WWW Wednesday – 17 August 2022

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

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

So, let’s get to it.

What are you currently reading?

The Unbelieved by Vikki Petraitis (Trade Paperback)

The Unbelieved Cover

I haven’t made a lot of progress with The Unbelieved since last week, although that’s mainly because I’ve been too busy to get much reading done.  Despite that, I am still enjoying this intense Australian thriller, which has an amazing and powerful story to it.  Petraitis is achieving a lot with her debut novel, and I am getting really drawn into this intense tale about sexual violence in smalltown Australia.  I will hopefully finish The Unbelieved off in the next couple of days and I am intrigued to see how it ends.

Amazon     Book Depository

 

Death Masks by Jim Butcher (Audiobook)

Death Masks Cover

I was in the mood for something fun and exciting this week, so I naturally dived back into Jim Butcher’s iconic Dresden Files series by finally checking out the fifth book, Death Masks.  I have been having such a good time getting into this series over the last couple of years (check out my reviews for Storm Front, Fool Moon, Grave Peril, Summer Knight, Battle Ground and The Law), and I knew I would enjoy Death Masks a lot.  This outstanding read sees wizard protagonist Harry Dresden caught between demons, vampires, holy knights, gangsters and more as he attempts to recover a holy artifact.  I have actually made quite a bit of progress with this audiobook, and I am currently about halfway through it.  Death Masks is an extremely good read and I love its complex and entertaining narrative and the cool new fantasy elements it introduces.  I will probably finish this off by the end of the week, but I can already tell you it is going to get a full five-star rating from me.

Amazon     Book Depository

 

What did you recently finish reading?

Hide by Kiersten White (Audiobook)

Hide Cover

I managed to finish off one book this week, and that was the intriguing Hide by Kiersten White.  A horror thriller that sees a group of competitors attempt to survive a bizarre game of hide and seek in an abandoned amusement park, Hide was an exciting read that I rather enjoyed.  An excellent book to check out, make sure to read the linked review above.

Amazon     Book Depository

What do you think you’ll read next?

Blowback by James Patterson and Brendan Dubois (Trade Paperback)

Blowback Cover

I’ve received a ton of epic books in the last week or so, but the one I just have to read next is Blowback.  Written by the team of James Patterson and Brendan Dubois, Blowback is a very fun read that sees two CIA agents attempt to stop the evil machinations of an insane and brilliant American president.  I love the sound of this impressive thriller plot and I know that I am going to have an amazing time with it.  I have been really getting into some of Patterson’s latest books, such as 2 Sisters Detective Agency and Death of the Black Widow, and I cannot wait to see how Patterson’s collaboration with Dubois turns out.

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.

Hide by Kiersten White

Hide Cover

Publisher: Penguin Random House Audio (Audiobook – 24 May 2022)

Series: Standalone/Book One

Length: 8 hours and 9 minutes

My Rating: 3.75 out of 5 stars

Amazon     Book Depository

Get ready to run and scurry for cover in the intriguing new horror thriller from Kiersten White, Hide.  Kiersten White is a captivating author who is known for her young adult and tie-in fiction novels.  I best know her for her work on the extended universe of franchises like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, where she recently wrote a series of novels about a new Slayer, which started with the 2019 release Slayer.  White is also making some waves this year with the new Star Wars young adult novel, Padawan, which follows a young Obi-Wan Kenobi and which is pretty high up on my to-read list.  However, her 2022 release that intrigued me the most was the thriller release, HideHide had a great concept to it and I couldn’t resist checking it out in the last week to see what it was all about.

Mack is good at hiding.  She’s spent her whole life doing it after it worked so well to save her life as a child while her family died around her.  However, after years of avoiding people, Mack is running out of options and money.  So when a strange challenge arises, Mack has no choice but to accept, even if it brings back terrible nightmares from her past.

A mysterious corporation is sponsoring a new and unique reality competition with a prize of $50,000 to the winner.  The challenge is simple: survive a week hiding in a creepy abandoned amusement park and don’t get found.  The last person left hidden is crowned the winner and gets enough money to change everything.

Competing against a group of similarly desperate and determined young people, each of whom is hoping that this game will turn their life around, Mack thinks the odds are in her favour to win.  However, there is something far more sinister going on than any of the contestants know.  As the people around her start disappearing, one by one, Mack and the rest of the competitors begin to realise that something else is in the park with them, something that is hungry and unrelenting.  Come out, come out, wherever you are.

