Top Ten Tuesday – My Favourite Australian Books 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 week’s Top Ten Tuesday, participants were supposed to list their top new-to-me authors that they read in 2022, however, I am going to do something differently here at The Unseen Library.  I already completed and published this list last week as I knew in advance that I would be doing an alternate list today.  The reason for this, and the reason I delayed putting this list up by a day, is because tomorrow, 26 January, is Australia Day, so I thought I would take this opportunity to once again highlight some of the top pieces of fiction written by Australian authors that I read in 2022.

Each year, a ton of talented Australian authors produce an impressive and exciting range of fiction from across the various genres, many of which I am lucky enough to get copies of from the local publishers.  I tend to read and review a lot of novels by Australian authors, most of which turn out to be some outstanding reads that I deeply enjoy.  As such, for the last few years on Australia Day I have taken to highlighting my favourite pieces of Australian fiction for the last few years (check out my 2019, 2020 and 2021 lists).  I really love how much awesome Australian fiction there is now, and this list is the perfect way to highlight some of the best recent Australian authors.

Now I tend to take a bit of a different approach to Australian fiction than some other bloggers, as I focus on books written by Australian authors rather than novels purely set in Australia or featuring Australian casts.  To qualify for this list, a novel had to be released in 2022 and written by an Australian author, which I am defining as anyone born in Australia or who currently lives here (Australia is very good at adopting talented people as our own).  This resulted in a long list, including several novels that I considered to be some of the best reads of last year.  I was eventually able to whittle this novel down to the absolute cream of the crop and came up with a fantastic top ten list (with my typical generous honourable mentions).  I really enjoyed how this list turned out, especially as it features novels from a range of different genres, all of which were very awesome Australian books.

Honourable Mentions:

Retribution by Sarah Barrie

Retribution Cover

Following on from her brilliant 2021 thriller, Unforgiven, Sarah Barrie continued to impress with her dark and compelling new release, Retribution, which follows an unconventional rookie cop as she takes on the worst of Sydney’s underworld.

Amazon     Book Depository

 

The Justice of Kings by Richard Swan

The Justice of Kings Cover

One of the hottest fantasy debuts of 2022, The Justice of Kings, was written by English expat turned Australian author Richard Swan.  An excellent blend of fantasy fiction, political intrigue and crime fiction, The Justice of Kings lives up to its hype and comes highly recommended.

Amazon     Book Depository

 

36 Streets by T. R. Napper

36 Streets Cover

A gripping and truly unique cyberpunk thriller set in futuristic Hanoi, 36 Streets is a great read from an awesome Australian talent.

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The Crimson Thread by Kate Forsyth

The Crimson Thread Cover

Kate Forsyth continued her dominance of the historical drama world with an amazing novel set on Crete during World War II.  Providing a compelling examination of the Nazi occupation of Crete while following two Australian soldiers who both fall for the same woman, The Crimson Thread was an outstanding and powerful read that is really worth checking out.

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Top Ten List:

Headcase by Jack Heath

Headcase Cover

Let’s start this list off with one of the best crime fiction books of 2022, the grizzly and deeply entertaining novel Headcase by the always impressive Jack Heath.  Heath is swiftly becoming one of my absolute favourite authors, and his amazing books, Hideout and Kill Your Brother have appeared on my 2020 and 2021 top Australian book lists respectfully.  His latest novel, Headcase, might be one of his best and while I still need to write a review for it, it is an exceptional read.  Following Heath’s cannibalistic protagonist as he investigates the mysterious death of an apparent Chinese astronaut in the NASA facility in Houston, Headcase is a brilliant and shocking read that is an absolute blast from start to finish.  I had so much wicked fun with this book, and it is a very worthy addition to this list.

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Call of Empire by Peter Watt

Call of Empire Cover

The latest book from one of my favourite historical fiction authors, Peter Watt, is another easy inclusion on this list as he continues his outstanding Colonial series with Call of Empire.  The fifth book in the Colonial series (which has previously featured The Queen’s Colonial, The Queen’s Tiger, The Queen’s Captain and The Colonial’s Son), Call of Empire continues to follow an intriguing Australian family whose members are drafted into several major wars towards the end of the 19th century.  Providing an intriguing view at Australia’s earliest military actions, Call of Empire was another awesome action-adventure novel from Watt that is a ton of fun to read.

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Stay Awake by Megan Goldin

Stay Awake Cover 2

Talented Australian thriller writer Megan Goldin continued to impress in 2022 with another complex and powerful read, Stay Awake.  Building on the success of such books as The Escape Room and The Night Swim, Stay Awake featured a unique story of a woman who awakens in New York covered in blood and with no memory of the last two years.  Hunted by a killer and unsure of what has happened to her life, the protagonist must uncover who is behind the murders before she falls asleep and loses her memories once again.  Clever, powerful and deeply intense, Stay Awake was another exceptional read from Goldin and I cannot wait to read her next book later this year.

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One Foot in the Fade by Luke Arnold

One Foot in the Fade Cover

Actor turned fantasy author Luke Arnold returned in 2022 with a particularly awesome urban fantasy novel, One Foot in the Fade.  The third book in his Fetch Phillips series, One Foot in the Fade perfectly continues the story started in Arnold’s previous books The Last Smile in Sunder City and Dead Man in a Ditch.  Set in a dark fantasy world where all the magic has been destroyed, One Foot in the Fade continues to follow Arnold’s damaged and obsessed protagonist, Fetch Phillips, as he tries to bring back the magic and save the former magical creatures he doomed.  Taking the character on a deadly adventure where he battles monsters, greedy humans and his own dark determination, One Foot in the Fade was one of Arnold’s best books yet and I cannot wait to see how he continues to grow as an author.

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The Unbelieved by Vikki Petraitis

The Unbelieved Cover

Next up we have The Unbelieved by Vikki Petraitis, which was a very easy choice to include on this list.  An extremely powerful and captivating read, The Unbelieved follows a tired detective who investigates a series of sexual assaults in a quiet Victorian town, only to come up against sexism, corruption, and a long-established code of silence.  Petraitis did something really special with The Unbelieved and I was instantly hooked by its complex story and intense examinations of how sexual crimes are perceived by rural Australians.  Not only was this one of the best debuts of 2022, but it also appeared on my top books of 2022 list as well.  A highly recommended read from an exceptional new talent.

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The German Wife by Kelly Rimmer

The German Wife Cover

Another book by an Australian author that appeared on my top books of 2022 list was The German Wife by Kelly Rimmer.  Rimmer, who deeply impressed me in 2021 with her outstanding novel, The Warsaw Orphan, once again dove into the darkness of Nazi Germany with The German Wife.  Following the struggles of a German family transported to America as part of Operation Paperclip, The German Wife explores their complex life, from the prejudice they suffer in America for being former Nazis, to the terrible truth about how their country betrayed them and forced them to become monsters.  One of the best historical dramas of 2022, The German Wife is such a great book, and I cannot wait to find out how Rimmer’s next book will break my heart in 2023.

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Wake by Shelley Burr

Wake Cover

While there were quite a few good Australian crime debuts in 2022, one of my favourites was the awesome and captivating Wake by Shelley Burr.  Set in a dying rural town, Wake sees a private investigator and a damaged survivor attempt to solve an infamous mystery of a missing girl who disappeared from her bedroom years ago without anyone noticing.  However, nothing is as it seems, and the characters are dragged through an emotional roller coaster as they attempt to discover the truth.  An insanely great debut, Wake was an epic read with a very clever mystery to it.

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Only a Monster by Vanessa Len

Only a Monster Cover

Another hot debut of 2022 from an awesome new Australian author was the powerful and complex young adult fantasy book, Only a Monster by Vanessa Len.  Following a teen protagonist who discovers she is really a monster who can travel through time, Only a Monster is a powerful and surprisingly dark read which I could not get enough of. 

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Daughters of Eve by Nina D. Campbell

Daughters of Eve Cover

Few Australian crime fiction reads of 2022 contained as many shocks and intriguing examinations of gender as Daughters of Eve by debuting author Nina D. Campbell.  A series of murders in Sydney quickly turns into a nation-wide crisis once it becomes known that violently abusive men are being killed off by a women’s movement known as the Daughters of Eve.  Sharp, fast-paced, and featuring a cynical, if accurate, examination of how men would react in this situation, Daughters of Eve was an outstanding book from an amazing new talent.

