WWW Wednesday – 23 November 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?

Retribution by Sarah Barrie (Trade Paperback)

Retribution Cover

I recently started reading the cool Australian crime thriller, Retribution by Sarah Barrie.  The sequel to Barrie’s 2021 novel, Unforgiven, Retribution is another excellent and powerful Australian thriller that follows a maverick protagonist as she seeks justice and revenge.  I am having an outstanding time with this book and I can’t wait to see how the clever mysteries unfold.  I will probably knock this book off in the next day or so, and it is proving to be quite an amazing read.

Amazon     Book Depository

Dragon Mage by M. L. Spencer (Audiobook)

Dragon Mage Cover

I am still slowly getting through the lengthy by captivating fantasy novel Dragon Mage by M. L. Spencer. A massive and complex fantasy novel from a couple of years ago, Dragon Mage follows two teenagers who are dragged into an interdimensional war and must learn to harness their respective abilities to save the world.  Dragon Mage has a very elaborate and captivating story to it, which does get a little slow at times, so I have been struggling to make a lot of headway with this book.  However, the story is starting to speed up a bit now that I’m the second half and I am hoping to finish this off in the next week.  This is a very impressive fantasy read however, and I am really enjoying getting through it.

Amazon     Book Depository

What did you recently finish reading?

Death to the Emperor by Simon Scarrow (Trade Paperback)

Death to the Emperor Cover

Another fast-paced and well-written historical fiction novel from one of my favourite authors.  Death to the Emperor takes the readers right into the middle of Boudica’s rebellion, and you will not be able to turn away from the resulting battles.

Amazon     Book Depository

Friends Like These by Jennifer Lynn Alvarez (Trade Paperback)

Friends Like These Cover 2

An excellent and extremely captivating young adult thriller.  Friends Like These is a very powerful read from Jennifer Lynn Alvarez that places the reader in the middle of a very realistic teenage situation that gets far too out of hand in some compelling and exciting ways.

Amazon     Book Depository

Usagi Yojimbo: Volume 37: Crossroads by Stan Sakai

Usagi Yojimbo - Crossroads Cover

Another outstanding volume in the always fun Usagi Yojimbo comic series.  Crossroads was another instant classic from Sakai and I had such an incredible time reading it.  Review to follow soon.

Amazon     Book Depository

What do you think you’ll read next?

Silver Queendom by Dan Kobolt

Silver Queendom Cover

After finishing off Retribution, my plan is to start reading the awesome sounding fantasy book, Silver Queendom by Dan Koboldt.  Following a group of rogues who decide to pull off a dangerous heist, Silver Queendom sounds like a very fun and enjoyable read and I can’t wait to see all the resultant betrayals, elaborate plans and fantasy shenanigans.

Amazon     Book Depository

Star Wars: The High Republic: Convergence by Zoraida Cordova

Star Wars - Convergence Cover

If I manage to finish off Dragon Mage in the next week, then the next audiobook on my list to listen to is Convergence by Zoraida Cordova.  The first adult book in the second phase of the Star Wars: The High Republic series, Convergence will set the stage for much of 2023’s Star Wars fiction, and I am pretty excited for that.  Set to follow a new batch of characters as they explore a whole new period of Star Wars history, Convergence is sure to be an exciting and central read, and I can’t wait to see how the next Phase of High Republic fiction will unfold, especially after how good Path of Deceit was.

Amazon     Book Depository

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.

Book Haul – 13 November 2022

I have been having an absolutely fantastic weeks for book, 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, some of which rank amongst my top books of 2022.  I am extremely keen to check out all of the books below and they should make for some amazing reads.

Star Wars: The High Republic: Convergence by Zoraida Cordova

Star Wars - Convergence Cover

The first book I recently received was the awesome Star Wars novel, Convergence by Zoraida Cordova.  The first adult book in the second phase of The High Republic sub-series, Convergence looks set to be one of the major books of this franchise, providing a major introduction to the wider galaxy in the prequel era while also showcasing some of the key new characters and concepts. I only just finished the very first book in this second phase, Path of Deceit, and it has gotten me pretty excited for the upcoming High Republic offerings.  I can’t wait to see what happens in Convergence, and I have a feeling it is going to be quite an impressive read.

Amazon     Book Depository

 

Friends Like These by Jennifer Lynn Alvarez

Friends Like These Cover 2

I was very excited to receive a copy of the intense young adult thriller, Friends Like These by Jennifer Lynn Alvarerz.  I had an absolutely wonderful time reading Alvarez’s 2021 novel, Lies Like Wildfire, which was one of my favourite debuts of last yearFriends Like These will contain another intriguing narrative around teenagers making terrible mistakes that lead to murder. This time centered around the consequences of a beach party where a viral video prank gets everyone in trouble, Friends Like These promises to be an exceptional read, and I reckon I’ll try to dive into it next.

Amazon     Book Depository

 

The Prisoner by B. A. Paris

The Prisoner by B. A. Paris Cover

One of the more intriguing books I recently received was the compelling psychological thriller, The Prisoner by acclaimed author B. A. Paris.  Set to follow a woman who knows plenty about survival, The Prisoner will see the protagonist kidnapped by mysterious captors, who lock her in a pitch-black room.  However, as the ordeal continues, the protagonist finds herself feeling safe, especially as it keeps her away from her husband.  I’m very, very curious about this book, mainly because I’m not entirely sure how it is going to unfold.  I am imagining that this is going to be a super-twisty read, and I look forward to seeing just how dark and complex it turns out to be.

