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Pile by the Bed reviews The End of October by Lawrence Wright - a fictionalised account of a deadly, highly contagious, global pandemic that hits close to home

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Pile by the Bed reviews Goldilocks by Laura Lam, a philosophical, humanist science fiction thriller with a little bit of fairytale at its core.

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Pile by the Bed reviews Seven Lies an unreliable narrator thriller debut by Elizabeth Kay

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Pile by the Bed reviews The Book of Koli (The Ramparts #1) the start of a new post-apocalyptic trilogy by MR Carey

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Pile by the Bed reviews Frying Plantain the debut novel by Zalika Reid-Benta, a series of short stories which follows the life of a young girl of Jamaican descent growing up in Canada.

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Pile by the Bed reviews Desire Lines by Felicity Volk an Australian romance that spans the second half of the Twentieth Century

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Pile by the Bed reviews The Sin Eater by Megan Campisi, an assured and unique debut novel set in an alternate Elizabethan England.

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Pile by the Bed reviews new military science fiction novel Providence by Max Barry.

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Pile by the Bed reviews By Force Alone by Lavie Tidhar, a profane, violent enjoyable take on the Arthurian legend.

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Pile by the Bed reviews How Much of These Hills Is Gold the debut novel by C Pam Zhang which gives a new perspective on the American gold rush and the myths of the West which challenges views of race, gender and class.

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Pile by the Bed reviews The Lost Future of Pepperharrow by Natasha Pulley. Steampunk sequel to The Watchmaker of Filigree Street set in late 19th Century Japan.

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Pile by the Bed reviews Repo Virtual by Australian author Corey J White an action packed stand-alone cyberpunk novel set in a near-future Korea.

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Pile by the Bed reviews The Last Emperox (Interdependency #3) by John Scalzi - the latest volume in an enjoyable, sometimes pointed space opera series.

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Pile by the Bed reviews The Glass Hotel by Emily St John Mandel which explores the impact of the global financial crisis on a range of disparate characters.

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Pile by the Bed reviews the new thriller Prey by LA Larkin, the second to feature intrepid journalist Olivia Wilde.

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Pile by the Bed reviews Saint X the debut novel by Alexis Schaitkin which uses the crime genre to explore the impact of a tragedy.

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Pile by the Bed reviews The Blessed Rita by Dutch author Tommy Wieringa, who takes on rural life in modern Europe

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Pile by the Bed reviews and recommends The City We Became by NK Jemisin an urban fantasy that celebrates New York and establishes the basis for a fascinating new series.

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Pile by the Bed reviews Our Dark Secret, a dark coming of age tale by Jenny Quintana

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Pile by the Bed reviews The Animals in that Country by Laura Jean McKay, an idiosyncratic pandemic novel in which people affected gain the ability to understand animals.

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Kill The Next One by Frederico Axat
Crime , Review , Thriller / 03/02/2017

Kill the Next One, Argentinean author Frederico Axat’s first novel translated into English literally has a killer premise. Ted McKay has put a gun to his own head, prepared to commit suicide when there is a knock at the door. A stranger enters and offers him a deal – to become part of a club where he kills someone who deserves to die and then kills someone who themselves is looking to commit suicide. He will then be killed in turn by...

The Girl Before by JP Delaney
Review , Thriller / 01/02/2017

It might be a little artificial to identify a sub-genre just from book titles. But with the success of books like Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train, there is definitely a trend emerging for domestic thrillers with the word “Girl” in the title. The presence of the word in the title does not denote the often cosy romantic worlds of chick-lit but a harsher, page turning reality. They are usually narrated (at least partially) by a woma...

Fair Rebel by Steph Swainston
Fantasy , Recommended , Review / 30/01/2017

Steph Swainston burst onto the modern fantasy scene back in 2004 with the first of the Fourlands novels The Year of Our War. While there were some familiar elements, Swainston, much like fellow English fantasy authors like China Mieville, created a new type of fantasy world that was undeniably modern. There were no orcs, no elves, no dwarves and no dragons. Instead, the main character was a drug addicted immortal with the ability to ...

Tell the Truth, Shame the Devil by Melina Marchetta
Crime , Review / 27/01/2017

Australian readers are likely to still know Melina Marchetta for her breakout young adult novel Looking for Alibrandi (1992). Tell the Truth, Shame the Devil is crime genre novel. But while it relies on some of the genre conventions it also manages to subvert some of them, particularly with its focus on some teen protagonists. Bashir ‘Bish’ Ortley is an ex-policeman on the skids. He is drinking to forget the death of his son and has ...

The Woman on the Stairs by Bernhard Schlink
Literature , Review / 23/01/2017

With so many disposable thrillers with the word “Girl” in the title on the market it could possibly be taken a marker of some quality that the title of Bernhard Schlink’s new novel references a “woman”. There are no murders, no unreliable narrators and no sneaky plot twists. The Woman on the Stairs fits more in line with recent books that take the art world as their focus and as a jumping off point to explore deeper issues such as Th...