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Everyone in My Family Has Killed Someone by Benjamin Stevenson

Everyone in My Family Has Killed Someone Cover

The final Australian book on this list is the very fun and utterly hilarious murder mystery book, Everyone in My Family Has Killed Someone by Benjamin Stevenson.  Set at a very hostile family reunion in an isolated Australian ski resort, Everyone in My Family Has Killed Someone is clever and addictive homage to classic whodunnits, only this time every suspect is already a killer in some way.  Stevenson really taps into his comedy background to produce an amazingly entertaining novel that perfectly combines mystery, humour, and awesome references to the golden age of crime fiction.  A masterful novel that perfectly showcases Stevenson’s talents as a rising Australian author.

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Well, that is the end of this latest list and I am really happy that I got a chance to highlight some of the cool Australian releases of 2022.  The above books represent an outstanding collection of fiction from talented Australian authors, and each of them comes highly recommended by me.  I had a lot of fun coming up with this list and I cannot wait to find out what the best Australian books of 2023 are going to be.  Until then, stay tuned for more epic reviews and lists, and make sure you let me know who your favourite Australian authors are in the comments below.

Top Ten Tuesday – My Favourite Debuts 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 week’s Top Ten Tuesday participants were encouraged to list the top ten books on their winter/summer 2022-23 to-read list.  However, as I already did that a few weeks ago, I thought I would instead continue my foray into highlighting the absolute best books of 2022.  This is an end of year tradition I do annually with several Top Ten Tuesday Lists, and I started again this year with last week’s list about the best pre-2022 releases I read 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 2022 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 2022, 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:

The Maid by Nita Prose

The Maid Cover

A wickedly clever thriller about an atypical maid who finds herself in the middle of a murder investigation.  Best enjoyed for its fantastic central character, Nita Prose really showed she’s got a lot of potential as a writer, and I can’t wait to see what she comes up with next.

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No Country for Girls by Emma Styles

No Country for Girls Cover

A classic and entertaining road-trip thriller set in the Western Australian outback.  Fun, compelling and intense, this was a great read that I had an awesome time reading.

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Black Drop by Leonora Nattrass

Black Drop Cover

A captivating and haunting murder mystery in late 18th century London, Black Drop combines fascinating historical political intrigue with a great mystery narrative.  Highly recommended!

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Black River by Matthew Spencer

Black River Cover

A dark murder mystery in the heart of Sydney, Black River was a captivating Australian thriller with some awesome twists to it.

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Top Ten List:

Her Perfect Twin by Sarah Bonner

Her Perfect Twin Cover

Few debuts impressed me in 2022 as much as Her Perfect Twin by outstanding new author Sarah Bonner.  A complex and highly clever thriller, Her Perfect Twin follows a repressed woman who finally snaps and kills her perfect twin sister.  Taking over her twin’s life to hide the murder, the protagonist decides to use this opportunity to escape her abusive husband.  However, the onset of COVID-19 keeps her trapped at home and forces her into a twisty battle of wits with her husband who knows way too much about what she’s done.  A fantastic and addictive thriller that will have you hooked all the way to the final twist, Her Perfect Twin was a particularly epic novel that I cannot rave about enough.

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The Unbelieved by Vikki Petraitis

The Unbelieved Cover

There were a ton of great Australian crime fiction debuts in 2022, but one of my absolute favourites was The Unbelieved by new author Vikki Petraitis.  Following a damaged cop as she attempts to find peace in small town Australia, the protagonist soon discovers that her new town is afflicted by several sexual predators and the women are afraid to speak out.  A powerful and deeply intense read that provides an exceptional commentary on the public perception of sexual violence in modern society, The Unbelieved was an extraordinary Australian debut that comes extremely highly recommended.

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The Justice of Kings by Richard Swan

The Justice of Kings Cover

One of the most popular debuts of 2022 is probably the cool fantasy book, The Justice of Kings by Richard Swan.  Swan’s first foray in fantasy fiction, The Justice of Kings is a brilliant and captivating read that follows a criminal investigation in a dark fantasy universe.  Combining distinctive fantasy elements with an excellent mystery storyline, The Justice of Kings got a lot of well-deserved love this year and is an outstanding book to check out.