Amazon     Book Depository

 

The Warrior by Stephen Aryan

The Warrior Cover

I was very happy to receive a copy of The Warrior by Stephen Aryan in the last week, which will continue an excellent narrative from a talented author.  The sequel to one of the more entertaining fantasy books of 2021, The Coward, The Warrior will see the protagonist, traumatized hero turned reluctant king, Kell, travel off on another lethal adventure, this time to help a friend. I loved the first book in this clever duology last year and I have no doubt that Aryan has another exciting and heartfelt adventure waiting for us in this cool sequel.

Amazon     Book Depository

 

Dead Man’s Hand by James J. Butcher

Dead Man's Hand Cover

Out of all the books I have recently received, the one that I am particularly curious and excited for is Dead Man’s Hand, and that is mainly because of its author, James J. Butcher.  Butcher is the son of legendary fantasy author, Jim Butcher, and he is breaking into the family business by starting his own urban fantasy series.  Dead Man’s Hand is a very cool sounding book that sees a mediocre witch forced to investigate a murder of one of his powerful peers in order to prove his innocence.  Featuring a very interesting narrative and a cool cover, I have a feeling that I am going to enjoy Dead Man’s Hand and I look forward to finding out how Butcher’s first book turns out.

Amazon     Book Depository

 

The Perfect Assassin by James Patterson and Brian Sitts

The Perfect Assassin Cover

The final book I recently received is the awesomely titled novel, The Perfect Assassin, written by the fantastic team of James Patterson and Brian Stills.  I have been having an incredible time with some of the recent novels Patterson has cowritten, such as 2 Sisters Detective Agency and Death of the Black Widow, and I am looking forward to reading this next one, especially as it has quite an intriguing plot to it.  Connected to classic pulp character, Doc Savage, this book will apparently follow a university professor who is kidnapped by a mysterious woman, who seeks to mold him into something very different.  I am very intrigued by this interesting novel, and I have a feeling The Perfect Assassin is going to be a very entertaining, if slightly bonkers read, and I can’t wait to see how it connects to the old-school adventures from the 1930s.

Amazon     Book Depository

 

 

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.

Top Ten Tuesday – Books on my Spring 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 books I got for my personal library, 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 Spring (Autumn for 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 September 2022 and 30 November 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 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:

Falling Sky by Harry Sidebottom – 13 October 2022

Falling Sky Cover

An epic adventure from one of the best current authors of historical fiction, Harry Sidebottom.  Set to bring back his best protagonist for a ton of historical action and intrigue in the Alps, Falling Sky is going to be a lot of fun and I cannot wait to read it.

Amazon     Book Depository

 

The Boys from Biloxi by John Grisham – 18 October 2022

The Boys from Biloxi Cover

After having a fantastic time with Grisham’s latest legal thrillers, The Judge’s List and Sparring Partners, I am quite keen to read something else from this iconic crime fiction author.  Luckily his new book, The Boys from Biloxi, sounds very impressive and I know I am going to have a blast getting through it.

Amazon     Book Depository

 

Friends Like These by Jennifer Lynn Alvarez – 1 November 2022

Friends Like These Cover 2

Last year, Jennifer Lynn Alvarez greatly impressed me her first young adult thriller, Lies Like Wildfire, which ended up being one of the best debuts of 2021.  I loved the complex and clever story that Alvarez featured in Lies Like Wildfire, and it looks like she’s set to continue her awesome young adult thriller ways with the upcoming Friends Like These, which explore the deadly consequences of a drunken party.

Amazon     Book Depository

 

Death to the Emperor by Simon Scarrow – 8 November 2022

Death to the Emperor Cover

I will of course be grabbing the latest historical fiction epic from one of my favourite authors, Simon Scarrow, when it comes out in November.  Scarrow’s last few books have all been very exciting and I cannot wait to read Death to the Emperor when it comes out, especially as it sets his long-running Roman protagonists against a massed rebellion in Britain.

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Top Ten List:

Fairy Tale by Stephen King – 6 September 2022

Fairy Tale Cover

First on this list is the upcoming fantasy novel from legendary author Stephen King, Fairy Tale.  I have been deeply enjoying King’s last few books, such as the fantastic Later and the epic Billy Summers, and I am very keen to see King dive into a dark fantasy novel.  Set around a young boy who finds himself drawn into a dark realm of fairies and magic, Fairy Tale promises to be an exceptional read, and I know I am going to have a blast with it.

Amazon     Book Depository

 

Nona the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir – 13 September 2022

Nona the Ninth Cover

Since her impressive debut in 2019 with Gideon the Ninth, Tamsyn Muir has been one of the most intriguing science fiction authors out there.  Not only was her first book a ton of fun with its dark story around a group of space-faring necromancers, but her sequel, Harrow the Ninth, was a truly exceptional read that ended up being one of the best books and audiobooks of 2020.  I am exceedingly excited to see what happens in the third book, Nona the Ninth, and it looks let to continue the fantastic body-swapping antics of the previous two novels.  Nona the Ninth is likely to be one of the best and most distinctive science fiction reads of 2022, and I am very excited for it as a result.

Amazon     Book Depository

 

Oath of Loyalty by Kyle Mills – 13 September 2022

Oath of Loyalty Cover

There are some excellent long-running spy thriller series at there now, but one of my favourites is the action-packed Mitch Rapp novels.  Originally written by Vince Flynn, the Mitch Rapp novels follow the titular spy and assassin as he lays waste to America’s enemies around the world.  The last several novels, such as Red War, Lethal Agent, Total Power, and Enemy at the Gates, have been written by Kyle Mills and feature some amazing narratives to them.  I have been having an outstanding time getting through this series recently, and the next novel, Oath of Loyalty, looks set to be another awesome read.  Oath of Loyalty will continue the feud between Rapp and the new US president and will force Rapp to defend his family when they are sold out to a deadly and unstoppable group of assassins.  I love the sound of this epic read and I know I am going to have an amazing time with it.

