WWW Wednesday – 30 November 2022

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

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

So, let’s get to it.

What are you currently reading?

Silver Queendom by Dan Kobolt (Trade Paperback)

Silver Queendom Cover

I just started reading the awesome fantasy book, Silver Queendom by Dan Koboldt.  This compelling novel follows a mismatched group of rogues who decide to pull off a dangerous heist in a very flashy way. I am only about 50 pages into Silver Queendom at the moment, but I am having a pretty good time with it, and I cannot wait to see what other cool shenanigans the author will unleash in the future.

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Warhammer 40,000: Kasrkin by Edoardo Albert (Audiobook)

Warhammer 40,000 - Kasrkin Cover

I also just started another intense Warhammer 40,000 novel with Kasrkin by Edoardo Albert.  This book follows an elite group of soldiers as they journey into an enemy controlled desert to find a missing general.  However, the alien forces waiting for them are the least of their problems as they are forced to contend with the many mysteries hidden under the sands of the planet.  I have made a fair bit of progress on this audiobook already, and I am deeply enjoying Kasrkin, which isn’t really a surprise considering how strong the Warhammer 40,000 books have been in 2022.  I am hoping to knock Kasrkin off in the next few days, and I cannot wait to see just how crazy this story is going to get.

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What did you recently finish reading?

Retribution by Sarah Barrie (Trade Paperback)

Retribution Cover

A dark and powerful Australian thriller that I had an outstanding time reading.

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Dragon Mage by M. L. Spencer (Audiobook)

Dragon Mage Cover

I was very pleased with myself for finishing off the massive fantasy audiobook, Dragon Mage this week.  Dragon Mage proved to be quite an elaborate and compelling read, and I really got caught up in its classic fantasy narrative, which was pretty damn awesome.

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What do you think you’ll read next?

Dead Man’s Hand by James J. Butcher

Dead Man's Hand Cover

I am hoping to read the cool fantasy debut novel, Dead Man’s Hand next by new author James J. Butcher.  The son of legendary fantasy author, Jim Butcher, James Butcher comes from a great writing pedigree and I am quite intrigued to see how his first book turns out.  Dead Man’s Hand is a compelling sounding urban fantasy book, and I look forward to diving into its intense and captivating narrative.

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Star Wars: The High Republic: Convergence by Zoraida Cordova

Star Wars - Convergence Cover

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

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That’s it for this week, check back in next Wednesday to see what progress I’ve made on my reading and what books I’ll be looking at next.

Top Ten Tuesday – Books on my Summer 2022/23 TBR

Top ten Tuesday is a weekly meme that currently resides at The Artsy Reader Girl and features bloggers sharing lists on various book topics.  The official Top Ten Tuesday topic for this week was around cozy reads, however, I decided to instead move up my quarterly post about the best upcoming books to read (TBR) for the following three months.  This is a regular post I do at the start of each season, and as this Tuesday is just before Summer (Winter for folks in the Northern Hemisphere), this is the ideal time to put this up.

For this list, I have come up with 10 of the most anticipated novels that are coming out between 1 December 2022 and 28 February 2023.  There are quite a few very cool novels set for release in the next few months that I am extremely excited for, including some of my most highly anticipated reads for the end of 2022 and the start of the New Year.  Due to how impressive some of these upcoming books are, it took me a little while to finalise my list but I was eventually able to whittle it down into a Top Ten list (with a few honourable mentions).  I have primarily used the Australian publication dates to reflect when I will be able to get these awesome novels, and these might be somewhat different to the rest of the world.  I have previously discussed a number of these books before in prior Top Ten Tuesdays and Waiting on Wednesday articles and I think all of them will turn out to be pretty incredible reads.

Honourable Mentions:

Three-Edged Sword by Jeff Lindsay – 6 December 2022

Three-Edged Sword Cover

The third book in a super fun heist thriller series by the author of the Dexter novels.  Three-Edged Sword follows on from Just Watch Me and Fool Me Twice and is a guaranteed thrill ride.

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Red Dirt Road by S. R. White – 5 January 2023

Red Dirt Road Cover

One of the more intriguing pieces of Australian fiction in the new year, Red Dirt Road follows on from the outstanding 2021 read, Prisoner, and presents a compelling and unique murder mystery in the Australian bush.

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The Last Kingdom by Steve Berry – 28 February 2023

The Last Kingdom Cover

There is no way that I am going to miss the next Steve Berry book, The Last Kingdom.  The latest entry in Berry’s long-running Cotton Malone series (which has featured such great books as The Malta Exchange, The Warsaw Protocol and The Kaiser’s Web), The Last Kingdom will see Cotton Malone roped into a deep historical conspiracy regarding the Bavarian royal family and sounds pretty damn fantastic.

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City Under One Roof by Iris Yamashita – 28 February 2023

City Under One Roof Cover

Iris Yamashita will be bringing in one of the most compelling and highly anticipated debuts of 2023 with her great book, City Under One Roof, which will pit a detective against a mysterious community in Alaska.

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Top Ten List:

Warhammer 40,000: Witchbringer by Steven B. Fischer – 14 December 2022

Warhammer 40,000 - Witchbringer Cover

The first book I need to highlight on this list is the fantastic upcoming Warhammer 40,000 read, Witchbringer by Steven B. Fischer.  Set deep in the battlefields of the Warhammer 40,000 universe, Witchbringer will follow an Imperial psyker, a living weapon who is reviled and barely tolerated by the rest of humanity, who is forced to return to her old unit and help them on a deadly mission.  Sure to be extremely exciting, while also diving into the dark side of humanity in the future, Witchbringer sounds extremely awesome and I can’t wait to end my year with another top Warhammer book.

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Star Wars: The High Republic: The Battle of Jedha by George Mann – 3 January 2023

Star Wars - The Battle of Jedha Cover

The new year is already looking pretty good, especially as one of the first books coming out is the fantastic Star Wars: The High Republic audiobook, The Battle of Jedha.  Part of the second phase of the excellent High Republic series, The Battle of Jedha will see an all-out war break out on the planet of Jedha and promises to be one of the more exciting pieces of recent Star Wars fiction, especially when read out by a full cast of talented narrators.

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Son of the Poison Rose by Jonathan Maberry – 10 January 2023

Son of the Poison Rose Cover

I am exceedingly excited that one of the first books I will be reading in 2023 will be the fantasy epic, Son of the Poison Rose by one of my favourite authors, Jonathan Maberry.  The sequel to Maberry’s exceptional 2022 novel, Kagen the Damned, Son of the Poison Rose will continue the outstanding dark fantasy storyline contained in his first book as a failed royal guard attempts to save the remnants of his fallen kingdom from a dark ruler determined to destroy everything he loves.  Son of the Poison Rose will easily be one of the best books of 2023 and I cannot wait to check it out, especially in its audiobook version narrated by the always epic Ray Porter.

