that I read in 2020.

Each of year talented Australian authors produce an impressive and exciting range of amazing fiction from across the various genres, many of which I am lucky enough to get copies of from the local publishers.  As a result, I tend to read and review a ton of novels by Australian authors, most of which turn out to be some outstanding reads that I deeply enjoy.  While I have previously listed my absolute favourite pieces of Australian authored fiction, I thought that this year I would change it up and examine which Australian novels were the best in 2020.

To qualify for this list, a novel had to be released in 2020 and written by an Australian author, which I am defining as anyone born in Australia or who currently lives here (Australia is very good at adopting talented people as our own).  This resulted in a surprisingly long list, including several novels that I considered to be some of the best reads of last year.  I was eventually able to whittle this novel down to the absolute cream of the crop and came up with a fantastic top ten list (with my typical generous honourable mentions).  I really enjoyed how this list turned out, especially as it features novels from a range of different genres, all of which ended up being very awesome Australian novels.

 

Honourable Mentions:

 

The Left-Handed Booksellers of London by Garth Nix

The Left-Handed Booksellers of London Cover

 

Finding Eadie by Caroline Beecham

Finding Eadie Cover

 

Last Survivor by Tony Park

Last Survivor Cover

 

Where Fortune Lies by Mary-Anne O’Connor

Where Fortune Lies

 

Top Ten List:

 

Hollow Empire by Sam Hawke

Hollow Empire Cover 2

Let us start this list on a very high note with Hollow Empire by Canberran author Sam Hawke.  Hollow Empire was the exciting and much-anticipated sequel to Hawke’s epic fantasy debut, City of Lies, which continued the fantastic adventures of two poison-eating siblings as they attempt to save their city from war and intrigue.  This second novel was an exciting and deeply compelling read filled with new dangers, new enemies and an amazing selection of clever twists and reveals.  A deeply enjoyable novel that was one of the best fantasy novels of the year, I cannot talk up Hollow Empire enough.

 

A Testament of Character by Sulari Gentill

A Testament of Character Cover

The second entry on this list is the 10th historical murder mystery book in Gentill’s long-running Rowland Sinclair series, A Testament of Character.  This fantastic novel sent the titular protagonist and his bohemian friends on a captivating adventure in 1930’s America as they attempt to find out who killed an old associate of theirs.  I always have a great deal of fun when I read the Rowland Sinclair novels, and A Testament of Character turned out to be an impressive and highly enjoyable entry in the series which I deeply enjoyed.

 

Stormblood by Jeremy Szal

Stormblood Cover

Next up we have the exciting and creative science fiction debut, Stormblood, by brilliant new author Jeremy Szal.  This great new novel serves as the impressive first entry in a bold new series that follows a former soldier who was purposely infected by alien biological enhancements as he attempted to uncover a massive conspiracy on an elaborate space station.  Stormblood was an excellent and amazing read that perfectly sets up this cool series and which is really worth reading.  A sequel, Blindspace, is set for release later this year, and I am rather looking forward to it.

 

Either Side of Midnight by Benjamin Stevenson

Either Side of Midnight Cover

I only recently finished off this dramatic and compelling Australian murder mystery, but I had to include it on this list due to its clever mystery and complex characters.  A fantastic sequel to 2018’s Greenlight, this is Australian crime fiction at its best and comes highly recommended.

 

The Erasure Initiative by Lili Wilkinson

The Erasure Initiative Cover

One of the most unusual but extremely captivating pieces of Australian fiction this year was The Erasure Initiative by the infinitely talented Lili Wilkinson.  Wilkinson, who previously wrote the exceptional After the Lights Go Out, produced another high-concept and darkly creative young adult science fiction thriller that sees several strangers will no memories of their past locked in a bus by someone with a strange and lethal agenda.  Clever, intense and highly addictive, The Erasure Initiative was just amazing, and I ended up really loving it.