The Terranauts by TC Boyle
Literature , Review / 17/01/2017

Two of TC Boyle’s long running themes collide in his latest novel The Terranauts. On the one hand is his continuing exploration of the power of visionaries to create a following (read cult) and bring people along with their vision (The Road to Wellville is a good early example of this). And on the other, the environment, its fragility, and man’s continuing struggle to both live in harmony with it and destroy it (When the Killing’s Do...

Ninefox Gambit by Yoon Ha Lee
Review , Science Fiction / 13/01/2017

There are some speculative fiction books that are so deeply rooted in an author’s unique vision that reading them becomes a sink or swim exercise. Yoon Ha Lee’s Ninefox Gambit is one of these books. The opening chapter reads like military science fiction, but most of the familiar elements of that genre are missing. Instead is a world of mathematical exotic warfare and humanity divided into a number of different factions. Heretics in ...

Win, Lose or Draw by Peter Corris
Crime , Review / 12/01/2017

There is no denying Peter Corris’ status as the godfather of modern Australian crime. Corris took the American private investigator corner of the crime genre and made it uniquely Australian. Still going now after 33 years, gumshoe and Sydney icon Cliff Hardy is back in action for the forty-second time in Win, Lose or Draw. Hardy is hired by Gerard Fonteyn, a wealthy businessman, to find his daughter Julianna. Julianna has been missin...

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 Pat...

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 no...

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 littl...

The Good People by Hannah Kent
Historical , Literature , Review / 13/12/2016

Hannah Kent rose quickly to justified prominence with her stunning first novel Burial Rites. That book, set in the harshness of Iceland took a true story and brought it viscerally to life. While the method is the same, and there are similarities between the two books, The Good People explores a very different landscape and a very different culture. The Good People opens in a small village in Ireland in the 1850s. Norra and her husban...

Invasive by Chuck Wendig
Review , Science Fiction / 09/12/2016

Chuck Wendig takes a break from the Star Wars universe to delivers an X-Files meets Michael Crichton thriller Invasive. Ostensibly a sequel to 2014’s Zeroes, no familiarity of the previous volume is required. Hannah Stander is futurist who consults to the FBI. Her job is to try and see into the future, one she divides neatly before the action even starts as an apocalypse versus apotheosis or evolution versus ruination scenario. The i...

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 grea...

Babylon’s Ashes by James SA Corey
Review , Science Fiction / 07/12/2016

Six books into a projected nine book series and you would expect Ty Franck and Daniel Abraham aka James SA Corey to slow down just a little. And coming off a massive solar system shaking event in last year’s Nemesis Games (reviewed here), this is what they do. Babylon’s Ashes, for all of its action set pieces feels like a consolidation and table setting for the projected final three volumes of this epic space opera series. That does ...

Goodwood by Holly Throsby
Crime , Literature , Review / 06/12/2016

Fictional characters have been mysteriously disappearing in the Australian landscape for years. Despite efforts to colonise and urbanise, the land continues to swallow people up, particularly in fiction. So that when eighteen-year-old Rosie White disappears at the beginning of Goodwood there is a distinct Picnic at Hanging Rock feeling in the air. And like that book, Goodwood is for the most part more interested on the effect of that...

The White City by Simon Morden
Fantasy , Review / 02/12/2016

Simon Morden returns to the magical world of Down for second time in The White City. He rejoins the survivors of Down Station (reviewed here) as they try and come to terms with events and the world they find themselves in. They came to Down, Narnia-like, through a doorway in a disused tube station as London burned around them. They found a dangerous world populated by people who came through different doorways from London at differen...

The Last Days of New Paris by China Mieville
Fantasy , Literature , Review / 30/11/2016

Thinking about it afterwards it was kind of obvious that pairing new weird novelist China Miéville and with surrealist movement was perhaps inevitable. The Last Days of New Paris not only celebrates Surrealism but brings it to life in a way that only the imagination and verve of Miéville could possibly achieve. New Weird and Surrealism, a match made in heaven, which, of course, as this book posits, also implies the existence of Hell....

Swarm by Westerfeld, Lanagan and Biancotti
Fantasy , Review , Young Adult / 28/11/2016

The misfit powered teens from last year’s Zeroes, co-written by YA powerhouse team Scott Westerfeld, Margo Lanagan and Deborah Biancotti, are back for another go round in Swarm. And like all good sequels, Swarm finds their world expanding considerably and, with that expansion the dangers they face. The book opens six months after the somewhat catastrophic events of Zeroes. The six teens have opened an illegal nightclub called the Pet...

Here I Am by Jonathan Safran Foer
Literature , Review / 25/11/2016

Jonathan Safran Foer has the literary equivalent of a mid-life crisis in his latest novel, the intensely Jewish Here I Am. The title, explained early on in the novel, refers to Abraham’s answer when asked by God to sacrifice his son Isaac. But it could just as easily refer to Safran Foer himself, waving his literary arms and putting his head over the parapet ten years after his well received debut Everything is Illuminated and its po...