Monday, December 31, 2018

Best Books of 2018 [Published in 2018]

With 2018 coming to a close, it's time to post one of my 'best of' lists for books published in 2018. Of the 169 books I read in 2018, 62 of those were published in 2018 (I think that's a new world record for me). Spread across a variety of genres and mediums, the list resembles an eclectic mix. 

My Top 10 Reads of 2017

The rules: Well, there really isn't one except, to qualify, I had to have rated the book 5 stars on Goodreads (of the 2018 published book crop, this meant I had 26 books to choose from). 

This Years Best Crime Fiction and True Crime (so far) Published in 2018

Without further delay here's the creme de la creme (in no particular order):

Sydney Noir, edited by John Dale (Brio Books) - a collection of short stories set in Australia, part of the Akashic Noir series. 

Blackfish City by Sam J. Miller (Orbit)a great dystopian Sci-Fi that blends sci-fi with tech-fi to create a scarily plausible future

Believe Me by J.P. Delaney (Quercus) - a complex and addictive crime thriller. 

Punishment by Scott J. Holliday (Thomas & Mercer) - a futuristic blend of tech-fi and crime. 

Darkest Web by Eileen Ormsby (Allen & Unwin) - the topical nature of the non-fiction peak-behind-the-curtain account of dark web warriors is not for the squeamish.

Unnatural by Mirka Andolfo (Image Comics)a fun and wholly entertaining light erotica with fantastical elements.

Give Me Your Hand by Megan Abbott (Little Brown)a tension-filled novel that threatens to boil at any moment.

Don't Believe It by Charlie Donlea (Bantam) a perfect fit for true crime documentary and podcast buffs; the novel has all the hallmarks of an addictive TV show playing out in real time.

I'll Be Gone In The Dark by Michelle McNamara (Harper) - the most gripping and suspenseful true crime book I've read in a long time. 

Retribution by Richard Anderson (Scribe)a blue-blooded rural crime novel which envelopes the reader in a dust encrusted film of Australia's outback dirt.

The Cyclist by Anthony Neil Smith (Bastei Entertainment) - an entertaining modern day honey-trap.

Fugitive Red by Jason Starr (Oceanview) a unique blue-collar domestic noir - with a twist. 

The Upper Hand by Johnny Shaw (Thomas & Mercer)both lighthearted and loaded with emotional depth, this is a genuinely great all-round read. 

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Review: CHILDREN OF THE NAMELESS by Brandon Sanderson

Publisher Wizards of the Coast
Length 124  pages
Format ebook
Published 2018
Series Magic the Gathering
My Copy available online as a free ebook

My Review
Gothic horror infused fantasy, accessible to both readers familiar with the characters and planes (Avacyn and Innistrad feature respectively) of Magic the Gathering and those new to the table-top gaming lore.

Introducing new characters (those not previously featured in Magic the Gather lore in card/other formats), Tacenda and Davriel gives author Brandon Sanderson an established but new playground to explore and expand upon and he does it in a captivating and entertaining way.

Using the shorter length prose of a novella ensures each chapter progresses the story, be it character development, backstory, or pure action (of which there is plenty).

My rating: 5/5 stars. This was the first time I'd read anything by Brandon Sanderson and it certainty won't be the last.

Friday, December 28, 2018

Review: THE SYNDICATE by Guy Bolton

Publisher Bolinda Audio
Length 12hrs 56mins
Format audiobook
Published 2018
Series The Pictures #2
My Copy I bought it

My Review
Budgsy Seagal's murder, mobsters, hollywood, and crime, in fine fiction.

Jonathan Craine, the former Hollywood movie 'fixer' returns in the follow-up to The Pictures to face off against FBI agents, mobsters, and greedy casino owners.

Set some 8 years after the events of the preceding novel, Craine has set up shop on a rural property in California with his son. The peace and tranquility is soon spoiled when a gun toting mobster flies in and crashes Craine's life.

Force to do the mob's bidding, Craine must find Bugsy Siegel's killer before his own son joins the mobster in death. 