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The Bullet that Missed by Richard Osman – 15 September 2022

The Bullet That Missed Cover

There was no way I can possibly exclude the upcoming Richard Osman novel, The Bullet that Missed, from this list.  The third book in the Thursday Murder Club, which follows on from the exceptional The Thursday Murder Club (one of the best debuts of 2020) and The Man Who Died Twice (one of the best books and audiobooks of 2021), The Bullet that Missed will bring back Osman’s fun group of crime solving senior citizens and set them on a new case.  I love the sound of this amazing book and I can’t wait to start reading it.

Amazon     Book Depository

 

The Golden Enclaves by Naomi Novik – 20 September 2022

The Golden Enclaves Cover Better

Easily one of my most anticipated books coming out in the next few months is The Golden Enclaves by Naomi Novik.  The third and final book in Novik’s exquisite and epic Scholomance trilogy, The Golden Enclaves will finally provide some closure to readers following the impressive first two novels, A Deadly Education and The Last Graduate.  Both books have had perfect, dark magical school narratives, and I have had such an incredible time reading them.  However, I have been dying to check out The Golden Enclaves for a year now, especially after that brutal cliff-hanger at the end of The Last Graduate, and I am just going to absorb this book the moment I get my hands on it.

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Khaos by Jeremy Robinson – 18 October 2022

Khaos Cover

I have no doubt that one of the most exciting and action-packed novels of the next three months is going to be Khaos by Jeremy Robinson.  Following on from Robinson’s fantastic and fun novels, Tribe, The Dark, and Mind Bullet, Khaos will set three groups of Robinson’s protagonists on a joint mission to Hades to free the gods and titans for an upcoming war.  This book has so much damn potential and I can’t wait to see what chaos happens in Khaos.

Amazon

 

Usagi Yojimbo: Crossroads by Stan Sakai – 25 October 2022

Usagi Yojimbo - Crossroads Cover

After already being blessed with one volume of the incredible Usagi Yojimbo comic series this year with Tengu War!, I am exceeding happy that we are getting another volume with CrossroadsCrossroads looks set to enthrall readers with several great new stories, and I am very excited to see how Sakai continues his iconic comics.  There is a very good reason why this is one of my favourite comic series of all time, and I cannot wait to get another volume extremely soon.

Amazon     Book Depository

 

The Voyage of the Forgotten by Nick Martell – 3 November 2022

The Voyage of the Forgotten Cover

Another epic trilogy that is coming to an end in the next few months is Nick Martell’s Legacy of the Mercenary King series with the third and final book, The Voyage of the Forgotten.  I have been absolutely and incredibly impressed with Martell’s first two novels, The Kingdom of Liars and The Two-Faced Queen, both of which have been exceptional five-star reads.  I am extremely excited for the final book, and I cannot wait to see how Martell will wrap up the multiple complex and captivating storylines.  There is no doubt in my mind whatsoever that The Voyage of the Forgotten is going to be one of the top books of the year and it is going to be something truly epic.

Amazon     Book Depository

 

Desert Star by Michael Connelly – 8 November 2022

Desert Star Cover

Another must-read I must include on this list is the next book from acclaimed crime-fiction author Michael Connelly.  His new book, Desert Star, is the latest entry in his Ballard of Bosch series, which has already featured three amazing reads, Dark Sacred Night, The Night Fire and The Dark Hours.  This new book sets the great protagonists on another intriguing case, and I look forward to seeing how Connelly sets out his new great mystery.

Amazon     Book Depository

 

Star Wars: The High Republic: Convergence by Zoraida Cordova – 15 November 2022

Star Wars - Convergence Cover

The final book I want to highlight on this list is the new upcoming Star Wars novel, Convergence by Zoraida Cordova.  Convergence is part of The High Republic sub-series and will set up the entire next phase of the High Republic.  This new phase serves as a prequel to the previous High Republic novels, and I am very curious to see how everything ties together.  This should be a very awesome Star Wars novel and I am sure I am going to have a lot of fun reading it.

Amazon     Book Depository

 

 

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 – Most Anticipated Books Releasing in the Second 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.  For this latest Top Ten Tuesday participants need to list their top anticipated releases for the second half of 2022.

2022 has so far been a pretty amazing year for books, with some outstanding and impressive novels coming out and blowing me away.  However, the year is far from over and there are so many incredible and epic-sounding novels set for release in the second half of 2022.  To fill out this list I have scoured my list of anticipated upcoming releases and tried to work out which of the books coming out between the start of July and the end of December I am most looking forward to.

This proved to be a rather hard list to finalise, mainly because of how many awesome novels are coming out in the next six months.  I honestly had enough awesome upcoming novels on my radar to turn this into a Top 20, but I decided instead to make some hard decisions, and I ended up cutting out several impressive upcoming releases, leaving me with a list mostly featuring books from some of my favourite authors.  Despite this, I am rather happy with the eventual choices that I made, and I think that this list reflects which upcoming novels I am going to have the most fun reading.  Due to how much potential that I think the entries on this list have, several have previously appeared in my weekly Waiting on Wednesday articles, as well as on my recent Winter TBR list.   So let us get to my selections and find out which upcoming novels are my most anticipated releases for the second half of 2022.

