Top Ten Tuesday – New-to-Me Authors I Read in 2020

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme that currently resides at The Artsy Reader Girl and features bloggers sharing lists on various book topics.  The official topic for this week’s Top Ten Tuesday was “Resolutions/Hopes for 2021 (bookish or not!)”, however, I am going to do something a little different and instead I will list the top New-to-Me Authors I Read in 2020.  This is actually the official Top Ten Tuesday topic set up for a fortnight’s time, but I have an Australian fiction themed list planned for that week (it falls on Australia Day), so I decided to move this list forward a little.

I am very excited to do this list as each year I am lucky enough to read novels from authors who I was previously unfamiliar with and whose works I really love (make sure check out my 2019 version of the list).  2020 was no exception and throughout last year I had a wonderful time reading a huge range of books from several authors who were completely new to me.  This includes some debuting authors, as well as more established writers whose works I only got around to this year; as long as I had not read anything from them before 2020, they were eligible for this list.  Many of these new-to-me authors produced amazing novels, some of which I consider to be some of the best books released in 2020.  As a result, this list may feature a bit of overlap with my top books and audiobooks lists of 2020 that I have previously published on this blog.

Like many of these lists that I do, I ended up with quite a substantial group of authors that I wanted to include, many of whom produced some fantastic and compelling reads.  I was eventually able to whittle this list down to my top ten favourites, as well as featuring a generous honourable mentions section.  While I did have to exclude a couple of authors whose books I really liked, I think I came up with a good list that represents which authors I am really glad I decided to try for the first time last year.

 

Honourable Mentions:

 

David Wragg – The Black Hawks

The Black Hawks Cover

 

John Jackson Miller – Star Trek Discovery: Die Standing

Die Standing Cover

 

Jeremy Szal – Stormblood

Stormblood Cover

 

Steve Parker – Deathwatch: Shadowbreaker

Deathwatch Shadowbreaker Cover

 

Top Ten List:

 

Luke Arnold – The Last Smile in Sunder City and Dead Man in a Ditch

Luke Arnold Covers

The first author that I am going to feature on this list is Luke Arnold, who had an impressive debut earlier this year with The Last Smile in Sunder City, a great urban fantasy novel set in dark city where magic has suddenly and traumatically died.  Arnold managed to complete two novels this year, and with the sequel, Dead Man in a Ditch, did an awesome job following up from the first book.  I look forward to seeing how this series continues in the future, and Arnold is a great new author that I was glad I tried out.

 

Nick Martell – The Kingdom of Liars

The Kingdom of Liars Cover

There was no way I could do this list without featuring Nick Martell, who debuted in early 2020 with The Kingdom of Liars, an outstanding fantasy novel that was extremely impressive.  Not only was The Kingdom of Liars one of the best debuts of 2020 but it was also one of my favourite books of the entire year.  I had an incredible time reading this cool novel and I am eagerly awaiting the sequel, The Two-Faced Queen, which is set for release in a couple of months.

 

Richard Osman – The Thursday Murder Club

The Thursday Murder Club Cover

Another exciting new author I checked out in 2020 was British comedian and television personality Richard Osman, who debuted with the clever and hilarious crime fiction novel, The Thursday Murder Club.  This was an amazing first novel from Osman, and I am now deeply invested in checking out any future novels from him, especially the sequel to The Thursday Murder Club planned for later this year.

 

Jim Butcher – Battle Ground

Battle Ground Cover

I have been meaning to read one of legendary fantasy author Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files novels for ages now, and this was the year I finally took the plunge by listening to the latest entry in the series, Battle GroundBattle Ground was an epic thrill ride that I had an incredible time listening to and which served as an intriguing introduction to the series for me.  I think that I will try to listen to several earlier entries in this awesome series this year, and I look forward to seeing how the initial adventures turn out.

 

Jeff Lindsay – Just Watch Me

Just Watch Me Cover

I was quite intrigued when I heard that Jeff Lindsay, the author of the iconic Dexter thrillers, was writing a series that focused on epic heists, and I ended up grabbing a copy of the first book, Just Watch Me.  Just Watch Me was a fantastic and captivating read, and I just started reading the sequel, Fool Me Twice, and I cannot wait to see how it turns out.

 

Mark Lawrence – The Girl and the Stars

The Girl and the Stars 2

High acclaimed fantasy author Mark Lawrence is another author who I have had my eye on for several years but never had a chance to read before.  However, when Lawrence released the first entry in a brand-new series last year, I decided to check it out, and boy was I glad that I did.  The Girl and the Stars was an impressive and captivating novel set deep beneath the ice of a desolate planet that I had an amazing time reading.  I am eagerly looking forward to the next entry in this series, and I will have to go back and read some of Lawrence’s earlier books.

 

Sarah Beth Durst – Race the Sands

Race the Sands Cover

I have mentioned quite a few times this year how much I deeply enjoyed the latest novel from Sarah Beth Durst, Race the Sands, which was the first book I checked out from this bestselling author.  Race the Sands was an outstanding novel filled with cool action, creative fantasy elements and great characters, I had an excellent time getting through it.  Due to how much I loved my first Durst novel, I am planning to read some more of her books soon, starting with The Bone Maker, which is coming out in a couple of months.

 

Max Brooks – Devolution

Devolution Cover

Another major author who I finally got around to checking out this year was Max Brooks, who produced the thrilling and exciting horror novel Devolution, which sees a small village attacked by sasquatches.  This was an excellent and amazing novel that was so much fun to read and I fully plan to check out Brooks’ other big book, World War Z soon.