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Downfall by Louise Carey – 10 January 2023

Downfall Cover

I will definitely be grabbing a copy of Downfall by Louise Carey early next year, which sounds extremely awesome.  The final book in Carey’s Inscape series, Downfall will follow on from Inscape (one of my favourite debuts of 2021) and Outcast, and will take the reader back into a technologically controlled dystopian future.  This time the protagonists will have to take down the company they have long served after it uses its insidious technology to take control of everyone they know and love.  I have had an incredible time with this great science fiction series, and I cannot wait to see how it comes to an end, especially after that cool cliff-hanger at the end of Outcast.

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Unnatural History by Jonathan Kellerman – 14 February 2023

Unnatural History Cover

I have been having a lot of fun getting into Jonathan Kellerman’s Alex Delaware series over the last few years, with such great and compelling murder mystery books as The Wedding Guest, The Museum of Desire, Serpentine and City of the Dead, and I am quite excited to read another one of his books in 2023.  This new book, Unnatural History, will see Kellerman’s compelling protagonists investigate another complex case, this time involving a dead photographer who made a living exploiting homeless people.  I am going to have an amazing time with Unnatural History and it will probably end up being one of the more impressive mystery novels of the new year.

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The Last Orphan by Gregg Hurwitz – 14 February 2023

The Last Orphan Cover

Few spy thriller series have been more impressive in the last few years that Gregg Hurwitz’s Orphan X books.  Following a former elite government assassin turned vigilante, the Orphan X books form an action-packed and powerful series that I have really grown to love, especially with great entries like Out of the Dark, Into the Fire, Prodigal Son and Dark Horse.  Naturally, I am pretty excited to see how the series continues and I only have to wait until February to find out.  The next book in the series, The Last Orphan, will see the protagonist dragged back into government service and must choose whether to return to his assassin roots or risk the lives of everyone he loves.  This is set to be an extremely moving and exciting entry in the Orphan X series, and I cannot wait to see what will happen to Hurwitz’s brilliant and complex protagonist next.

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The Shadow Casket by Chris Wooding – 16 February 2023

The Shadow Casket Cover

After years of waiting, we are finally going to get a sequel to Chris Wooding’s outstanding fantasy epic, The Ember BladeThe Ember Blade was a particularly impressive fantasy novel that saw a group of desperate freedom fighters steal a legendary blade to inspire their country into rebellion.  The Ember Blade was something very special, and I have been eagerly waiting for the sequel, The Shadow Casket, which is set to feature even more blood, rebellion and heroics.  This is definitely going to be one of the top fantasy books of 2023 and I cannot wait to dive into its elaborate and addictive narrative.

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Dead of Night by Simon Scarrow – 16 February 2023

Dead of Night Cover

Few historical mystery books have more potential than the upcoming Dead of Night by Simon Scarrow.  The sequel to Scarrow’s excellent novel Blackout, Dead of Night will return to wartime Berlin and follow a police detective’s attempt to solve a terrible murder while going up against the corrupt Nazi Government.  I am very excited to see how this amazing mystery unfolds, and I know I am going to have a wonderful time reading this book.

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Burner by Mark Greaney – 21 February 2023

Burner Cover

Mark Greaney returns with another amazing entry in his bestselling Gray Man spy thriller series, which has already featured outstanding reads like The Gray Man, Mission Critical, One Minute Out, Relentless and Sierra Six.  The new book, Burner, will see impressive protagonist Court Gentry, go up against both the CIA and the Russian mafia to try and save a man’s life.  However, he will also have to compete with his love interest, as they try to work out why so many people want their target dead.  I have no doubt that this is going to be another epic novel from Greaney and I look forward to see the next chapter of the incredible Gray Man series unfold.

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Usagi Yojimbo: Volume 38: The Green Dragon by Stan Sakai – 21 February 2023

Usagi Yojimbo - The Green Dragon Cover

The final upcoming book I need to highlight is the next volume in the awesome Usagi Yojimbo series by Stan Sakai, The Green DragonUsagi Yojimbo still remains one of my favourite comic series of all time, and I am always extremely eager to get my hands on a new volume as soon as it becomes available.  This next volume will see Usagi and his companions go up against ghosts, ninjas and other dangerous foes, as they continue to journey around their chaotic version of Feudal Japan.  I already know that I am going to love this comic when it comes out, and I am very, very excited to get my hands on it.

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Well, that is the end of my Top Ten list.  I think it turned out pretty well and it does a good job of capturing all my most anticipated books for the next three months.  Each of the above should be extremely epic, and I cannot wait to read each of them soon.  Let me know which of the above you are most excited for and stay tuned for reviews of them in the next few months.  In the meantime, it looks like I have quite a few books to get through soon and they should all be pretty awesome.

Book Haul – 13 November 2022

I have been having an absolutely fantastic weeks for book, as I have been lucky enough to receive several incredible and amazing new novels from some of my local publishers.  These novels include some truly awesome new releases, some of which rank amongst my top books of 2022.  I am extremely keen to check out all of the books below and they should make for some amazing reads.

Star Wars: The High Republic: Convergence by Zoraida Cordova

Star Wars - Convergence Cover

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

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Friends Like These by Jennifer Lynn Alvarez

Friends Like These Cover 2

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

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The Prisoner by B. A. Paris

The Prisoner by B. A. Paris Cover

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

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The Warrior by Stephen Aryan

The Warrior Cover

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

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Dead Man’s Hand by James J. Butcher

Dead Man's Hand Cover

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

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The Perfect Assassin by James Patterson and Brian Sitts

The Perfect Assassin Cover

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

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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.

Star Wars: The High Republic: Path of Deceit by Tessa Gratton and Justina Ireland

Star Wars - Path of Deceit Cover

Publisher: Disney Lucasfilm Press (Audiobook – 4 October 2022)

Series: Star Wars: The High Republic – Phase Two

Length: 8 hours and 10 minutes

My Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

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The second phase of The High Republic begins with an absolute banger as the team of Tessa Gratton and Justina Ireland introduce Star Wars fans to a bold new young adult novel that ends up being epic in all the right ways with Path of Deceit.

