Top Ten Tuesday – Most Anticipated Books Releasing in the First Half of 2023 (Mystery, thrillers, comics and historical fiction)

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme that currently resides at The Artsy Reader Girl and features bloggers sharing lists on various book topics. For the first Top Ten Tuesday of 2023, I will be listing my most anticipated upcoming books for the first half of the year.  This is a regular post I do each year and I always look forward to highlighting the most awesome looking books for the start of the year. I am actually planning to do two versions of this list, one that will exclusively look at upcoming fantasy and science fiction books, and this one that will focus on upcoming books from other genres, including thrillers, crime fiction, historical fiction, comics and more.

Despite only just starting, 2023 is already shaping up to be an epic and exciting year for books with a huge range of impressive and highly anticipated novels due for release in the next 12 months.  This includes exciting debuts, anticipated sequels and the latest entries in beloved bestselling series.  The first half of the year is looking particularly awesome, with a substantial number of incredible upcoming releases that I am deeply looking forward to. 

Even though I excluded fantasy and science fiction books, this ended up being a rather difficult list to pull together due to all the awesome releases coming out in Australia between 1 January 2023 and 30 June 2023.  There were way too many extraordinary upcoming books that I could have included, and I ended up having to make some very tough calls and cutting several novels that have an immense amount of potential.  Despite this, I am rather happy with the eventual choices that I made, and I think that this list reflects the upcoming novels and comics I am going to have the most fun reading.  I have mentioned several of these books before in my weekly Waiting on Wednesday articles, and some of them also appeared on my recent Summer TBR list.  However, there are also some interesting new books that I am discussing for the first time here, so that should give this list a bit of variety.  So let us get to my selections and find out which upcoming novels are my most anticipated releases for the first half of 2023.

Honourable Mentions:

The Last Kingdom by Steve Berry – 21 February 2023

The Last Kingdom Cover

The next entry in Steve Berry’s brilliant Cotton Malone series, The Last Kingdom has a lot of potential for a fun read.  Set to feature a compelling historical conspiracy, I know I’m going to have a lot of fun with this book and I can’t wait to read it.

Amazon     Book Depository

 

The Kind Worth Saving by Peter Swanson – 28 February 2023

The Kind Worth Saving Cover

I have been having a lot of fun with Peter Swanson’s crime fiction books lately and I’m sure his upcoming book, The Kind Worth Saving, is going to be awesome.

Amazon     Book Depository

 

Battle Song by Ian Ross – 28 March 2023

Battle Song Cover

A fantastic sounding historical read, loaded with war, corrupt knights and deadly tournaments.

Amazon     Book Depository

Top Ten List:

Unnatural History by Jonathan Kellerman – 14 February 2023

Unnatural History Cover

I am always guaranteed to have an amazing time in the first half of the year with the latest Alex Delaware novel by Jonathan Kellerman.  I have deeply enjoyed several recent books in this long-running series (including The Wedding Guest, The Museum of Desire, Serpentine and City of the Dead) and I am very excited for the next entry. Set to focus on the murder of a controversial photographer, the always entertaining team of psychologist Alex Delaware and his best friend, Lieutenant Milo Sturgis, must determine if his death was the result of his work or his uber-rich family.  Sure to be one of the best mysteries of 2023.

Amazon     Book Depository

 

The Last Orphan by Gregg Hurwitz – 14 February 2023

The Last Orphan Cover

One of the best current thriller authors, Gregg Hurwitz, continues his deep and action-packed Orphan X series with The Last Orphan.  This latest book will see the former government agent turned vigilante protagonist Evan Smoak forced to decide whether to take one last contract for the United States Government or risk his freedom and his new life by defying the President.  This has been a consistently awesome series (I have had an amazing time with previous entries, Out of the Dark, Into the Fire, Prodigal Son and Dark Horse), and Hurwitz has set up some compelling and emotionally rich storylines heading into The Last Orphan.  I know I am going to love this book and I cannot wait to read it.

Amazon     Book Depository

 

Dead of Night by Simon Scarrow – 16 February 2023

Dead of Night Cover

One of my favourite historical fiction authors, Simon Scarrow, returns with another complex historical murder mystery set in Nazi Germany.  The sequel to his previous novel, Blackout, Dead of Night will present the reader with another dark murder where the principled detective protagonist is forced to go against the wishes of the Nazi regime.  I always deeply enjoy anything Scarrow writes, but I have a feeling this is going to be a particularly epic read.

Amazon     Book Depository

 

Burner by Mark Greaney – 21 February 2022

Burner Cover

Few books in the first half of 2023 have me more excited than the new Gray Man novel from Mark Greaney, Burner.  Following on from such epic reads as The Gray Man, Mission Critical, One Minute Out (one of my favourite books and audiobooks of 2020), Relentless (one of my favourite books and audiobooks of 2021) and Sierra Six (one of my favourite books and audiobooks of 2022), Burner has a lot to live up to, but with Greaney at the helm I already know I am going to love it.  This latest book will place protagonist Court Gentry firmly between the CIA and the Russian mob in an explosive and entertaining confrontation.  This will no doubt be another five-star read and I can’t wait to get my hands on it.

Amazon     Book Depository

 

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

Usagi Yojimbo - Volume 38 - The Green Dragon Cover

I had to include the next entry of one of my favourite comic series on this list with the upcoming Usagi Yojimbo volume, The Green Dragon by Stan Sakai.  I absolutely love this epic comic series and every new volume is a must read for me, especially after some of the recent awesome volumes released in colour (Bunraku and Other Stories, Homecoming, Tengu War! and Crossroads).  This new volume will feature two amazing sounding stories and I already know I am going to have an exceptional time reading it.