Honourable Mentions:

The Accomplice by Steve Cavanagh – 21 July 2022

The Accomplice Cover

 

Oath of Loyalty by Kyle Mills (based on the books by Vince Flynn) – 13 September 2022

Oath of Loyalty Cover

 

Friends Like These by Jennifer Lynn Alvarez – 1 November 2022

Friends Like These Cover

 

Death to the Emperor by Simon Scarrow – 8 November 2022

Death to the Emperor Cover

List (by release date):

Upgrade by Blake Crouch – 12 July 2022

Upgrade Cover

An awesome sounding new science fiction thriller from the exceedingly talented Blake Crouch, this is sure to be an incredible read.

 

Glacier’s Edge by R. A. Salvatore – 9 August 2022

Glacier's Edge Cover

One of my all-time favourite authors, R. A. Salvatore, returns soon with another entry in his long-running Drizzt Do’Urden series.  This new upcoming novel will serve as a sequel to his 2021 novel, Starlight Enclave, and sounds like another fantastic adventure novel.

 

Nona the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir – 13 September 2022

Nona the Ninth Cover

I am very excited to see that captivating science fiction talent, Tamysn Muir, will continue her impressive, space-necromancer-centric, The Locked Tomb series later this year with Nona the Ninth.  Following on from the highly entertaining Gideon the Ninth (one of my favourite debuts of 2019) and the incredible Harrow the Ninth (one of my favourite book and audiobooks of 2020), Nona the Ninth has a ton of potential and I cannot wait to see how this trippy series continues.

 

The Bullet that Missed by Richard Osman – 15 September 2022

The Bullet That Missed Cover

There was no way that I was not going to include the latest entry in the hilarious and clever Thursday Murder Club series by Richard Osman on this list.  The sequel to The Thursday Murder Club (one of the best debuts of 2020) and The Man Who Died Twice (one of my favourite books and audiobooks of 2021), The Bullet that Missed looks set to bring back the titular team of retirees as they solve new murders around their retirement village.  Easily going to be one of the funniest and most addictive reads of the year, I am very excited for more of Osman’s entertaining hijinks.

 

The Golden Enclaves by Naomi Novik – 20 September 2022

The Golden Enclaves Cover Better

There are few upcoming books that I am more excited to read than The Golden Enclaves, the third and final book in Naomi Novik’s epic The Scholomance series.  Novik has really killed it with the first two books in this series, A Deadly Education and The Last Graduate, which followed a destructively gifted magical student as she tries to survive the deadliest magical school around.  These first two books were both incredible reads, and I am very, very keen to see how this series ends in The Golden Enclaves, especially after the massive cliff-hanger Novik left The Last Graduate on.  I have no doubt that this will live up to my extremely high expectations and this should prove to be pure and unadulterated awesomeness.

 

Star Wars: The High Republic: Convergence by Zoraida Cordova – 4 October 2022

Star Wars - Convergence Cover

I have been really enjoying the recent High Republic sub-series of Star Wars extended fiction, especially the main novels (Light of the Jedi, The Rising Storm and The Fallen Star), and whole new phase of The High Republic is about to start later this year.  While I am a little hesitant about the massive backwards time-skip (the entire second phase is set a substantial time before the first High Republic phase), I am very curious to see what sort of story is set out in the Convergence by Zoraida Cordova, which will set the tone for this second phase.

 

Usagi Yojimbo: Crossroads by Stan Sakai – 11 October 2022

Usagi Yojimbo - Crossroads Cover

I am extremely happy to be getting another volume in one of my favourite comic book series, the Usagi Yojimbo comics, later this year with the upcoming volume Crossroads.  This will be the second Usagi Yojimbo volume coming out this year (see my review for Tengu War!) and I am so very happy to get more Usagi action and excitement this year.  I already know this is going to be a brilliant comic, and Crossroads will no doubt contain more impressive stories and eye-catching artwork.

 

The Voyage of the Forgotten by Nick Martell – 3 November 2022

The Voyage of the Forgotten Cover

Another deeply impressive fantasy series ending this year is Nick Martell’s The Legacy of the Mercenary Kings series, which finishes off with The Voyage of the Forgotten in a few months’ time.  I have had such a brilliant time with this series, as both The Kingdom of Liars and The Two-Faced Queens have been truly epic and captivating reads with intense and complex stories.  As such, I am extremely eager to read The Voyage of the Forgotten to find out how everything is going to end.  While I am a little sad that this series will only contain three novels, I know that this finale is going to be an exceptional novel that will easily top my best of 2022 lists.

 

Desert Star by Michael Connelly – 8 November 2022

Desert Star Cover

I have been having a ton of fun with Michael Connelly’s spectacular crime fiction novels lately and I am very excited to get another Ballard and Bosch book in a few months’ time with Desert Star.  Following on from such great novels as Dark Sacred Night, The Night Fire and The Dark Hours, this upcoming book has an impressive sounding story to it and I am very excited to get involved in another powerful Connelly mystery.

 

City of Last Chances by Adrian Tchaikovsky – 8 December 2022

City of Last Chances Cover

The final book on this list is the highly compelling City of Last Chances by bestselling author Adrian Tchaikovsky.  Set in a rebellious magical city, City of Last Chances sounds like an extremely cool and intriguing fantasy novel, and I am very curious to read more from this highly regarded author, especially after having a great time reading his Warhammer 40,000 debut, Day of Ascension, earlier this year.  I look forward to seeing what amazing fantasy epic Tchaikovsky has planned for City of Last Chances, and I am sure it will end up being extremely great.