For the last two years, Star Wars extended fiction has been firmly focused on the compelling multimedia project, The High Republic.  Set centuries before the prequel films, The High Republic takes readers to a whole new period of Star Wars history, where the Republic and the Jedi were at the absolute height of their power and influence.  However, not everything is perfect, and the Jedi characters are soon forced into conflict with dangerous forces bent on destroying them.  The first phase of The High Republic introduced readers to this new time period extremely well, while also setting up several fascinating characters, as well as the villainous Nihil, a group of space marauders who seek to destroy the order that the Republic represents.  I quickly fell in love with this cool new Star Wars subseries, and I enjoyed the massive range of different media present in this first phase, including comics, manga, children’s books, audio productions and a ton of novels.  The main story of this series is expertly told across the three main adult books, Light of the Jedi, The Rising Storm, and The Fallen Star, while other compelling, and often vital, stories take place in young adult books like Into the Dark, Out of the Shadows and Midnight Horizon, the associated comic series, as well as the audio production Tempest Runner.  This entire first phase came together extremely well, and I was really impressed with the range of stories they told, as well as the excellent new characters and elaborate new universe expansions that occurred.

After completing the first phase earlier this year, the various writers associated with The High Republic project, have just embarked on their ambitious second phase of High Republic fiction.  The second phase goes back even further into Star Wars history by being set 150 years before the events of the previous High Republic books.  The idea is that the second phase will act as a prequel to the first, showing how the Nihil were formed and the reasons behind their leader’s hatred for the Jedi.  These details will no doubt become extremely important for the third phase, while also helping the reader understand why the events of the first phase unfolded.  The first book in this second phase is Path of Deceit, written by the team of Star Wars fiction newcomer Tessa Gratton and established Star Wars writer Justina Ireland, who made a name for herself in the first phase with her young adult and middle school books.  Both authors really throw their heart into Path of Deceit, and the result in a fantastic and captivating read that presents Star Wars fans with something very epic indeed.

It is a time of exploration and discovery in the galaxy as the Republic enters an age of expansion.  Under the guidance of the Jedi, teams have been sent into the furthest corners of the Outer Rim, seeking out new planets, civilisations, and people to add to the delicate tapestry of life, diplomacy and trade that forms the basis for the Republic.  However, not all the discoveries being made are good, and many dangers lurk out in the far reaches of space.

Of these dangers, the most benign appear to be a small Force cult on the remote planet of Dalna.  Known as the Path of the Open Hand, this group believe that the Force should be free, and that no one should have the power to use and abuse it, including the Jedi.  Led by the charismatic Mother, the Path of the Open Hand is small, but features a fervent congregation of believers, including a hopeful young woman, Marda Ro.

Marda Ro always dreams of leaving Dalna to preach the message of the Path throughout the galaxy.  However, protected by her free-spirited cousin Yana Ro and held back by the Mother, Marda appears destined to remain always on Dalna.  That is until two Jedi, Jedi Knight Zallah Macri and her Padawan Kevmo Zink, arrive on Dalna, investigating the theft of several Force artifacts from surrounding systems.  Believing that the thefts are related to the Path, the two Jedi begin to investigate the group, and Marda and the young Kevmo soon form a tight bond as their connection grows.  However, not everything is as it seems on Dalna, and soon the Mother reveals a dark secret that will reverberate throughout the galaxy for centuries to come.

I have to admit that even before I started reading Path of Deceit, I kind of had some doubts about whether I was going to really enjoy it.  Not only was I surprised that this second phase of the High Republic was starting out with a young adult book, rather than the upcoming adult novel, Convergence, but I was also apprehensive about the reverse time skip between phases.  Setting this second phase 150 years before the events of the first phase was a bold choice, especially considering that The High Republic is a prequel series in itself.  However, if Path of Deceit is any indication of what is to come, then the entire second phase of The High Republic is going to be pretty damn impressive and fit into the wider High Republic extremely well.  The team of Gratton and Ireland did a remarkable job here, producing a slick, slow-burn Star Wars story that introduces many key elements of this new timeline while also giving some fantastic hints of what is to come.  I had an absolute blast getting through this book, and it is has definitely gotten me excited for the next round of High Republic fiction.

I was deeply, deeply impressed with the captivating story that the authors came up with for Path of Deceit.  Due to its position in this new High Republic phase, Gratton and Ireland had to achieve quite a lot during the narrative, not only introducing key characters and settings, but also tying them into the wider High Republic history.  However, I think they achieved this goal extremely well, and the subsequent story is very intriguing and intense.  I do need to warn people that the Path of Deceit does start of fairly slow and takes a long while for all its excellent storylines to pay off.

The book is primarily set on the planet of Dalna and follows three young central characters as they find themselves caught up in the actions of the mysterious Path of the Open Hand.  These central characters include Marda Ro, a devout member of the Path, her cousin Yana Ro, who leads the Path’s covert unit that steal Force artifacts, and Kevmo Zink, who arrives on the planet to investigate the Path and the recent thefts.  The first half of the book sees the various characters gradually get to know each other, while Marda and Kevmo grow closer, despite their different viewpoints of the Force.  As the story continues, you start to see some cracks in the serene appearance of the Path, with Yana growing more and more determined to leave as she begins to see the Mother for what she really is.  However, even with a few action scenes and a great flood sequence, the story is still moving at a gradual pace, with the authors laying down some subtle hints of what is to come.  All that changes in the last quarter of the novel, as everything comes together in a big and shocking way.  While the narrative appears to be heading in one certain direction, the authors suddenly unleash a pretty major twist that really surprised me.  This twist was extremely brilliant, not only because of how well set up it was but because its execution was very sudden and a major gamechanger.  The entire tone of the novel changes after that, with the characters taking on new roles, and you see just how well-connected Path of Deceit is to the books of Phase One.  This twist honestly makes you really appreciate the slow and careful pace of the rest of the book, and you realise just how cleverly they were setting everything up.  The entirety of Path of Deceit ends on an excellent and powerful note, and the reader is left eagerly looking forward to seeing how the rest of this second phase comes together.

The team of Gratton and Ireland set out this story in a very awesome way, and I felt that everything came together extremely well to enhance the fantastic narrative.  The split between the three main perspectives helped to produce a balanced and multifaceted narrative, and I liked seeing the distinctive alternate viewpoints of the cool events occurring.  While the pacing was initially a bit slow and there was a little less action than your typical Star Wars novel, Path of Deceit makes up for it by focusing more on the characters, setting up the new version of the universe, and featuring a great young adult story that will really appeal to the teenage audience.  The way that the characters interact and focus on their attractions is very typical of most young adult books, but I felt that it didn’t get too over-the-top.  Instead, it is just enough to help bring the younger reader in, while also still being intense and compelling enough to keep older readers still attached and entertained.  I personally deeply enjoyed how the story was presented, especially once the pace increased towards the end, and this entire novel was an absolute joy to read.

As I mentioned before, quite a lot of importance is attached to whether Path of Deceit did a good job featuring the relevant Star Wars and High Republic elements.  I say that Gratton and Ireland strongly succeeded, as they not only provided a great viewpoint of this new period of Star Wars fiction but they also provided some captivating and clever links to the first phase.  While most of the focus of Path of Deceit is primarily on one planet, so you don’t get the full galaxy view, I did like the initial glimpse of this universe.  There is a real Western frontier vibe to the entire setting, with explorers, settlers, pilgrims, and people looking for a fresh start interacting with new elements from the Outer Rim.  There are also some hints about how this version of the Republic and the Jedi are set up, and there is a very good mixture of elements that I think are going to come together very well in the future.  I also really enjoyed the mysterious and captivating Path of the Open Hand, who were introduced as an alternative Force cult who are completely opposed to the actions of the Jedi.  Their curious viewpoint of the Force, and their methods for preserving it, make for quite a fascinating group and I deeply enjoyed how they developed.  As for connections to the first High Republic phase, well let us say that Path of Deceit is a very key novel regarding this, as several key characters with connections to the future are brilliantly set up here.  So many key elements or organisations from the first phase are introduced in a completely different form here, and you will be surprised at the origins of some of the best bits from the established High Republic books.  I loved some of the impressive set up that Gratton and Ireland featured in Path of Deceit, and this young adult novel is a very key part of this phase of the High Republic, with story elements from it set to reverb through certain upcoming books all the way to the future in the third phase.

Now, one of the main questions I am sure many people are wondering is how much knowledge of the High Republic and wider Star Wars universe people need to enjoy Path of Deceit.  Naturally, as the introductory book in the second phase of an established Star Wars sub-series, people who have read the previous High Republic books are going to have a better time with Path of Deceit that readers who have not.  Not only do you have a better idea of what the earlier Star Wars period are going to look like, but you also will appreciate some of the revelations that appear in this book and have a better ability to make connections between this phase and the previous one.  As such I would strongly recommend checking out all the key previous High Republic content first (the three adult books at the very least), as you a really going to have a better time with Path of Deceit that way, especially as the big twist towards the end makes a lot more sense if you do.  However, this isn’t the absolute worst book to start the High Republic with, and maybe reading the prequel second phase first is a better way of enjoying these books.  Either way, Gratton and Ireland do a good job of making this book pretty accessible to new readers, and I think that anyone with a decent knowledge of Star Wars fiction will probably be able to enjoy and appreciate this book.

Path of Deceit contains a great group of central characters that the authors do an excellent job of introducing.  This includes three intriguing teenage protagonists who have a complex and fascinating narratives that see them engage with this new world in very different ways.  Marda Ro is the devoted adherent to the Path of the Open Hand, who believes in their mission and their leader with all her heart.  Marda has a deeply compelling and well-laid-out story arc in Path of Deceit that eventually sees her question her believes and connections to the Path once she meets Jedi Padawan Kevmo Zink.  Already feeling disconnected from the galaxy and people due to her species, which is renowned and reviled for unknown reasons, Marda was a real emotional tinderbox in this book, and her relationship with Kevmo only complicates this further.  However, the events of the book change her in a way no-one could really predict, even with the hints her name contain, and her metamorphosis from sweet character to something else is very clever and quite impactful.  I have a feeling that she is going to have one of the best character arcs in the entire second phase, and I look forward to seeing how her narrative completely unfolds.

I also like the storylines surrounding the main Jedi character, Padawan Kevmo Zink, and Marda’s cousin Yana Ro, both of whom have their own distinctive arcs that I was quite intrigued by.  Kevmo Zink is a great young Jedi character who is drawn by his own romantic urges and desire for connections as much by the Force.  Kevmo serves as a great newcomer character to Dalna and the Path of the Open Hand and provides a great alternate perspective to Marda’s strict commitment to their ways.  He also serves as an intriguing love interest to Marda, and the classic Star Wars relationship between a conflicted Jedi and a forbidden girl made for some great reading, without being too silly or over-the-top.  I had a lot of fun with Kevmo, and I liked his infectious humour and his extremely positive view of the universe.  His storyline also goes in some very surprising directions, and this ended up being a very intriguing character to follow.  Yana Ro on the other hand is a more wild and exciting addition to the cast, who acts extremely differently to her cousin Marda.  A less indoctrinated member of the Path, Yana knows that there is something rotten at their heart, and seeks a way out, mainly by stealing Force artifacts for the Mother.  Her journey is very emotionally rich, and a little bit tragic, and I had a wonderful time seeing her storyline come to fruition, especially as it puts her in a very exciting position for future entries in the series.  Yana’s realistic viewpoint of the Path, as well as her own species’ inclinations and reputation, stands in great contrast of that of Marda, and her more grounded and aggressive mindset also makes her stand out compared to Kevmo.  As such, there is a good balance of personalities in Path of Deceit amongst the point of view protagonists, and this helps to produce a fantastic and compelling read.

There are also several great side characters who add their own spice to the story.  The most prominent of these is Kevmo’s Jedi master, Zallah Macri, an extremely serious Jedi Knight who serves as Kevmo’s mentor and guide.  Zallah is a suitable cautionary figure throughout the book, trying to keep Kevmo focused on the Force and their investigation, despite his obsession with Marda.  The other side character I really want to focus on is the Mother, the Path of the Open Hand’s mysterious leader who has managed to take over the cult through to her apparent strong connection to the Force.  The Mother serves as a rather compelling antagonist throughout the book, especially as you spend most of the time wondering if she is really Force sensitive, or whether she is running a long con on her followers.  An aloof and secretive antagonist, it soon becomes very clear that the Mother has her own objectives and plans that run contrary to that of her followers, and the full extent of them proves to be very exciting and destructive.  I felt that the Mother was an excellent alternative character for Path of Deceit, especially as her plans have some major long-term impacts on the point-of-view characters, and she has some dark secrets that need to be explored further.  These, and other characters, really add to the overall strength on the novel and I deeply enjoyed the way that Gratton and Ireland introduced them and took them through a fascinating emotional ride.

As with most Star Wars novels, I chose to check out Path of Deceit’s audiobook format, which was a pleasurable and fun experience as always.  At just over eight hours, this was a relatively quick audiobook, and I managed to knock it out pretty quickly.  This format did an excellent job of presenting Path of Deceit’s compelling narrative, and I had fun having this book read out to me.  However, the real joy of a Star Wars audiobook always lies in the excellent extra production elements that have been added in.  The classic Star Wars sound effects are used very well throughout Path of Deceit’s audiobook, and hearing blasters, lightsabers and even the sounds of people in the crowds, helps to drag listeners into the story and its surrounding universe.  However, I am always more impressed with the fantastic use of the iconic Star Wars musical score that is threaded through multiple scenes in the audiobook.  Path of Deceit has a pretty cool selection of scores playing throughout it, and I liked how the music often reflected the more rural setting and the mystical elements it was exploring.  The various bits of music work extremely well at enhancing key scenes throughout the book, and there were several times when the careful application of these tunes enhanced the emotional impact of the entire book.