 

The Queen’s Captain by Peter Watt

The Queen's Captain Cover

One of my favourite historical fiction authors, Peter Watt, finished off his action-packed Colonial series on a high note with the amazing The Queen’s Captain.  Serving as a great conclusion to the story featured in The Queen’s Colonial and The Queen’s Tiger, this latest novel took the protagonist on another set of deadly adventures in the Victorian empire and was a very awesome book to read.

 

Hideout by Jack Heath

Hideout Cover

I had to include the fantastically fun and incredibly exciting Hideout by another Canberran author, Jack Heath.  This was the third novel in Heath’s fantastic Timothy Blake series.  It follows a cannibalistic protagonist as he attempts to kill and eat a house full of sociopathic killers.  An excellent read that you can really sink your teeth into, this is an awesome one to check out.

 

Aurora Burning by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Aurora Burning Cover

If you are in the mood for an exceedingly fast-paced science fiction read, you need to check out the latest outstanding young adult read from the dream team of Australian authors Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff.  The epic sequel to 2019’s Aurora Rising, this latest novel continues an impressive tale that follows several cool teen protagonists on a wild adventure in space with the entire universe gunning for them.  Thanks to the epic cliffhanger at the end, I will have to grab the third entry in this series when it comes out, and I cannot wait to see how it ends.

 

The Last Smile in Sunder City by Luke Arnold

The Last Smile in Sunder City

The Last Smile in Sunder City is a sensational fantasy thriller that follows a depressed private investigator as he attempts to find a missing girl in a city tragically devastated by the destruction of all magic.  Arnold’s debut was pretty damn awesome, and he has already followed it up with a sequel, Dead Man in a Ditch.  A clever and inventive read from a fantastic new author, this is a great book to check out.

 

The Night Swim by Megan Goldin

The Night Swim Cover

Last, but certainly not least, was the moving and dramatic thriller The Night Swim, by acclaimed up and coming Australian author Megan Goldin.  Goldin is a talented and dramatic writer who previously wrote the bestselling thriller The Escape Room.  This latest novel from Goldin was a clever and powerful read that examined two haunting crimes taking place over two generations.  The Night Swim was an impressive novel, and I cannot wait to see what Goldin will come up with next.

 

 

Well, that is the end of this latest list and I am really happy that I got a chance to highlight some of the cool Australian releases of 2020.  The above books represent an outstanding collection of fiction from talented Australian authors, and each of them comes highly recommended by me.  I had a lot of fun coming up with this list and I plan to examine my favourite Australian novels of 2021 this time next year.  Until then, stay tuned for more epic reviews and lists, and make sure you let me know who your favourite Australian authors are in the comments below.

Either Side of Midnight by Benjamin Stevenson

Either Side of Midnight Cover

Publisher: Michael Joseph (Trade Paperback – 1 September 2020)

Series: Jack Quick – Book Two

Length: 327 pages

My Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Following his outstanding 2018 debut, up and coming Australian crime fiction author Benjamin Stevenson returns with an excellent and exciting new novel, Either Side of Midnight.

Sam Midford is a man who seems to have it all.  The host of a popular current affairs program, Midnight Tonight, Sam routinely provides fun and insightful jokes to the Australian public.  But his latest show is about to deliver something very different for the audience, as a nervous Sam pulls out a gun on live television and shoots himself in the head.  The resulting video is seen by millions, and the entirety of the country is shocked by his actions, believing it to be the tragic suicide of a secretly disturbed and haunted individual.

However, there is one person who is convinced that Sam’s death was something very different from suicide: his twin brother, Harry.  Harry believes that Sam was murdered, but with incontrovertible evidence of his suicide seen by a multitude of witnesses, how can this possibly be the case?  Determined to prove that there is more to his brother’s death, Harry seeks the help of someone who is almost as notorious as his dead brother, disgraced former television producer and true crime documentary maker Jack Quick.