 

 

That is the end of this list.  I am extremely happy with how my latest Top Ten Tuesday article turned out, and this list contains an intriguing collection of upcoming books that should prove to be incredible reads.  I think that every one of the books I mentioned above has some amazing potential, and most, if not all, will probably end up with a full five-star rating from me.  I cannot wait to see what awesome and exciting stories the entries on this list contain, and I think that I am going to have an incredible time in the second half of 2022.  While I am waiting to get my hands on these books, why not let me know if any of the above interest you and let me know what your most anticipated releases for the next six months are in the comments below.

Waiting on Wednesday – Friends Like These by Jennifer Lynn Alvarez

Welcome to my weekly segment, Waiting on Wednesday, where I look at upcoming books that I am planning to order and review in the next few months and which I think I will really enjoy.  I run this segment in conjunction with the Can’t-Wait Wednesday meme that is currently running at Wishful Endings.  Stay tuned to see reviews of these books when I get a copy of them.  In this latest Waiting on Wednesday I take a look at a cool upcoming young adult thriller from a very talented author that I already know I am going to love, Friends Like These by Jennifer Lynn Alvarez.

Friends Like These Cover

Amazon     Book Depository

Last year I was lucky enough to receive a copy of Lies Like Wildfire by Jennifer Lynn Alvarez, a brilliant young adult thriller that saw a group of friends forced into an impossible situation when they accidently start a wildfire that destroys their town, forcing them to lie to save themselves from legal retribution.  This was an incredible read that perfectly blended character arcs with an intense narrative and some major twists, and it was easily one of the best debut novels of the year.  I had so much fun reading this cool novel that I have been keeping an eye out for any detail about the author’s next novel, and I was very happy when I saw she had another intriguing young adult thriller coming out later this year.

This book is Friends Like These which is currently set for release in November 2022.  Friends Like These is another intriguing and cool young adult read that will set teenage protagonists against each other as they attempt to navigate a terrible situation.  This time the new protagonists will have to uncover a killer and hide their involvement in a crime when a body is discovered at their beach party after they pull off a video prank.  Sure to be filled with some intense moments and exquisite storytelling, I am already extremely excited for Friends Like These and I am exceedingly confident that this is going to be one of the best young adult books of 2022.

Synopsis:

Twisted secrets that will have readers guessing with every flip of the page. Perfect for fans of GONE GIRL and Karen M. McManus.

Tegan Sheffield’s annual end-of-summer beach party is the only way to start their senior year. At least that’s what Jake Healy tells his girlfriend Jessica Sanchez.

But when a video prank from the party goes viral and a body is discovered at the beach, Jake and Jessica find themselves at the centre of a national media storm and a police investigation.

It’s a race to uncover the truth before the killer strikes again.

Top Ten Tuesday – My Favourite Book Covers of 2021

Welcome back to Top Ten Tuesday, where I am going to list my absolute favourite book covers of the last year.  This is actually the second Top Ten Tuesday post I am putting up today, mainly because I wanted to finish off all my best-of-2021 lists before we got too far into the new year.  I have previously highlighted several other amazing books from last year in a range of lists, including My Favourite Books of 2021, Favourite Audiobooks, Favourite Debuts and Favourite Australian Fiction lists, and I think looking at awesome covers is a good way to wrap this all up.

Now, I know you aren’t supposed to judge a book by its cover, but I think we can all agree that an awesome piece of cover art can really raise some interest in a novel.  I can personally think of several examples where an epic cover absolutely grabbed me and convinced me to check out a novel that I ended up really loving.  2021 was a great example of this as there were some extremely cool and impressive covers that I thought were visually stunning.  Most of these outstanding covers complemented and emphasised the amazing stories within, and in some places the cover artists really went all out to produce some truly epic statement pieces.  As such, I thought I would quickly highlight some of the best covers here by producing a visually awesome list.  To appear on this list, the book had to be released in 2021 and had to be generally impressive and amazing.  I think I ended up choosing a great range of excellent covers, and I hope you enjoy all the pretty pictures below.  I have tried to find out who did the cover art where possible, although for a couple of books (ones I got on audiobook and don’t have a physical copy of), I couldn’t find out who drew it.  Apologies in advance for any artist I overlooked.

Honourable Mentions:

Lies Like Wildfire written by Jennifer Lynn Alvarez, cover by MISHKO

Lies Like Wildfire Cover

 

The Dark written by Jeremy Robinson

The Dark Cover

 

Breakout written by Paul Herron, cover by Patrick Insole

Breakout Cover

 

The Mask of Mirrors written by M. A. Carrick, cover by Nekro and Lauren Panepinto

The Mask of Mirrors Cover

Top Ten Tuesday:

The Shadow of the Gods written by John Gwynne, cover by Marcus Whinney

The Shadow of the Gods Cover

My absolute favourite cover of 2021, this epic piece of art really grabbed my attention and forced me to read this impressive piece of fantasy fiction.  I had a wonderful time with The Shadow of the Gods and the upcoming sequel, The Hunger of the Gods, also has an extremely awesome cover (easily going to be one of the best covers of 2022).

 

Star Wars: Visions: Ronin written by Emma Mieko Candon, cover by Ella Laytham and Kotaro Chiba

Star Wars Visions - Ronin Cover

There were some cool pieces of Star Wars cover art out this year, but nothing could top the artistic masterpiece that appeared on Ronin.  A tie-in to the Star Wars: Visions anime series, the cover of Ronin made perfect use of traditional Japanese artforms to create something exceptional.  I loved the blend of Star Wars iconography and the classic Japanese wave form, and this was an absolute joy to behold.