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Wake by Shelley Burr

Wake Cover

The Australian crime fiction debut hits keep on coming, this time with the amazing and well-written outback thriller, Wake, by epic new author Shelley Burr.  Set years after an infamous disappearance of a young girl in a broken small town, Wake sees the victim’s sister and an ambitious private investigator with his own agenda team up to finally solve the mystery.  However, the answers they both seek cause far more harm than they ever imagined and result in a deep and amazing read.

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Blood Sugar by Sascha Rothchild

Blood Sugar Cover

Murder has never been more fun in the hilarious thriller debut, Blood Sugar.  Talented new author Sascha Rothchild presents a fantastic and outstanding character-driven read about a young woman who has an unfortunate habit of killing the worst people around her.  However, when someone close to her dies of natural causes, her entire life will be torn apart as the police try to pin it on her.  I had an exceptional time reading this clever and funny book, and you are guaranteed to love it.

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Only a Monster by Vanessa Len

Only a Monster Cover

One of the best fantasy debuts of 2022 had to be the exceptional young adult read, Only A Monster by Australian author Vanessa Len.  Following a young girl who discovers that she’s a life-sucking monster, the protagonist must learn to control her powers while also being hunted by her boyfriend, a ruthless and relentless monster hunter.  Impressively inventive and just a little heartbreaking, I had an exceptional time reading Only a Monster and Len clearly has a very bright future in fantasy fiction.

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Seventeen by John Brownlow

Seventeen Cover

If you are looking for a ton of action and a relentlessly entertaining protagonist, look no further than the exciting thriller debut, Seventeen by John Brownlow.  This book follows the world’s greatest assassin, Seventeen, who finds himself forced to go after the only person on the planet more deadly than himself, his retired predecessor Sixteen.  Featuring a high-octane battle of elite assassins, Seventeen is an outstanding read that I could not get enough of.

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Daughters of Eve by Nina D. Campbell

Daughters of Eve Cover

One of the first debuts I read in 2022 was one of the best with the outstanding Australian crime fiction read, Daughters of Eve by Nina D. Campbell.  After several despicable men are killed around Australia, the police are forced to investigate a mysterious group who are determined to get justice for women by any means necessary.  A clever mystery that also serves as a great examination of gender inequalities in Australia’s legal and criminal systems, Daughters of Eve was an exceptional read that had me hooked the entire way through.

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Essex Dogs by Dan Jones

Essex Dogs Cover

There was no way I could exclude the epic historical fiction debut, Essex Dogs by Dan Jones, from this list.  Following a loyal band of mercenary soldiers who get recruited for the English invasion of France at the start of the Hundred Years War, Essex Dogs is a powerful, character driven epic that I had so much fun with.  Loaded with cool battles and a ton of historical detail, Dan Jones really knocked his debut out the park, and I can’t wait to see how he follows it up.

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Dead Man’s Hand by James J. Butcher

Dead Man's Hand Cover

The final debut on this list is the compelling and awesome urban fantasy novel, Dead Man’s Hand.  Written by the son of legendary fantasy author Jim Butcher, James J. Butcher, Dead Man’s Hand is a wonderful and memorable read that sees a failed witch team up with a retired monster hunter to find a deadly killer.  Featuring an ultra-snarky protagonist, some cool magical elements, and an outstanding murder mystery, Dead Man’s Hand was a terrific debut and I look forward to seeing more from Butcher in the future.

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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 names in their genres.

WWW Wednesday – 6 July 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?

Black River by Matthew Spencer (Trade Paperback)

Black River Cover

I’ve been in a bit of an Australian crime fiction mood recently so I just started reading the cool new Australian murder mystery novel, Black River.  The debut book from author Matthew Spencer, Black River follows the intense investigation into a series of murders in Sydney.  A powerful and dark read, I am pretty hooked on the compelling mystery at the moment and should hopefully finish this off soon.