Amazon     Book Depository

 

City Under One Roof by Iris Yamashita – 28 February 2023

City Under One Roof Cover

One of the more intriguing debuts of 2023 is the excellent sounding murder mystery book, City Under One Roof by screenwriter Iris Yamashita.  Set in a unique community, City Under One Roof has an awesome story behind it and I am very excited to dive into this complex and compelling mystery.

Amazon     Book Depository

 

Her Sweet Revenge by Sarah Bonner – 6 April 2023

Her Sweet Revenge Cover

After presenting one of the very best debuts of 2022, Her Perfect Twin, author Sarah Bonner returns with another elaborate thriller in Her Sweet Revenge.  Set around two women who have very different reactions to the same mysterious note, Her Sweet Revenge looks set to be another twisty and addictive read that I have extremely high hopes for.

Amazon     Book Depository

 

Fatal Legacy by Lindsey Davis – 11 April 2023

Fatal Legacy Cover

The always impressive Lindsey Davis has yet another book in her long-running Flavia Albia series coming out in a few months with Fatal Legacy.  The 11th entry in this great historical murder mystery series (which has featured excellent reads like Pandora’s Boy, A Capitol Death, The Grove of the Caesars, A Comedy of Terrors and Desperate Undertaking), Fatal Legacy presents the reader with another intriguing case in the iconic setting of ancient Rome.  This time focused on a complex legal dispute between two rival families, Fatal Legacy has a great deal of promise and should be a wildly entertaining read.

Amazon     Book Depository

 

The Lake House by Sarah Beth Durst – 25 April 2023

The Lake House Cover Better

I have had an epic time with some of Sarah Beth Durst’s recent fantasy novels such as Race the Sands and The Bone Maker, so I am excited to follow her into a different genre with her upcoming young adult thriller The Lake House.  A fun and intense sounding book with some major horror vibes, The Lake House sees three young women arrive at a remote summer camp to find it abandoned with a dead body in the woods.  I can’t wait to see Durst’s take on a classic horror scenario, and I have a lot of faith that this is going to be an exceptional book.

Amazon     Book Depository

 

Empire by Conn Iggulden – 25 May 2023

Empire Cover

One of the very best historical fiction books of 2023 is definitely going to be the next book by legendary author Conn Iggulden, Empire.  The fourth book in his current series about ancient Athens (which has previously featured The Gates of Athens, Protector and Lion), Empire will follow the rise of Pericles and shows the early stages of the upcoming war between Athens and Sparta.  Set to be filled with exquisite historic details and outrageous figures from the fast, Empire is going to be an amazing read with a great story to it.

Amazon     Book Depository

 

 

That is the end of this list.  I am extremely happy with how my latest Top Ten Tuesday article turned out and this list contains an intriguing collection of upcoming books that should prove to be incredible reads.  I think that nearly every one of these books has the potential to get a full five-star rating from me and I cannot wait to see what amazing and exciting stories they contain.  While I am waiting to get my hands on these books, why not let me know if any of the above interest you, as well as what your most anticipated releases for the next six months are in the comments below.  Also, make sure to check out my other Top Ten List with the top upcoming fantasy books of 2023.

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.

Amazon     Book Depository

 

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.

Amazon     Book Depository

 

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.

Amazon     Book Depository

 

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.

Amazon     Book Depository

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.

Amazon     Book Depository

 

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.

Amazon     Book Depository

 

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.

Amazon     Book Depository

 

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.

Amazon     Book Depository

 

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.

Amazon     Book Depository

 

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.

Amazon     Book Depository

 

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.

Amazon     Book Depository

 

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.

Amazon     Book Depository

 

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.

Amazon     Book Depository

 

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.

Amazon     Book Depository

 

 

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

WWW Wednesday – 27 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?

Warhammer: Vampireslayer by William King (Audiobook)

Vampireslayer Cover

Many people will be unsurprised that I have once again drifted back to the world of Warhammer with Vampireslayer, another entry in the Gotrex and Felix series by William King.  Set in the Warhammer Fantasy universe, Vampireslayer is the sixth entry in the Gotrex and Felix series, which follows a mad dwarf slayer and his human companion as they travel across the land seeking out every deadly monster they can find.  As the name suggests, Vampireslayer will see them face off against the hordes of the undead after a deadly vampire takes one of their companions. I have been deeply enjoying this epic series over the last few months, will all the previous entries (Trollslayer, Skavenslayer, Daemonslayer, Dragonslayer and Beastslayer), being extremely fun and loaded with action.  I have only just started Vampireslayer, but it is already proving to be a compelling and awesome read for me and I look forward to seeing what violence and death lies in wait for me.

What did you recently finish reading?

The Lawless Land by Boyd and Beth Morrison (Trade Paperback)

The Lawless Land Cover

 

The Omega Factor by Steve Berry (Audiobook)

The Omega Factor Cover

What do you think you’ll read next?

Stay Awake by Megan Goldin

Stay Awake Cover

 

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

WWW Wednesday – 20 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?

The Lawless Land by Boyd and Beth Morrison (Trade Paperback)

The Lawless Land Cover

I just started reading this impressive new historical fiction novel from the excellent team of Boyd and Beth Morrison.  Set in 1351, The Lawless Land follows an honourable and skilled knight who finds himself dragged into a massive conspiracy that seeks to engulf all of Europe.  I am already a major fan of this intense and captivating novel, and it is proving to be an excellent overall read.