Following the infamous and deadly conclusion to his documentary series, Jack is currently serving time in prison for tampering with evidence in a murder investigation.  In the final days of his sentence, Jack is approached by Harry, who believes that he is the only person capable of finding out the real truth behind Sam’s death.  In desperate need of money to support his family, Jack reluctantly accepts the case, believing that all he will uncover is proof that Sam committed suicide.  However, he soon discovers several inconsistencies in Sam’s death as well as evidence that connects his suicide to that of a young girl in the brothers’ past.  Diving deeper, Jack begins to think that there is a sinister killer at work, using subtle and deadly methods to murder their victims.  There is more than one way to kill someone, and Jack is about to discover just how dangerous his new obsession is.

Either Side of Midnight is a fantastic and outstanding read from one of the rising stars of Australian fiction, Benjamin Stevenson.  Stevenson is a Canberra-born comedian and musician who recently made the jump to crime fiction author with his debut novel, Greenlight (which was subsequently released as Trust Me When I Lie and She Lies in the Vines outside of Australia).  Greenlight was a compelling and intriguing novel that followed a guilt-ridden true crime documentary maker who suddenly became convinced that the man his show released from prison was actually guilty.  Set amongst the distinctive scenery of Australia’s wine country, Greenlight was a deeply impressive debut that provided the reader with a dark and clever murder mystery.  Either Side of Midnight is the sequel to Greenlight and is set 18 months after the events of the first book, with the same protagonist engaging in another sinister investigation.

Either Side of Midnight contains an outstanding story that presents the reader with another captivating and intense investigation told through the eyes of the series’ damaged and dark protagonist.  Stevenson has come up with a very clever story for this novel which forces the characters to investigate a murder that appears to be a very public suicide.  I really liked this cool plot premise when I first heard about it and I was glad that Stevenson was able to work it into such a captivating and cohesive narrative.  The investigation starts off quick and fast and does not slow down throughout the entire book, as the author comes up with some excellent twists and dark turns to throw the reader on an emotional rollercoaster, and I was deeply surprised with the final reveals of this mystery.  The entire premise of how the victim is killed is extremely clever and topical, and while I cannot talk about it without spoiling the plot, I felt that Stevenson came up with a great story around it and did a fantastic job tying it into real-world events.  I also really enjoyed Either Side of Midnight’s intense and impressive ending, not only because of the eventual reveal of the true perpetrator of the murder was extremely clever and perfectly set up, but also because of the thrilling and deadly confrontation with the protagonist, which includes the villain setting up extraordinarily evil and extremely memorable means of taking Jack out.

Either Side of Midnight also serves as an excellent sequel to Stevenson’s first novel and I felt that the story elements from Greenlight flowed really well into the plot of this second novel.  This fantastic mystery can also be easily read as a standalone novel, as the author does a great job of revisiting some of the key plot elements from the previous entry.  This ended up being a fantastic read, and I really appreciated the very dark edge that Stevenson gave to the story, which allowed for an extremely compelling and dangerously addictive tale.  I do need to point out that this book is probably best avoided by readers who are triggered by mentions of suicide, as there are some rather graphic scenes and discussions, so be warned about that.  That being said, I had an amazing time reading this new novel from Stevenson and I ended up powering through this intense story in less than a day.