The Syndicate is fast-paced, violent, and full of action. A worthy successor to The Pictures.

There's a lot of facts intertwined in this clever fiction which readers familiar with the era will appreciate. 

My rating: 5/5. I can't wait to see where author Guy Bolton takes Craine and co. next. 

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Review: THE NIGHT I DIED by Max Allan Collins

Publisher Titan Comics
Length 112 pages
Format Trade
Published 2018
Series Mike Hammer (#1-4)
My Copy I bought it

My Review

"She was a beautiful blonde and she was in trouble. Usually, that's all I need to know. When your name is Mike Hammer, certain things are expected of you."

Tricked into meeting a client in the proverbial lions den of mafia land, Mike Hammer's long overdue return to the graphic novel medium sees the perennial private eye come face to face with death - the long one. 

Whilst Hammer has been portrayed in comics and newspaper strips previously, the Titan Comics / Hard Case Crime collaboration freshens up the hard man for the modern day audience and the results are largely positive.

In trademark Hammer fashion, the PI falls for a damsel in distress (in this case, Helen Venn), while his secretary with extras, Vera, becomes embedded in the story both as a victim and heroine. The linear nature of the story makes for an easy and entertaining read.  

The trade paperback collection also features two short stories entitled Trouble... Come And Get It, and Killer's Turn which, whilst not featuring Mike Hammer, are a nice addition for long time Spillane readers. 

My rating: 4/5 stars. Not as hard edged as some of the prose novels yet still captures that tried and true Mike Hammer feel. I hope we see more of the perennial PI in this medium. 

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Pick of the Month [November 2018]

I read 12 books in November to take my 2018 tally to a whopping 159. Of those, I rated 5, 5 stars which is a pretty decent strike-rate with the best of a very good bunch being Vengeful by V.E. Schwab, the action packed superhero showdown sequel to 2013's Vicious. 

Read the review of Vengeful (published 2018 by Titan Books) here

I also read Vicious this month which, no surprises gets the 5 star treatment too. Read the review on Goodreads here. 

Jason Starr and Joe Ide's new books also got my tick of approval with both of Wrecked (the third book in the awesome IQ series) and Fugitive Red (a creepy standalone crime novel) being my top crime reads for the month, check out the reviews below:

Fugitive Red by Jason Starr (Oceanview)

Wrecked by Joe Ide (Orion Publishing)

My other 5 star read was the new graphic novel by Mirka Andolfo, Unnatural, published by Image Comics which collects the first 4 issues of the fantasy series. This was such a great read and could end up being one of my favorite graphic novels for 2018. 

Other highlights, in no particular order, include:

Codename Villanelle by Luke Jennings - the inspiration for the TV series Killing Eve

Dark Sacred Night by Michael Connelly - the second Rene Ballard book, this time featuring a heavy Bosch influence

The Three Secret Cities by Matthew Reilly - the latest globetrotting Jest West Jr. adventure thriller

Monday, December 3, 2018

Review: THE THREE SECRET CITIES by Matthew Reilly

Publisher MacMillan Australia
Length 464 pages
Format hardback
Published 2018
Series Jack West Jr. #5
My Copy I bought it

My Review

Despite the hefty page count, Matthew Reilly's books are super quick reads loaded with pure adrenaline - and the latest installment in the Jack West Jr. series is no different. 

Whereas the previous book, The Four Legendary Kingdoms focused primarily on a single location, Hades, The Three Secret Cities marks a return to West's globetrotting adventures as he and his loyal friends attempt to save the world once more from certain doom. 

By completing a complex set of ancient puzzles across multiple continents, the returning adventure-based action theme prominent in previous books proves to be a winner yet again. 

My rating: 4/5, sure some of the action sequences felt a little repetitive at times and Jack West Jr. seems to have superhuman healing and fighting abilities but that's part of the fun with these books. They're well researched and loaded with manic action to provide a great form of escapism. I can't wait for The Two something something
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