 

The Pariah written by Anthony Ryan, cover by Lauren Panepinto and Jaime Jones

The Pariah Cover

A clever and subtle bit of art that showcases the roguish protagonist of this fun fantasy novel.  I think the artist did a great job of highlighting what was to come in The Pariah, and the cool detail around the character was very impressive.  While I loved the art for The Pariah, I think that the cover on the upcoming sequel, The Martyr, is even better, and I can’t wait to grab it.

 

The Twice-Dead King: Ruin, written by Nate Crowley

The Twice-Dead King - Ruin Cover

Gosh artists must have so much fun coming up with art for Warhammer covers, as there are some amazing and fantastic elements contained in this extended universe.  I particularly loved this cover from last year, which showcases the ancient and mysterious Necron race in all their glory.  A great cover for a very entertaining tie-in novel.

 

The Warsaw Orphan written by Kelly Rimmer, cover by Christabella Designs

The Warsaw Orphan Cover

A simple and understated cover that does a wonderful job highlighting the upcoming dread and tragedy contained in this moving historical drama novel.

 

Colonyside, written by Michael Mammay, cover by Sebastien Hue

Colonyside Cover

There have been some really great covers for the previous books in Michael Mammay’s Planetside series (Planetside and Spaceside), but I think that the one for Colonyside was the best.  I love the above shot, especially as it perfectly captures the insane jungle planet that was such a distinctive setting of this book.  A very fun cover!

 

Star Wars: The High Republic: Tempest Runner, written by Cavan Scott, cover by Katerina Balikova

Star Wars - Tempest Runner Cover

While I also deeply enjoyed one of the covers for Cavan Scott’s other 2021 Star Wars release, The Rising Storm, I think that the cool art that adorned the front of Tempest Runner was even better.  Tempest Runner, which was released as both a full-cast audio drama and a paperback, was a great read, and I loved how this cover did a fantastic job of capturing it’s entertaining and deadly central character.

 

Later, written by Stephen King, cover by Paul Mann

Later Cover

I loved the classic mystery novel feel that the artists choose to utilise for Stephen King’s early 2021 release, Later.  This cover does a fantastic job capturing the unique tone of this cool horror/coming-of-age story and gives it a fun, crime fiction-tinged edge.  This cover, as well as another couple of covers done by Gregory Manchess for the hardcover version, also fit the story really well, especially as they connect to the cheesy adventure novels that the protagonist and his mother produce.

 

Cytonic written by Brandon Sanderson, cover by Sam Green and Tomas Almeida

Cytonic Cover

I have a lot of love for the cool covers that get used in the Gollancz versions of Brandon Sanderson’s Skyward series (so far consisting of Skyward and Starlight).  The cover for the third book, Cytonic, was particularly awesome, and I loved how it showcased parts of the very unique new setting of the third novel.

 

The Art of Death written by David Fennell, cover by Nick Stearn

The Art of Death Cover

A creepy and eye-catching piece of artwork that hints at the disturbing crimes contained in this fantastic 2021 crime fiction debut.

 

Well, that’s the end of this second list, I hope you enjoyed all the cool covers above.  Make sure to me know what your favourite book covers of 2021 was in the comments below and I cannot wait to see what awesome and epic pieces of art will grace the front of 2022’s best reads.

Top Ten Tuesday – My Favourite Debut Novels 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.  The official topic for this week’s Top Ten Tuesday involved participants listing the top books on their Summer 2021/22 to-read-list.  However, I already produced that list a few weeks ago, so I thought I would take this opportunity to continue my foray into highlighting the absolute best books of 2021.  This is an end of year tradition I do each year with several Top Ten Tuesday list, and I started this year’s version last week when I listed some of the best pre-2021 releases I checked out this year.  In a continuation of my end of year highlights, for this week’s list I have decided to look at my absolute favourite debut novels of the year.

I mentioned multiple times throughout the year that 2021 was a pretty awesome year for debuts and boy did I mean it.  There were an incredible number of new authors releasing some impressive and entertaining debut novels this year, and I was lucky enough to receive a huge bundle of them to review.  I always love checking out new authors as they produce their first book or take a foray into a whole new genre, and I was blown away with some of the talent this year.  As such, I am really glad that I can highlight some of the absolute best in this Top Ten list.

To be eligible for this list, the book had to be either the first novel from a new author released in 2021, or a novel that was extremely different from an author’s previous work (their debut in the genre).  I ended up reading a huge collection of debuts this year, so I had a bit of a hard time coming up with the list, as there were a lot of good options.  I was eventually able to whittle it down to a manageable list of 10, with my typical generous Honourable Mentions section.  The result was an excellent list that I feel perfectly captures my favourite debuts of the year and highlights them accordingly.  So, let us see what made the cut.

Honourable Mentions:

Falling by T. J. Newman

Falling Cover

An interesting and fast paced thriller debut that follows a pilot whose family is kidnapped in order to force him to crash his plane.  Intense and exciting.

Small Acts of Defiance by Michelle Wright

Small Acts of Defiance Cover

Small Acts of Defiance was a great Australian historical drama from new author Michelle Wright set in occupied Paris.  This book had a brilliant and powerful story about resistance no matter the odds and is really worth checking out.

Breakout by Paul Herron

Breakout Cover

This year urban fantasy author Paul Crilley came up with a new writing handle, Paul Herron, to produce his first thriller, Breakout, a fast-paced and ultra-exciting novel about an inmate trying to escape a flooded prison filled with the worst killers in the country.  One of the most action-packed novels of the year, this was an interesting change of pace from Crilley, so I am treating it as a debut.

City of Vengeance by D. V. Bishop

City of Vengeance Cover

One of the more interesting historical fiction debuts of 2021 was City of Vengeance by D. V. Bishop.  This cool book follows a historical investigation in Renaissance Florence and proved to be an intriguing and dark murder mystery with some clever flashes to a real historical case.

Top Ten List:

The Frenchman by Jack Beaumont

The Frenchman Cover

The first book on this list is the brilliant and compelling thriller debut, The Frenchman by Jack Beaumont.  Written by a former French intelligence operative, The Frenchman has an exciting tale of intrigue, espionage, and betrayal, as a French spy attempts to gain information on a chemical plant in Pakistan while also trying to balance his professional and personal lives.  An outstanding and clever novel with a ton of realism to it.

The Mask of Mirrors by M. A. Carrick

The Mask of Mirrors Cover

Readers were treated to a fantastic fantasy debut this year from the author M. A. Carrick, with The Mask of Mirrors, a complex and powerful read about a con artist attempting to infiltrate high society in a corrupt and dangerous fantasy city.  Carrick is actually the joint pen name of established authors Marie Brennan and Alyc Helms, but as this is their first collaboration and they are using a pseudonym to do so, I am treating it as a debut from a new author.  This was an excellent fantasy debut, and I was lucky enough to recently receive a copy of the sequel, The Liar’s Knot, which I am hoping to read very soon.

Inscape by Louise Carey

Inscape Cover

After previously writing fantasy fiction with her family, the incredibly talented Louise Carey had her solo debut this year with Inscape, a compelling and exciting cyberpunk, dystopian thriller.  Set in a future world where everyone has advanced technology loaded into their brains, this book follows a young corporate agent as she attempts to discover who is attacking her parent company.  Containing a brilliant story and a great new universe, this was a fantastic read that is really worth checking out.

She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan

She Who Became the Sun Cover

One of the most highly anticipated debuts of 2021 was She Who Became the Sun by Australian author Shelley Parker-Chan.  Set in the chaotic Yuan dynasty of China, this book follows a girl who takes up the identity of her dead brother to steal his great destiny.  A clever reinvention of a famous Emperor’s rise to power, containing some intriguing gender swapping and fantasy elements, She Who Became the Sun rightly deserves all the praise it received, as it is a fun and amazing book.

The Councillor by E. J. Beaton

The Councillor Cover

Another great debut from an Australian author, The Councillor was a captivating and impressive fantasy novel that I deeply enjoyed.  Following a troubled palace scholar who rises to a position of power after the death of her queen, The Councillor is filled with a ton of captivating political intriguing, fascinating magic, and some complex and manipulative characters.  An awesome and powerful read, I cannot wait to see where Beaton takes this great series next.

Fire Made Flesh by Denny Flowers

Fire Made Flesh Cover

Written as part of the Necromunda sub-series in the Warhammer 40,000 universe, Fire Made Flesh is Denny Flowers’ first full-length novel, and it takes the reader on a wild adventure to a haunted and chaotic underground settlement where various eccentric beings fight for power.  A really entertaining read that fits perfectly into the cool Necromunda setting, I deeply enjoyed this novel and it was one of the craziest books I read all year.

Lies Like Wildfire by Jennifer Lynn Alvarez

Lies Like Wildfire Cover

There was no way I could exclude the outstanding young adult thriller, Lies Like Wildfire from this list.  Lies Like Wildfire was Jennifer Lynn Alvarez’s first foray away from middle-grade fiction and features an incredible plot about a group of friends who accidently start a devastating wildfire and attempt to cover up their actions.  A powerful and dramatic novel filled with lies, betrayals and jealousy, Lies Like Wildfire was an exceptional read, and I cannot wait to see what Alvarez writes next.

Among Thieves by M. J. Kuhn

Among Thieves Cover

Easily one of the best debuts of 2021 was the excellent Among Thieves by M. J. Kuhn.  Essentially a compelling fantasy heist novel, this book follows several unique and entertaining characters as they attempt to steal a powerful artefact from an impregnable magical fortress.  However, every member of the crew has their own motivations for being there, and all of them are planning to betray the rest.  This was an outstanding and deeply entertaining read which really sets Kuhn up as a rising star in the fantasy genre.

The Apollo Murders by Chris Hadfield

The Apollo Murders Cover

I had an absolute blast reading The Apollo Murders, the first fictional book from astronaut turned author Chris Hadfield.  Set in 1973, this book envisions a 18th, fictional Apollo mission, filled with all manner of espionage, disaster, and stowaway Soviet cosmonauts.  Incredibly intense and loaded with a fantastic amount of information about space flight, The Apollo Murders was an amazing read and I deeply enjoyed all the different genres that Hadfield was able to feature in his debut novel.

The Dying Squad by Adam Simcox

The Dying Squad Cover

The final debut on this list was the clever supernatural murder mystery, The Dying Squad by Adam Simcox.  Following a dead police detective and his feisty ghost partner as they attempt to solve the protagonist’s murder, this was an excellent and clever read that I had a wonderful time with.

Well, that is the end of this list.  As you can, there were some incredible debut novels that came out this year and I had a blast getting through all of them.  Each of the above debuts are really worth checking out, and I had an amazing time exploring these talented authors’ first forays into fiction.  I am really excited to see what these authors produce next, and I have a feeling that quite a few are going to become major figures in their genres.