You cannot talk about Either Side of Midnight without discussing the compellingly damaged main protagonist, Jack Quick, who returns for another harrowing adventure.  When we last left Jack, he had been sentenced to two years in prison for manipulating evidence to ensure the success of his true crime documentary.  Jack, who was extremely emotionally and mentally strained in the first book, has started to recover somewhat since the events of Greenlight, having finally started to get help with his bulimia and having confessed his darkest secret to his father.  But life once again gets substantially complicated for Jack when he is reluctantly drawn back into the triggering world of lies, murder and television production due to his family obligations.  I liked Stevenson’s portrayal of Jack in this novel; the events of the first book have made him a little more responsible and compassionate and less of a dick than before.  However, he is still a clever and somewhat manipulative person who manages to BS his way towards the truth and proves to be an entertaining protagonist to follow.  Stevenson continues to examine Jack’s battle with bulimia, a particularly distinctive character trait for a male crime fiction protagonist, in a realistic manner and I really appreciated the way in which the author dives into the psychology of the disorder.  There is also a fantastic continuation of the storyline from the first novel around Jack’s older brother Liam who, after an accident Jack witnessed as a child, has been in a permanent vegetative state.  The fate of Liam and the guilt that Jack feels for his condition is a major part of the protagonist’s character arc in Either Side of Midnight, especially as Jack and his father are forced to discuss ending his care, and it proved to be an excellent and touching part of the novel’s plot.  I really enjoy Stevenson’s outstanding portrayal of this complex character and the examination of his various battles and issues was an essential part of Either Side of Midnight’s outstanding plot.

While the obvious focus of Either Side of Midnight is Jack, Stevenson has also loaded up his second novel with several other damaged and distinctive characters, each of whom add some intriguing angles to this great story.  The most significant of these characters are the Milford twins, Sam and Harry, who serve as the victim and main driving force of the novel respectfully.  The Milford twins, also known as the Midnight Twins, are a former comedy duo who split apart several years earlier, when Sam went on to host his television show and Harry vanished into obscurity.  The author really dives into the background and psyche of these two characters.  Sam was haunted by the guilt over his lost girlfriend, who died while the two twins were trapped on a Ferris wheel.  Harry, the younger twin, is filled with regret and sadness over how their partnership ended, and their relationship soured.  Both characters ended up being complex and damaged individuals, and their struggles have major impacts on Either Side of Midnight’s narrative.  Stevenson did a fantastic job with these characters, and I really appreciated the intriguing storylines that he weaved around them.  It was also interesting to see Benjamin Stevenson portray a set of twin comedy entertainers, as he himself is a member of a comedy duo, known as The Stevenson Experience, with his twin brother James.  You have to assume that Stevenson used a lot of his own experiences to build up these characters and their comedy routine, and I felt this was a fantastic part of the novel, although I’m going to avoid reading too much into the author killing off one of the twins.  I also really enjoyed some of the other damaged characters featured throughout the book, and the protagonist is forced to examine several compelling and tragic backstories to get to the truth of this case.  There is a particular focus on loss and the impacts it has on relatives of the deceased that I particularly appreciated, especially as three major characters (Jack, Harry and side character Ryan) each survived a great tragedy that impacted an older sibling.  I had an incredible time getting to know the broken and bereaved characters in this novel, and it turned out to be a significant part of this fantastic narrative.

One of the other cool features of this book was the author’s excellent use of the rugged Australian setting, which was also one of the most distinctive features of the first entry in the series.  While this book does not spend as much time in the rough countryside as Greenlight did, with most of Either Side of Midnight taking place in urban Sydney, a good part of the plot does take place in a small coastal town.  I really liked the parts of the novel set within this small-town environment as it proved to be an isolated and at times dark setting for this excellent mystery.  The author did a fantastic job of bringing a distinctively Australian rundown town to life in a way that is very realistic to anyone who has done some travel around coastal Australia, which was really cool to see.  I also liked how Stevenson takes the time to examine and parody some elements of wider Australia, particularly its television industry, with the investigation centred on a fictional Australian television network.  This fictional network shares a lot in common with some of the real-life television networks here in Australia.  Anyone who is familiar with some of the main Australian networks will really appreciate Stevenson’s portrayal of these television stations, as he mirrors the stations’ numerical names, provides notable callouts to some extremely popular shows, and portrays some of bitter rivalries the main commercial networks have with each other.  This actually becomes a major part of the plot, and I loved seeing the cynical protagonist navigating the cutthroat rivalries based around a series of soap operas and reality television programs (especially as I am not a big fan of these sort of shows, and they are absolutely saturated in our programming).  Overall, I felt that the author provided a very Australian setting which proved to be an amazing backdrop to this excellent novel.

Either Side of Midnight was an exceptional and amazing second novel from Australian author Benjamin Stevenson that comes highly recommended.  Stevenson has produced an addictive and dark crime fiction story that sees an excellent protagonist investigate an impossible crime.  Featuring great characters, an impressive mystery and a fantastic setting, Either Side of Midnight is an excellent novel that is easily one of my favourite Australian fiction novels of 2020.

Top Ten Tuesday – Books I Meant to Read in 2020 but Didn’t Get To

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’s topic, Top Ten Tuesday participants need to list the books they most regret not reading in 2020.  I ended up having an outstanding reading year in 2020, managing to get through a solid collection of cool new releases and older novels, most of which proved to be amazing and entertaining reads.  However, no matter how hard one tries, there are always a couple of books each year that I did not get a chance to read, either due to time constraints, lack of access or from being overwhelmed with other books that I really wanted to read.  As a result, this is a list that is rather tinged with regret, as each book I plan to mention below is one that I really wish I had taken the time to read.

In order to complete this list, I pulled together some of the more interesting and compelling sounding novels that I did not get a chance to read in the last year.  Each entry was released last year and while I knew that they were coming out, I did not get a chance to read any of them.  In many cases I have these books sitting on my shelf at this moment, silently and constantly judging me, and I think I will have to try and read them to stop their bookish glares.  I was eventually able to cull my list of regret down to 10 entries with an honourable mentions section.  The final list is an interesting collection of books from across the genres and includes a couple of big 2020 releases I did not get a chance to look at.

 

Honourable Mentions:

 

Sons of Rome by Gordon Doherty and Simon Turney

Sons of Rome Cover

 

Black Canary: Breaking Silence by Alexandra Monir

Black Canary - Breaking Silence Cover

I only found out about this book a few days ago, and I had no idea that it was coming out in advance of the end of 2020.  This is the fifth novel in the DC Icons young adult fiction series, a fantastic series that sets teenage versions of some of the biggest DC superheroes on some compelling standalone adventures (check out my reviews for Catwoman: Soulstealer and Superman: Dawnbreaker).  Black Canary: Breaking Silence sounds particularly good as it features a teenage Black Canary in a dystopian future Gotham City ruled over by the tyrannical Court of Owls, where women have no rights.  I am really keen to check this book out and I am planning to grab it in the next few weeks.  While this is a really cool sounding novel, I decided to leave this book on my Honourable Mentions section because it was only released on 29 December 2020, and even if I had known it was coming out I would have been hard pressed to read it last year anyway.  Because of that, I may try to consider Breaking Silence as a 2021 novel, but I am still a tad annoyed I did not get a chance to read it last year.

 

Fifty-Fifty by Steve Cavanagh

Fifty-Fifty Cover

 

Providence by Max Barry

Providence Cover

 

Top Ten List:


War Lord
by Bernard Cornwell

War_Lord_cover.PNG

 

Either Side of Midnight by Benjamin Stevenson

Either Side of Midnight Cover

 

The Obsidian Tower by Melissa Caruso

The Obsidian Tower Cover

 

The Devil and the Dark Water by Stuart Turton

The Devil and the Dark Water Cover

 

Shorefall by Robert Jackson Bennett

Shorefall Cover

 

The Sandman by Neil Gaiman and Dirk Maggs

The Sandman

This next entry is for the full cast The Sandman audio drama that was released in the second half of 2020.  I currently have a copy of this cool-sounding audio drama loaded up on my phone and I hope to listen to it soon, I have just been a bit overwhelmed with audiobooks in the last few months.  This audio drama features an amazing collection of celebrities who are helping to bring Neil Gaiman’s iconic The Sandman comic to life in a new format.  I have heard some amazing things about both the comic and the audio drama and I cannot wait to see how this adaptation turns out.

