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A pre-apocalypse, the labyrinth, an Australian drought, the US gold rush from a new perspective and an ode to our relationship with trees form Pile by the Bed's Top 5 reads for 2020, together with six just as interesting and engaging honourable mentions.

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Pile by the Bed's top 5 crime fiction novels for 2020 and 6 equally worthy honourable mentions. So overall a top 11 for the year.

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Pile by the Bed reviews Hideout, the third book in Jack Heath's Timothy Blake series. Another strong entry in this dark crime series.

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Pile By the Bed's top 5 science fiction books for 2020 and 5 honourable mentions (so actually a top 10).

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Pile by the Bed's top 5 (okay, 6) fantasy novels for 2020 and four honourable mentions.

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Pile by the Bed reviews White Throat by Sarah Thornton (Clementine Jones #2) - another fast paced Australian crime thriller featuring Thornton's flawed but engaging heroine.

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Pile by the Bed reviews Sara Sligar's debut Take Me Apart, a book that is part mystery, part thriller, part exploration of the world of art.

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Pile by bthe Bed reviews From A Certain Point of View: The Empire Strikes Back - forty short stories celebrating the 40th anniversary of arguably the best of the Star Wars films.

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Pile by the Bed reviews and recommends Hollow Empire the second in Australian author Sam Hawke's Poison War fantasy series.

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Pile by the Bed reviews Nophek Gloss (Graven #1), the debut space opera by Essae Hansen featuring a super soldier and a found family of misfits.

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Pile by the Bed reviews Reproduction the first novel by Canadian poet Ian Williams which explores human relationships and the intersect between biological and found families.

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Pile by the Bed Reviews House of Earth and Blood, the first book in Sarah J Maas's new Crescent City urban fantasy series.

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Pile by the Bed reviews The Devil and the Dark Water by Stuart Turton, a rollicking historical crime novel with possible supernatural elements and a tip of the hat to Sherlock Holmes.

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Pile by the Bed reviews Consolation, the third book in Garry Disher's Paul Hirschhausen series of Australian rural crime procedurals.

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Pile by the Bed reviews Honeybee by Australian Author Craig Silvey, another complex but compassionate coming of age story from the author of Jasper Jones.

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Pile by the Bed reviews and recommends The Worst of All Possible Worlds, the last book in Alex White's propulsive Salvagers trilogy.

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Pile By the Bed Reviews A Deadly Education (Scholomance #1) by Naomi Novik the first in a series about a particularly dangerous and cutthroat magical academy.

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Pile by the Bed reviews The Once and Future Witches by Alix E Harrow a historical fantasy that involves the women's suffrage movement and witchcraft in late 19th Century America.

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Pile by the Bed reviews Catch Me If I Fall by Barry Jonsberg, a tale for teenagers set in a future Sydney dealing with inequality, climate change and robotics.

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Pile by the Bed reviews Phoenix Extravagant by Yoon Ha Lee a fantasy novel based in Korean mythology and history.

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Emperor of the Eight Islands by Lian Hearn
Fantasy , Review / 06/03/2016

Lian Hearn returns to her best-selling faux-Japanese fantasy world in a new four book series being published in Australia in two volumes. Set three hundred years before her Tales of the Otori, The Tale of Shikanoko is pure sword and sorcery fantasy with a Japanese twist. As with her Otori series, the setting is not Japan, or even a Japanese version of ancient Japan, but it is a Japan-like world heavily based on the myths, legends and...

The Poison Artist by Jonathan Moore
Crime , Recommended , Review , Thriller / 06/03/2016

Many crime novels straddle the line between crime and horror. Serial killers, on the whole, are the stuff of nightmares and crime writers have been falling over themselves for some time to up the gore factor. While horror novels usually rely on some form of supernatural agency and do not necessarily have the neat resolution of the crime genre, the bloody results are often the same. And so it is with The Poison Artist – a crime novel ...

How to Set a Fire and Why by Jesse Ball
Literature , Recommended , Review / 06/03/2016

It is easy to compare any novel narrated by a disaffected American teenager with the seminal Catcher in the Rye. Holden Caulfield has become the archetypical American teen – intelligent, insightful and with plenty of promise but constantly fighting against a system which seeks to pigeon hole and repress. Lucia, the eighteen year-old narrator of How to Set a Fire and Why, fits into this mould but this is a very different tale and a ve...

Down Station by Simon Morden
Fantasy , Review / 06/03/2016

Doorways into magical lands are a venerable fantasy tradition going back centuries in English fiction. Think Alice in Wonderland or Peter Pan. In the Twentieth Century we had the seminal Narnia series and plenty of imitators followed. More recently we’ve even seen a modern deconstruction of that mythology in books like Lev Grossman’s Magician’s series. In this context, Simon Morden’s Down Station seems a little staid. The central ide...

The Midnight Watch by David Dyer

The sinking of the Titanic, now over one hundred years ago, is still one of the most famous disasters in history. So it is no wonder that it has been the subject of countless books and films. Given this, the question has to be whether there is the appetite for yet another novel exploring this incident. The answer, strongly given by David Dyer in his debut The Midnight Watch, is an unqualified yes. The Midnight Watch is not primarily ...

Fall by Candice Fox
Crime , Recommended / 23/01/2016

  Eden Archer, Australia’s answer to Dexter Morgan, and her damaged partner Frank Bennett are back at work in Fall, investigating a series of murders of women joggers. Underlying this investigation is another one by Frank’s lover (and former psychologist) Imogen, who solves cold cases in her spare time and is closing in on Eden’s true identity. There is plenty else going on in Fall, with Eden’s ex-crimelord father Hades having a...

Undermajordomo Minor by Patrick DeWitt
Fantasy , Literature , Review / 05/01/2016

Patrick deWitt has gone into fractured fairytale territory in his latest novel. Undermajordomo Minor, set somewhere in Europe, sometime in the nineteenth century comes complete with castles, dukes, battles, pickpockets, chambermaids and the titular majordomo. Lucien “Lucy” Minor needs to leave home. He lands himself a job as assistant to Olderclough, the majordomo  of the Castle von Aux. On arrival, Lucy finds that Olderclough’s prev...