 

The Omega Factor by Steve Berry (Audiobook)

The Omega Factor Cover

I have also just started listening to the new Steve Berry novel, The Omega Factor.  Berry, who has previously impressed me with his Cotton Malone novels (including The Malta Exchange, The Warsaw Protocols and The Kaiser’s Web), has returned with another intriguing modern thriller focused on historical events that follows a new protagonist who gets caught in a war between two ancient and secret religious orders.  I haven’t gotten too far into The Omega Factor yet, but it is shaping up to be a very interesting and fun book.

What did you recently finish reading?

Kagen the Damned by Jonathan Maberry (Audiobook)

Kagen the Damned Cover

 

Conviction by Frank Chalmers (Trade Paperback)

Conviction Cover

 

The Law by Jim Butcher (Audiobook)

The Law Cover

 

The Crimson Thread by Kate Forsyth (Trade Paperback)

The Crimson Thread 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.

Top Ten Tuesday –Novels from the First Half of 2022 I Still Need to Read

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 get a freebie so I thought I would continue my literary examination of the first half of 2022 by looking at the top books from the first half of the year that I still need to read.

While I have already enjoyed some amazing reads in 2022, there are still quite a few impressive novels that have come out in the first half of the year that I have yet to read.  Many of these were on my most anticipated reads lists for 2022 (both fantasy and other), and while I was really excited for them, I have honestly not had a chance to check all of them out.  Therefore, I am going to use this freebie session to shame myself in the hopes that it gets me into gear to finally get around to checking out these epic reads.  This was a very easy list to pull together for me, as many of these books had been weighing on my mind for a while.  All 10 novels below (plus honourable mentions) sound really, really good, and I hope I get a chance to read all of them soon.

Honourable Mentions:

Queen’s Hope by E. K. Johnston

Queen's Hope Cover

 

The Bladed Faith by David Dalglish

The Bladed Faith Cover

 

An Empty Throne by Robert Fabbri

An Empty Throne Cover

 

Road of Bones by Christopher Goldin

Road of Bones Cover

Top Ten List:

The Omega Factor by Steve Berry

The Omega Factor Cover

I am probably going to listen to an audiobook version of The Omega Factor next, so hopefully this will not be on my to-read list for too much longer.

 

The Martyr by Anthony Ryan

The Martyr Cover

Following on from last year’s epic read, The Pariah, I have been extremely keen for this book, and I know I am going to love it.  I got a physical copy of The Martyr a few weeks ago but I have not had a chance to pick it up yet.  I was actually holding out for an audiobook version of The Martyr (I really enjoyed The Pariah audiobook last year), although apparently The Martyr’s audiobook isn’t out till September.  Not sure if I will be able to wait that long to find out what happens in this cool sequel, although it might be worth it to enjoy it in audiobook.  No matter what though, I will be reading The Martyr before the end of the year.

 

The Girl and the Moon by Mark Lawrence

The Girl and the Moon Cover

I definitely need to find out how this cool series from the sensational Mark Lawrence ends and this will be a major reading priority for me during the next six months.

 

Star Wars: Midnight Horizon by Daniel Jose Older

Star Wars - Midnight Horizon Cover

I have been trying really hard to keep up with the impressive new High Republic sub-series of Star Wars tie-in novels, and Midnight Horizon ended up being one of the first ones I have missed.  This is a real shame as it is apparently quite a good book, and I am very curious to see what else happened in this universe around the same time as the main novel, The Fallen Star.  I should really carve out a few days to listen to Midnight Horizon before the next batch of High Republic books come out later this year, especially as I know that I am going to have a great time with it.

 

In the Shadow of Lightning by Brian McClellan

In the Shadow of Lightning Cover

I was very excited to check out this new novel from highly acclaimed fantasy author Brian McClellan, and I have plans to read this in the next few weeks.  I am already hearing some excellent stuff about this book though and I am sure that if McClellan keeps up his usually impressive writing style, it will be an outstanding read.

 

Kingdoms of Death by Christopher Ruocchio

Kingdoms of Death Cover

There is no way that I am going to miss out on the fourth book in the Sun Eater Sequence, especially after having such a good time with Empire of Silence, Howling Dark and Demon in White.  However, the trick is finding the time to read or listen to this big book amongst all the other novels on my reading list.  I reckon I’ll have to try soon though, as Ruocchio apparently has the fifth book in the series, Ashes of Man, coming out in December.

 

The Starless Crown by James Rollins

The Starless Crown Cover

Another awesome fantasy novel from the start of the year that I need to check out!  The Starless Crown is supposed to be a very good read, and I will have to try and fit it in at some point in the next few months.

 

Catachan Devil by Justin Woolley

Catachan Devil Cover

I have been having a great time with some of the recent Warhammer 40,000 novels, especially those that focus on the ordinary human soldiers, such as Steel Tread, Krieg, and The Vincula Insurgency.  However, due to the sheer number of Warhammer novels released each year, I haven’t had a chance to read them all (I’m only one man), and this includes the very cool sounding Catachan Devil by Justin Woolley.  Following a regiment of the elite Catachan jungle fighters as they engage in a brutal battle, this sounds like an extremely awesome and action-packed read and I look forward to checking it out as soon as I can.

 

Age of Ash by Daniel Abraham

Age of Ash Cover

One half of the writing team behind The Expanse series returned to his fantasy roots at the start of the year with Age of Ash by Daniel Abraham.  A massive and sprawling fantasy epic that serves as the introduction to a new series, Age of Ash is a key book I missed earlier this year and I will hopefully fix that mistake before the end of the year.

 

The Misfit Soldier by Michael Mammay

The Misfit Soldier Cover

The final book that I most regret not reading in the first half of 2022 is The Misfit Soldier by Michael Mammay, who has previously wowed me with his Planetside trilogy (made up of Planetside, Spaceside and Colonyside).  This latest novel from Mammay, which I have honestly just not had time for, sounds very fun, as it follows a new science fiction protagonist in a Kelly’s Heroes-esque escapade on a futuristic battlefield.  I really need to take the time to read this outstanding book, especially as Mammay has just released a new audiobook that I will also try and enjoy this year.

