Top 5 – 2017
Literature , Top Fives / 27/12/2017

So many great books this year (see also Top 5 Crime, Science Fiction and Fantasy).   This is an all Australian Top 5 fiction for 2017 (in no particular order and with four international honourable mentions).     Jock Serong’s On The Java Ridge moved away from crime and created a humanist thriller out of Australia’s border protection policies.               Michael Sala’s The Restorer centred on a family trying to put a violent past behind them in 1980s Newcastle.               Mark Brandi’s debut, Wimmera, was a timely exploration of child sexual abuse and its impacts.                 In City of Crows, Chris Womersley explored the power of belief in seventeenth century Paris.                 Another great debut, Tony Jones created Australia’s very won Day of the Jackal in The Twentieth Man.                 Honourable (international) mentions: House of Names by Colm Toibin was a retelling of Greek myth. Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan, a historical novel set in the New York shipbuilding yards in World War II. Spoils by Brian van Reet…

Top Five Fantasy – 2017
Fantasy , Top Fives / 15/12/2017

Very different fantasy novels make up the top five (plus three honourable mentions) for 2017: Andrew Caldecott’s Rotherweird was fantasy that was also a little bit Dickens and a little bit Monty Python and centred around a forgotten town with a strange past and stranger residents in the middle of England.             Australian fantasy author Angela Slatter delivered the second installment of her engaging noir-crime meets urban fantasy series starring half-weyrd detective Verity Fassbinder on the mean streets of Brisbane in Corpselight.             Natasha Pulley continued to impress with her second novel – a historical and mystical journey into deepest darkest Peru in The Bedlam Stacks.               Joe Hill’s novella collection Strange Weather was part horror, part fantasy, part science fiction and all class.               And Margo Lanagan’s best-of short story collection Singing My Sister Down reaffirmed why she is one of Australia (and the World’s) best fantasy writers.               Honourable mentions: It Devours by Fink and Cranor – a novel set in the world of Night Vale Red Sister by Mark Lawrence…

Top Five Crime – 2017
Crime , Top Fives / 13/12/2017

In 2017, most of the top crime was Australian. Adrian McKinty took out the Ned Kelly Award for the sixth novel in his Sean Duffy series – Police at the Station and they Don’t Look Friendly.               Candice Fox was shortlisted for the same award for Crimson Lake – the first book in her new series set in steamy far north Queensland.               Michael Robotham’s The Secrets She Keeps was a stand-alone page turning thriller with two intriguing women at its centre.               Mark Brandi’s debut novel Wimmera, a story of the impacts of child sexual abuse, not only on the victim but on all those around them, was a revelation.               And Attica Locke went to rural Texas and revealed the deep seated vein of institutionalised racism in the United states in Bluebird Bluebird               Honourable mentions: Under the Cold Bright Lights by Garry Disher Too Easy by JM Green Places in the Darkness by Chris Brookmyer Corpselight by Angela Slatter  

Top Five Science Fiction – 2017
Science Fiction , Top Fives / 11/12/2017

Some great science fiction reads in 2017 – here are five of the best (and three honourable mentions):   Claire G Coleman’ stunning debut Terra Nullius was speculative fiction that shone a new light on the colonisation of Australia.               John Scalzi created an empire just to start destroying it in the enjoyable space opera The Collapsing Empire.               Yoon Ha Lee continued to impress with Raven Stratagem, the mathematically-driven by deeply humanist sequel to last year’s standout debut Ninefox Gambit.           Becky Chambers also impressed with the follow up to her debut with A Closed and Common Orbit.               Ann Leckie gave us Provenance, a stand alone novel set in the same universe as her award winning Ancillary series.                 Honourable Mentions: Places in the Darkness by Chris Brookmyer Luna: Wolf Moon by Ian McDonald Waking Gods by Sylvain Neuvel