 

Mike Shackle – We are the Dead

We are the Dead Cover

I heard some really good things about Mike Shackle’s 2019 debut, We are the Dead, when it first came out, and I really regretted not reading it then.  I decided to remedy this last year when I grabbed the audiobook version of this book, which turned out to be a captivating and fantastic read.  I had an amazing time reading We are the Dead and I cannot wait to check out the sequel, A Fool’s Hope, which just came out.

 

John Scalzi – Redshirts

Redshirts Cover

The final entry on this list was the clever and wildly entertaining Star Trek parody Redshirts by bestselling science fiction author John Scalzi.  Scalzi is an author whose books I have been thinking of checking out for a while, and when I had a long road trip earlier in the year I took the opportunity to listen to the audiobook version of this extremely funny novel which was narrated by Wil Wheaton.  I was not disappointed, as Redshirts ended up being an excellent novel that presents a hilarious parody of classic Star Trek tropes and was an insane amount of fun.

 

Well, that’s the end of this latest Top Ten list.  I think it turned out rather well and it encapsulates some of the best new authors I checked out in 2020.  I look forward to reading more books from these authors in the future and I have no doubt they will produce more epic and incredible reads.  Make sure to let me know which new authors you enjoyed in 2020 in the comments below and make sure to check back next week for another exciting list.

Top Ten Tuesday – Most Anticipated Release for the First Half 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 the first Top Ten Tuesday list of the year, participants need to list their most anticipated releases for the first half of 2021.

Despite only just starting, 2021 is already shaping up to be an epic and exciting year for books with a huge range of impressive and highly anticipated novels due for release in the next 12 months.  This includes exciting debuts, anticipated sequels and the latest entries in beloved bestselling series.  The first half of the year is looking particularly awesome, with a substantial number of incredible upcoming releases that I am deeply looking forward to.

Due to how many awesome books are currently set for release between 1 January 2021 and 30 June 2021, this ended up being a rather difficult list to pull together.  There were way too many extraordinary upcoming books that I could have included, and I ended up having to make some very tough calls and cutting several novels that have an immense amount of potential.  Despite this, I am rather happy with the eventual choices that I made, and I think that this list reflects the upcoming novels and comics I am going to have the most fun reading.  I have mentioned several of these books before in my weekly Waiting on Wednesday articles, and some of them also appeared on my recent Summer TBR list.  However, there are also some interesting new books that I am discussing for the first time here, so that should give this list a bit of variety.  So let us get to my selections and find out which upcoming novels are my most anticipated releases for the first half of 2021.

 

Honourable Mentions:

 

A Prince and a Spy by Rory Clements – 21 January 2021

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Star Wars: Doctor Aphra (2020): Volume One – Fortune and Fate by Alyssa Wong and Marika Cresta – 26 January 2021

DoctorAphra2020-1

 

Firefly: Life Signs by James Lovegrove – 16 March 2021

Firefly Life Signs

 

Star Wars: Thrawn Ascendancy: Greater Good by Timothy Zahn – 27 April 2021

Star Wars - Thrawn Ascendancy - Greater Good Cover

 

Top Ten Tuesday (By Release Date):

 

Prodigal Son by Gregg Hurwitz – 26 January 2021

Prodigal Son Cover

Exciting thriller writer Gregg Hurwitz is set to return later this month with the latest entry in his awesome Orphan X series.  I have deeply enjoyed the previous two books in this series, Out of the Dark and Into the Fire, and Prodigal Son looks like it will have a fun and fantastic story to it.

 

The Three Paradises by Robert Fabbri – 2 February 2021

The Three Paradises Cover

This next novel on this list is The Three Paradises, the second entry in the Alexander’s Legacy series that examines the wars fought in the aftermath of Alexander the Great’s death.  The Three Paradises serves as a sequel to the excellent 2020 novel, To the Strongest, and it should turn out be a fun and entertaining read.

 

Relentless by Mark Greaney – 23 February 2021

Relentless Mark Greaney Cover

Following on from his 2020 hit, One Minute Out (which was one of my favourite books and audiobooks of 2020), outstanding thriller author Mark Greaney returns with Relentless, the 10th entry in his Gray Man series.  In his latest novel, Greaney’s assassin protagonist will attempt to get to the bottom of a lethal conspiracy involving several missing intelligence agents.  I have extremely high hopes for this book and I think it has the potential to be one of the top books of 2021.

 

Star Wars: Victory’s Price by Alexander Freed – 2 March 2021

Star Wars - Victory's Price Cover

While there are several awesome pieces of Star Wars fiction coming out in the first half of 2021, the one that I am most excited for is Victory’s Price by Alexander Freed, the third and final book in his Alphabet Squadron series.  The previous two entries in the series, Alphabet Squadron and Shadow Fall, have been some of the strongest Star Wars novels in recent years and I have deeply enjoyed this intense, character driven series.  This final entry will feature the final showdown between two rival groups of pilots and should be quite the emotional thrill ride.

 

Breakout by Paul Herron – 9 March 2021

Breakout Cover

Breakout is an intriguing thriller novel that I really like the sound of.  Breakout will follow an imprisoned former cop’s attempt to escape a flooded supermax prison filled with the most dangerous convicts in the country.  This cool sounding book has the potential to be one of the most awesome and exciting releases of the year and I am really looking forward to reading it.

 

The Bone Maker by Sarah Beth Durst – 9 March 2021

The Bone Maker Cover

I had the very great pleasure of reading Sarah Beth Durst’s standalone fantasy novel, Race the Sands, last year, which proved to be one of the best books of 2020.  Since then, I have been keeping a close eye out for any new books from this acclaimed fantasy author and I was very excited when I saw she was releasing another standalone novel in a few short months.  This upcoming book will follow a group of damaged fantasy heroes, many years after their legendary victory over a great evil.  The Bone Maker sounds like it will be an incredible, character driven epic and I am deeply excited for it.

 

The Two-Faced Queen by Nick Martell – 30 March 2021

The Two-Faced Queen Cover

In 2020 I was blown away by Nick Martell’s impressive and clever fantasy debut, The Kingdom of Liars, which saw a fantastically flawed protagonist attempt to find the truth in a corrupt kingdom where magic costs people their memories.  This was an extremely compelling and exciting novel, and I cannot wait to get my hands on the upcoming sequel, The Two-Faced Queen, which I believe will be another outstanding read.

 

Usagi Yojimbo: Volume 35: Homecoming by Stan Sakai – 14 April 2021

Usagi Yojimbo - Homecoming

It should as no surprise to anyone familiar with me that the entry I am most excited about is a Usagi Yojimbo comic.  The Usagi Yojimbo series is easily my favourite comics of all time and each year I eagerly await the one new volume that comes out.  This upcoming volume, Homecoming, will be the 35th overall volume of the series and the second volume published fully in colour (the first being 2020’s Bunraku and Other Stories).  Homecoming sounds like it is going to have some major storylines that will see Usagi return to his childhood village, where many enemies and painful memories await him.  I have no doubt whatsoever that I am going to absolutely love this latest Usagi Yojimbo comic and it is going to be one of the best things I read all year.

 

The Girl and the Mountain by Mark Lawrence – 5 May 2021

The Girl and the Mountain Cover

Last year I was lucky enough to get a copy of my first Mark Lawrence novel, The Girl and the Stars, which contained an epic and impressive fantasy storyline set deep beneath the ice of an unforgiving world.  I deeply enjoyed this novel, and I am quite excited to check out the sequel, The Girl and the Mountains, which looks set to continue the fantastic and captivating narrative from the first book.

 

The Last Graduate by Naomi Novik – 29 June 2021

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The final entry on this list is The Last Graduate by bestselling author Naomi Novik.  The Last Graduate will serve as a sequel to A Deadly Education, a fun and addictive fantasy novel that was one of my favourite books of 2020.  I had an outstanding time reading A Deadly Education (I powered through it in about a day), and I cannot wait to see how Novik continues this incredible story.

 

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 nearly every one of these books has the potential to get a full five-star rating from me and I cannot wait to see what amazing and exciting stories they contain.  While I am waiting to get my hands on these books, why not let me know if any of the above interest you, as well as what your most anticipated releases for the next six months are in the comments below.

 

Top Ten Tuesday – My Favourite Books from the First Half of 2020

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme that currently resides at The Artsy Reader Girl and features bloggers sharing lists on various book topics.  The task for this week’s Top Ten Tuesday was originally to list the top Books That Make Me Smile, however I am going to go off topic and instead look at something else.  We have just crossed into the second half of what has been a rather interesting year, and while most aspects of 2020 have been pretty crummy, I think that we can at least agree that this year has been pretty amazing when it comes to books.  I have read some incredible novels so far this year, including impressive standalone books, amazing new entries in established series and fantastic debuts.  Because of this, and because it goes well with my recent Most Anticipated Releases for the Second Half of 2020 list, I thought that I would take the time to work out what my top ten favourite books from the first half of 2020 are.

Once I knew what I wanted to pull together for this week’s Top Ten Tuesday, I started taking a hard look at all the different novels that I have read this year.  To be eligible, a book had to be released between 1 January 2020 and 30 June 2020, and I have not included any novels released before or after this date even if I read them during this period.  I have also excluded any books released during this period that I have not so far read, although I imagine The Obsidian Tower by Melissa Caruso or Cyber Shogun Revolution by Peter Teiryas would have appeared on this list somewhere if I’d had the chance to read them before now.

Coming up with this list proved to be a rather bigger task than I originally intended, as I ended up amassing nearly 20 different releases, all of which I consider to be some pretty outstanding reads.  I ended up being able to eventually whittle this down to an acceptable Top Ten list, although I did include my typical generous honourable mentions section.  I am rather happy with how this list turned out, although I am surprised at some of the great releases that ended up being excluded.  Still, the books below represent what I considered to be some of the best books from the first half of 2020, and I would strongly recommend each and every one of them.  So let us see what made the cut.

Honourable Mentions:


To the Strongest
by Robert Fabbri – 2 January 2020

To the Strongest Cover


The Holdout
by Graham Moore – 18 February 2020

The Holdout Cover

House of Earth and Blood by Sarah J. Maas – 3 March 2020

House of Earth and Blood Cover


Lionheart
by Ben Kane – 28 May 2020

Lionheart Cover

Top Ten List (By Date of Release):

 

Into the Fire by Gregg Hurwitz – 28 January 2020

Into the Fire


Song of the Risen God
by R. A. Salvatore – 28 January 2020

Song of the Risen God Cover


One Minute Out
by Mark Greaney – 20 February 2020

One Minute Out Cover


The Grove of the Caesars
by Lindsey Davis – 2 April 2020

The Grove of the Caesars Cover


The Girl and the Stars
by Mark Lawrence – 20 April 2020

The Girl and the Stars 2


Race the Sands
by Sarah Beth Durst – 21 April 2020

Race the Sands Cover


Usagi Yojimbo
: Bunraku and Other Stories by Stan Sakai – 21 April 2020

Usagi Yojimbo Bunraku and Other Stories Cover


Firefly
: The Ghost Machine by James Lovegrove – 28 April 2020

Firefly The Ghost Machine Cover


Fair Warning
by Michael Connelly – 26 May 2020

Fair Warning Cover


Devolution
by Max Brooks – 16 June 2020

Devolution Cover

 