 

 

Well, that is the end of this latest list.  As you can see, there are a bunch of exceptional novels from the first half of the year that I need to check out.  All the above books sound incredibly epic, and I know that I will have a brilliant time getting through all of them.  So, I am going to have to try a lot harder to start reading through them as soon as I can.  In the meantime, let me know which books released in the first half of the year you most regret not reading in the comments below.

Top Ten Tuesday – Books on My Winter 2022 TBR

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme that currently resides at The Artsy Reader Girl and features bloggers sharing lists on various book topics.  The official Top Ten Tuesday topic for this week was around comfort 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 Winter (Summer 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 June 2022 and 31 August 2022.  There are quite a few very cool novels set for release in the next few months that I am extremely excited for, including some of my most anticipated books and fantasy novels of the year.  Due to how impressive some of these upcoming books are, it took me a little while to finalise my list but I was eventually able to whittle it down into a Top Ten list (with a few honourable mentions).  I have primarily used the Australian publication dates to reflect when I will be able to get these awesome novels, and these might be somewhat different to the rest of the world.  I have previously discussed a number of these books before in prior Top Ten Tuesdays and Waiting on Wednesday articles and I think all of them will turn out to be pretty incredible reads.  I have extremely excited for the next three months as quite a few up these upcoming reads are easily going to be amongst the best books of 2022.

Honourable Mentions:

Firefly: What Makes Us Mighty by M. K. England – 19 July 2022

Firefly - What Makes Us Mighty Cover

Another awesome tie-in to the beloved Firefly franchise, What Makes Us Mighty is England’s first entry in this series and will see the crew stuck amid a deadly revolution.  This sounds like an exciting and fun read that I will no doubt have a blast with.

 

Seventeen: Last Man Standing by John Brownlow – 26 July 2022

Seventeen Cover

 

The Pride by Tony Park – 26 July 2022

The Pride Cover

Australia’s leading thriller author, Tony Park, returns with another intense and action-packed adventure set in Africa with The Pride.  This time his recurring protagonist, Sonja Kurtz, must contend with gangsters and poachers across multiple countries as she finds herself dragged into another deadly conspiracy.  Easily going to be one of the best Australia novels of 2022, I am extremely excited for this book.

 

Star Wars: The Princess and the Scoundrel by Beth Revis – 16 August 2022

Star Wars - The Princess and the Scoundrel Cover

Top Ten List:

Master of Furies by Raymond E. Feist – 1 June 2022

Master of Furies Cover

 

The Omega Factor by Steve Berry – 7 June 2022

The Omega Factor Cover

 

In the Shadow of Lighting by Brian McClellan – 21 June 2022

In the Shadow of Lightning Cover

 

The Martyr by Anthony Ryan – 28 June 2022

The Martyr Cover

 

Upgrade by Blake Crouch – 12 July 2022

Upgrade Cover

One of the leading names in science fiction, Blake Crouch, will soon unleash his next mind bending, futuristic thriller with Upgrade, sure to be one of the best books of the year.  Crouch’s latest novel will deal with genetic manipulation as a new protagonist finds himself being upgraded against his will as he is dragged into a terrible, world-ending plot.  I have some major hopes for this book, and I cannot wait to get my hands on it.

 

Star Wars: Shadow of the Sith by Adam Christopher – 19 July 2022

Shadow of the Sith Cover

 

The Accomplice by Steve Cavanagh – 26 July 2022

The Accomplice Cover

 

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

Glacier's Edge Cover

 

Stay Awake by Megan Goldin – 16 August 2022

Stay Awake Cover

 

All of Our Demise by Amanda Foody and Christine Herman – 30 August 2022

All of Our Demise Cover

 

 

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.

Waiting on Wednesday – The Omega Factor by Steve Berry

Welcome to my weekly segment, Waiting on Wednesday, where I look at upcoming books that I am planning to order and review in the next few months and which I think I will really enjoy.  I run this segment in conjunction with the Can’t-Wait Wednesday meme that is currently running at Wishful Endings.  Stay tuned to see reviews of these books when I get a copy of them.  For my latest Waiting on Wednesday, I look at a cool upcoming thriller centred around a historical conspiracy that I know is going to be a ton of fun, The Omega Factor by Steve Berry.

The Omega Factor Cover

Over the last few years, I have been having an awesome time reading the extremely clever and entertaining novels from thriller author Steve Berry.  Berry, who has been writing for nearly 20 years, is best known for his Cotton Malone series, which follows the titular protagonist as he investigates multiple crazy conspiracies and mysteries from histories which have the potential to impact the modern era.  His last three Cotton Malone novels, The Malta Exchange, The Warsaw Protocol and The Kaiser’s Web, have all been extremely amazing, and I had a lot of fun exploring their complex and fascinating narratives and historical content.

As such, I was very excited when I saw that Berry had a new novel coming out in 2022, The Omega Factor.  This new novel is not part of the Cotton Malone series, but instead will introduce a new protagonist, UNESCO investigator Nicholas Less, who will get caught up in a conspiracy involving the Ghent Altarpiece and a civil war between a secret order of nuns and the Vatican.  Naturally, this crazy plot idea is extremely appealing to me, and I cannot wait to see how it turns out.  The Omega Factor has a current release date of 7 June 2022, and I will probably try and grab an audiobook version of it.  Based on my prior experience with Berry’s great writing, and the crazy synopsis below, I already know I am going to have an incredible time with this upcoming thriller, and I am very excited to fully explore The Omega Factor’s unique and entertaining historical conspiracy storyline.