On top of the cool sound effects and powerful musical inclusions, much of my enjoyment of Path of Deceit’s audiobook lies in the excellent narrator who was telling the story.  Path of Deceit is narrated by actress Erin Yvette, who has done a lot of voice work recently in the video game space.  While Yvette hasn’t provided narration for too many Star Wars books yet, she did a great job here in Path of Deceit, and I loved how she read out the book.  Yvette’s voice fits the young adult tone of this Star Wars novel extremely well, and she ensures that the compelling tale is effectively shared out to the listener.  In addition, she also provides a range of excellent voices to the various characters featured throughout the book.  Each of her voices really fits the respective character, and you get a real sense of their nature, their bearing, and their emotional state as you hear Yvette narrate them.  Not only does she capture the youthful nature of characters like Kevmo Zink and Marda Ro well, but she also gets the proper Jedi character Zallah Macri, the more self-serving voice of Yana Ro, and the mystical, manipulative voice of the Mother, down perfectly.  This voice work is pretty damn impressive, and when combined with audiobook’s sound effects and outstanding Star Wars music, it helps to turn the Path of Deceit audiobook into an outstanding experience.  This was such an awesome way to enjoy this latest High Republic novel, and audiobook remains my absolute favourite way to enjoy a Star Wars tie-in book.

I am feeling a heck of a lot better about the second phase of the High Republic after powering through Path of Deceit.  The wonderful team of Tessa Gratton and Justina Ireland produced an outstanding young adult Star Wars novel that did a lot of remarkable things.  Featuring a well-crafted story that slowly but surely hooks you and some fantastic characters, Path of Deceit charts its own course while also brilliant tying into the High Republic novels that have come before.  I can’t wait to see where this phase goes following this impressive story in Path of Deceit and I am planning to read the next High Republic book as soon as I can.

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WWW Wednesday – 9 November 2022

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

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

So, let’s get to it.

What are you currently reading?

The Orphans by Fiona McIntosh (Trade Paperback)

The Orphans Cover

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Dragon Mage by M. L. Spencer (Audiobook)

Dragon Mage Cover

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What did you recently finish reading?

The Boys from Biloxi by John Grisham (Trade Paperback)

The Boys from Biloxi Cover

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Star Wars: The High Republic: Path of Deceit by Tessa Gratton and Justina Ireland

Star Wars - Path of Deceit Cover

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Call of Empire by Peter Watt (Trade Paperback)

Call of Empire Cover

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What do you think you’ll read next?

Firefly: What Makes Us Mighty by M. K. England

Firefly - What Makes Us Mighty Cover

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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.

Star Wars: The Princess and the Scoundrel by Beth Revis

Star Wars - The Princess and the Scoundrel Cover

Publisher: Del Rey (Trade Paperback – 16 August 2022)

Series: Star Wars

Length: 348 pages

My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

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Outstanding author Beth Revis presents an intriguing and enjoyable new entry in the extended Star Wars canon, with the fantastic tie-in novel, The Princess and the Scoundrel.

2022 has been a rather interesting year for Star Wars fiction.  While the focus has primarily been on the High Republic sub-series, several great authors have produced some awesome reads set around the various film trilogies (such as Star Wars: Brotherhood by Mike Chen).  However, one of the most exciting recent Star Wars tie-in novels is a character-driven read that focuses on the relationship between Han Solo and Princess Leia, The Princess and the Scoundrel, which was written by exciting author Beth Revis.  Revis, who already has some experience with the Star Wars canon, having written the 2017 novel, Rebel Rising, came up with an awesome story in The Princess and the Scoundrel that I had a wonderful time reading.  Not only does The Princess and the Scoundrel explore an interesting period of the complex and inspiring Star Wars canon, but it also contained a fantastic romantic heart that will appeal to a wider range of readers.

Goodreads Synopsis:

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

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

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

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

I had a fantastic time getting through The Princess and the Scoundrel as Beth Revis wrote a pretty awesome and captivating Star Wars novel that covered a lot of bases.  Split between the alternating perspectives of Han and Leia, The Princess and the Scoundrel takes off right after Return of the Jedi.  While the victorious Rebellion plans their next moves, Han and Leia decide to make the most of their sudden freedom to get married after their traumatic year apart.  While both are still reeling from the events of the original trilogy, they come together in a fun wedding scene, before leaving on a glamorous trip that will be part honeymoon part propaganda show.  While initially trying to enjoy their honeymoon, both quickly fall into their old patterns, with Han chafing at the formality, while Leia continues to try and do her work as an ambassador and planner.  Arriving at an isolated ice planet, Han and Leia soon discover a destructive Imperial plot and must come together as a couple to thwart it.  This ended up being a really distinctive read, as Revis worked a more romantic plotline into the always entertaining Star Wars canon.  I loved seeing this fantastic tale of Han and Leia’s first adventure as husband and wife, and Revis ensured readers got an excellent blend of action, intrigue, and character development, as you witnessed these two amazing protagonists try to come together as a married couple.  There is a little something for everyone in this great read, and I found myself getting caught up in the action and the impressive focus on two of my favourite fictional characters.  An overall brilliant book that is really easy to enjoy and appreciate.

The Princess and the Scoundrel proved to be a very interesting addition to the current Star Wars canon.  While the romance between Han and Leia was strongly explored in the previous Legends canon, the current Disney canon has not featured it as much, and as such you see some fascinating events from their lives here for the first time.  Revis paints quite a fun picture of the sudden wedding these two have, which features entertaining interruptions from several key characters, some tricky manoeuvrings from Lando to get Han into a nice outfit, and, of course, a ton of Ewoks, while the honeymoon is as chaotic as you would expect from these two.  As such, this is a pretty key book for all fans of these two iconic characters, and I think that Revis hit an excellent tone when it came to some of these key events.  The author also fits in a lot of fantastic references and moments that a lot of Star Wars fans will appreciate, most of which are covered in a very fun way.  For example, the characters finally address that infamous kiss between Luke and Leia at the start of The Empire Strikes Back, with Han and Luke having a rather awkward conversation about it, before agreeing never to bring it up again.  Revis also makes quite good use of an interesting Han Solo villain from one of the previous canon books, and it was great to see some continuation from the previous intriguing storyline.  That, and several other amusing references, help to make this quite a key book for Star Wars fans, and I had a wonderful, nerdy time getting through it.