That turned out to be a rather exciting and diverse group of books, and I am surprised about how many different genres are represented amongst them.  I think that this list is a fantastic example of some of early 2020’s top releases, and each of these books is really worth checking out.  Overall, I happy with how this list turned out, and I look forward to seeing which of these books end up being amongst my top reads of 2020.  In the meantime, what do you think about the books that made my Top Ten List?  Let me know if you enjoyed these books in the comments below and what your favourite releases from the first half of 2020 are.

The Girl and the Stars by Mark Lawrence

The Girl and the Stars 2

Publisher: Harper Voyager (Trade Paperback – 20 April 2020)

Series: Book of the Ice – Book One

Length: 473 pages

My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

From the mind of fantasy and science fiction superstar Mark Lawrence comes The Girl and the Stars, a superb and endlessly fascinating novel which takes the reader on an epic adventure in a unique new setting.

Mark Lawrence is a science fiction and fantasy fiction author who burst onto the scene in 2011 with his debut novel, Prince of Thorns. Since then, he has gone from strength to strength, having written several additional books across four intriguing series, all of which have received a lot of attention and praise. Indeed, when some of his latest novels were released (Grey Sister and Holy Sister in particular), you couldn’t escape reviews of his books even if you tried, as every single review site I followed seem to have some commentary about how much they enjoyed them. Despite seeing all this online praise about his work, I have not actually read any of Lawrence’s previous novels. This is not because his books do not interest me; quite the opposite! I actually consider this inadvertent exclusion of his work to be a major hole in my fantasy/science fiction knowledge. However, I just never seem to be able to fit his books into my reading schedule, even after I featured The Broken Empire series on my Top Ten Series I Want to Get Into list. So when I was lucky enough to receive a copy of Lawrence’s new book, The Girl and the Stars, I thought that I would take the opportunity to finally read something from this author, and I ended up getting really sucked into this cool and clever novel.

This book is set on the planet Abeth, a dying world that is slowly being frozen over by vast sheets of ice. Despite the cruel and harsh conditions, several human tribes exist out on the ice, scraping a living and managing to survive. However, there is no tolerance of variation or differences out on the ice, and only those people who are whole and normal are considered capable of living their lives out in the cold. For the rest, there is the Pit of the Missing, a vast and gaping black chasm that burrows deep into the ice and the earth from which no one has ever returned.

Every several years, the various tribes living on the ice gather around the Pit, and their children are inspected by the regulators. If a child is normal, they are returned to their parents and allowed to live their lives, but if a child is shown to be different, either because they are weak or they are in the process of developing unique abilities that may cause them to burn out faster on the ice, they are thrown into the Pit in what is considered a mercy killing.

Yaz has always known that she is weaker and not as resilient as the fellow members of her tribe, but she is able to survive thanks to a source of power only she can access. Prepared to be pushed into the Pit, Yaz is instead chosen by the regulators to be taken to their fortress and trained. However, when the regulator pushes her little brother down into the pit, Yaz does not hesitate before diving in after him.

Against all the odds, Yaz survives and finds herself in a strange and wonderful new world under the ice, illuminated the powerful gems, or stars, that provide heat and light deep beneath the surface. As Yaz explores the vast underground labyrinth, she discovers that the other children thrown into the pit over the years have survived and formed their own society. But as Yas searches for her brother, she soon discovers that life underground is not as the utopia it seems. Many dark and terrible things lurk under the ice, determined to claim the bodies and souls of those people it encounters. But Yaz is different; her power seems to affect the star-like gems surrounding her and may prove to be the tool needed to free those people trapped in the darkness. But Yaz’s potential has been noticed, and soon everyone is fighting to get their hands on her power, which can flip the war being fought beneath the surface. Can Yaz save her brother and escape the darkness of the Pit, or is she doomed to be consumed by the conflict?

The Girl and the Stars is a clever and addictive novel from Lawrence that serves as the first entry in his brand new Book of the Ice series. This latest book is set in the same world as the author’s bestselling Book of the Ancestor series and focuses on a new group of protagonists in a unique and compelling setting. Featuring a unique blend of fantasy and science fiction elements, The Girl and the Stars contains an elaborate and epic narrative. Lawrence once again excels at drawing the reader into his novel with the compelling story of a young woman discovering her powers in a strange world. Told with a deeply detailed writing style which forces the reader to absorb and enjoy every word of this epic book, The Girl and the Stars was an incredible novel, and I had an outstanding time reading it.

At the heart of this intriguing book is a compelling and sophisticated adventure story that sees the protagonist encounter all the dangers that live underneath the ice, whilst finding her own inner strength and resolve. This story, which at times reads a bit like a young adult narrative, turns intense rather quickly, as within the first 25 pages the protagonist has already jumped into the unknown to save her brother. What follows is a non-stop thrill ride which sees Yaz encounter a huge raft of crazy characters and strange horrors underneath the ice. The story continues a brisk and exciting pace, as the protagonist jumps from one situation to the next with intriguing plot developments every couple of pages. There are some big set pieces, plenty of daunting opponents, cunning intrigues and manipulations, fun side characters and a fast-paced storyline, all of which come together to produce a really captivating and exciting read, topped off with a shocking cliffhanger of a conclusion. Lawrence sets up a number of intriguing plot points for the future entries in this series, and I am rather curious to see what happens in the next book, and what adventures the protagonist will find herself on next.