This was an intriguing and fun book from White that I managed to get through in a few days.  I loved the excellent premise behind Hide and I think that the author produced a pretty good story that appeals to both horror and thriller fans.  While the book has a slightly slow start to it, once the competition starts I found myself getting pretty into it as I was very keen to see what happened.  White ratchets up the tension day by day as the competition continues, and I think that the increased level of threat and uncertainty that occurred helped to keep my attention and make me want to figure out what is going on.  There are some interesting revelations about halfway through the book that I thought were pretty clever, especially the reveal about what exactly is chasing them and why.  Once that happens, it’s a pretty high-octane fight for survival that results in some fantastic and compelling moments.  While there were still a few questions left over by the end of the book, I think White ended Hide pretty well and everything came together in interesting way.  I do wish that there the competition was a bigger part of the plot, as that could have been pretty cool, but I guess you can’t have everything.

White utilised an interesting storyline telling method to get Hide’s narrative across, which worked for the most part but had a few issues.  While the story is primarily focused around Mack, the book does quickly jump between the other characters in the book, giving some brief insights into their thoughts and history.  While this worked to keep you in the loop about every contestant, it was a bit random at times and I felt that it impacted the pacing of the story, especially when it jumped between multiple perspectives in a very short amount of time.  I also felt that the use of jumps resulted in some missing details in places, such as when some characters are removed from the contest without you realising it.  I did think that White did a good job inserting the background lore behind the events of the book into the story through a series of journal entries, and that part of the book was quite fascinating, although I wouldn’t have minded a bit of a deeper dive.  There is also quite a bit of social commentary chucked into the mix as well, especially when it comes to exploring the motives of the unsurprising villains, plus you must appreciate the strong LGBT+ elements thrown in as well.  The story itself had a mostly fine flow to it, and you do feel the fear and terror of the contestants once they realise what is going on.  All of this worked pretty well in the end, and I think that the story came across in a pretty accessible and compelling way.

White focuses the story on an interest group of protagonists, each of whom has their own reason to be there.  Due to the way that the narrative jumps around to examine different characters, you get a decent look into the heads of each of the competitors, as well as some other characters, and you soon get some insights into why each of them is there.  It soon becomes apparent that each contestant is pretty desperate and broken in their own way, which I felt added to the drama and intensity of the story.  However, due to the quick-fire change in perspective, the reader isn’t given a lot of time to bond with most of the characters, and their eventual fates aren’t too shocking or moving as a result.  The main exception to this is Mack, who you do spend quite a lot of time with.  Mack has a very tragic backstory (it reminded me of last year’s book, The Final Girls Support Group by Grady Hendrix), which becomes a major part of her motivations and trauma in Hide.  Watching her attempt to overcome her dark past and her reservations for being there is pretty intense, and there was some interesting character work there, as well as a potential for new friendships and romance.  A couple of other characters who survive towards the end of the book (I won’t mention who) are also developed to a decent degree, and I felt that some of the story arcs around them were pretty intense as well.  It was a little obvious which of them was going to survive and who was going to die, even with a few twists thrown in, although I did appreciate a few surprise changes in motivations that worked really well.  An overall interesting group of characters, I do wish that we could have gotten to know a few of them a little better though.

I ended up listening to Hide on audiobook, which worked as an excellent format to enjoy this interesting horror read.  Hide has a pretty short runtime of just over eight hours, so if you get caught in the story you can get through it rather quickly.  I felt that this format did help to emphasise the tension and the rising panic of the protagonists, especially as narrator Emma Galvin does a good job telling the story.  Galvin had an excellent voice that was pretty fitting to this setting and story genre, and she ended up doing a good job personifying the main characters.  I rather enjoyed the tone and intensity that Galvin brought to this audiobook, and I felt that this was a fantastic format to check out Hide on.

Overall, I had a lot of fun with Hide and Kiersten White came up with a great story that I really enjoyed.  While I do think that there were a few missed opportunities and pacing issues in places, this mostly came together pretty well and I think fans of exciting novels with horror elements to it will have a great time with Hide.  An interesting book that is worth checking out.

Amazon     Book Depository

WWW Wednesday – 10 August 2022

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

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

So, let’s get to it.

What are you currently reading?

The Unbelieved by Vikki Petraitis (Trade Paperback)

The Unbelieved Cover

 

Hide by Kiersten White (Audiobook)

Hide Cover

What did you recently finish reading?

The Darkening by Sunya Mara (Trade Paperback)

The Darkening Cover

 

Star Wars: The High Republic: Midnight Horizon by Daniel Jose Older (Audiobook)

Star Wars - Midnight Horizon Cover

 

Stay Awake by Megan Goldin (Trade Paperback)

Stay Awake Cover

 

Warhammer 40:000: Catachan Devil by Justin Woolley (Audiobook)

Catachan Devil Cover

What do you think you’ll read next?

Upgrade by Blake Crouch

Upgrade 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.

Waiting on Wednesday – Upcoming Star Wars Novels 2022

Welcome to my weekly segment, Waiting on Wednesday, where I look at upcoming books that I am planning to order and review in the next few months and which I think I will really enjoy.  I run this segment in conjunction with the Can’t-Wait Wednesday meme that is currently running at Wishful Endings.  Stay tuned to see reviews of these books when I get a copy of them.  For this week’s Waiting on Wednesday article, and in honour of May the Fourth, better known as Star Wars Day, I am going to look at a couple of awesome Star Wars novels coming out later this year.

As readers of my blog are well aware, I love all things Star Wars and have made a great effort to read and review multiple Star Wars tie-in novels and comics over the last few years (make sure to check out the list of my favourite Star Wars novels I published yesterday).  2022 has already been a pretty good year for Star Wars fiction, seeing the end of the first phase of The High Republic series, as well as featuring some other fun reads, comics and shows.  While I haven’t had the chance to read a couple of the latest Star Wars novels yet, I fully intend to in the next few months, and I also have the intriguing Brotherhood by Mike Chen coming out in a few days’ time (I will have to try and read that before the new Obi-Wan Kenobi show comes out).  However, there are also three other great Star Wars novels coming out in the next few months that have caught my attention, and I thought today would be the best opportunity to highlight them in advance.  All three of these upcoming books sound really cool, and it will be nice to have a bit of a break away from the current High Republic range.

Shadow of the Sith Cover

The first of these upcoming books is the fantastic and intense Shadow of the Sith from Adam Christopher.  Christopher, who has previously released several intriguing Star Wars short stories, looks set to deliver a major entry to the current canon in late June 2022, as Shadow of the Sith attempts to fill in some of the gaps created by The Rise of Skywalker.

Synopsis:

Luke Skywalker and Lando Calrissian return in this essential novel set between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens.

The Empire is dead. Nearly two decades on from the Battle of Endor, the tattered remnants of Palpatine’s forces have fled to the farthest reaches of the galaxy. But for the heroes of the New Republic, danger and loss are ever-present companions, even in this newly forged era of peace.

Jedi Master Luke Skywalker is haunted by visions of the dark side, foretelling an ominous secret growing somewhere in the depths of space, on a dead world called Exegol. The disturbance in the Force is undeniable…and Luke’s worst fears are confirmed when his old friend, Lando Calrissian, comes to him with reports of a new Sith menace.

After his daughter was stolen from his arms, Lando searched the stars for any trace of his lost child. But every new rumor only led to dead ends and fading hopes-until he crossed paths with Ochi of Bestoon, a Sith assassin tasked with kidnapping a young girl.

Ochi’s true motives remain shrouded to Luke and Lando. For on a junkyard moon, a mysterious envoy of the Sith Eternal has bequeathed a sacred blade to the assassin, promising that it will give him answers to the questions that have haunted him since the Empire fell. In exchange, he must complete a final mission: return to Exegol with the key to the Sith’s glorious rebirth-the granddaughter of Darth Sidious himself, Rey.

As Ochi hunts Rey and her parents to the edge of the galaxy, Luke and Lando race into the mystery of the Sith’s lingering shadow and aid a young family running for their lives.

Ooh, now this is an intriguing sounding Star Wars novel and one that I think could turn out to be very awesome.  Christopher is looking to tell an extremely ambitious story with Shadow of the Sith, and I am really hoping that it will pay off.  I already love the idea of a story that follows both Luke and Lando as they traverse the galaxy together (it’s not a partnership you see a lot of) and having them try to get to grips with the rising Sith threat, as well as the Emperor’s hidden base on Exegol, is pretty cool and could result in some amazing storylines.  I am also quite interesting in seeing more of compelling side character, Ochi of Bestoon, who has been getting a bit of love in the recent Darth Vader comic series.  I am quite curious to see what happens to this character after the fall of the Emperor, and finding out about his latest mission will be very fascinating.  Finally, it will be great to finally have some more information about Rey’s childhood and parents, especially as there were only minor details featured in The Rise of Skywalker.

Out of all the upcoming Star Wars novels, I think that Shadow of the Sith has the most potential.  Not only will it bring together some great characters in an emotional journey, but it will hopefully fil in a lot of lore gaps and try to explain some of the plot holes from the film.  If done right, Shadow of the Sith could become quite the invaluable read in the current Star Wars canon, and I am extremely intrigued to see what reveals and revelations it contains.

Star Wars - Padawan Cover

The second upcoming Star Wars book I want to highlight is the young adult novel, Padawan by Kiersten White, a talented author with a lot of experience in both young adult fiction and tie-in novels.  Padawan, which is coming out on 26 July, is a compelling prequel novel that will serve as one of the earlier Skywalker Saga novels in the current canon.  This book will follow a young Obi-Wan Kenobi as he goes on his first mission, with disastrous results.

Synopsis:

BEING A TEENAGER IS HARD ENOUGH WITHOUT ALSO TRAINING TO BE A JEDI….