 

Kagen the Damned by Jonathan Maberry (Audiobook)

Kagen the Damned Cover

I finally managed to start listening to the latest book from one of my favourite authors, Jonathan Maberry.  Taking a break from his usual horror and science fiction thriller novels, Maberry has dived into the epic fantasy genre in a big way with Kagen the Damned.  Following a despair riddled hero, the titular Kagen, as he attempts to get revenge for the dead royal family he served, this is an extremely dark novel, with a ton of brutal action and over-the-top violence in it.  I am already a few hours in and I am enjoying seeing the author’s transition to a new genre, as well as the compelling narrative Kagen the Damned contains.  I am extremely curious to see where the rest of the story goes, and this will probably end up being one of the best books I read all year.

What did you recently finish reading?

Wrong Place Wrong Time by Gillian McAllister (Trade Paperback)

Wrong Place Wrong Time Cover

 

Warhammer 40,000Huron BlackheartMaster of the Maelstrom by Mike Brooks

Huron Blackheart Cover

 

Armored by Mark Greaney (Trade Paperback)

Armored Cover (2)

 

Wake by Shelley Burr (Trade Paperback)

Wake Cover

What do you think you’ll read next?

Dirt Town by Hayley Scrivenor

Dirt Town 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.

Wake by Shelley Burr

Wake Cover

Publisher: Hachette Australia (Trade Paperback – 27 April 2022)

Series: Standalone

Length: 360 pages

My Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

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2022 is proving to be quite the year for Australian crime debuts, with several compelling and thrilling read already out.  However, one of the more impressive recent debuts is probably the amazing release by new Canberran author Shelley Burr, Wake, a gripping and powerful crime thriller that takes the reader on a wild and emotionally charged ride.

Nannine is a small rural town in the harsh heart of New South Wales, punished by drought and slowly declining as the local agriculture industry starts to deteriorate.  However, Nannine will always have one harrowing claim to fame: the unsolved disappearance of Evelyn McCreery.  In 1999, young Evelyn disappeared from her rural house in the dead of night, right from the bedroom that she shared with her twin sister, Mina.

Now, 19 years after Evelyn’s disappearance, Mina lives a reclusive life on the destocked family farm, desperately seeking some shreds of normality.  However, the shadow of the unsolved case and the subsequent massive media storm that bombarded her family still haunts her, especially as many question whether she had a role in the tragic events, while others constantly attempt to claim the massive reward the family posted.  However, despite the time and her attempts to not get involved in the craziness again, Mina finds old wounds reopened when Lane Holland arrives in town.

Lane is a private investigator and failed Federal Police cadet who has made a living out of cracking cold cases involving missing girls.  Interested in claiming the substantial reward, Lane begins his own in-depth investigation of Evelyn’s disappearance, and his determination and insights soon grab Mina’s attention and she finds herself drawn close to Lane.  However, Lane has his own personal reasons for solving the case, and his dark ghosts could end up dragging Mina down with him.

This was an excellent and captivating debut novel from Shelley Burr, which is already gaining some major recognition, including some major Australian awards.  While I knew I was likely to enjoy this amazing novel, I ended powering through Wake in a day as I got really hooked on its compelling and intense outback story.

I deeply enjoyed Wake’s awesome story, especially as Burr makes sure that it contains all the necessary elements to grab your attention.  This novel starts in the modern day, 19 years after the disappearance that rocked Nannine, and sees newcomer Lane Holland arrive to attempt to solve the case.  The introduction of this sleuth character helps to jumpstart the narrative, especially as his new investigation allows the reader to find out all the relevant details about the old case, while also revealing the lasting issues it had on the various protagonists, including the long-running infamy of being involved with such a major case.  Most of the first half of the book revolves around Lane trying to find his feet in the investigation and get close to Mina, while also finding himself involved in a separate case involving another missing girl.  At the same time you get to know Mina from her perspective, and find out just how messed up she is because of the disappearance and media scrutiny.  All the key characters, major story elements, hints and settings are perfectly set up in the first half of Wake, and the captivating mystery and damaged characters really drag you in and ensure that you become deeply invested in seeing how the case unfolds.

After some big reveals about halfway through the novel, the story intensifies even further, especially once you fully understand Lane’s drive and get to know the characters even better.  There are some compelling twists and turns in this second half of the book, with multiple theories and red herrings to cleverly distract the reader, while major personal moments hit all the key characters.  This all perfectly sets up the big finale, as all the plot points, tragic backstories and hidden hints come together extremely well for the major reveal.  I really liked how Wake’s story concluded, and I think both the solution to the mysteries and the resolution of all the character arcs was pretty ingenious, especially with how well it tied together the various character’s secrets, histories and regrets.  Overall, the reader will come away very satisfied with how everything is tied up, and this ended up being a very impressive and compelling narrative that was well-paced and loaded with some great surprises, major moments, and a very intriguing central mystery.