Synopsis:

The Ghent Altarpiece is the most violated work of art in the world.  Thirteen times it has been vandalized, dismantled, or stolen.
Why?  What secrets does it hold?

Enter UNESCO investigator, Nicholas Lee, who works for the United Nations’ Cultural Liaison and Investigative Office (CLIO).  Nick’s job is to protect the world’s cultural artifacts—from countless lesser-known objects to national treasures.

When Nick travels to Belgium for a visit with a woman from his past, he unwittingly stumbles on the trail of the twelfth panel for the Ghent Altarpiece, stolen in 1934 under cover of night and never seen since.  Soon Nick is plunged into a bitter conflict, one that has been simmering for nearly two thousand years.  On one side is the Maidens of Saint-Michael, les Vautours, Vultures, a secret order of nuns and the guardians of a great truth.  Pitted against them is the Vatican, which has wanted for centuries to both find and possess what the nuns guard.  Because of Nick the maidens have finally been exposed, their secret placed in dire jeopardy—a vulnerability that the Vatican swiftly moves to exploit utilizing an ambitious cardinal and a corrupt archbishop, both with agendas of their own.

From the tranquil canals of Ghent, to the towering bastions of Carcassonne, and finally into an ancient abbey high in the French Pyrenees, Nick Lee must confront a modern-day religious crusade intent on eliminating a shocking truth from humanity’s past.  Success or failure—life and death—all turn on the Omega Factor.

Top Ten Tuesday – Most Anticipated Books Releasing in the First Half of 2022 (non-fantasy)

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme that currently resides at The Artsy Reader Girl and features bloggers sharing lists on various book topics.  For the first Top Ten Tuesday of 2022 participants get to list their most anticipated upcoming books for the first half of the year.  This is a regular post I do each year and I always look forward to highlighting the most awesome looking books for the start of the year.  I am actually planning to do two versions of this list, this one and another that will focus on some incredible upcoming fantasy novels, so make sure to check that out as well.

Despite only just starting, 2022 is already shaping up to be an epic and exciting year for books with a huge range of impressive and highly anticipated novels due for release in the next 12 months.  This includes exciting debuts, anticipated sequels and the latest entries in beloved bestselling series.  The first half of the year is looking particularly awesome, with a substantial number of incredible upcoming releases that I am deeply looking forward to. 

Even though I excluded fantasy books, this ended up being a rather difficult list to pull together due to all the awesome releases coming out in Australia between 1 January 2022 and 30 June 2022.  There were way too many extraordinary upcoming books that I could have included, and I ended up having to make some very tough calls and cutting several novels that have an immense amount of potential.  Despite this, I am rather happy with the eventual choices that I made, and I think that this list reflects the upcoming novels and comics I am going to have the most fun reading.  I have mentioned several of these books before in my weekly Waiting on Wednesday articles, and some of them also appeared on my recent Summer TBR list.  However, there are also some interesting new books that I am discussing for the first time here, so that should give this list a bit of variety.  I am also excluding a couple of upcoming books with real potential, mainly because a lot of details about them haven’t been released yet, such as the third book in Conn Iggulden’s Athenian series.  So let us get to my selections and find out which upcoming novels are my most anticipated releases for the first half of 2022.

Honourable Mentions

Road of Bones by Christopher Golden – 25 January 2022

Road of Bones Cover

A fun and intriguing horror thriller.

 

Warhammer 40,000: Day of Ascension by Adrian Tchaikovsky – 1 February 2022

Day of Ascension Cover

One of the best sounding upcoming Warhammer 40,000 novels by impressive science fiction author Adrian Tchaikovsky.

 

City of the Dead by Jonathan Kellerman – 8 February 2022

City of the Dead Cover

Another fantastic Alex Delaware novel from leading crime fiction author Jonathan Kellerman, that follows on from his last amazing novels, The Wedding Guest, The Museum of Desire and Serpentine.

 

Star Wars: Shadow of the Sith by Adam Christopher – 28 June 2022

There are several interesting new Star Wars novels coming out in 2022 and one of the more intriguing ones is Shadow of the Sith by Adam Christopher (no cover available yet).  Set in the gap between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens, Shadow of the Sith follows Luke and Lando as they attempt to uncover ancient Sith secrets and identify the new threat rising to destroy the New Republic.

Top Ten List:

Star Wars: The High Republic: The Fallen Star by Claudia Gray – 4 January 2022

Star Wars - The Fallen Star

The impressive new High Republic subseries of Star Wars novels continues with The Fallen Star by Claudia Gray.  Continuing the main storyline contained in previous novels Light of the Jedi and The Rising Storm, The Fallen Star looks set to contain an intense and captivating story as the Nihil launch their most devastating attack yet.  I am hoping to start The Fallen Star this week and it should be a pretty epic read.

 

Dark Horse by Gregg Hurwitz – 8 February 2022

Dark Horse Cover

The seventh book in Hurwitz’s action-packed Orphan X series, Dark Horse has a great sounding story and is easily going to be one of the most exciting books of the year.

 

Usagi Yojimbo: Tengu War by Stan Sakai – 15 February 2022

Usagi Yojimbo - Tengu War!

One of my favourite comic series, Usagi Yojimbo by Stan Sakai, has another great volume coming out early this year.  Tengu War, the 36th volume, looks set to feature several really cool stories in it and I already know I am going to love every page of this exceptional comic.