The major highlight of this book has to be the incredibly inventive and intricate settings that Lawrence produced. The Girl and the Stars actually has two really cool settings in which the characters find themselves. The first is the wild ice fields of Abeth, a harsh and unforgiving landscape populated by hardy and practical tribes of humans, who are controlled by a wise and manipulative priesthood. Lawrence does an incredible job of introducing the reader to this setting in the first chapter, making it sound like a fun and intriguing location for the book. However, the second chapter sees the protagonist go into the Pit of the Missing, which takes her to a different world under the ice. This new landscape underneath the pit is far more complex and imaginative than the great ice setting at the start of the novel, filled with a huge collection of different landscapes, from icy caverns, fields of fungi, labyrinthine structures, ancient alien cities and areas of darkness. Into these clever locations, Lawrence installs a number of different groups, factions and monsters, which the protagonist needs to understand or avoid if she is going to survive. The sheer number of features and settings proves to be extremely beneficial to the story, as the reader is left wondering what new obstacle or ally the protagonist is going to meet next. I also rather enjoyed how Lawrence blended together fantasy and science fiction elements throughout the course of the book, with the characters tapping into seemingly magical abilities to survive, and with their major opponents appearing to be demons. However, there is a more scientific explanation to these abilities and antagonists that ties into the origins of the planet and its previous inhabitants. There are also a variety of pure science fiction elements, including mechanical monstrosities, sentient cities and ancient technology. All of these elements, whether they appear more fantasy or science fiction based, prove to be really fascinating, and I quite enjoyed seeing how they played into the book. Overall, this was a really unique and memorable setting, and I loved how the author cleverly wove his compelling story throughout it, allowing it to enhance the narrative with its inventive and distinctive elements.

I have to admit that I was initially a little hesitant when it came to reading The Girl and the Stars, mainly because it was connected to Lawrence’s previous series, which I have not read. From what I have heard, the Book of the Ancestor series contains quite an elaborate narrative and setting, and I was worried that my lack of knowledge about the previous books would impact my understanding of the plot of The Girl and the Stars. However, once I dived into this book’s compelling story my fears proved to be rather unfounded, as I had no trouble following the plot or understanding the unique elements. No prior knowledge of any of Lawrence’s previous books is needed, especially as the story follows a brand new protagonist who has no idea of the events of the Book of the Ancestor’s novels, and who herself needs a crash course in the planet’s history, the varied physiology of the humans who inhibit it and other integral plot elements. As a result, this is an extremely accessible book for readers unfamiliar with Lawrence’s work, and, based on my experiences, I would say that it is a good introduction the author’s writing style and wild imagination

That said, I could tell that The Girl and the Stars is also going to be extremely appealing to fans of the Book of the Ancestor’s series, who will no doubt appreciate the similarities this novel has to Lawrence’s previous work, following a young female protagonist who is new to her power through this unique world. While I did not personally understand the significance of them, this book was obviously chock full of references and world-building knowledge that people who are familiar with the previous books are going to really appreciate and find intriguing. I do have to admit that I was bit uncertain about when The Girl and the Stars occurred in relation to the Book of the Ancestors series, and I really have no idea about whether this book is a prequel, sequel or is running concurrently to the previous books. While this did not impact my enjoyment of The Girl and the Stars in any way whatsoever, I did feel that this is something that Lawrence could have made a little clearer for new readers, especially if there are some connections between this series and the previous books is revealed later in the trilogy. Overall, I would definitely recommend this new entry from Lawrence to any science fiction and fantasy fans, whether they are established readers of the author or new readers looking for something interesting to check out.

I also have to spend a little bit of time highlighting the amazing and eye-catching cover my copy of The Girl and the Stars had (see above). While the alternative cover (see below) was also cool, I really loved the cover that my edition had, which was done by artist Jason Chan. Chan, who has done work for several Lawrence’s previous novels, did a fantastic job with this artwork, producing a cover that is striking and which perfectly reflects the unique setting that the book’s protagonist finds herself in. I absolutely loved it the first time I saw it, and this appreciation only grew once I started reading The Girl and the Stars and fully understood what Chan is portraying. This is an excellent bit of artwork, and it is one of my favourite pieces of cover art I have seen so far this year.

The Girl and the Stars is an exceedingly inventive and exceptionally exciting novel that expertly blends together fantasy and science fiction elements to create a widely entertaining and compelling read. I absolutely loved the unique and imaginative setting that Lawrence came up with for this book, and it proved to be a fantastic background to the novel’s enjoyable story. This was easily one of my favourite books from the first half of 2020, and it has become clear to me that I must read more of Lawrence’s books in the future. Highly recommended.

The Girl and the Stars Cover 2

WWW Wednesday – 13 May 2020

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?

Firefly, Race the Sands Covers

Firefly: The Ghost Machine by James Lovegrove (Hardcover)

The Ghost Machine is the latest in a new line of Firefly novels that have been released over the last couple of years.  Due to delays with another Firefly novel, Generations, all three of the books in this series have been written by James Lovegrove, who has produced some rather interesting stories within this cool franchise.  I have only just started this book, but I am already hooked.  It has an awesome story premise behind it and I cannot wait to see where Lovegrove takes the crew of Serenity this time.

Race the Sands by Sarah Beth Durst (Audiobook)

This was a bit of an impulse choice I made about 40 minutes ago, but I decided I would start listening to Race the Sands by Sarah Beth Durst.  I have been hearing some pretty amazing things about this book from some other reviewers, and their continued praise convinced me to have a go at reading this.  So far it is turning out to be a rather intriguing novel, and I am pretty sure that I am really going to like this book.

What did you recently finish reading?

Mark Lawrence and R. A. Salvatore Covers

The Girl and the Stars by Mark Lawrence (Trade Paperback)

Song of the Risen God by R. A. Salvatore (Audiobook)

What do you think you’ll read next?

The Grove of the Caesars by Lindsey Davis (Trade Paperback)

The Grove of the Caesars 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 – 6 May 2020

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?

Mark Lawrence and R. A. Salvatore Covers

The Girl and the Stars by Mark Lawrence (Trade Paperback)

The Girl and the Stars is the first book in a new series from acclaimed fantasy author Mark Lawrence.  I started reading this book a few days ago and it is pretty damn awesome so far.  It has a really intriguing and enjoyable story that I just cannot get enough of, and I am hoping to finish this off soon.

Song of the Risen God by R. A. Salvatore (Audiobook)

The latest novel from one of my favourite authors, R. A. Salvatore, Song of the Risen God is the sequel to Reckoning of Fallen Gods and the third book in The Coven series.  I have made a good amount of progress in this audiobook and should finish it off in the next few days.  It is really good and I am having an amazing time listening to it.

What did you recently finish reading?


Night Lessons in Little Jerusalem
by Nick Held (Trade Paperback)

Night Lessons in Little Jerusalem Cover

A compelling and moving World War II drama from debuting Australian author Nick Held. A review for this book will run in the Canberra Weekly next week.

What do you think you’ll read next?


Aurora Burning
by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff (Trade Paperback)

Aurora Burning 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 – 29 April 2020

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?

Jerusalem, Salvatore Covers

Night Lessons in Little Jerusalem by Nick Held (Trade Paperback)

This is an interesting and emotionally charged novel from debuting Australian author Nick Held that follows the life of a Jewish family in Czernowitz during World War II.  I have made a good amount of progress into this novel, and it is quite a powerful read so far.

Song of the Risen God by R. A. Salvatore (Audiobook)

The latest novel from one of my favourite authors, R. A. Salvatore, Song of the Risen God is the sequel to Reckoning of Fallen Gods and the final book in The Coven series.  I only just started this audiobook, and it is proving to be an exciting and action packed fantasy novel.

What did you recently finish reading?

To Kill a Man, The Unsettling Stars Covers

To Kill a Man by Sam Bourne (Trade Paperback)

Star Trek: The Unsettling Stars by Alan Dean Foster (Audiobook)

What do you think you’ll read next?

The Girl and the Stars
by Mark Lawrence (Trade Paperback)

The Girl and the Stars 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.

Book Haul – 27 April 2020

It has been a good couple of weeks for me book wise, as I have been lucky enough to receive a bunch of fantastic books which I am really looking forward to reading.  I have actually ended up with quite an impressive collection of books, and I have been looking forward to checking out a bunch of them for a while now.

 

To Kill a Man by Sam Bourne

To Kill a Man Cover

To Kill a Man is the latest exciting political thriller from bestselling author Sam Bourne, whose work I have been meaning to check out for a while.  I have actually already read To Kill a Man and it is a very good read and I loved how the story turned out.  I am working on a review for it now and will hopefully post it up soon.

Night Lessons in Little Jerusalem by Rick Held

Night Lessons in Little Jerusalem Cover

This is a powerful and captivating World War II historical drama from debuting Australian author Rick Held.  I just started reading Night Lessons in Little Jerusalem today and so far I am really enjoying this well-written and haunting novel.

Aurora Burning by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Aurora Burning Cover

This is a book that I have been looking forward to for a whileAurora Burning is the fantastic sounding second book in the Aurora Cycle, a thrilling young adult science fiction series from Australian writing duo Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff.  I loved the first book in this series, Aurora Rising, last year, and I cannot wait to read the sequel.

The Last Emperox by John Scalzi

The Last Emperox Covers

The Last Emperox is an intriguing science fiction novel from John Scalzi, which serves as the third and final book in The Interdependency trilogy.  I am a tad conflicted about reading this book as I haven’t had a chance to check out the first two novels in this series first.  However, I have heard really good things about Scalzi’s books in the past, so I think I’ll give it a go.

The Girl and the Stars by Mark Lawrence

The Girl and the Stars Cover

Now this is one that I am really excited to read.  The Girl and the Stars is easily one of the most anticipated fantasy novels of 2020, and I am rather glad I managed to get a copy of it.  I have been meaning to read some of Lawrence’s books for some time now, as each of his prior novels sounds pretty darn amazing, and have received a lot of praise in the past.  As a result, I am rather keen to check out The Girl and the Stars, which is the first book in a brand new series from Lawrence.  It is apparently set in the same universe as The Book of the Ancestors series, and I am hoping that my first introduction to Lawrence’s work will lead me to check out some of his prior work.

Monstrous Heart by Claire McKenna

Monstrous Heart Cover

The final book on this list is Monstrous Heart by Australian author Claire McKenna.  This is an interesting sounding fantasy debut that could prove to be really good and which I am looking forward to finding out more about.

 

Well that’s the end of my latest book haul post.  Let me know which books on this list you are most excited to read and stay tuned for my upcoming reviews of each of these fantastic books.