Top Five Books – July to December 2016
Top Fives / 22/12/2016

After bringing you the Top 5 books for the first half of the year (Top 5 Books Jan to June 2016), here are 5 more books to put on your must read list: Colson Whitehead’s magical realist history of slavery imagines the underground railroad as a real train, carrying escaped slaves to the North. In The Underground Railroad, escaped slave Cara experiences different realities of the slavery experience as she rides the rails. Ann Patchett comes home to America for Commonwealth, an engaging, heartfelt, non-linear family drama. Another historical novel with a magical element – Eowyn Ivey’s To the Bright Edge of the World follows an expedition into a mystical Alaskan interior in the 1850s. At the same time Ivey also focuses on the expedition leader’s wife, left behind at a military camp and discovering a new way to express herself. Sam Carmody’s debut novel The Windy Season takes him into Tim Winton territory. A young man takes a job on a trawler out of a small town on the Western Australian coast trying to find out what happened to his missing brother. Another great Australian debut, Rajith Savanadasa’s Ruins takes readers into post-war Sri Lanka and the lives of a…

Top Five Crime 2016
Crime , Top Fives / 20/12/2016

There was lots of great crime this year. These are five of my favourites: Jane Harper’s debut crime novel The Dry was a revelation. A classic crime novel in a classic, rural Australian setting, with strong characters dealing with universal issues. Thomas Mullen exposed modern attitudes in Darktown – a tense, multi-strand procedural set in 1948 Atlanta. Zane Lovitt is likely to be back in award contention for his second novel, Black Teeth, a highly original, dark Australian crime novel with humour as black as its title suggests. Nadia Dalbuono’s Leone Scarmacio series keeps getting better with this third outing. In The Hit, Scarmacio is dealing with a kidnapping that threatens to expose his own mafia past. Double Golden Dagger winner, Bill Beverly’s Dodgers is a timely crime debut that delves deep into the psyche of modern America.       Honourable mentions: Slaughter Park by Barry Maitland Made to Kill by Adam Christopher The Windy Season by Sam Carmody Six Four by Hideo Yokoyama Signal Loss by Garry Disher

Top 5 Science Fiction July – December 2016
Science Fiction , Top Fives / 15/12/2016

While there were some science-fiction classics in the first half of the year (Top 5 sci-fi for Jan to June 2016) there were plenty of great science fiction reads to round out 2016. Click on links or images for the full review: Kaufman and Kristoff’s second of the Illuminae Files, Gemina is ostensibly YA but is a science fiction treat for young and old. A cross between Aliens, Die Hard and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine with a little bit of romance and plenty of other geek delights thrown in. Becky Chambers follow up to her stunning self-published debut (The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet) is smaller in scale but deeper and more heartfelt. A Closed and Common Orbit once again uses science fiction tropes to explore what it means to be human. Review pending. Two words : Space Pirates. Alistair Reynolds has alot of fun in Revenger set in a new ancient solar system. A young girl joins a (space) pirate ship and and encounters dark secrets, buried treasure and a dreaded pirate foe. Madeline Ashby delivers a post-cyberpunk, timey wimey thrill ride. Set on an oil rig turned city off the coast of Canada, Company Town, stars ass-kicking security guard Go-Jeung Hwa…

Top 5 Fantasy Books 2016
Top Fives / 08/12/2016

Whether you’re into epic fantasy, urban fantasy or new weird, the Pile’s Top 5 Fantasy books for 2016 ranges across a wide spectrum of speculative fiction. Angela Slatter’s Vigil was an Australian debut urban fantasy novel from a writer who has already received plenty of notice for her short stories.   Anthony Ryan’s The Waking Fire was the first novel in a steampunk-inspired epic fantasy series with great characters, well-written action and, of course, plenty of dragons.     China Mieville once again changed gears in The Last Days of New Paris a book in which an eldrich weapon has brought to life the visions of the Surrealist art movement on the streets of World War Two Paris.   Paraic O’Donnell’s The Maker of Swans was a debut set in contemporary England but with an old world feel, with magic and mystery tied up with the written word   Den Patrick’s The Girl on the Liar’s Throne tied up a beguiling and inventive Italianate modern fantasy trilogy.  

Top 5 Science Fiction Books – Jan to June 2016
Top Fives / 28/08/2016

Looking for a great science fiction book? From political intrigue to young adult space adventure (with zombies) to the mind blowingly-weird here are the top five science fiction books reviewed on Pile by the Bed in the first half of 2016. Click on the cover for the full review: