Top Ten Tuesday – Books with Character Names in the Titles

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 are required to list their favourite books that have character names in the title.  I rather liked the idea of this topic, especially as I was unsure if I would be able to really complete a full list about it as only a few book titles really came to mind when I initially thought about it.  However, after a bit of research I was able to come up with pretty substantial list of potential entries, which included some amazing releases.

To make this list a bit of a challenge I tried to avoid books or comics that had series names included in the title (for example, all the Harry Potter books).  I also tried to avoid entries where they added on a name to the main title to designate that a book is going to be about a specific character in a franchise, such as Maul: Lockdown from Star Wars or Kal Jerico: Sinner’s Bounty from Warhammer 40K.  I did, however, include a few books from these franchises where the primary version of its title had a character name in it.  Despite these limitations, I still had a massive list of awesome books, which I then had to cull down.  I ended up having to remove several fantastic reads, but I think the below list really captures the absolute best books I have read with character names in the titles.  So, let us see what made the cut.

Honourable Mentions:

Tarkin by James Luceno

Star Wars Tarkin Cover

A compelling Star Wars novel that does exactly what it says on the packet, tell the story of Grand Moth Tarkin, one of the most distinctive villains from the original film.

 

Steel Tread by Andy Clark

Steel Tread Cover

I am being slightly cute with this Warhammer 40K novel, as Steel Tread is the name of a tank, rather than a human or alien.  However, I would argue that Steel Tread was a proper character, due its presence, impact on the protagonists, and because machines are partially sentient in this universe.

 

Bloody Rose by Nicholas Eames

Bloody Rose Cover

The second book in Nicholas Eames’ The Band series, Bloody Rose is a fantastic fantasy read that centred around a group of mercenary monster fighters.  The title of this book refers to the infamous leader of this mercenary group, Bloody Rose, who serves as quite the distinctive figure.  A fun and captivating book that is really worth checking out.

 

Vader by Kieron Gillen and Salvador Larroca

Star Wars - Darth Vader Volume 1 Cover

The first volume of the epic 2015 Darth Vader series was simply named Vader.  While this was an unimaginative title, the volume itself is extremely epic as it followed Vader in the aftermath of A New Hope.  Perfectly written and filled with some amazing artwork, this was a major volume that not only introduced the amazing character of Doctor Aphra, but also contained an exceptional ending where Vader discovers that the pilot who destroyed the Death Star was named Skywalker.

Top Ten List:

Mort/Eric by Terry Pratchett

Mort and Eric Cover

I have a hard time not including as many of Terry Pratchett’s masterful Discworld novels as possible on lists like these, and luckily for me there were only two Discworld books with character names in the titles, so I figured I would include both.  The first is the excellent novel Mort, which sees Death decided to recruit an apprentice, the titular Mort, who almost immediately starts messing with reality by trying to save the life of a doomed princess.  This was a hilarious novel, especially the bits following Death’s midlife crisis, and it sets up a bunch of other interesting Death-led Discworld novels.  The other book is Eric, one of Pratchett’s shorter books, that follows a teenage demonologist, Eric, who attempts a Faustian demon-summoning for absolute power.  Unfortunately, rather than summoning a demon, Eric instead gets the incompetent wizard Rincewind, who naturally stuff everything up.  This was another funny Discworld book, and I love how the cover of this book crosses out Faust and replaces it with a pen-drawn Eric, just to hammer home what this novel is satirising.

 

The Aurora Cycle by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Aurora Rising Cover

I had to mention one of the best trilogies of recent years with The Aurora Cycle by Australian authors Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff, especially when all three entries contain a character name in their titles.  Made up of Aurora Rising, Aurora Burning and Aurora’s End, these titles all refer to the titular character Aurora (also known as Auri) a time-displaced psychic who ends up being the key to saving the entire universe.

 

Billy Summers by Stephen King

Billy Summer Cover

One of the more recent releases on this list was Stephen King’s Billy Summers.  An interesting and intense thriller, Billy Summers follows the titular character, an honourable assassin, as he embarks on his final job, only to encounter betrayal, introspection and a girl who changes everything.  This was one of the best books of 2021, and I really loved finding out all about Billy Summers.

 

Thrawn by Timothy Zahn

Thrawn Cover

Easily the best Star Wars book that focuses on a specific character is the epic Thrawn by legendary author Timothy Zahn.  This novel perfectly reintroduced Zahn’s greatest character, Grand Admiral Thrawn, into the new canon and is one of my absolute favourite Star Wars novels.  Eventually leading to another five connected books (Alliances, Treason, Chaos Rising, Greater Good and Lesser Evil), this was an exceptional read, and I like how the simple title Thrawn tells you everything you need to know about this book.

 

Eragon by Christopher Paolini

Eragon Cover

Years ago, when I was first getting into fantasy I received a cool novel I knew nothing about apart from the title, Eragon.  Intrigued by its closeness to dragon, I dove into this great book and quickly became utterly engrossed by the story of teenager Eragon who finds a dragon egg and becomes a legendary hero.  I have a lot of love for this book and the Inheritance Cycle series that followed, so I just had to feature this novel on this list.

 

Usagi Yojimbo: Gen’s Story by Stan Sakai

Usagi Yojimbo Gen's Story

I really do tend to hit my classics when it comes to lists like this, so naturally I had to see if there was an entry from one of my favourite comic series, Usagi Yojimbo, that I could feature.  There were actually several Usagi Yojimbo volumes that contained character names in the title, including Lone Goat and Kid, Travels with Jotaro, and Tomoe’s Story.  However, the one I went with was the volume Gen’s Story.  This great volume contains a brilliant story that showcases the childhood of fantastic supporting character Murakami Gennosuke, better known as Gen.  This comic examines why the often disrespectful and uncouth bounty hunter has such dislike for samurai honour and discipline and served as a brilliant bit of backstory for one of the best characters in this series.

 

Harrow the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir

Harrow the Ninth Cover

I was spoiled for choice for this list when it came to the works of Tamsyn Muir, as several of her books feature character names in the title.  While I was very tempted to feature her first novel, Gideon the Ninth (one of the best debuts of 2019), I instead went with her second book, Harrow the NinthHarrow the Ninth was an incredible read that ended up being one of my favourite books and audiobooks of 2020.  Containing a trippy and exceedingly clever narrative, this book follows Harrow, a spacefaring necromancer who is going through some major identity issues.  An exceptional read, I am really looking forward to Muir’s next book, the 2022 release Nona the Ninth.

 

The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton

The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle Cover

I had to include the extremely compelling The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton.  Another brilliant debut and one of the best books of 2018, The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle follows a mysterious time-displaced man who awakens in several different bodies during a fancy party at an old British estate.  Forced to experience the entire party again and again, the protagonist only has seven chances to discover who murdered the party’s host, Evelyn Hardcastle.  Compelling, unique and with a title that immediately grabs your attention, I deeply enjoyed this cool book.

 

Talon of the Silver Hawk by Raymond E. Feist

Talon of the Silver Hawk Cover

Another excellent book I had to feature on this list was the impressive Talon of the Silver Hawk by Raymond E. Feist.  While on the surface this title doesn’t appear to contain a character name, Talon of the Silver Hawk is the main character, as it was the name he chose during a tribal vision quest.  While he goes by other identities and names throughout the novel, this is the one closest to his heart and it makes for quite a catchy book title.  I have a lot of love for this novel, especially as it introduced me to Feist’s excellent and extended Riftwar Cycle, and it is really worth checking out.

 

Vader Down by Jason Aaron, Kieron Gillen, Mike Deodato and Salvador Larroca

Vader Down Cover

The final entry on this list was the cool comic Vader Down.  Written and drawn by the join teams behind the 2015 Star Wars and Darth Vader comic book series, this comic follows Darth Vader who is shot down above a Rebel-controlled planet, and must contend with a Rebel army, traitors, the original trilogy protagonists, and all manner of other dangers.  An exceedingly epic and exceptional limited crossover series, this is one of my favourite Star Wars comics of all time and it is guaranteed to make you a fan of the current Star Wars extended universe.

 

That’s the end of this list.  As you can see, there are some really cool books and comic volumes out there that make good use of character names in their titles.  I am very happy with how this list turned out and I think it captures my absolute favourite books that make use of this naming convention.  This might be a list I revisit in the future, especially as there are several other excellent books that I am planning to read soon featuring character names in the titles (for example, the upcoming fantasy book Kagen the Damned by Jonathan Maberry).  Until then, let me know what your favourite book was a character name in the title is in the comments below.

Top Ten Tuesday – My Favourite Australian Books of 2021

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 2021, however, I am going to do something differently here at The Unseen Library.  I already completed and published this list last week as I knew in advance that I would be doing an alternate list today.  The reason for this is because tomorrow, 26 January, is Australia Day, so I thought I would take this opportunity to highlight some of the top pieces of fiction written by Australian authors that I read in 2021.

Each year talented Australian authors produce an impressive and exciting range of fiction from across the various genres, many of which I am lucky enough to get copies of from the local publishers.  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.  As such, for the last few years on Australia Day I have taken to highlighting my favourite pieces of Australian fiction for the last few years (check out my 2019 and 2020 lists).  I really love how much awesome Australian fiction there is out in the world, and this list is the perfect way to highlight some of the best recent Australian authors.

Now I tend to take a bit of a different approach to Australian fiction than some other bloggers, as I focus on Australian authors rather than those purely set in Australia or featuring Australian casts.  To qualify for this list, a novel had to be released in 2021 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 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 were very awesome Australian books.

Honourable Mentions:

The Colonial’s Son by Peter Watt

The Colonial's Son Cover

One of the best Australian historical fiction authors, Peter Watt, started a great new series last year with The Colonial’s Son.  The sequel to his amazing Colonial series (made up of The Queen’s Colonial, The Queen’s Tiger and The Queen’s Captain), this was a fun and action packed novel that continued some great storylines from the first series.

 

Prisoner by S. R. White

The Prisoner Cover

A taut and clever bushland murder mystery that saw a determined investigator methodically solve a murder through smart police work and multiple interviews with the suspects.

 

The 22 Murders of Madison May by Max Barry

The 22 Murders of Madison May Cover

An extremely exciting novel from awesome author Max Barry that sees a resourceful journalist follow a serial killer throughout the multiverse as he attempts to kill every version of his crush.

 

The Paris Collaborator by A. W. Hammond

The Paris Collaborator Cover

An intense and compelling historical thriller set in occupied Paris; The Paris Collaborator was a great read with a fantastic story to it.

Top Ten List:

Kill Your Brother by Jack Heath

Kill Your Brother Cover

Let us start this list off with the incredibly cool Kill Your Brother by amazing author Jack Heath.  Kill Your Brother is a dark and very clever read that follows an infamously damaged protagonist as they are given a choice to either kill their brother or be killed themself.  Set in rural Australia and loaded with great twists, this was an outstanding and awesome novel that was one of the most entertaining and addictive books I read all last year.

 

The Councillor by E. J. Beaton

The Councillor Cover

Australian author E. J. Beaton had one of the best debuts of 2021 with her excellent fantasy read, The Councillor.  Set in a divided and besieged fantasy realm, The Councillor follows a palace scholar who is given ultimate power and must decide the fate of her kingdom through politics, treachery and deceit.  An impressive first book that is really worth checking out.

 

The Housemate by Sarah Bailey

The Housemate Cover

One of the most incredible reads of 2021 was the intense and captivating murder mystery novel The Housemate by Sarah Bailey.  Set in Melbourne, this book sees an infamous murder case reopened after one of the supposed victims reappears and then dies again.  Following a conflicted journalist whose past connections to the crime is slowly driving her crazy, this was an awesome read that I honestly could not put down.

 

The Warsaw Orphan by Kelly Rimmer

The Warsaw Orphan Cover

Impressive author Kelly Rimmer produced one of the absolute best historical dramas last year with her moving book, The Warsaw Orphan.  Set in occupied Warsaw, this novel followed two very damaged protagonists as they attempt to save as many Jewish babies as possible from the Nazis.  Grim, intense, and loaded with tragedy, this is an excellent historical drama that comes very highly recommended.

 

The Enemy Within by Tim Ayliffe

The Enemy Within Cover

Australian journalist turned crime fiction author Tim Ayliffe had an excellent release in 2021 with The Enemy Within, the third book in his John Bailey series.  Following on from the great stories told in The Greater Good and State of Fear, The Enemy Within had a brilliant story that perfectly utilised recent, controversial Australian events and places Ayliffe’s nosy reporter protagonist right in the middle of them.

 

Unforgiven by Sarah Barrie

Unforgiven Cover

One of the latest Australian books of 2021 that I have read, Unforgiven is an exceptionally dark and powerful novel that follows a former victim of child abuse who has grown up and now hunts the monsters who ruined her childhood.  Containing an exceptional mystery and some brilliant characters, this is an impressive, if grim, thriller that I deeply enjoyed reading.

 

Aurora’s End by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Aurora's End Cover

The Australian dream team of Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff finished off their amazing young adult science fiction Aurora Cycle series last year with the impressive Aurora’s End.  This awesome and extremely fast paced novel featured a very clever multi-time period storyline that did a fantastic job of wrapping up the compelling story of the previous two novels (Aurora Rising and Aurora Burning).  One of the better young adult series of the last few years, I am really glad that Kaufman and Kristoff saw it off in amazing fashion.

 

2 Sisters Detective Agency by James Patterson and Candice Fox

2 Sisters Detective Agency Cover

Ok, so I know that James Patterson isn’t Australian, but his cowriter for this novel, Candice Fox, is one of the best Australian crime fiction authors out there at the moment, and I loved her work on this entertaining and fun book.  Following two very different sisters as they attempt to solve crimes in Los Angeles, this was an extremely exciting and hilarious book that features a really good story.  I had an amazing time reading 2 Sisters Detective Agency and I really hope that this collaboration between Patterson and this rising Australian author continues in the future.  Make sure to also check out Candice Fox’s other 2021 release, The Chase, which had a great prison-break storyline.

 

She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan

She Who Became the Sun Cover

Another epic debut by an Australian author last year was the highly regarded She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan.  This bold and addictive read follows a young girl from rural China who takes her dead brother’s destined greatness and starts a journey to take back China from the Mongolian dynasty and become Emperor.  Featuring a unique and clever story that utilises historical fiction and fantasy elements, this was an amazing read from an impressive new Australian author.

 

Blood Trail by Tony Park

Blood Trail Cover

The final book on this list is the latest novel from one of Australia’s premier thriller authors, Tony Park.  Park’s new novel, Blood Trail, once again journeys to Africa and follows several great characters as they attempt to capture near-magical poachers and kidnappers in a game preserve.  An amazing adrenalin ride from start to finish, Blood Trail was an outstanding read, and I cannot wait to see what Park will release in 2022.

 

 

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 2021.  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 cannot wait to find out what the best Australian books of 2022 are going to be.  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.

Top Ten Tuesday – Books I Meant to Read in 2021 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 Waiting on Wednesday, participants were required to list their most recent additions to their book collections.  However, due to some upcoming lists that I planned out I am instead mixing things up and instead featuring the top books of 2021 that I wanted to read but didn’t get a chance to.

2021 was a great year for novels and I had an outstanding time getting through a solid collection of cool new releases and older novels, which were pretty much all epic and impressive 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.

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 2021 releases I did not get a chance to look at.

Honourable Mentions:

Galaxias by Stephen Baxter

Galaxias Cover

An interesting sounding science fiction novel about the end of the world that would have been fun to check out.

 

The Keeper of Night by Kylie Lee Baker

Keeper of Night (2)

One of the coolest young adult fantasy books I didn’t get to read last year.

 

The Burning by Jonathan and Jesse Kellerman

The Burning Cover

I have been really getting into Jonathan Kellerman’s novels lately and I reckon I would have enjoyed this fantastic novel if I had a chance to read it.

 

Star Trek Discovery: Wonderlands by Una McCormack

Star Trek Wonderlands Cover

2021 was a bit of a null year for me when it came to Star Trek fiction as there were several Star Trek great tie-in books I wanted to read but didn’t get a chance to.  The one I think I would have enjoyed the most was Wonderlands by Una McCormack that tied into the third season of Star Trek Discovery.

Top Ten List:

Empire of the Vampire by Jay Kristoff

Empire of the Vampire Cover

One of the books I most regret not reading last year is the epic Empire of the Vampire by Jay Kristoff.  Set in a world completely ruled by vampires, this book chronicles the life of a human resistance fighter/vampire hunter.  I have heard some impressive things about Empire of the Vampire, and I really wish I could have read it last year.  Unfortunately, I could not fit it into my reading schedule as it is a pretty massive book with an extensive run time.  I will try extremely hard to read it this year though, especially if Kristoff has sequels planned.

 

The Maleficent Seven by Cameron Johnston

The Maleficent Seven Cover 2

Another book I deeply regret not reading in 2021 was The Maleficent Seven by the amazing Cameron Johnston.  An intriguing fantasy reversal of classic films like The Magnificent Seven and Seven Samurai, The Maleficent Seven follows seven villains as they join forces to defend a village from an army even more evil than them.  I really liked the sound of this book, and I am a big fan of Johnston’s previous novels The Traitor God and God of Broken Things.  As such, I will also make a huge effort to check out The Maleficent Seven this year, and I already know I am going to love it.

 

The Noise by James Patterson and J. D. Barker

The Noise Cover

James Patterson cowrote several great books in 2021, and while I did manage to enjoy his fun 2 Sisters Detective Agency (cowritten by Australian author Candice Fox), I didn’t get a chance to read his most interesting sounding novel, The Noise.  Cowritten by horror author J. D. Barker, The Noise is a trippy and captivating sounding science fiction thriller set in a remote area of America.  Filled with mysterious science, government conspiracies and a dangerous elemental force, I was deeply intrigued by this novel and I am hoping to read it soon.

 

Unforgiven by Sarah Barrie

Unforgiven Cover

Unforgiven is a powerful Australian thriller about a former victim of a paedophile who hopes to hunt down her abuser.  I heard that this book was pretty epic and intense, and I meant to read it in the last week.  I may try and start it in the next day or so, but I will have to see how I go.

 

The Righteous by David Wragg

The Righteous

Another book that I really regret not reading in 2021 was The Righteous by David Wragg.  The sequel to his impressive debut, The Black Hawks, The Righteous apparently continues his cool dark fantasy storyline about a group of mercenaries caught in the middle of an evil conspiracy.  This is another one I will make a big effort to read soon and I cannot wait to see what happens to the series’ entertaining protagonists next.

 

Gamora and Nebula: Sisters in Arms by Mackenzi Lee

Gamora and Nebula - Sisters in Arms Cover

An interesting Marvel young adult tie-in by bestselling author Mackenzi Lee, Sisters in Arms was a book I really wanted to read last year, especially after enjoying Lee’s last novel Loki: Where Mischief Lies.

 

Star Wars: Visions: Ronin by Emma Mieko Candon

Star Wars Visions - Ronin Cover

A fun tie-in to the Star Wars: Visions anime movies, Ronin was one of the few Star Wars books I didn’t read in 2021 and I hope to rectify that oversight soon.

 

The Last Watch by J. S. Dewes

The Last Watch Cover

This was apparently one of the best debut novels of 2021 and I really regret not checking it out.  An epic and fascinating science fiction novel about a group of criminals and failures who try to save the universe, The Last Watch got a lot of love from some top reviewers, and I am keen to see how awesome it truly is.

 

The Blacktongue Thief by Christopher Buehlman

The Blacktongue Thief Cover

Another major novel that got a lot of love in reviewers circles last years was The Blacktongue Thief by Christopher Buehlman.  Set to follow an odd couple pairing in a brutal fantasy world, this was apparently an exceptional novel, and it was one that I regret not getting a chance to read.  I might try this year, especially if Buehlman has a sequel on the horizon, and I look forward to seeing what all the fuss is about.

 

The Liar’s Knot by M. A. Carrick

The Liar's Knot Cover

The final book on this list is The Liar’s Knot by M. A. Carrick, which is the second book in the Rook and Rose series of fantasy novels.  I read the first book in this series, The Mask of Mirrors, earlier in the year, and I really enjoyed its fun and compelling story.  I was hoping to read the sequel in 2021, but I never got the chance, especially as the audiobook version apparently isn’t out yet (I think I’d want to listen to it).  I am hoping to listen to it in a few months’ time, but I’ll have to see how I go.

 

 

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 2022, it might take me a little time.  In the meantime, let me know what books you most regret not reading in 2021 in the comments below.

WWW Wednesday – 10 November 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 Dark Hours by Michael Connelly (Trade Paperback)

The Dark Hours Cover

 

The Twice-Dead King: Ruin by Nate Crowley (Audiobook)

The Twice-Dead King - Ruin Cover

What did you recently finish reading?

Aurora’s End by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Aurora's End Cover

 

The Colonial’s Son by Peter Watt

The Colonial's Son Cover

 

2 Sisters Detective Agency by James Patterson and Candice Fox

2 Sisters Detective Agency Cover

 

The Honour of Rome by Simon Scarrow

The Honour of Rome Cover

 

The Bone Ship’s Wake by R. J. Barker

The Bone Ship's Wake Cover

 

Enemy at the Gate by Kyle Mills (based on the books by Vince Flynn)

Enemy at the Gates Cover

What do you think you’ll read next?

Among Thieves by M. J. Kuhn

Among Thieves 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 I Want to Read Before the End of 2021

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 the official topic involved listing your favourite memorable things that characters have said.  However, I am going to do something a little different and instead I am going to list the top ten novels I want to read before the end of 2021.

This is a bit of a continuation of a list I did this time in 2019 and 2020, when there were only approximately 50 days left in the year and I was freaking out about all the books I still wanted to read.  Well, once again the year is nearly over, and there are currently only just over 50 days left in it.  While I am rather keen to escape 2021, I am very mindful of the big pile of novels from this year currently sitting on my table (and a couple of bookshelves, and the floor).  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 comes to an end.

For this list I have had a look through my many book piles and reading lists to work out which novels I really need to read before the year ends.  To focus this on the books that are cluttering up my house or my phone storage, I decided to exclude novels that I do not currently have copies of (such as Never by Ken Follett, which is hopefully on its way) or have not yet been released.  I also decided to exclude novels that I am definitely going to read before the end of the year, as I have plans to review them for some Canberra Weekly holiday columns (such as Cytonic by Brandon Sanderson or Kill Your Brother by Jack Heath).  I am also going to exclude some novels from the big haul I got on Saturday, as I am hoping to get to them soon, and I am excluding The Dark Hours by Michael Connelly, as I am currently reading it.  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, including some big 2021 releases and some other novels that came in under the radar.  All 10 sound really good and I desperately hope I have time to read them all.

Honourable Mentions:

Red Wolves by Adam Hamdy

Red Wolves Cover

 

The Keeper of Night by Kylie Lee Baker

Keeper of Night (2)

 

Cave Diver by Jake Avila

Cave Diver Cover

Top Ten List:

Empire of the Vampire by Jay Kristoff

Empire of the Vampire Cover

The first book on this list is the awesome and fantastic sounding Empire of the Vampire by Australian author Jay Kristoff.  I have only just finished reading Kristoff’s awesome Aurora’s End (co-written by Amie Kaufman), and I am keen to read some more of his stuff.  In particular, I really want to read his awesome adult novel, Empire of the Vampire, which came out a little while ago.  Empire of the Vampire is set in a world with no sunlight and ruled by vampires, who are hunting down the remaining humans.  I have heard some impressive things about this book, and I really hope I get a chance to read it.  I currently have the audiobook loaded up on my phone, although the trick will be fitting it into my listening schedule as it has a pretty substantial run time.

 

Gamora & Nebula: Sisters in Arms by Mackenzi Lee

Gamora and Nebula - Sisters in Arms Cover

I also really want to check out this cool young adult comic tie-in novel from Mackenzi Lee.  I had a lot of fun with Lee’s previous novel, Loki: Where Mischief Lies, and her latest book has an intriguing story involving the two warring sisters, Gamora and Nebula.  I am planning to grab a copy of this book when I can, and I am sure that I will have a great time with this interesting story.

 

The Righteous by David Wragg

The Righteous

Last year I had a lot of fun reading Wragg’s debut dark fantasy novel, The Black Hawks, which followed a rogue band of mercenaries on an impossible quest.  I was really keen to read the sequel, The Righteous this year, but I haven’t had a chance to grab a copy yet.  I am very curious to see what happens after the big cliff-hanger at the end of The Black Hawks, and I cannot wait to see what happens in this series next.

 

Star Wars: Visions: Ronin by Emma Mieko Candon

Star Wars Visions - Ronin Cover

There is no way I can end 2021 without reading every single Star Wars tie-in novel that has been released, and at the moment the only one I haven’t had an opportunity to read is Star Wars: Ronin by Emma Mieko Candon.  Ronin is a tie-in to the Star Wars: Visions anime series, and this book tells the tale of the Ronin character.  I am hoping to get to this one in the next week or two, and I cannot wait to see what cool story Candon has come up with.

 

The Noise by James Patterson and J. D. Barker

The Noise Cover

I was recently lucky enough to receive the curious sounding novel, The Noise, written by James Patterson and J. D. Barker.  The Noise has an interesting and compelling sounding story about Government conspiracies, mysterious explosions and an unexplained sound haunting the countryside.  This one really caught my attention, and I really want to see what The Noise is about before the year ends.

 

Among Thieves by M. J. Kuhn

Among Thieves Cover

2021 has been a great year for debut novels, and I have been lucky enough to enjoy several fantastic debuts that have really showcased the talents of some new authors.  However, there are still a couple of debuts I want to read before the year is out, and the main one of these is Among Thieves by M. J. Kuhn.  Among Thieves is a brilliant sounding fantasy book that follows several desperate characters as they attempt to undertake a daring heist.  I have already heard some great things about this book, and I think it has loads of potential.  I am actually planning to read this book next, and hopefully nothing will come up preventing that.

 

The Apollo Murders by Chris Hadfield

The Apollo Murders Cover

One of the more intriguing novels of 2021 that I have not had the chance to read is the cool science fiction thriller, The Apollo Murders by Chris Hadfield.  The Apollo Murders is a science fiction epic set in 1973, that involves a secret and deadly mission to the moon during the height of the Cold War.  I love the sound of this awesome book, and I am hoping to listen to its audiobook format later this week, especially as it is voiced by one of my favourite audiobook narrators, Ray Porter.

 

The Last Watch by J. S. Dewes

The Last Watch Cover

Another impressive sounding debut I have been meaning to check out is the science fiction epic The Last Watch by J. S. Dewes.  I have been hearing some incredible things about The Last Watch from some other reviewers, and this has made me pretty curious.  Set out in the depths of space, this book follows a small group of criminals and exiles as they attempt to save the galaxy.  Based on the buzz around this book, I think I am going to have a great time reading it, and I really hope I get the chance to do so before the end of 2021.

 

The Blacktongue Thief by Christopher Buehlman

The Blacktongue Thief Cover

Throughout 2021, I have seen innumerable reviews about The Blacktongue Thief by Christopher Buehlman, a cool sounding fantasy novel with an intriguing plot to it.  Most of these reviews have been pretty positive, and it seems like every fantasy reviewer I follow has managed to check this book out.  As such, I am really keen to read The Blacktongue Thief before the end of the year, just to see what all the fuss is about.  Unfortunately, I have not been able to fit it into my reading schedule, but I will try to do so before the end of the year so I can be ready for any upcoming sequels.

 

The Maleficent Seven by Cameron Johnston

The Maleficent Seven Cover 2

The final book on this list is probably the 2021 book that I regret not reading the most, The Maleficent Seven by Cameron Johnston.  Johnston, who has previously written the awesome dark fantasy novels, The Traitor God and God of Broken Things, is a talented author, and I am very keen to see how his latest novel has turned out.  The Maleficent Seven follows a group of former fantasy villains who reunite to defend a town from an evil army.  Essentially a dark, magical version of The Magnificent Seven, I think this book has so much potential, and I am so annoyed with myself that I haven’t read it yet.  Hopefully I will rectify this soon, and I already know I am going to love this book.

 

 

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 2021.  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 2021 and best of luck getting through them.

Aurora’s End by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Aurora's End Cover

Publisher: Allen & Unwin Australia (Trade Paperback – 2 November 2021)

Series: Aurora Cycle – Book Three

Length: 493 pages

My Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

The all-star team of Australian authors Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff present the third and final novel in their epic Aurora Cycle series, with the intense and clever young adult science fiction novel, Aurora’s End.

Over the last few years, I have been deeply enjoying the outstanding partnership of Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff.  Both Kaufman and Kristoff are accomplished authors, with several independent series to their name, such as Kristoff’s Lifel1k3 series (make sure to check out my review for the second book, Dev1at3).  However, I think that some of their strongest work has been together, as Kaufman and Kristoff have previously co-authored the acclaimed The Illuminae Files trilogy.  Their latest collaboration, The Aurora Cycle, has been a particularly amazing young adult science fiction series, and I have been really enjoying its cool story.

The Aurora Cycle novels are set in a far future when humans have expanded out into space and encountered a range of different alien species.  Peace between these species is kept by the Aurora Legion, an intergalactic collation of peacekeepers, made up of teenagers of various species (a slightly more hormonal Starfleet, slightly).  The series follows Squad 312, a group of misfits brought together thanks to the arrival of the mysterious Aurora O’Malley.  Auri is a girl out of time, who was awoken by the squad after centuries frozen in a colony ship and found herself gifted with dangerous psychic powers.  The first book in this series, Aurora Rising, introduced the squad and saw them thrust into the midst of a galactic conspiracy, as a race of plant-based aliens, the Ra’haam, who are plotting to assimilate all life, frame them as terrorists.  The second novel, Aurora Burning, expanded on the threats, the conspiracies, and the character drama, and ended with a massive cliffhanger, with all the surviving members of Squad 312 in great danger and the fate of the universe on the brink.

Following the terrible battle near Earth between the human and Syldrathi fleets, the planet-destroying superweapon was fired, but nothing turned out as expected.  Now, the various members of the galaxy’s last hope, Squad 312, have been flung throughout time.  Scarlett, Finian and Zila have been blasted back into the early days of Earth’s intergalactic travel, when there is no Aurora Legion, no friends, and a ticking clock of doom as the mysterious station they arrived at keeps blowing up.  Subsequently, Auri and Kal arrive years in the future, where the Ra’haam have won, and all hope seems lost.

Trapped in a time loop, Scarlet, Fin and Zila will initiate a desperate plan (again and again) with a new friend, but their mission may end up having unimaginable consequences.  While in the future, Auri and Kal are trapped with the only weapon that can end the Ra’haam threat, if they can get back to the present.  Forced to team up with the most dangerous being in existence, Kal’s genocidal father, Caersan, Auri and Kal embark on a dangerous mission through the Ra’haam controlled future with some unexpected help.

Back in the present, Squad 312’s leader, Tyler Jones, is also running out of time.  Still branded a fugitive by the entire galaxy, Tyler is the only person who knows that the Ra’haam are making their move to destabilise the various governments of the galaxy to start their invasion.  Forced to work alone and against the odds, Tyler needs to travel back to the one place he considers home, the highly secure Aurora Legion headquarters.  All three of these teams will need to survive impossible odds if they are to complete their missions and get back home.  But even if they succeed, can this ragtag team of teenagers really save the entire galaxy, or is the age of the plant-based parasite about to begin?

This was an outstanding novel from Kaufman and Kristoff that served as an excellent and captivating end to this impressive series.  Kaufman and Kristoff really went all out here with Aurora’s End, producing a complex and entertaining narrative that separates out the various characters and presents them with impossible temporal obstacles.  I deeply appreciate the clever narrative that the authors wove around these compelling characters, and it ended up being an exceptionally fun and enjoyable young adult science fiction book that I powered through in two days.

I absolutely loved the cool story of Aurora’s End, not only because it was really thrilling and fast-paced but because it was so ambitious.  I cannot think of another trilogy where, in the final entry, the authors decide to suddenly embark on massive time-travel adventure, with an intense narrative split across three vastly different time periods.  However, it works incredibly well, as Kaufman and Kristoff produced some epic and exciting storylines that remain mostly separate throughout the entirety of the book.  All three storylines are very distinctive, and all of them are pretty fun in their own unique way.  The storyline set hundreds of years in the past is an extremely entertaining event that sees three point-of-view characters trapped in a slowly devolving time-loop that ends every time one of them dies.  The characters are forced to work through an exploding, high-security station to find a way to travel back in time, with a substantial number of hilarious deaths and mistakes along the way.  The storyline in the present follows the Squad’s leader as he attempts to stop the entire alien invasion by infiltrating the most secure location in the entire galaxy without his squad.  Finally, you have the storyline in the future, which is an emotional and powerful post-apocalyptic narrative that sees Auri and Kal forced to contend not only with a hostile galaxy completely taken over by the Ra’haam but also with Kal’s insane and manipulative father.

I felt that all three of these storylines worked incredibly well, and each of them had their own appeal.  I honestly have a hard time faulting any of these distinct storylines, and it was one of those rare occasions in a split-storyline novel where there wasn’t a single character or timeline that I was a little less excited to read about.  If I had to choose a favourite, it would be the storyline set in the past, mainly because I loved the fun opportunities that only a time-loop story can present.  All three storylines were incredibly rich and compelling, and the authors did a good job of layering drama, excitement, character growth and humour through each of them.  While they were mostly separate from each other, the overlapping elements worked incredibly well, and the storylines ended up coming together perfectly towards the end.  The authors also do a good job wrapping up a lot of the unexplained story elements from the previous novels, with certain mysterious events and McGuffins finally revealed in their entirety.  This results in a big and epic finale where all the remaining characters are reunited to face the final threat of the Ra’haam.  It was extremely cool to see all the unique story threads finally come together.  I did think that the authors got a bit too meta-physical in the finale, especially when it came to dealing with the big-bad, but this didn’t really disrupt my overall enjoyment of the story.  I absolutely loved this wacky, clever, and well-planned out narrative, and I am still deeply impressed with how well the entire time-travel story worked.

I have really appreciated the cool and enjoyable writing style that Kaufman and Kristoff utilised throughout the Aurora Cycle, and it worked incredibly well once again in this final book.  Just like with the previous novels, Aurora’s End is told utilising six split perspectives, with each of the surviving squad members going into the final book getting multiple chapters.  Not only do these multiple perspectives help to present a rich and complex character driven narrative but it also helps the reader to really get into the heads of the main characters.  Each part of the book told by a different character has its own unique feel to it, and you really get the sense of each of the characters’ personalities and experiences.  I also love the way in which Kaufman and Kristoff layer in the action and humour throughout the entire novel, with various fun scenes featured throughout.  The action scenes are very intense, and the authors do a great job of highlighting the crazy battles that each of the characters get involved in, whether it be massive space battles, deadly close-combat fights, or sneaky attempts to move through an exploding space station.  The authors also have a great sense of humour, with many fun jokes and observations that made me laugh multiple times, especially around the fun time-loop storyline.  This made Aurora’s End a very easy novel to get through, as the natural narration and fast-paced scenes ensures that readers can power through it quickly, and with little hassle at all.  Due to this being the final entry in a series, readers are encouraged to check out the first two Aurora Cycle novels first before reading Aurora’s End.  However, those readers tempted to start and finish he series here should still be able to enjoy the story as the authors have a very inclusive writing style, and the book also features a highly detailed “stuff you should know” section at the front (very useful for both new readers and those who need a quick refresher).

Just like the previous novels in this series, Aurora’s End is marketed as a young adult read, and I would strongly recommend it to this audience.  Younger readers will deeply appreciate the use of multiple complex teenage characters kicking ass and saving the world, and I think that the authors did a good job of capturing the teenage mindset in their various protagonists.  This was also quite a mature and positive read, with multiple examples of romantic relationships, complex issues, and great portrayals of LGBT+ relationships that will be appealing to the younger audience, especially as the authors do not try to talk down to their chosen readers.  Due to some of these mature elements, I would suggest that this is a more appropriate read for older teens, and this is a series I would have really enjoyed when I was first getting into fantasy and science fiction.  Despite its marketing towards the young adult audience, this is a series easily enjoyed by older readers, and I think that most science fiction fans will have a great time with this series, if they don’t have any objections to following teenage protagonists.  Overall, I think this book will appeal to a wide range of readers and is a particularly good series for teenagers looking for a fun adventure with relatable heroes.

The last thing I want to highlight abut Aurora’s End is the excellent characters featured throughout, especially protagonists Aurora, Tyler, Kal, Scarlett, Finian and Zila.  Over the course of the Aurora Cycle, the reader has had a wonderful time getting to know all the protagonists, all of whom have grown throughout the series, while also experiencing loss, heartbreak, betrayal, and devastating revelations.  I have deeply appreciated the impressive and realistic character growth featured within, and the authors have continued this throughout Aurora’s End, with some major character moments that helped to define all of them and shown how they have grown.  Unlike the previous novels that have focused on a couple of the characters a little more, there was a much more even spread amongst the characters, with each getting their moment in the light.  Indeed, thanks to the cool time travel elements, you get to see multiple versions of one protagonist, with an older version of this character becoming a supporting figure in one of the other storylines.  I deeply appreciated the various character arcs featured throughout this novel, and Kaufman and Kristoff go out of their way to make you run the full emotional gauntlet here.  These arcs include a more comedic one surrounding the sarcastic Finian and the perhaps oversexualised Scarlett as they explore their new relationship while the world continuously explodes around them.  At the same time, the socially awkward Zila has a more serious experience in the time-loop, even as she embarks on a doomed relationship with someone who lived hundreds of years before she was born.

The other three characters also have some major and moving character arcs, especially Aurora and Kal, who are trapped in a future where the Ra’haam won, and everything has been infected by them.  This is a particularly dark storyline, and these two protagonists go through a lot, especially as they keep witnessing all manner of death and destruction around them.  Their arc is further complicated by Caersan, Kal’s father, who has similar powers to Auri and used them to destroy Kal’s home planet.  This results in some major emotional moments, as Auri and Kal are forced to work with an unrepentant Caersan, while also trying to work out their own complex emotions.  Finally, I must highlight the great development at occurred with Tyler, the team’s leader, who, after spending two novels turning Squad 312 into the ultimate team and family, ends up by himself, forced to face literal ghosts from his past with none of his established support.  Tyler really suffers in this book, and you must feel sorry for everything he goes through, even if he does start a passionate, if exceedingly violent relationship with a warrior alien princess.  All of these character arcs are really impressive, and you will be moved by everything these fantastic heroes go through, especially as not all of them will come out of it in one piece.

With this fantastic final book, the team of Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff have brought their amazing Aurora Cycle series to an epic and impressive conclusion.  Aurora’s End was an outstanding novel that perfectly wrapped up this excellent trilogy with fun, flair, and exceptional action.  Featuring some amazing characters and a very clever time-travel based storyline, Aurora’s End was an incredibly fun novel that comes highly recommended.  I deeply enjoyed this epic novel, and I really hope that these two brilliant Australian authors team up again in the future for another compelling series.

Book Haul 29 October 2021

It has been a while since I have done a Book Haul post, but seeing that I received several interesting books recently, I thought I would quickly do one to highlight some of the best books I have gotten in the last few weeks.  Each of the below books sound extremely cool and captivating, and I cannot wait to see how they all turn out.

Aurora’s End by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Aurora's End Cover

I was very happy to receive a copy of Aurora’s End by Australian authors Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff.  This awesome novel is the third and final book in the impressive Aurora Cycle trilogy, which has so far consisted of Aurora Rising and Aurora Burning.  This has been an excellent young adult science fiction series and I am really eager to see how it all comes to a close. I am actually about halfway through it at the moment, and I am enjoying it’s intense story, especially as it utilising some cool and complex time-travel antics.

Star Wars: Ronin by Emma Mieko Candon

Star Wars Visions - Ronin Cover

I was also very excited to received a copy of Star Wars: Ronin by Emma Mieko Candon, which ties into an episode from the recent Star Wars: Visions anime series, The Duel. Ronin serves as a prequel to The Duel and tells the full story of the wandering protagonist in this alternate universe story.  I am deeply curious about this novel and I cannot wait to see what crazy story it contains.  I loved The Duel and I look forward to seeing more of the unique alternate universe, especially with its blend of Star Wars and feudal Japanese imagery.  If this incredible cover is anything to go by, this is going to be an outstanding read.

Kill Your Brother by Jack Heath

Kill Your Brother Cover

One of the more intriguing novels I recently received was Kill Your Brother by Australian author Jack Heath, author of the gruesome Timothy Blake series, which follows a cannibal turned FBI consultant.  I had a lot of fun last year reading the last book in this series, Hideout, and I am looking forward to reading more from this talented thriller author, especially as Kill Your Brother sounds like a fantastic and intense read.  An adaptation of the Audible Original of the same name, this novel asks the simple, if distressing, question, would you kill your brother to save your own life?

The Spy’s Wife by Fiona McIntosh

The Spy's Wife Cover

Australian author Fiona McIntosh is at it again with another historical drama, The Spy’s Wife.  I have rather enjoyed some of McIntosh’s latest novels, including The Pearl Thief, The Diamond Hunter and The Champagne War, and I look forward to reading this next book, especially as it focuses on espionage during World War II.

State of Terror by Hillary Rodham Clinton and Louise Penny

State of Terror Cover

The next book I have received is the exciting thriller novel, State of Terror.  Written by the curious team of experienced author Louise Penny and the Hillary Clinton, State of Terror follows a Secretary of State who attempts to stop an international terrorist attack while also trying to revitalise America’s diplomatic reputation after a controversial President.  As you can imagine, this book is considered a little divisive and controversial in America, and I am kind of curious to find out what sort of story it contains.

The Keeper of Night by Kylie Lee Baker

The Keeper of Night Cover

The final book I have received is the rather interesting sounding young adult fantasy novel, The Keeper of Night by Kylie Lee Baker. This awesome sounding novel combines Western and Japanese mythologies and religions to tell the story of a half British Reaper, half Japanese Shinigami girl who is given a task to kill three demons. I really love the sound of this amazing novel, and I cannot wait to see what unique story it contains.

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 – 27 October 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 Dying Squad by Adam Simcox (Trade Paperback)

The Dying Squad Cover

I just started reading the cool new book from debuting author Adam Simcox, The Dying SquadThe Dying Squad is an intriguing fantasy crime fiction novel that follows a murdered detective who is sent back from purgatory to solve his own murder.  I am having a great time with this book so far and I cannot wait to see how it turns out.

 

The Bone Ship’s Wake by R. J. Barker (Audiobook)

The Bone Ship's Wake Cover

I am still going with The Bone Ship’s Wake audiobook and I am hoping to finish it off in the next week or so. While I wish I was getting through this audiobook a little quicker, I am still having an amazing time with The Bone Ship’s Wake.  Barker has written another intense and powerful dark fantasy read that makes full use of its unique setting and clever nautical elements.  The Bone Ship’s Wake is proving to be quite an awesome read and I am extremely excited to see how Barker finishes off this epic and captivating trilogy.

What did you recently finish reading?

Lies Like Wildfire by Jennifer Lynn Alvarez (Trade Paperback)

Lies Like Wildfire Cover

What do you think you’ll read next?

Aurora’s End by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff (Trade Paperback)

Aurora's End 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.

WWW Wednesday – 20 October 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?

Lies like Wildfire by Jennifer Lynn Alvarez (Trade Paperback)

Lies Like Wildfire Cover

I started reading this interesting young adult novel by Jennifer Lynn Alvarez and I am already pretty hooked.  Lies Like Wildfire follows a group of  friends who accidently start a deadly wildfire in California and then try to cover up their involvement with dramatic consequences.  This is a very compelling story and I cannot wait to see how it ends.

 

The Bone Ship’s Wake by R. J. Barker (Audiobook)

The Bone Ship's Wake Cover

I am making slow progress with this audiobook but it is proving to be another exciting and enthralling dark fantasy read from this exceptional author.

What did you recently finish reading?

Viral by Robin Cook (Trade Paperback)

Viral Cover

What do you think you’ll read next?

Aurora’s End by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff (Trade Paperback)

Aurora's End 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.