Top Ten Tuesday – Series I Want to Get Into

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, participants get a freebie and get to choose any topic that they want to, and I have decided that I will use this post to look at the top ten series I want to get into.

Over the last few years, I have gone out of my way to try out several series which I had heard good things about or read intriguing reviews about. In most cases, I have found myself absolutely loving the first book in the series, and I will go on to keep reading all the books that follow on. For quite a lot of these, I really wish that I had tried them out a hell of a lot sooner, such as the Powder Mage series or The Stormlight Archive. Clearly there are a number of amazing series out there that I have not yet had the opportunity to sample, and I really need to start expanding my horizons.

So, for this list I will be looking at the top ten series that I have not had the opportunity to read, but that I wish I had. There are several reasons why I have not been able to read these books, such as availability, time constraints or simply not knowing the books existed until years after their release (try as I might, I can’t keep track of every book that is released). For some of these, I did have the opportunity to read the later books in the series, but I chose not to because I thought it would make more sense to start at the beginning with the first book. There are a great many series out there that have caught my eye, but I am going to limit myself to the top ten ones I want to read, with a few honourable mentions.

For some of these series, I have heard amazing things about them from other reviewers; for others, I really like the plot idea and want to check it out. There are also a few series where I have enjoyed some of the author’s other works and I am interested in seeing what else they have produced. All of these are at the top of my reading list, and I hope to check them all out in the next couple of years, although it is probably going to be a slow process to get through all of them.

Honourable Mentions:


Villains – V. E. Schwab

Vicious Cover.jpg

This series is apparently an intriguing take one the superhero genre which focuses on two friends who gain superpowers and the dramatic consequences of this. This a rather shorter series than most of the others on this list, currently featuring only two books. However, the sheer amount of love I saw for the second book when it was released last year was just insane. Nearly everyone seemed to be reading this book, and I honestly felt like I was missing out quite a bit. I love a good superhero story and really need to check this book out. I have also heard good things about Schwab’s Shades of Magic series, and I figure I will move onto that once I get through the Villains series.

Jack Reacher – Lee Child

Killing Floor Cover.jpg

Ever since I started up my blog, I have been meaning to read more thrillers, as I have a bit of a dearth of knowledge and appreciation of the genre. There are a number of intriguing-sounding or classic thriller series out there that I want to check out in the future, including Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan series or Stephen Hunter’s Bob Lee Swagger series. However, the one I think I am most likely to check out in the immediate future is Lee Child’s Jack Reacher series. I enjoyed the Tom Cruise movies that were based on these books and I would like to check out some of the extremely interesting cases featured within. As the series currently features 23 novels, this may be one of those series where I check out the later books in the series first. In this case, I might look up the 24th novel, Blue Moon, when it comes out this October.

The Dresden Files – Jim Butcher

Storm Front Cover.jpg

The Dresden Files is one of those series that I see a lot of other reviewers gush about and place at the top of their favourite book lists. Featuring a modern world beset with magic, The Dresden Files follow magical PI Harry Dresden as he works a series of intriguing magical crimes. While the whole concept sounds amazing, The Dresden Files has been one of the series that I was mostly unaware of until recently, and now that it is on my radar, I have not been able to make time for it. Currently featuring 15 books, this is one that might take a while to get through; however, it might be worth the effort if they end up making that television adaption that is currently being planned.

Top Ten List (No Particular Order):


Newsflesh – Mira Grant

Feed Cover.jpg

A zombie series from one of the best modern authors of horror fiction is definitely something that I need to check out. Mira Grant is an extremely talented author, and I absolutely loved her 2017 release, Into the Drowning Deep, which was just spectacular. Grant has several intriguing series out at the moment, but I really like the sound of the Newsflesh books, which follow a band of blogger journalists as they investigate dark conspiracies in the aftermath of the zombie apocalypse. Currently made up of four books, this sounds like a really cool series and, frankly, after seeing how terrifying Grant can make mermaids, I cannot wait to see what she can do with zombies.

The Divine Cities – Robert Jackson Bennett

City of Stairs Cover.jpg

When I read and reviewed Bennett’s latest book, Foundryside, last year I could not help but notice that quite a number of people were already massive fans of Bennett thanks to his The Divine Cities series. The Divine Cities series is set in a fallen city which used to utilise the vast power of its gods to rule the world. However, when the gods fell the city was brutally conquered and made to suffer for its past injustices. I really like the sound of that setting, and the plot then follows a protagonist who investigates a series of mysteries in this broken city. I already know that Bennett can create some intriguing mysteries and conspiracies thanks to Foundryside, so I am very curious to see his earlier work. I also see that a number of reviewers whose opinions I respect have a lot of nice things to say about The Divine Cities series and, as a result, I really think I need to read these books.

The Dinosaur Lords – Victor Milan

The Dinosaur Lords Cover.jpg

I have to admit that the main reason I want to check out this series is its extremely cool concept. How can I possibly not want to read a fantasy series where the characters go to war riding giant dinosaurs? Honestly, it is impossible to resist, and the moment I heard about this series I knew I would have to read it. But there is one disadvantage that makes me slightly weary, and that is that the series might not be 100% complete. The author, Victor Milan, unfortunately passed away in 2018. While he was able to complete the first three books in The Dinosaur Lords series, the entire series was apparently going to consist of six books. I am slightly worried that I will get into The Dinosaur Lord books only to find myself disappointed with some open plot points when I finish the third book. I don’t think this will be enough to stop me trying out these books, but it is a potential concern I need to keep in mind.

Red Rising Saga – Pierce Brown

Red Rising Cover.jpg

The Red Rising Saga is a series that has been on my reading radar for a while. This is another series which is held in extremely high regard by a number of reviewers I follow, and it actually sounds very interesting, as it follows a war to end caste oppression in a futuristic space society. I have had the opportunity to read one or two of the later books in the series in the past, but I never did. This is mainly because I always though the storylines sounded so complex that it would be best to start the Red Rising Saga from the beginning. This is definitely a series I need to read in the future, especially as Brown is continuing to add to it, with the latest book, Dark Age, literally coming out today.

Mistborn – Brandon Sanderson

Mistborn Cover.jpg

Brandon Sanderson is an extremely talented author whose books I have really enjoyed in the past, especially The Way of Kings and Skyward. As he is an extremely prolific author, he has a huge number of awesome-sounding books out at the moment and I am hoping to read all of them at some point in the future because he is an amazing writer. However, the main body of his work that I want to read next is his Mistborn books. The Mistborn series of books are part of his huge overarching Cosmere novels and are set in the same universe as some of his other series, such as The Stormlight Archive. Featuring a really cool magical system based around different metals and made up of six highly regarded books (with a seventh on the way), the Mistborn books sound spectacular and I look forward to eventually reading them.

Throne of Glass – Sarah J. Maas

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This one has been on my radar ever since I read Maas’s excellent comic book novel, Catwoman: Soulstealer last year. Maas is probably one of the best young adult fiction authors out there at the moment, and the Throne of Glass series is considered by many to be her magnum opus. Featuring eight lengthy books, the Throne of Glass follows teenage assassin Celaena as she battles for freedom in the lands of Adarlan. This is a really cool-sounding series which has received a lot of praise from bloggers who specialise in young adult fiction. As such, it is really high on my to-read list and I hope to enjoy it in the near future. I also have my eye on Maas’s other main series, A Court of Thorns and Roses, which looks like another interesting collection of books.

Saga – Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples

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Probably considered one of the best comic book series of all times, Saga is a major comic book series that I have not had the pleasure of reading. Considering the regard that many comic book fans hold this series in, it is a bit odd that I have never gotten around to actually reading it, especially as I have the first volume sitting on my shelf at the moment. I have enjoyed a number of Vaughan’s other works in the past, so I am unsure why I have not checked these comics out. Hopefully I will not rue my oversight too much when I finally get around to reading the first volume.

The Broken Empire – Mark Lawrence

Prince of Thorns Cover.jpg

If there is one author that I really regret never reading before, it is Mark Lawrence. Lawrence has been a cornerstone of the fantasy genre for several years now, but somehow I have never had the opportunity to read any of his books. This seems like a pretty big oversight on my part, especially as a number of reviewers and bloggers paint him as one of the very best fantasy authors in the world today. His books do sound extremely interesting, and he has written a number of major fantasy series, including The Red Queen’s War and The Book of the Ancestor series. I think I would go back and read The Broken Empire series first though. Not only does this feature his first book, Prince of Thorns, which I have heard is a pretty amazing debut, but I believe that The Broken Empire series is connected to some of his other works and serves as a prequel. As I really intend to read all of Lawrence’s books in the future, it makes sense to start here, and I hope to get around to reading The Broken Empire books quite soon.

Grishaverse series – Leigh Bardugo

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I am slightly cheating here by including several different series as one entry, but I think I can justify it as the series are all set in the same world. Bardugo’s Grishaverse series is currently made up the Grisha trilogy, the Six of Crows duology and the Nikolai duology, which currently features one book, 2019’s King of Scars. Each of the books in the Grishaverse sound extremely interesting, and there is a lot of love for them in reviewing circles. I could not believe how many reviews King of Scars got earlier this year in such a short period of time. Clearly Bardugo is doing something right, and I really need to get aboard and start enjoying her work.

Gaunt’s Ghosts – Dan Abnett

First and Only Cover.jpg

I was a massive fan of the Warhammer and Warhammer 40,000 universe when I was younger, and I used to collect a lot of the models and booklets. One of the main things that always appealed to me was the extensive lore and fiction that accompanied the modelling side of Warhammer, and I often found it as awesome as the modelling and the battling. I still really enjoy parts of the Warhammer franchise to this day, such as the Dawn of War computer games, and I still like to keep an eye on the lore. Most people would not realise that there is a huge amount of fiction associated with this modelling franchise, with some good books attached to it. I have read a few pieces of Warhammer extended fiction over the years, but the one I have always meant to try out is the Gaunt’s Ghosts series by Dan Abnett. Made up of 16 books, including January 2019’s release Anarch, this series follows the Tanith First-and-Only, a penal unit of Imperial Guardsman fighting under the command of Colonel-Commissar Ibram Gaunt, nicknamed Gaunt’s Ghosts. Throughout the course of the books, the Ghosts are deployed to some of the worst combat areas in the Imperium, fighting against the various enemies of the Emperor. I love the whole concept of this series, which is essentially The Dirty Dozen in space, and I used to read some of the excerpts of the books that appeared in the Games Workshop magazines. Definitely one that is high on my list, I look forward to eventually checking these books out.

I hope you enjoyed my list. It was a bit of a hard one to put together, as there are several additional series I really want to check out, and some, such as The Faithful and the Fallen series and The Nevernight Chronicle, only just missed out from being included. I am hoping to have a look at some of these series soon, although it might be best if I finish off the Joe Ledger, Powder Mage, The Stormlight Archive and The Drenai Saga series that I am currently reading first. Let me know in the comments which series you think I should prioritise reading first and let me know if there are any series that you love that are missing from my list.