Quick Review – Lies Like Wildfire by Jennifer Lynn Alvarez

Lies Like Wildfire Cover

Publisher: Penguin Books (Trade Paperback – 14 September 2021)

Series: Standalone/Book One

Length: 371 pages

My Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Amazon     Book Depository

Prepare to see the strongest of friendships burnt alive by fire, lies and deceit, in this startling and powerful young adult thriller by amazing author Jennifer Lynn Alvarez, Lies Like Wildfire.

Lies Like Wildfire was a really compelling and exciting read that ended up being one of the better pieces of young adult fiction I read all year.  This was the debut thriller novel from Alvarez, whose previous work has primarily included middle-grade fantasy novels, such as her equine-based The Guardian Herd and Riders of the Realm series.  I was actually surprised to learn that his was Alvarez’s first thriller novel, as it was really good, presenting the reader with an untenable and desperate scenario and forcing several life-long friends to make some hard and terrible decisions.

Synopsis:

The monsters have known each other their whole lives. This is their final summer before college – time to hang out, fall in love and dream about the future.

Until they accidentally start a forest fire which destroys their hometown and leaves death in its wake.

Desperate for the truth to remain hidden, the group make a pact of silence.

But the twisted secret begins to spin out of control and when one of the friends disappears they all become suspects.

We know how it starts but where does it end?

Wow, now this was such a great book.  Lies Like Wildfire has a brilliant and powerful plot that was extremely clever, emotionally rich and very shocking, all at the same time.  The book follows a group of childhood friends, known as the Monsters, who accidently start a forest fire during a summer outing.  Terrified of California’s incredibly strict fire laws that harshly punish even accidental offenders, the group attempt to cover up their actions as the fire races towards their town causing all manner of death and destruction.  As the fire rages, the group makes a pact to keep the secret, but lies, guilt and personal vendettas soon lead to terrible choices, as the truth bursts out and even more lives are ruined in the fallout.

I loved this brilliant book, and Alvarez has come up with such an impressive scenario for it.  Told from the perspective of one of the Monsters, Hannah, this entire novel unfolds in a rush, with the readers barely getting time to breathe as devastating events and terrible secrets are thrust before them as part of this addictive and powerful narrative.  Alvarez ensures that the readers are hooked early in the book, especially as the opening scene gives a sneak peek to events halfway throughout the narrative.  The story then jumps back to the events that led up to the fire, showing the mostly innocent group as a careless accident threatens to ruin their entire lives and everything they know and love.  Alveraz does a brilliant job of producing the ultimate no-win scenario, with the protagonists caught between their own guilt and the harsh consequences for their unintentional actions. 

This fantastic introduction leads to the destructive early scenes of the wildfires that ravish the protagonist’s hometown.  These scenes are pretty damn devastating and very well written, as Alvarez perfectly captures all the horror of an incoming fire and the panic and pain it can cause (it’s very realistic, and those people triggered by wildfires or bushfires might want to avoid it).  However, this destruction is nothing compared to the guilt, public shame, police prosecution, and disintegration of friendships that occur in the aftermath of the fire as the friend’s first attempt to cover up their involvement, and then limit the blame they receive as they start to get found out.  Despite their guilt in this matter, you cannot help but feel for the characters, especially as Alvarez does an incredible job making them very relatable, and the circumstances surrounding their crime could honestly happen to anybody.  However, the real meat of the story involves the powerful drama that emerges because of the fire, as this lifelong friendship is pushed to the limit, not just because of the actions of the characters, but because of jealousy, family hardship, and the stress of lost futures, that drives all of them to desperate action.

This leads to the second half of the novel, when one of the Monsters goes missing in mysterious circumstances.  Evidence soon points to members of the Monsters being involved, potentially to stop the missing person from revealing the groups involvement to the police, and the group is riven by further mistrust and interrogation.  This second half of the book is incredibly fascinating, especially as the readers are left unaware of who could potentially be involved as the only point-of-view character, Hannah, suffers from amnesia brought on by a bear attack.  While I usually dislike an amnesia inclusion in a novel, it works extremely well in the context of Lies Like Wildfire’s plot, even the bit about the bear attack (it’s a clever, if devastating, inclusion).  This lack of memory from the protagonist really keeps the reader on their toes and the sudden mystery is a compelling and fun addition to the plot.  I personally became ultra-invested in this book at this point, not only because I wanted to find out what had happened to the missing character, but because I was enjoying the complex character arcs and the quickly decaying personal relationships that bound them together.  The final reveal about who was responsible and why is brilliantly done, and I deeply enjoyed the various character reactions that occurred around it, especially from the protagonist.  This ended up being quite a complex and deep narrative, and it is one is perfect for teenagers and older readers, as everyone can get really invested in the intelligent and emotional plot. 

Overall, Lies Like Wildfire was a brilliant and powerful debut thriller from Alvarez, who came up with an amazing concept and turned it into an outstanding read.  I loved the great blend of thriller and young adult drama, especially as it produced a complex and moving tale of youth, disaster, mystery, and the tenuous ties that bind us together.  Readers will swiftly become entranced by this excellent and compelling tale, and I really found myself getting drawn into the amazing character driven tale of lies and deceit.  I am extremely glad that Alvarez decided to dive across into the thriller world, and if Lies Like Wildfire is anything to go on, she has a really bright future in it.  I look forward to seeing what other books Alvarez produces in the future, and I am definitely grabbing a copy of her next book, Friends Like These, when it comes out next year.

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.