There were many cool elements to Wake that I deeply enjoyed and which I felt helped to enhance the mystery-laden story.  I liked the rural setting of Nannine, a fictional town that captures the heart of feel of many rural Australian communities, especially those that are suffering from many issues such as drought and the slow decline of the agricultural economy.  This decaying agricultural town serves as the perfect backdrop to this amazing story, and you really get to see how the small-town vibes and attitudes affect the investigation of the case.  I also appreciated the fantastic dive into the over-the-top press coverage that surrounds famous crime cases.  The disappearance attracted a massive media focus, and Burr spends a lot of time exploring how it initially covered the case, how it morphed over the years, and the lasting impact that growing up as a media sensation had on both Mina and the other supporting characters from Nannine.  I particularly enjoyed the examination of how the case became a favourite of true-crime fanatics, which is primarily shown through a series of posts on the murder forum that appears in front of multiple chapters.  These posts highlight the attitudes, theories, mindsets and more of the true-crime internet community and serves as an intriguing weather vane for the wider Australian community.  I loved these posts, not only because they were entertaining and realistic but because it proved to be a great way to provide the reader with some interesting context while also having some impacts on the main story.  Throw in the great way that Burr utilised several flashback sequences, some hidden clues in character names, some clever insights into missing person cases, and other outstanding elements, and you have a really impressive book that will easily keep your attention.

I also need to highlight Wake’s awesome damaged characters that the plot focuses on.  Burr has come up with some sensational and powerful story arcs for these great characters, and their various histories, connections and life events add some excellent emotional heft to the story that I really enjoyed.  This includes Mina McCreery, who serves as a major point-of-view character for most of the plot.  Mina is the twin of the disappeared Evelyn, and has spent the last 19 years living in her disappeared sister’s shadow.  Not only did she have to deal with the emotional backlash of her sister being either killed or abducted but she also had to experience the intense media scrutiny and other issues associated with the major case, especially as her mother ended up becoming a media sensation to keep the focus on Evelyn’s case.  Due to this, the strained relationship she had with her sorrowful mother, and certain suspicions from some that she had something to do with her sister’s disappearance, Mina now lives a solitary life, avoiding most people and not having many friends.  This makes her rather standoffish, angry and a little paranoid (for good reason) for most of the novel, and she has a hard time connecting to anyone, especially Lane.  The events of this book really shock her in some major ways, as the years of repressed trauma and emotional uncertainty come to the surface again, especially once secrets and long-hidden truths come to the surface.  I felt that the author did an amazing job highlighting all the major issues contained within Mina’s psyche, and the subsequent emotional moments were a fantastic and powerful part of the book.

Aside from Mina, the other major character in Wake that I need to discuss is private investigator Lane Holland, who arrives in Nannine to investigate the case.  Burr created something really impressive in Lane, a former police cadet turned private investigator, as he ends up having one of the more intense and memorable character arcs in the entire novel.  Initially seen as an unwelcome outsider by most of the other characters, apparently interested in only the reward money, Lane is able to prove himself to Mina and other characters and manages to gain their trust.  However, everything you think you know about Lane is blown out the water when you find out his surprising connection to the case, as well as his motivations for investigating it.  Burr sets up the connections extremely well in the early parts of the novel, putting in several clever hints and suggestions, while also doling out useful flashbacks to Lane’s past that explain everything.  These revelations, as well as some insights into Lane’s personal history and motivations, help to both intensifies the story, while also dragging you closer to Lane as a character, hoping that he will succeed for everyone’s goods.  Burr takes Lane’s character arc into some very dark, by captivating, directions, and his entire story comes together in a brilliant and powerful way, especially with some major decisions made towards the end of the book.  These two excellent, intense, and very damaged central characters, really acted as the heart-and-soul of Wake, and I was really drawn into the outstanding narrative Burr wove around them.

With her excellent debut novel, Wake, Shelley Burr has successfully entered the world of Australian crime fiction in a big way.  Featuring a captivating and distinctively dark murder mystery narrative that sees damaged characters bring a notorious cold case into the light, Wake was a gripping and deeply thrilling read that I had a fantastic time reading.  A moving and enthralling novel, Wake was an exceptional Australian crime debut and I am extremely excited to read more stories from Burr in the future.

Wake Cover 2

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WWW Wednesday – 11 May 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?

Esther’s Children by Caroline Beecham (Trade Paperback)

Esther's Children Cover

I just started this excellent historical drama by Australian author Caroline Beecham.  Set around World War II, Esther’s Children looks at a brave women who helps to rescue Jewish academics from Europe.  This is already proving to be an powerful read and I am curious to see where this tragic story ends up.

 

World of Warcraft: Sylvanas by Christie Golden (Audiobook)

World of Warcraft - Sylvanas Cover

I am still getting through this exceptional World of Warcraft audiobook by Christie Golden.  I love the brilliant story that Golden has set up around one of the franchise’s most compelling characters and I am really getting caught up in this fantastic and powerful narrative.  I will hopefully finish Sylvanas off in the next day or so and I look forward to seeing how Golden will wrap everything up.

What did you recently finish reading?

Nine Lives by Peter Swanson (Trade Paperback)

Nine Lives Cover

 

One Foot in the Fade by Luke Arnold (Trade Paperback)

One Foot in the Fade Cover

What do you think you’ll read next?

Wake by Shelley Burr

Wake 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 – 4 May 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?

Nine Lives by Peter Swanson (Trade Paperback)

Nine Lives Cover

I have been having a bit of fun this week reading the fantastic crime fiction novel, Nine Lives by Peter Swanson, whose work I previously enjoyed on Rules for Perfect Murder.  This intriguing read sees nine strangers each receive a letter with nine names on it, including their own, and before long, the people on this list start getting killed off.  This is a really cool concept for a mystery and I cannot wait to see how it resolves.  I have already made some good progress on Nine Lives and should hopefully finish it off soon.

 

World of Warcraft: Sylvanas by Christie Golden (Audiobook)

World of Warcraft - Sylvanas Cover

I also just started listening to the new World of Warcraft novel, Sylvanas, by tie-in fiction author extraordinaire Christie Golden. This excellent novel follows the life of one of the games most complex characters, Sylvanas Windrunner, and shows how she went from respected hero to notorious villain.  Sure to be one of the better World of Warcraft tie-in novels, I am having a great time with this audiobook and will hopefully finish it off in the next week or so.

What did you recently finish reading?

Death of the Black Widow by James Patterson and J. D. Barker (Trade Paperback)

Death of the Black Widow Cover

 

The Hunger of the Gods by John Gwynne (Audiobook)

The Hunger of the Gods Cover

What do you think you’ll read next?

Wake by Shelley Burr

Wake 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 – 24 April 2022

I’ve just had a rather good week for book collecting, which included a particularly big parcel from one publisher that was filled with awesome reads.  As these books included some pretty amazing novels, including a couple that I was extremely excited to get, I figured I would do a Book Haul post to gloat about, I mean, lovingly highlight, the latest additions to my collection.  All the below books sound really cool and I can’t wait to get through them all.

The Hunger of the Gods by John Gwynne

The Hunger of the Gods Cover

So let us start this Book Haul off with the book I was most excited to get, the epic The Hunger of the Gods by John Gwynne, one of my most anticipated reads for 2022.  The sequel to Gwynne’s brilliant The Shadow of the Gods (one of my favourite books and audiobooks of 2021), this outstanding novel continues the impressive, Norse inspired, dark fantasy Bloodsworn Saga in a big way by setting reborn gods against each other as savage warriors battle for revenge, glory and survival.  I have already started this awesome novel and it is turning out to pretty damn good, and this is probably going to get another five-star rating from me.  Also, just check out that incredible cover!!!!!

 

The German Wife by Kelly Rimmer

The German Wife Cover

I was also lucky enough to receive historical drama The German Wife from Australian author Kelly Rimmer, who blew me away last year with her moving novel, The Warsaw Orphan.  I actually have already read this great book and it was another powerful historical drama that presents a complex portrayal of life under the Nazis and the lasting consequences of the choices people make.

 

Desperate Undertaking by Lindsey Davis

Desperate Undertaking Cover 2

I was very, very happy to receive the latest Flavia Albia novel from historical fiction author Lindsey Davis, Desperate Undertaking.  The Flavia Albia books are some of my favourite historical fiction novels and they are a brilliant and much anticipated addition to my yearly reading schedule (some of the best ones include The Third Nero, Pandora’s Boy, The Grove of the Caesars).  I just started reading Desperate Undertakings today and I am already loving its great story about a serial killer who is murdering members of ancient Rome’s theatre scene in some elaborate, play inspired ways.  This already shaping up to be one of the better entries in this long-running series and I cannot wait to see how it all comes together.

 

The Man in the Bunker by Rory Clements

The Man in the Bunker

Another great book I was excited to get is the latest entry in the Tom Wilde series, The Man in the Bunker by Rory Clements.  Set at the end of World War II, this interesting read will follow protagonist Tom Wilde as he attempts to determine whether Hitler died in the bunker or actually escaped.  Sure to be a great historical thriller, I cannot wait to read this book.

 

One Foot in the Fade by Luke Arnold

One Foot in the Fade Cover

Australian author Luke Arnold’s Fetch Phillips urban fantasy series continues with the third book, One Foot in the Fade.  The intriguing follow-up to Arnold’s first two novels, The Last Smile in Sunder City and Dead Man in a Ditch, One Foot in the Fade will once again follow protagonist Fetch Phillips as he continues to try and bring magic back to his city.  This time he must deal with mysterious falling angels landing on the street which will no doubt leave to another awesome mystery.

 

Wake by Shelley Burr

Wake Cover

One of the most interesting novels I received as part of this haul is the compelling new debut from Canberran author Shelley Burr, Wake.  Set in small town, outback Australia, Wake is an incredible mystery thriller which sees a determined investigator attempt to solve an impossible disappearance.  I deeply love the sound of this extremely compelling and very dark narrative and I look forward to finding out the clever secrets contained within.

 

Skyward Flight by Brandon Sanderson and Janci Patterson

Skyward Flight Cover

I was quite excited to receive a copy of Skyward Flight, the ultimate companion to Brandon Sanderson’s Skyward series.  I have a lot of love for the Skyward novels which follows a determined teenage fighter pilot who is determined to save her planet from an alien invasion.  Made up of Skyward (one of my favourite books of 2018), Starsight (one of my favourite books of 2019) and Cytonic, this has been an awesome series to read, and Skyward Flight will provide some further context to the existing books.  Collecting the three novellas, Sunreach, ReDawn and Evershore, which Sanderson cowrote with Janci Patterson, the stories in this book focus on the supporting cast from the first two novels and showcases what happens while the protagonist is trapped in another dimension.  I have been meaning to explore these novellas for a while and this big volume looks to be the ultimate opportunity to finally do that.

 

Blood Sugar by Sascha Rothchild

Blood Sugar Cover

Easily the most uniquely entertaining sounding book I received in this haul was the fantastic murder mystery book, Blood Sugar by Sascha Rothchild.  The debut novel from Rothchild, Blood Sugar tells the tale of a killer, Ruby, who finds herself accused of four separate murders.  However, Ruby only committed three of the murders, and now the crime she didn’t commit may finally bring her down.

 

Portrait of a Thief by Grace D. Li

Potrait of a Thief Cover

Another great debut novel I was excited to get was Portrait of a Thief from Grace D. Li.  This book is billed as a heist novel that also looks at unique friendships and culture as five Chinese American students attempt to steal valuable Chinese artworks from an American museum.  I love the idea of a heist story that also looks at five character’s relationships with both their home and adopted countries, and I am very keen to try this novel out.

 

No Less The Devil by Stuart MacBride

No Less the Devil Cover

The final book I received was No Less the Devil from bestselling author Stuart MacBride.  Serving as the latest entry in the Oldcastle series, No Less the Devil will focus on both a hunt for a notorious serial killer and a mysterious case of another killer caught up in a shadowy conspiracy.  This sounds like a great, dark mystery and I am curious to try out Stuart MacBride’s work for the first time.

 

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.