Aside from the direct references to the book, I was personally intrigued to see more about the period of Star Wars history that occurred in the immediate aftermath of the Death Star’s destruction in Return of the Jedi.  Despite the death of the Emperor, the war between the Empire and the Rebellion (now renamed as the New Republic), is still ongoing, and indeed some of the toughest fighting is still to come.  Several authors have covered this frenetic period in the current canon with some recent books, such as the Alphabet Squadron trilogy by Alexander Freed (made up of Alphabet Squadron, Shadow Fall and Victory’s Price).  However, I particularly enjoyed how The Princess and the Scoundrel covered this period, as it shows events literally hours after the end of the film.  Quite a bit is shown of the Rebellion’s initial strategies following the battle of Endor, as well as the Empire’s reactions to the death of the Emperor and the sudden shift in power.  While some of the wider campaigns aren’t shown, you get an interesting idea of what the military and political situation was at the time, which I deeply enjoyed.  Revis also spends time examining how members of the general public reacted to the news, and there is an interesting variation of responses.  Not only did some people straight out disbelieve that the events even occurred, with many assuming it was fake propaganda from the Rebellion, others who were associated with the Empire, or who had members of their family aboard the Death Star, acted quite hostile to the change in the established status quo.  These diverse reactions not only reflected some current real-world societal issues, but also provided a compelling insight into just how much influence the Empire had, even on the way to its downfall.  Throw in some hints and previews of the upcoming Operation Cinder, and this proved to be a very interesting addition the Star Wars canon that many established fans will really enjoy.

One of the strongest elements of The Princess and the Scoundrel is its impressive focus on the two main characters, Han Solo and Princess Leia.  While this book does contain a lot of action, intrigue and fantastic Star Wars elements, at its heart it is a romance novel between two well-established and complex characters, both of whom have experienced a lot of trauma and anguish in recent years.  Revis does a remarkable job of diving into both characters throughout the course of The Princess and the Scoundrel, and you really get a sense of their feelings, concerns and traumas following their victory.  However, there is also a great focus on their relationship, and you can really see the strong bond they have, even if they are still coming to terms with their feelings and their wildly different personalities.  I felt that Revis painted a realistic view of their relationship, which contains some difficulties early on, especially with their independent streaks.  However, the author also shows that the two characters are much stronger together, and they can work through any issues that come their way.  I think that this much better than just showing them having a fairy tale relationship, and I really appreciated the authors compelling take on one of the most iconic relationships in fiction.

Aside from their relationship, Revis also did a great job of diving into the complex emotional issues facing both central characters.  For example, Revis makes sure to explore the trauma surrounding Han after being trapped in carbonite for over a year.  Not only did he miss out on a lot of key events in his friends’ lives, but at this point of the book he has only been awake again for a few days, and some of his decisions are based on his concerns and fears about being trapped again.  Leia is also going through a lot after the discovery that Luke is her brother and, more importantly, that Darth Vader was her father.  As such, Leia spends much of the book attempting to reconcile the fact that her real father was a genocidal maniac who tortured her and is partially responsible for destroying her home planet.  This proves to be quite a deep and intriguing part of her character arc, especially since, unlike her newly discovered brother, she is unable to forgive Vader for everything he did.  There is also an interesting look at Leia’s early attempts to connect with the Force, after Luke reveals her Jedi potential.  Watching her attempts at using the Force is very fascinating, especially as she battles with her feelings about Vader while doing so and is reluctant to even try to use the abilities that he could do.  All these unique character examinations, and more, really help to showcase just how complex and traumatised Han and Leia were at this period, and how much their relationship helped them get past it.

Star Wars: The Princess and the Scoundrel by Beth Revis is an amazing read that provides Star Wars fans with something a little different to the typical tie-in novel.  Featuring a continuation of one of film’s most iconic romances, The Princess and the Scoundrels is at times touching and romantic, while also exploring the grim realities of the war-torn galaxy, all topped off with some classic Star Wars action and humour.  With an outstanding focus and understanding of its two main characters, The Princess and the Scoundrel was a fantastic novel that is well worth checking out.

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WWW Wednesday – 2 November 2022

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

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

So, let’s get to it.

What are you currently reading?

The Boys from Biloxi by John Grisham (Trade Paperback)

The Boys from Biloxi Cover

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Star Wars: The High Republic: Path of Deceit by Tessa Gratton and Justina Ireland

Star Wars - Path of Deceit Cover

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What did you recently finish reading?

Seventeen by John Brownlow (Trade Paperback)

Seventeen Cover

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Warhammer 40,000: The Wraithbone Phoenix by Alec Worley (Audiobook)

The Wraithbone Phoenix Cover

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Desert Star by Michael Connelly

Desert Star Cover

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What do you think you’ll read next?

Firefly: What Makes Us Mighty by M. K. England

Firefly - What Makes Us Mighty Cover

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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 – 30 October 2022

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

Desert Star by Michael Connelly

Desert Star Cover

The first book I have recently received is the latest fantastic crime fiction novel from the legendary Michael Connelly, Desert Star.  This new Connelly book brings back two of the author’s best protagonists, Renee Ballard and Harry Bosch, for another intense investigation, this time focusing on cold case that has haunted Bosch for years.  These two characters have had some amazing team-ups in books like Dark Sacred Night, The Night Fire and The Dark Hours, and I am excited to see how this next investigation turns out.  Based on my experience with Connelly, Desert Star easily has the potential to be one of the best crime fiction books of 2022 and I will pretty much be reading it the moment I finish putting up this book haul post.

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The Boys from Biloxi by John Grisham

The Boys from Biloxi Cover

From one crime fiction legend to another, the next book I have recently received is the new John Grisham novel, The Boys from Biloxi.  I haven’t had as much experience with Grisham’s novels as I would have liked, but I did really enjoy his last two books, The Judge’s List and Sparring Partners.  As such, I am very intrigued by this new release, which will apparently focus on a long-running feud between two families, which will force two friends to face each other in the courtroom.  Sure to contain an intense and deeply captivating narrative, I love the sound of The Boys from Biloxi and I think it has a great deal of potential.

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The Bookseller of Inverness by S. G. MacLean

The Bookseller of Inverness Cover

After finishing off her Damian Seeker series, one of the most impressive authors of historical crime fiction, S. G. MacLean returns with an exciting new novel, The Bookseller of Inverness.  This book will follow a fugitive Scottish rebel turned simple bookseller who finds themselves amid murders and conspiracies after their identity is discovered.  I love the idea of a conflicted former rebel forced to investigate a murder in the middle of Inverness while secrets from his past are revealed, and I cannot wait to see how this novel unfolds.  I deeply enjoyed MacLean’s previous series, including Destroying Angel and The Bear Pit, and I am glad I managed to get a copy of her latest book.

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The Tilt by Chris Hammer

The Tilt Cover

I have been meaning to read some of Chris Hammer’s books for a while now.  One of the leading authors of Australian crime fiction, Hammer has always been an author I’ve meant to read, but never had the time.  2022 might be the year that finally changes as I just got a copy of his latest book, The Tilt.  This new book will see a detective return to the small town she grew up in, to investigate a cold case.  However, the case becomes far more personal for her, especially when it appears that her family might be involved in the killing.  I have been having a wonderful time with Australian fiction this year and I am very hopeful that The Tilt will continue that trend.