Obi-Wan Kenobi has not been apprenticed long to Qui-Gon Jinn, and he is chafing at Qui-Gon’s training style: all meditation, no action. Obi-Wan yearns to prove himself on a mission, but when he and Qui-Gon are finally set to leave on an assignment, Qui-Gon is nowhere to be found. Angered by his master’s abandonment, Obi-Wan sets out on the mission alone, determined to prove himself. On a mysterious planet he encounters a pack of feral, Force-wielding teens who seem to be the planet’s only inhabitants. As he experiences wild freedom with them and wonders if this isn’t the life he was meant for, Obi-Wan can’t escape the nagging sense that something is wrong with the Force there. Growing attachments, startling revelations, and a looming threat to both the planet and his new friends will bring Obi-Wan face-to-face with his worst fear: that maybe he was never supposed to be a Jedi at all. Can he connect with the living Force in time to save himself and everyone around him?

It’s the star of the Obi-Wan Kenobi Disney+ limited series as you’ve never seen him before….

This is another fantastic sounding Star Wars novel that could also turn out to be quite a good read.  We seem to be getting several Obi-Wan Kenobi centric stories coming out this year (I wonder why?), although I am not complaining as I really want to see more about his backstory and the formative moments of his life.  I like the idea of a moody, teenage Obi-Wan rebelliously going off on a mission, only to get trapped with some other rebellious Force users, and I am curious to see what impact that has on him.  I do slightly worry that Padawan might rehash some of the character development and conflict between Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon Jinn that was featured a couple of years ago in Master & Apprentice by Claudia Gray.  However, I feel that there is some real possibility for a compelling story here in this plot synopsis and I am personally curious to see how it all turns out.

The final book that I wanted to highlight in this post is the fun sounding The Princess and the Scoundrel by Beth Revis, which alas I don’t yet have a cover for.  Revis, who has already written the Star Wars novel, Rebel Rising, will present a new chapter in the unique romance between Han Solo and Princess Leia.  Set for release in mid-August 2022, The Princess and the Scoundrel will focus on this unlikely pairing’s wedding and extravagant honeymoon.  Of course, nothing ever goes to plan for these two, so their honeymoon will turn into more of an action romp than a romantic journey.

Synopsis:

You are cordially invited to the wedding of Princess Leia Organa and Han Solo.

The Death Star is destroyed. Darth Vader is dead. The Empire is desolated. But on the forest moon of Endor, amongst the chaos of a changing galaxy, time stands still for a princess and her scoundrel.

After being frozen in carbonite, then risking everything for the Rebellion, Han is eager to stop living his life for other people. He and Leia have earned their future together, a thousand times over. And when he proposes to Leia, it’s the first time in a long time he’s had a good feeling about this. For Leia, a lifetime of fighting doesn’t truly seem over. There is work still to do, penance to pay for the dark secret she now knows runs through her veins. Her brother, Luke, is offering her that chance — one that comes with family and the promise of the Force. But when Han asks her to marry him, Leia finds her answer immediately on her lips . . . Yes.

But happily ever after doesn’t come easily. As soon as Han and Leia depart their idyllic ceremony on Endor for their honeymoon, they find themselves on the grandest and most glamorous stage of all: the Halcyon, a luxury vessel on a very public journey to the most wondrous worlds in the galaxy. Their marriage, and the peace and prosperity it represents, is a lightning rod for everyone in the galaxy — including Imperial remnants still clinging to power.

Facing their most desperate hour, the soldiers of the Empire have dispersed across the galaxy, retrenching on isolated worlds vulnerable to their influence. As the Halcyon travels from world to world, one thing becomes abundantly clear: The war is not over. But as danger draws closer, Han and Leia find that they fight their best battles not alone but as husband and wife.

Despite my general lack of enthusiasm for romance stories (I know, I’m such a guy sometimes), I am pretty excited for The Princess and the Scoundrel.  Not only do you get to see more a development of the relationship between Han and Leia after Return of the Jedi (which is mostly missing from the current canon), but this novel will also continue to explore the absolute chaos that followed the destruction of the second Death Star and the continued war.  I love the idea of the Han and Leia’s honeymoon being a big PR campaign that will showcase how many planets are going during this period and having Imperial remnant elements coming after them will add a certain amount of excitement and intrigue to the mix.  I think that The Princess and the Scoundrel will turn out to be a really good Star Wars novel and I cannot wait to see what sort of compelling story Revis writes around these great characters.

As you can no doubt see, there are some outstanding and brilliant sounding Star Wars novels coming out in the next few months.  All three of the above novels sound like excellent entries in the current Star Wars canon and I am very excited to see the amazing stories they contain.  It looks like these cool books will have a real focus on examining some of the main characters in the franchise, and I cannot wait to see what unique and powerful adventures they end up happening.  I already know I am going to have an incredible time checking these Star Wars books out and they should all be pretty epic.  Hopefully you will find the above books interesting, and, as always, May the Fourth by with you!