 

Sierra Six by Mark Greaney – 15 February 2022

Sierra Six Cover

Another epic thriller, Sierra Six will be the 11th novel in the Gray Man series by amazing author Mark Greaney.  I have deeply enjoyed the last few Gray Man novels (One Minute Out and Relentless were particularly good) and I am really looking forward to seeing how this incredible series continues.

 

The Misfit Soldier by Michael Mammay – 22 February 2022

The Misfit Soldier Cover

After deeply impressing me with his debut Planetside series (made up of Planetside, Spaceside and Colonyside), science fiction author Michael Mammay has a cool new novel up his sleeve with The Misfit SoldierThe Misfit Soldier will follow a conman and thief turned futuristic soldier as he attempts to pull off a heist in the middle of a warzone.  I love the sound of this book and The Misfit Soldier should be an outstanding read.

 

An Empty Throne by Robert Fabbri – 1 April 2022

An Empty Throne Cover

One of the most entertaining historical fiction authors in the world today, Robert Fabbri, will continue his amazing Alexander’s Legacy series with the third book, An Empty Throne.  Following on from To the Strongest and The Three Paradises, An Empty Throne will explore the unique chaos that occurred following the early death of Alexander the Great and should be a lot of crazy fun.

 

Desperate Undertaking by Lindsey Davis – 7 April 2022

Desperate Undertaking Cover 1

Another cool and entertaining historical fiction series continuing this year is the Flavia Albia series by veteran author Lindsey Davis.  Set in ancient Rome, this cool series sees its titular protagonist investigate several strange murders around the city, often in hilarious circumstances.  Several of the recent books, including Pandora’s Boy and The Grove of the Caesars, have been exceptional reads, and the new upcoming novel, Desperate Undertaking, has a great sounding story about a serial killer obsessed with architecture.  Sure to be a gripping and clever read, I cannot wait to check it out.

 

Star Wars: Brotherhood by Mike Chen – 10 May 2022

Star Wars - Brotherhood Cover

Another awesome upcoming Star Wars novel is Brotherhood by Mike Chen.  Set at the start of the Clone Wars, this novel will place Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker in a dangerous situation as they attempt to uncover who is behind a terrorist attack on an alien planet.  With some cool action and an interesting look at the relationship between former master and apprentice, this will be a great read, especially as it will likely tie into the upcoming Obi-Wan Kenobi television series.

 

Kingdoms of Death by Christopher Ruocchio – 17 May 2022

Kingdoms of Death Cover

Impressive science fiction author Christopher Ruocchio will continue his massive Sun Eater space opera series this year with his fourth book, Kingdoms of Death.  Following on from the outstanding Empire of Silence, Howling Dark and Demon in White, this latest novel will continue to chronicle the life of the universe’s greatest heroes and villains as he fights for humanity’s survival in the stars.  This will be an incredible and powerful science fiction read and I cannot wait to see how Ruocchio continues his epic series.

 

The Omega Factor by Steve Berry – 7 June 2022

The Omega Factor Cover

The final book on this list is another cool and impressive thriller by the legendary Steve Berry.  Berry, who is best known for his Cotton Malone novels (such as The Malta Exchange, The Warsaw Protocol and The Kaiser’s Web), is introducing a new protagonist in The Omega Factor, who is thrust into a deadly historical conspiracy involving a missing piece of artwork.  Set to expose a war between the Vatican and a secret order of nuns, this sounds like an awesome novel, and I am very excited to dive into another enjoyable Steve Berry novel

 

 

That is the end of this list.  I am extremely happy with how my latest Top Ten Tuesday article turned out and this list contains an intriguing collection of upcoming books that should prove to be incredible reads.  I think that nearly every one of these books has the potential to get a full five-star rating from me and I cannot wait to see what amazing and exciting stories they contain.  While I am waiting to get my hands on these books, why not let me know if any of the above interest you, as well as what your most anticipated releases for the next six months are in the comments below.  Also, make sure to check out my other Top Ten List with the top upcoming fantasy books of 2022.

The Kaiser’s Web by Steve Berry

The Kaiser's Web Cover

Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton/Macmillan Audio (Audiobook – 23 February 2021)

Series: Cotton Malone – Book 16

Length: 14 hours and 32 minutes

My Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Amazon     Book Depository

The always impressive Steve Berry returns with another amazing great historical conspiracy thriller, The Kaiser’s Web, which sees his long running protagonist Cotton Malone investigate secrets left over from World War II.

Germany is in the midst of a ferocious electoral battle as two very different candidates vie to become chancellor.  One is the incumbent chancellor, a long-term public servant who believes in the goodness of her fellow Germans, while her opponent is a far-right populist, stoking the flames of nationalistic hatred and resentment to gain his power.  Both have their own vision for the future, but the key to this election may lie in the past, specifically, to what really happened on 30 April 1945, the day that Hitler and Eva Braun supposedly died in their bunker underneath Berlin. 

When a series of mysterious documents hinting at secrets from her opponent’s past are delivered to the German chancellor, she turns to her long-time friend, former United States President Danny Daniels for help.  Determined to keep Germany from going to the far-right, Daniels calls on the services of former American intelligent agent, Cotton Malone, and his girlfriend, the resourceful Cassiopeia Vitt.  Together, Malone and Vitt follow the trail left in the documents to Chile, where they uncover a dangerous web of deceit and hidden Nazi money, seemingly created by Hitler’s closest confidant and personal secretary, Martin Bormann.

When evidence suggests that Bormann, who everyone believes died in the last days of the war, may have actually survived and fled to South America with billions in stolen wealth, Malone and Vitt are shocked.  However, they soon discover that not everything is as it seems, and that someone has woven a dangerous trap around them, one that could tip the election in the far-right’s favour.  In order to save Germany from itself, Malone and Vitt must unravel the entire truth behind the conspiracy known as the Kaiser’s Web before it is too late.  But what impact can secrets from over 70 years ago have on present day Germany, and how far are people willing to go to protect them?  The truth about Hitler, Braun and Bormann will shock the world, and not even the legendary Cotton Malone will be prepared for the consequences.

Berry has been writing exciting and clever thrillers for nearly 20 years, ever since his 2003 debut, The Amber Room.  While he has written several standalone novels, Berry is best known for his Cotton Malone books, which started in 2006 with The Templar Legacy, and The Kaiser’s Web is the 16th entry.  I only started getting into the Cotton Malone series a few years ago when, on a whim, I decided to try the 14th book in the series, The Malta Exchange.  I ended up really enjoying the amazing story contained within The Malta Exchange, which combined together historical tales of Malta, the Knights Hospitaller and the Vatican, to create an impressive and addictive read.  I was also lucky enough to receive a copy of the 15th book in the series, The Warsaw Protocol, last year, which turned out to be another awesome read that dived deep into the heart of Poland’s history and politics.  Both books were really intriguing reads and I am now quite determined to check out any and all new Cotton Malone novels that come out.  I was particularly interested when I saw the synopsis for The Kaiser’s Web last year and I have been looking forward to reading it ever since.  I am extremely glad that I did, as Berry has once again produced a fantastic and captivating thriller that not only weaves a unique fictional historical conspiracy into an excellent and highly enjoyable story, but which also allows new readers to dive in and readily enjoy. 

For his latest novel, Berry has come up with another cool and impressive story that combines an investigation into historical secrets with an intense and dramatic thriller.  Told from the perspective of all the various players in the book, The Kaiser’s Web’s narrative starts off quickly when a mystery with world-altering implications is presented to the protagonists, forcing them to explore the final days of the Nazi regime and travel all over the world to find the answers.  While it initially seems like the protagonists are caught up in an elaborate and dangerous trap, the narrative quickly takes a turn when a third party intervenes, disrupting the entire plot and leaving everything, including the protagonist’s success or failure, up to chance.  There are so many amazing elements to this story and I loved the way that the author works his altered historical details into a high takes, thrilling narrative, with the secrets of the past very much having an impact of key events from the future.  Like several of Berry’s previous novels, The Kaiser’s Web has a lot less action in it than most thrillers do; instead most of the narrative is filled with talking, historical flashbacks and character building, which I personally really liked and which give this book a much more distinctive feel than some other examples of this genre.  That being said, there are several great, fast-paced action scenes in this book, which, when combined with the clever historical elements and investigation, resulting a thrilling and powerful novel.  I also liked how The Kaiser’s Web has much more a political thriller vibe to it than some of the previous Cotton Malone novels I have enjoyed, with the result of the protagonist’s investigation having severe impacts on the fate of Germany’s election, and indeed Berry works several different stages of the opponent’s campaign into the overarching story, showing how close the election is.  All of this comes together into one big and captivating conclusion, and while I was able to predict a couple of the big twists, including a particularly major reveal, Berry still surprised me in places, and I had an outstanding time getting through this awesome story.

To really flesh out The Kaiser’s Web’s narrative, Berry dives deep into the heart and soul of the country of Germany and its people to set up the story’s central conspiracy and explain its significance.  This includes a really intriguing examination of Germany’s history, both during the war and in the post-war period, and readers get a comprehensive understanding about what happened in Hitler’s bunker, and how history has recorded or, in many cases, failed to properly record these events.  Berry also features a really in-depth examination of some key Nazi figures, including Martin Bormann and Eva Braun, showcasing their psyches and personalities, as well as exploring their role in the war, the major policies that Bormann enacted and their significance to people like Hitler.  There is also an intriguing exploration around their recorded deaths, and the historical inaccuracies about them become a key part of the plot.  There is also a compelling look at what happened to former Nazis post World War II, both in Germany and outside of it.  In particular, the story traces the routes and hideouts that several former Nazis had in South American countries, and it was fascinating to see some of the real-life examples of fleeing Nazis that are repurposed for this narrative.  All of these historical aspects are very interesting, and I love the unique and clever story that Berry was able to create using them.

In addition to Germany’s wartime history, Berry also examines the current political and social climate of Germany, which becomes a significant part of the book’s plot.  Berry really attempts to explore a lot of the current attitudes that the modern German people have, especially as certain resentments, forced political concessions and other factors have seen a re-emergence of the far-right in Germany (and other European countries), and the election featured within the book becomes a real battle for the soul of the country.  The author has obviously spent a lot of time researching current German moods and political preferences, and this proves to be a powerful and compelling heart to the novel, especially as he really does not have to exaggerate some of the problems that new hard-right organisations in Germany are causing.  Berry does a fantastic job not only exploring the roots of a lot of these problems, many of which date back all the way to the war, but also working it into his clever thriller story, resulting in an amazingly powerful narrative that, thanks to these real-world issues, really drags you in.

One of the things that I always like about the Cotton Malone novels are the awesome depictions of the different countries and landscapes that form the backdrop for the impressive narrative.  It is obvious that the author has a real passion for travel and new landscapes, and this really flows through into his writing as Berry spends a lot of time describing all the key features and locations his characters see, both man-made and natural, in exquisite detail.  These depictions are so detailed and compelling that the reader can often believe they are standing next to the characters enjoying the view.  The Kaiser’s Web is no exception to this as the author once again details several amazing places that form the backdrop to the complex story.  As a result, the reader gets to experience some really cool locations, including several provinces of Germany, parts of Chile, brief looks at countries like Switzerland, Belarus and Austria, and an expanded exploration of the Free State in South Africa.  In each of these locations, Berry provides the reader with fantastic details about the landscape, the people, local industries and politics, as well as some fun snippets of history, most of which relate to the post-war period.  This becomes an extremely fascinating part of the book, especially as Berry’s enthusiasm for different horizons is quite infectious, and I had a great time exploring these new locations.  I cannot wait to see where the next Cotton Malone novel is set, as the author is bound to feature some new and intriguing places.