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The Girl From Guernica by Karen Robards

The Girl from Guernica Cover

I was very intrigued when I received a copy of the awesome sounding historical drama, The Girl from Guernica by Karen Robards. Set during World War II, The Girl from Guernica will follow a vengeful Spanish girl who joins the resistance against the Nazis after her mother is killed and embarks on a deadly game to get revenge.  I love the cool plot synopsis associated with this book and I have no doubt I will have an amazing time reading it.

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Firefly: What Makes Us Mighty by M. K. England

Firefly - What Makes Us Mighty Cover

There has been some truly amazing tie-in novels and comics associated with the iconic Firefly television series in recent years, and I have been lucky enough to read them all so far.  The latest offering for us Firefly fans is the new tie-in novel, What Makes Us Mighty by M. K. England, which sees the crew of Serenity forced into another deadly situation when a job goes south.  I always have a lot of fun when reading Firefly books and I look forward to seeing this new author’s take on the excellent characters from the show.

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Star Wars: Crimson Reign by Charles Soule and Steven Cummings

Star Wars - Crimson Reign Cover

I have also splashed out recently for some cool new comics, including several great Star Wars comics.  This includes the second entry in the Crimson Dawn series of comics, Crimson Reign, written by one of the leading architects Star Wars fiction at the moment, Charles Soule. Crimson Reign follows the recently renewed Crimson Dawn crime syndicate, who are determined to make their mark on the galaxy by taking down Emperor Palpatine and Darth Vader. To that end, their leader, Lady Qi’ra, puts in place a series of plans to give her everything she needs to fight the Sith.  I have already read this intriguing comic and I liked how it continued some of the excellent storylines started in War of the Bounty Hunters. I look forward to seeing how this entire saga comes together in the future, but for now, Crimson Reign is a must-read for all fans of the current Star Wars comics.

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Star Wars: Volume Four: Crimson Reign by Charles Soule

Star Wars - Volume Four - Crimson Reign Cover

I also grabbed the fourth volume of the current Star Wars comic series, also by Charles Soule.  The tie-in to the Crimson Reign comic I mentioned above, this new Star Wars volume continues several of the storylines from the previous series, while also exploring the fallout of War of the Bounty Hunters.  This latest volume is pretty damn epic, and I love the mixture of storylines, including Luke’s continued attempt to reconnect with the Force after finding out that Darth Vader is his father, while Leia has a final confrontation with a deadly new enemy who bears a massive grudge against her. One of the strongest Star Wars comic series out there at the moment, this is a great new volume I deeply enjoyed.

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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Last Ronin by Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles - The Last Ronin Cover

The final book I recently got was the highly anticipated Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comic, The Last Ronin. Written by an all-star team, including the legendary Kevin Eastman, The Last Ronin envisions a future where the Turtles have been defeated and brutally killed off.  Only one of them remains alive and he has returned to a dystopian New York to get revenge on the man responsible for his family’s death.  A taught and powerful comic about revenge and regret, The Last Ronin was an epic read that lived up to all the hype surrounding it.  An absolute must read for all fans of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, I am really glad that I finally have a copy of this cool comic.

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Well, that’s the end of this latest Book Haul post.  As you can see I have quite a bit of reading to do at the moment thanks to all these awesome books that have come in.  Let me know which of the above you are most interested in and make sure to check back in a few weeks to see my reviews of them.

WWW Wednesday – 26 October 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?

Seventeen by John Brownlow (Trade Paperback)

Seventeen Cover

I have just started reading the awesome and very fun thriller novel, Seventeen by new author John Brownlow.  A fast-paced read, Seventeen follows the world’s most lethal assassin who finds himself caught in the crossfire between his deadly predecessor and younger assassins wanting to take his place.  I sped through the first 60 pages of Seventeen in one go and I am already pretty hooked by this cool read.  I will probably knock this off in the next day or so and I think I’ll have a very enjoyable time doing so.

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Warhammer 40,000: The Wraithbone Phoenix by Alec Worley (Audiobook)

The Wraithbone Phoenix Cover

I have been having an absolute blast with my latest exploration of Warhammer 40,000 tie-in fiction, with The Wraithbone Phoenix by Alec Worley.  Part of the Warhammer Crime subseries, The Wraithbone Phoenix follows two criminal abhumans, a ratling and an ogryn, as they attempt to steal their big score, the mysterious missing artefact known as The Wraithbone Phoenix.  However, after a series of misfortunes, every criminal, assassin and treasure hunter on the planet knows what they are after, forcing them to fight through a horde of outrageous assailants.  Naturally, I am having a ton of fun with this impressive Warhammer audiobook, and I look forward to finding out who gets the prize, and which of the many distinctive supporting characters is going to suffer a gruesome death.

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What did you recently finish reading?

Fairy Tale by Stephen King (Trade Paperback)

Fairy Tale Cover

I finally managed to finish off the massive new Stephen King novel, Fairy Tale, and it proved to be quite an awesome read.  While a bit long, Fairy Tale had a unique and compelling story that saw a teenage protagonist descend to a fairytale realm, which has been overtaken by dark forces.  A classic adventure story with a compelling setting and Stephen King’s distinctive voice, Fairy Tale was an excellent read and I am glad I spent the time getting through it.

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In the Shadow of Lightning by Brian McClellan (Audiobook)

In the Shadow of Lightning Cover

I managed to knock off In the Shadow of Lightning a few days ago and boy did Brian McClellan outdo himself with this first book in an awesome new series.  Set in an inventive new fantasy world where all magic is associated with glass, In the Shadow of Lightning provides the reader with a complex and intriguing tale, rich with politics, espionage, action, betrayal and more.  I had such an outstanding time listening to this captivating book and this is easily one of my favourite fantasy books of 2022. Review to follow soon.

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Warhammer 40,000: Dredge Runners by Alec Worley (Audiobook)

Dredge Runners

I was in the mood for something short and sweet at the start of the week, so I quickly checked out the short Warhammer 40,000 audio drama, Dredge Runners.  The audio drama that introduces the protagonists of The Wraithbone Phoenix (which I am currently reading), Dredge Runners was an extremely clever and highly entertaining short that set the two rogues against criminals and corrupt law enforcement in a well-written and brilliantly paced read. Featuring an amazing voice cast, Dredge Runners was an exceptional audio drama that comes highly recommended.

Amazon

What do you think you’ll read next?

Desert Star by Michael Connelly

Desert Star Cover

I have got several awesome books to read at the moment, but I think I’ll dive into the new Michael Connelly crime fiction read, Desert Star, next. Once again bringing together two of Connelly’s impressive protagonists, Renee Ballard and Harry Bosch, Desert Star sees them dive into several intriguing cold cases, including a murder investigation Bosch has been obsessed about for years. I love Connelly’s amazing crime fiction books and this one has a lot of potential to be a great read.  I look forward to checking out in the next few days and I have very high hopes that Desert Star will end up being one of the better crime fiction novels of 2022.