 

The Bluffs by Kyle Perry

The Bluffs Cover

The Bluffs is a grim and dark Australian crime fiction novel that came out a few months ago.  The debut novel of Australian author Kyle Perry, The Bluffs sounds like a fantastic read set deep within the wild Tasmanian bush, and I hope to get a chance to read it soon.

 

Gallowglass by S. J. Morden

Gallowglass Cover

 

The Bone Shard Daughter by Andrea Stewart

The Bone Shard Daughter Cover

This is another debut that I am particularly sorry I have not read yet.  The Bone Shard Daughter is a very cool-sounding fantasy novel by Andrea Stewart that deals with bone magic and the fate of a nation.  I have heard some very impressive things about The Bone Shard Daughter and I will need to read it in the first half of the year in order to grab any potential sequels coming out in 2021.

 

Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse

Black Sun Cover

The final entry on my list is Black Sun by acclaimed author Rebecca Roanhorse.  Roanhorse has released a lot of interesting novels in the last few years, and while I did enjoy her Star Wars tie-in novel, Resistance Reborn, I have not had the chance to read any of her original series.  I was hoping to check out her 2020 release, Black Sun, which served as the first entry in a new series, but alas I failed to do so.  This is a real shame, as Black Sun was another Roanhorse novel that got an immense amount of praise from reviewers.  I must try and read this one soon as I am sure it is going to be an epic and outstanding read.



Well, that is the end of my latest list and it looks like I have a lot catch-up reading to do if I am going to make a dent in it.  There are some truly amazing-sounding novels on this list and I fully intend to get through all of them at some point, although with all the outstanding books coming out in 2021, it might take me a little time.  In the meantime, let me know what books you most regret not reading in 2020 in the comments below.

 

Top Ten Tuesday – Books I Want to Read Before the End of 2020

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 latest Top Ten Tuesday participants are supposed to list the Top Ten Book Titles that Would Make Great Song Titles.  However, I am going to do something a little different today and I am instead going to list the Top Ten novels I want to read before the end of 2020.

This is a bit of a continuation of a list I did this time last year when I realised that there were only 50 days left in the year and I was freaking out about all the books I still wanted to read.  Well, as crazy as it sounds, this year has nearly come to an end and there are currently only just over 50 days left in it.  While I for one will not be sorry to see the backend of 2020, I am very mindful of the big pile of novels from this year currently sitting on my table (my editor/wife Alex wants to point out that it is actually tables, plural, plus a couple of bookshelves).  So with that in mind I thought I would do another version of this list to inspire me to read these books and knock them out before this year from hell comes to an end.

For this list I have had a decent look through my many book piles to work out which novels I really need to finish off before the year ends.  In order to focus this list on books that are cluttering up the house a little, I decided to exclude novels that I do not currently have copies of (such as Call of the Bone Ships by R. J. Barker, which is hopefully on its way).  I also decided to exclude novels that I am definitely going to read before the end of the year because I am planning to review them for a Canberra Weekly Christmas column (for example, Hollow Empire by Sam Hawke or The Emperor’s Exile by Simon Scarrow).  Using these parameters, I was able to come up with a list of 10 books (with some honourable mentions), that I would really like to read before the year ends.  This list includes an interesting range of novels, from some of the top releases of 2020 to some novels that came in a little under the radar.  However, all 10 sound really good and I cannot wait to try and read them all.

Honourable Mentions:

Shorefall by Robert Jackson Bennett

Shorefall Cover

TRUEL1F3 by Jay Kristoff

TRUEL1F3 Cover

The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman

The Thursday Murder Club Cover

Top Ten List:

The Obsidian Tower by Melissa Caruso

The Obsidian Tower Cover
I am honestly surprised and a little ashamed that I have not made time to read this awesome-sounding novel yet.  The Obsidian Tower is the latest book from rising fantasy star Melissa Caruso and it is set in the same universe as her Swords and Fire trilogy.  I am a major fan of the Sword and Fire books (made up of The Tethered Mage, The Defiant Heir and The Unbound Empire) and this is the book I will try the hardest to make time for in the coming weeks.