I have to say that I also really enjoyed some of the new characters featured within The Kaiser’s Web.  This was a pretty good book for characters, as Berry continues to not only showcase his long-running protagonist Cotton Malone but also reintroduces two characters who were somewhat underutilised in the previous book.  Cotton, who is something of a nexus for historical conspiracies, has another great adventure in this novel, and I loved seeing this ageing former agent turned rare book dealer get into all manner of trouble as he attempts to find the truth.  Despite being the nominal main character of this novel, I did think that Cotton was slightly pushed into the background of the story, mainly because several of the other characters were very heavily featured.  Part of this is because Cotton spends the entire novel teaming up with his love interest Cassiopeia Vitt.  Due to the fact that I have only read a couple of Cotton Malone novels, this was the first time I have seen the character of Cassiopeia in action, and I quite enjoyed her as a character.  Cassiopeia, who is also the focus of several Berry’s short stories and novellas, is another great character to follow and it was interesting to see her counterpoint to Cotton’s perspectives.  Cotton and Cassiopeia form a fantastic team in this book and I enjoyed seeing them work together and support each other in various ways.  Aside from Cotton and Cassiopeia, it was also great to see more of former US President Danny Daniels, who becomes a key part of the story.  I loved the idea of a popular former President running important international espionage missions after his retirement (could you imagine Obama doing something like that? That sounds pretty awesome), and he serves as a great supporting character getting Cotton and Cassiopeia involved in the story.

While the returning characters are good, my favourite point-of-view characters had to be Marie Eisenhuth, the current German chancellor who finds herself caught in the middle of dangerous events, and her main opponent in the upcoming election, Theodor Pohl, the book’s primary antagonist.  These two characters represent the very different ends of the German political spectrum, with Eisenhuth a pro-immigration and anti-Nazi politician, while Pohl is a far-right figure who is attempting to utilise the conservative populations to introduce damaging nationalistic policies.  Both Eisenhuth and Pohl get a substantial amount of focus in this book and it proved extremely fascinating to see them throughout the novel, especially as their electoral campaign plays out like a battle for the soul of Germany.  It was also great to see Pohl’s perspectives, especially when he is manipulating people or reacting to the actions of Cotton and his friends and is forced to put more deadly plans into play.  While The Kaiser’s Web initially focuses on their political differences, the novel soon examines various parts of both characters’ lives, pasts and families, which proves to be deeply compelling and interesting.  I love the cool reveals behind these characters, and their storylines reveal a very intriguing case of nature versus nature.  I think both characters had exceptional story arcs throughout this book and their storylines ended up being an outstanding part of The Kaiser’s Web.

I ended up listening to The Kaiser’s Web on audiobook, mainly because I have found that Berry’s awesome historically based conspiracies translate across to the audiobook format extremely well and I end up following all the cool detail and inclusions a lot more.  With a run time of 14 hours and 32 minutes, this is a fairly decent sized audiobook, but listeners should generally be able to power through it rather easily, especially once the cool conspiracy really hits its height.  I also really enjoyed the awesome narration of Scott Brick, who does an exceptional job with this latest Cotton Malone book.  Brick is a well-established narrator who has contributed his voice to an amazing number of audiobooks, including all the previous entries in the Cotton Malone series, as well as the fantastic Orphan X series (for example, he did a great job narrating Into the Fire and Prodigal Son).  I particularly enjoyed Brick’s amazing voice work in The Kaiser’s Web, mainly because he got an opportunity to show off the wide range of accents he could do.  Not only does he pull off a range of German accents for the various German characters, but he also does some amazing South American accents and some extremely authentic South African accents.  The South African accent, which is a really hard one to pull off (so many narrators and voice actors try and fail to do it properly, often coming off as Australian), was really good in this book, and I am really impressed by Brick’s skill.  At the same time, Brick’s general narration voice fit the intense tone of The Kaiser’s Web extremely well, and I thought that he moved this dense and complex story along at a decent pace, ensuring that the listener’s attention was constantly drawn in.  As a result, I had an exceptional time listening to this audiobook and this is easily my preferred format to enjoy Berry’s Cotton Malone novels with.

The Kaiser’s Web is another outstanding novel from Steve Berry, who has once again produced a captivating and clever historical conspiracy thriller.  Featuring a unique tale, intriguing dives into several countries and some fantastic characters, The Kaiser’s Web is a must-read for thriller fans and comes highly recommended.  I personally loved untangling all the threads in this cool thriller and I cannot wait to see what Berry comes up with next.

Amazon     Book Depository

WWW Wednesday – 17 March 2021

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

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

So, let’s get to it.

What are you currently reading?

Dangerous Women by Hope Adams (Trade Paperback)

Dangerous Women Cover

 

The Bone Maker by Sarah Beth Durst (Audiobook)

The Bone Maker Cover

 

What did you recently finish reading?

Bullet Train by Kotaro Isaka (Trade Paperback)

Bullet Train Cover

 

The Kaiser’s Web by Steve Berry (Audiobook)

The Kaiser's Web Cover

 

The Codebreakers by Alli Sinclair (Trade Paperback)

The Codebreakers Cover

 

What do you think you’ll read next?

The Three Paradises by Robert Fabbri (Trade Paperback)

The Three Paradises 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.