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Star Wars: The High Republic: Path of Deceit by Tessa Gratton and Justina Ireland

Star Wars - Path of Deceit Cover

My plan after finishing The Wraithbone Phoenix is to start listening to the Path of Deceit audiobook, written by the intriguing team of Tessa Gratton and Justina Ireland.  The first entry in the second phase of The High Republic sub-series of Star Wars fiction, Path of Deceit introduces the reader to yet another version of the High Republic, this time in a period of exploration and discovery.  I am quite intrigued to see what is happening at this point in the Star Wars universe and I can’t wait to find out what interesting story Gratton and Ireland have chosen to introduce it to us.

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That’s it for this week, check back in next Wednesday to see what progress I’ve made on my reading and what books I’ll be looking at next.

Top Ten Tuesday – My Favourite Horror Novels (Updated – 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.  In this latest edition of Top Ten Tuesday, readers get a Halloween Freebie, meaning that they can list whatever topic they want, although a horror or Halloween theme is encouraged.  So, with that in mind, I thought I would take this opportunity to update a previous list where I highlighted my favourite horror novels of all time.

Back in 2020 for Halloween, I came up with a list where I looked at my top ten favourite horror novels.  While horror is not my favourite genre, I ended up producing a rather interesting list with some unique entries that I was pretty happy with.  This list got a bit of interest, and I decided I would make a bit of effort to come back to update this list every Halloween, especially if I had some new horror novels to add to it.  I did an update last year with several awesome novels, and I have decided to come back to it again in 2022, especially as I have had the opportunity to check out some excellent and intense horror reads.

To sort out this update, I took a critical look at the previous version of the list and made some hard decisions about whether any of the horror novels I read in the last year might fit in better.  I ended up making a few changes, with new entries replacing some of the existing books (all new entries in red).  While I was sad to see some of the previously featured novels removed, I honestly felt that the new entries are better horror novels.  This resulted in a fun new version of this list, and I am pretty happy with how it turned out.

Honourable Mentions:

Later by Stephen King

Later Cover

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The Sandman by Neil Gaiman

Sandman Act 1 Cover

I had to include the audiobook version of Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman here, as it has some great horror elements to it.  While more of a fantasy/comic story than a pure horror comic, The Sandman did have some amazing horror sequences in it, which are really enhanced in the full-cast audiobook.  The Sandman features several great horror scenes, but the most disturbing would have to be the infamous diner scene.  Contained within the sixth chapter/issues, 24 Hours, this epic extended sequence shows a group of customers in a diner slowly driven insane and then brutally killed by the villainous Doctor Destiny using Dream’s stolen ruby.  This entire chapter is masterfully portrayed and you cannot help but shudder at every atrocity the innocent patrons experience during the worst 24 hours of their lives.  This trippy diner sequence was recently adapted in the recent The Sandman television series, and while that was good, especially with David Thewlis playing Doctor Destiny, I felt that the version in the comics was even darker and creepier.  This, and a several other dark scenes, ensure The Sandman an honourable mention on this list and this comic and its audiobook adaptation are highly recommended for all horror fans.

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A People’s History of the Vampire Uprising by Raymond A. Villareal

A History of the Vampire Uprising Cover

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Death of the Black Widow by James Patterson and J. D. Barker

Death of the Black Widow Cover

Another entry that is not a full horror book, but which features amazing horror elements is the recent novel by James Patterson and J. D. Barker, Death of the Black Widow.  Following a young cop who becomes obsessed with a mysterious woman he encounters on his first day on the job, Death of Black Widow is a twisty and intriguing read that takes the protagonist on a dangerous journey to the edge of sanity.  Initially portrayed as a compelling thriller story, this book eventually develops some excellent horror elements, which led me to include it as an honourable mention.  Extremely addictive, I loved this thriller/horror blend and I look forward to reading more books from this excellent team of writers.

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Top Ten List (unranked):

Into the Drowning Deep by Mira Grant

Into the Drowning Deep Cover

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Patient Zero by Jonathan Maberry

Patient Zero Cover

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The Dark by Jeremy Robinson

The Dark Cover

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Warhammer 40,000: The Bookkeeper’s Skull by Justin D. Hill

The Bookkeeper's Skull Cover

One of the more recent horror books I had the pleasure of reading was The Bookkeeper’s Skull by Justin D. Hill.  Part of the intriguing Warhammer Horror subseries, The Bookkeeper’s Skull is a haunting and brilliant tale that makes full use of the grim Warhammer 40,000 setting.  The book follows a planetary enforcer as he investigates a mysterious and cursed agricultural community plagued by a series of gruesome murders.  Hill creates a spooky and malevolent atmosphere, and you are constantly left wondering who is going to end up dead next.  Tightly paced and featuring some brilliantly dark examinations of the Warhammer 40,000 universe, The Bookkeeper’s Skull was an amazing read and I look forward to exploring more Warhammer Horror books in the future.

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The Anomaly by Michael Rutger

The Anomaly Cover

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Code Zero by Jonathan Maberry

Code Zero Cover

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World War Z by Max Brooks

World War Z Cover 2

After years of hearing how awesome it was, I finally got around to enjoying the iconic zombie novel, World War Z by Max Brooks.  One of the more unique zombie books out there, World War Z recounts the history a devastating, world-wide zombie apocalypse and the various people it impacts.  Told through a brilliant chronicle method where multiple interesting characters recount their distinctive personal stories, you get an impressive, multifaceted narrative that covers the beginning, middle and end of the zombie wars.  Epic in its scope and filled with some great stories and characters, it honestly does not take long to get extremely addicted to World War Z.  While the focus is more on exploring the impacts a zombie apocalypse would have on the world, World War Z does have some pretty creepy moment.  The darker tales of underwater zombies, massacres of modern armies, and the mental turmoil suffered by zombie survivors, are excellent horror material that makes this an easy book to include here.  An epic and outstanding book that lived up to all the hype surrounding it.

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Star Wars: Death Troopers by Joe Schreiber

deathtrooperscover

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Devolution by Max Brooks

Devolution Cover

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Ink by Jonathan Maberry

Ink Cover

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That’s the end of this latest Top Ten Tuesday list.  I think that the new horror novels were great additions to the list, and I think this new version of the list turned out really well.  Each of the above novels, both new inclusions and existing ones, are outstanding reads that come highly recommended to all horror fans.  I look forward to seeing how this list evolves once again this time next year, especially as I am sure some amazing and spinetingling horror books are likely to come out in the next 12 months.