Best Books of 2017 - so Far!

A graphic novel, a brilliant retelling of a Shakespeare play, a standout second novel from the 2015 Miles Franklin winner Sofie Laguna, a couple of mile-a-minute page-turners, and a brilliant debut literary crime novel from a fresh Australian voice; these, and more, are my picks for the books that have already made 2017 a stellar year for reading. And we’re only halfway through it!

9780733638459Wimmera by Mark Brandi

ISBN: 9780733638459
Publisher: Hachette Australia
Publish Date: 27-Jun-2017

Wimmera tracks the friendship of two boys from a defining moment in their childhood, when a mysterious newcomer arrives in the small Australian country town of Wimmera, through to the discovery of a body in the river twenty years later. Mark Brandi’s debut is a simply extraordinary literary crime novel, delivered with intelligence, power and heart.


9781760297244The Choke by Sofie Laguna

ISBN: 9781760297244
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Publish Date: September 2017

Sofie Laguna is a writer who wrenches beauty even from the horror of a child isolated in the toxic world of bastardized masculinity. Fearsome, vivid, and raw, The Choke, Laguna’s second novel for adults, chronicles a young girl’s reckoning with this flawed and violent world in the early 1970s. Its emotionally intense, deeply engaging, and quietly haunting.



9781501160998Roughneck by Jeff Lemire

ISBN: 9781501160998
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publish Date: 4-May-2017

Poignant and harrowing, Jeff Lemire’s graphic novel Roughneck is a deeply moving and beautifully illustrated story about family, heritage, and breaking a family’s cycle of violence and abuse. It’s a book that validates Lemire as one of Canada’s greatest living storytellers, in any medium, and can stand proudly beside his magnum opus, Essex County.

Crimson LakeCrimson Lake by Candice Fox

ISBN: 9780143781905
Publisher: Random House Australia
Publish Date: 30-Jan-2017

One of the Australia’s best crime writers levelled up with Crimson Lake, which introduces former Sydney-based police detective Ted Conkaffey, who was accused, but not convicted, of abducting a 13-year-old girl. With the life he had over, he flees Sydney to the steamy, croc-infested wetlands of Crimson Lake, where he meets Amanda Pharrell — an accused and convicted murderer now operating as a private detective — and partners with her to investigate the disappearance of local author Jake Scully.

9780733638015.jpgThe Secrets She Keeps by Michael Robotham

ISBN: 9780733638015
Publisher: Hachette Australia
Publish Date: 11-Jul-2017

In Michael Robotham’s sure and practised hands, domestic noir has achieved new heights. With its perfect blend of sharp plotting, great characterisation and a powerful narrative, The Secrets She Keeps might well be the spiritual successor to Paula Hawkins’ The Girl on the Train we’ve all been waiting for.


9781781090329New Boy by Tracy Chevalier

ISBN: 9781781090329
Publisher: Vintage Publishing
Publish Date: 11-May-2017

This is not a radical reimagining of Shakespeare’s Othello, and for those enamoured with the classic work, Chevalier’s tale will hold few surprises. Which isn’t to say New Boy won’t resonate with such readers, just that you’ll be reading with a dreadful sense of inevitability burdening your conscious. Thankfully the dynamics and anachronisms of this retelling work wonderfully, and the transposition of Othello, Desdemona, Iago and so forth, into adolescent,s is superbly effective.

9781781256886Euphoria by Heinz Helle

ISBN: 9781781256886
Publisher: Profile Books Ltd
Publish Date: 16-Feb-2017

Euphoria is bleak and brutal, exposing the worst of man even as they demonstrate the tenacity to survive in such horrific circumstances. The novel flits backwards and forwards between the post-apocalyptic present and the pre-apocalyptic past, the latter of which presents these men as imperfect specimens, but resoundingly and empathetically human, whereas the former removes any sort of sympathy. It takes a very short period of time for our narrator and his friends to descend into savagery and submit to their base desires.

fall-tristan-bancksThe Fall by Tristan Bancks

ISBN: 9780143783053
Publisher: Random House Australia
Publish Date: 29-May-2017

The Fall is the kind of thriller I would’ve loved as a child and absolutely adored as an adult. It’s a sharp, contemporary crime novel with classic genre elements, and nail-biting suspense that will keep readers on the edge of their seat. It’s a page-turning masterpiece for readers young and old.


goodbye-vitaminGoodbye, Vitamin by Rachel Khong

ISBN: 9781471159480
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Ltd
Publish Date: 1-Jun-2017

In Goodbye, Vitamin Rachel Khong takes a scenario loaded with melancholy — a young woman’s father being diagnosed with  Alzheimer’s disease — and tackles it with uncanny sweetness, lightness and humour. Which isn’t to say the novel lacks any gravitas, or the necessary emotional gut-punch to make it resonate; it just impacts more subtly than you might expect.

animatorsThe Animators by Kayla Rae Whitaker

ISBN: 9781925321920
Publisher: Scribe Publications
Publish Date: 27-Feb-2017

The Animators is such an accomplished and polished debut. I loved it for two reasons: it’s an honest examination of the genesis and cost of living a creative life — of making art — and its elegant portrayal of love and friendship. Kayla Rae Whitaker winds together the moments that define who we are, and weaves an incredible tapestry of life and death. It’s a novel that dares to explore the full spectrum of emotions: at moments it cheered me, at others it broke my heart.

9781781256923Police at the Station and They Don’t Look Friendly by Adrian McKinty

ISBN: 9781781256923
Publisher: Profile Books Ltd
Publish Date: 5-Jan-2017

If the previous Sean Duffy novels earned Adrian McKinty the right to belly up to the bar alongside Ian Rankin, Michael Connelly, and the other contemporary crime writing greats, Police at the Station and They Don’t Look Friendly guarantees his place at the table forevermore. This is a sophisticated, stylish and engrossing crime thriller, which rips along at a cracking pace, and packs more twists and turns than a street map of Belfast. Not to mention the heart-stopping climax…

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