Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme that currently resides at The Artsy Reader Girl and features bloggers sharing lists on various book topics. The official topic for this week’s Top Ten Tuesday was around participant’s favourite indie/self-published books, which isn’t honestly something I can particularly contribute to. So instead, as this is the first Tuesday of April, I thought I would take the time to look back at the first quarter of 2023 and highlight the best books I read during that period. This is a rather new list type that I think I might employ a bit more in the future, and it will be very interesting to see what the best books of each quarter of the year are.
I’m keeping this list fairly open and pretty much allowing any novel or audiobook I recently read to be included here. The only condition is that I had to have read it between 1 January 2023 and 31 March 2023, and I am also excluding a couple of books that I started reading in March but didn’t finish until April. This still leaves me with a huge collection of recently read books to feature here, and I had to make some hard decisions. However, I ended up coming up with an interesting list, and one that definitely shows off what sort of books I have been focusing on in the first quarter of the year. So let us see what made the cut.
A dark and captivating Warhammer Crime novel that showcases the very worst parts of the Warhammer 40,000 underworld.
How to Kill a Client by Joanna Jenkins
An impressive and exciting Australian debut that casts an interesting light on Australia’s legal profession.
I was very happy to start of the awesome Warhammer 40,000 Last Chancers series this year, and 13th Legion serves as a great introduction to the entire action-packed series.
For the Emperor by Sandy Mitchell
One of the funniest books I have read in 2023 so far, For the Emperor is a brilliant Warhammer 40,000 entry that sees a cowardly war hero attempt to save the day, and his own skin.
Top Ten List:
Eisenhorn Trilogy by Dan Abnett
One of the things that pulling this list together has really shown me is that I have been reading way too much Warhammer 40,000 fiction in the first quarter of this year (if that is possible). I really have become a little obsessed with this awesome franchise, but to be fair, there are some particularly epic books featured within it. My favourite of these so far will have to be the Eisenhorn trilogy by exceptional author Dan Abnett. Following a noble Inquisitor as he faces the forces of Chaos, the Eisenhorn trilogy is made up of three excellent, five-star reads, including Xenos, Malleus and Hereticus, each of which I had a great time reading this year. All three books have brilliant stories, and the overarching theme of the protagonist’s corruption as he tries to do the right thing, is pretty perfect. One of the best Warhammer 40,000 series out there, highly recommended.
Son of the Poison Rose by Jonathan Maberry
Probably the best 2023 release I have read so far this year is the exceptional dark fantasy epic, Son of the Poison Rose by Jonathan Maberry. The sequel to the outstanding 2022 novel, Kagen the Damned (one of my favourite books and audiobooks of 2022), Son of the Poison Rose continues the twisted story introduced in the first novel. Loaded with intense world building, dark magic, over-the-top scenes, and some of the best action you are ever likely to read, Son of the Poison Rose is a brilliant read, and I am hoping to get a proper review up for it soon.
Moving on to Australian fiction and we have the captivating Red Dirt Road by S. R. White. Set in the middle of the Australian desert, Red Dirt Road follows an intrepid detective as she attempts to solve a sinister murder where every resident left in a near-abandoned town is a suspect. Smart, character focused, and very intriguing, this was an amazing read and White is fast become one of my favourite Australian crime fiction authors.
The Infinite and the Divine by Robert Rath
One of the most amusing novels I read in the first quarter of 2023 is the amazing Warhammer 40,000 book, The Infinite and the Divine. Written by Robert Rath, who previously enthralled me with his 2022 release, Assassinorum: Kingmaker, The Infinite and the Divine is a brilliant read that sees two immortal Necron lords fight for control of a mysterious artifact. Presenting the reader with an exceptional story, set around the pettiest of feuds, The Infinite and the Divine is highly amusing and deeply compelling, while also diving into the intriguing Necron faction. An absolute joy to read from start to finish, this is a must read for all Warhammer 40,000 fans.
I had to include one of the latest audiobooks I finished off on this list with the Adrian Tchaikovsky novella, Ogres. Set in a world where humans are ruled over by technologically advanced Ogres, this clever read focuses on revolution, adventure and nature vs nurture. This ended up being on the most complex and intriguing things I have read in 2023, and I really enjoy Tchaikovsky’s unique writing style. I am actually listening to his latest novel, City of Last Chances as I put this review up, and it is also proving to be a fantastic read.
I had an absolute blast with the Warhammer Crime novels in the first quarter of 2023 and one of the best is Flesh and Steel by Guy Hayley. A compelling read that sees two unusual and highly damaged detectives team up to solve a unique, Warhammer 40,000 crime, Flesh and Steel was exceptionally entertaining and a highly recommended novel to anyone interested in a cool combination of a unique dystopian world a gripping mystery.
Mark Greaney continued his iconic Gray Man series in a big was this year with the latest entry Burner. Setting his legendary protagonist, Court Gentry, the Gray Man, against both the CIA and the Russians while also focusing on major world events, Burner was a powerful and epic read that I cannot hype up enough. This is easily going to top all my best of 2023 lists later this year, and it is a must read for all fans of this talented author.
The final Warhammer 40,000 novel I need to feature on this list is the awesome Warhammer Crime entry, Bloodlines by Chris Wraight. Featuring a particularly impressive crime fiction story, set around a veteran cop with many secrets, Bloodlines is a fantastic read that perfectly blended its crime fiction story with the Warhammer 40,000 setting. I had such a great time with this book, and it is probably the Warhammer Crime novel I most want a sequel for.
Unnatural History by Jonathan Kellerman
What’s the start of a year without a new Alex Delaware novel from iconic crime fiction author Jonathan Kellerman. His latest entry, Unnatural History, presents the reader with another captivating mystery, this time centred around an intriguing victim with a complex past. I had such a great time reading this slick and intense read, and I look forward to seeing what amazing stories Kellerman produces in the future.
Downfall by Louise Carey
The final book on this list is Downfall by Louise Carey. The exciting and thoughtful conclusion to Carey’s excellent Inscape trilogy (featuring Inscape and Outcast), Downfall is a captivating read, loaded with cyberpunk influences and an outstanding story. Carey has really shown how talented she is as an author here and I cannot wait to see what she produces in the future.
Well, that’s the end of this first quarter review. As you can see, I have read an interesting collection of books in the first three months of 2023, and I am hoping to get through quite a few more before the end of the year. 2023 has definitely been the year of older books, especially older Warhammer novels, for me as have read so many (perhaps too many), exceptional Warhammer books published before 2023. I am hoping to read more recent releases in the next quarter to compensate for this, and it will be very interesting to see what books I highlight in my next look-back list.