The Devil and the Dark Water
by Stuart Turton

The Devil and the Dark Water Cover

Another book I am very much berating myself for not making time for.  The Devil and the Dark Water is the second novel from Stuart Turton, who wowed me so much in 2018 with his debut novel, The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle.  I have a lot of love for Turton’s previous release and I am sure that this new book is going to be just as awesome.


Either Side of Midnight
by Benjamin Stevenson

Either Side of Midnight Cover

Either Side of Midnight is an intriguing-sounding Australian crime fiction novel that I am really looking forward to reading.  The sequel to Stevenson’s debut novel, Greenlight, Either Side of Midnight follows a fascinating and complex murder scenario following an apparent suicide on live television.  This should make for a fun read, and I cannot wait to check out this awesome sounding book.


The Wolf of Oren-Yara
by K. S. Villoso

The Wolf of Oren-Yaro Cover

This exciting and action-packed fantasy novel caught my eye earlier in the year, and I have been curious to check it out ever since.  I have heard some good things about The Wolf of Oren-Yara, which serves as the first book in the fantastically titled Chronicles of the Bitch Queen series, and I think I am really going to enjoy this impressive sounding novel.


The Return
by Harry Sidebottom

The Return Cover

Acclaimed historical fiction author Harry Sidebottom has been on a real roll over the last couple of years, producing two unique and enjoyable Roman historical fiction novels (The Last Hour and The Lost Ten) that each had the characteristics of a particular genre of thriller/crime fiction.  The Return apparently contains some elements of Scandi-noir fiction, and I look forward to seeing how this distinctive murder mystery style blends with a classic Roman historical fiction story.


Cyber Shogun Revolution
by Peter Tieryas

Cyber Shogun Revolution

I had an absolute blast reading Tieryas’s previous novel in the United States of Japan series, Mecha Samurai Empire, and have been really looking forward to reading Cyber Shogun Revolution ever since it was announced.  This new United States of Japan novel should be another incredible and distinctive novel and I need to make a real effort to check it out soon.


The Bluffs
by Kyle Perry

The Bluffs Cover

The Bluffs is another Australian crime fiction novel that I am quite keen to read before the end of the year.  The Bluffs is the debut novel of Kyle Perry and it sounds like quite an intriguing novel set deep within the wilds of the Tasmanian bush.  I have heard some good things about The Bluffs from some fellow reviewers and I am quite keen to read it in the next few weeks.


The Sandman
by Neil Gaiman and Dirk Maggs

The Sandman

I am a major comic book fan, but I have to admit that I have never had the opportunity to read Neil Gaiman’s iconic The Sandman comics.  Luckily, an audio drama adaptation of this classic comic was released earlier this year featuring a first-rate voice cast and helmed by radio production stalwart Dirk Maggs, and I am looking forward to seeing how this audio depiction of the comic turns out.

The Bone Shard Daughter by Andrea Stewart

The Bone Shard Daughter Cover

The Bone Shard Daughter is an impressive-sounding fantasy debut that came out a little while ago.  This is another novel that I have heard some really good things about and it should hopefully turn out to be a first-rate book.

War Lord by Bernard Cornwell

War_Lord_cover.PNG

The last entry on this list is War Lord by Bernard Cornwell.  War Lord is the final book in Cornwell’s long-running The Last Kingdom series.  I am a major fan of The Last Kingdom novels and I am extremely curious to see how this outstanding historical fiction series finally comes to an end.

That’s the end of this week’s Top Ten list.  I am extremely happy with how this list turned out as I am really keen to read each and every one of the novels listed above.  All of them have an amazing amount of potential and I think several could end up being some of my favourite books of 2020.  Make sure to check back in a few weeks to see if I have managed to get around to reading any of them yet.  In the meantime, let me know which books you really want to read before the end of 2020 and best of luck getting through them.