Vote for the Peoples Choice Award 2014

The People’s Choice award is the public’s opportunity to vote for their favourite NZ published, NZ authored title published within the eligible date span for the 2014 awards (1 June 2013 – 31 May 2014). I’ll let you in on a secret and tell you I voted for Wake by Elizabeth Knox.

Vote using the link below or the widget to the right and remember – you don’t HAVE to vote for the covers they show, you can enter your own choice in the form!

Vote in the 2014 People's Choice Award

Book Watch, New Zealand Herald on Sunday – 13 July 2014

The Martian

By Andy Weir, Random House

This science-fiction adventure thriller is up there with the best in edge-of-your-seat reads, combining imagination, science and a healthy dose of humour. Mark Watney is a botanist and astronaut stranded on Mars, left alone to survive on the Red Planet because of a mixture of bad luck and catastrophe. Will he make it back to Earth? It’s no surprise that a movie adaptation is already in the works.


By Hugh Howey, Random House

A new world and a new story from Howey, the best-selling writer of the Wool trilogy. The author’s strength is his prodigious imagination and he makes use of it again with Sand, combining apocalyptic vision with a story of family and survival. Like Wool this is a highly enjoyable read; I became so immersed I could practically feel the grit and wind.


By Rosetta Allen, Penguin

A fantastic new book from a talented New Zealand author, Purgatory is based on the 1865 Otahuhu murders. Exploring ideas of spirituality, colonial dispossession and the dehumanising effects of poverty and alcohol, the story moves between Ireland and New Zealand, and between bereavement and redemption. Allen’s expressive story-telling will appeal to readers looking for the best home-grown narratives.

At War with Satan

By Steff Metal,  Grymm & Epic Publishing

Another homegrown author but with a completely different focus, At War with Satan is a fantasy tale in the best tradition of Terry Pratchett and Robert Rankin, with a lot of heavy metal thrown in. Plenty of puns and gentle jokes at the expense of various musical genres keep this a fast and furious read. The author’s love of the subject matter is infectious, making the war between heaven and hell anything but grim.

My Book Watch column for 13 July 2014, courtesy of the New Zealand Herald on Sunday.

scan of printed Book Watch column

A big thank you from BookieMonster

Wow, I can’t believe I started my Givealittle Fundraiser five days ago and I’ve already had 24 donations and have more than doubled my goal. I am so humbled by the support I’ve had and thank you so much to people who have donated, shared the link, sent me messages, shared their stories and just generally been awesome.

So awesome, that I have pretty much been like this all week.

Cas from Supernatural thank you gif

My fundraiser is still open so please keep sharing with your networks and with anyone you think might be interested, would like to support or would be interested in talking to me! Exceeding my goal means I can spend more time with the right people, I can afford to set up domains and webhosting right away, and I can visit more places.

And it means you lovely people rock. Hard. :D

BookieMonster wants your help

I’m on a mission. Not a mission from god but a mission from me* to do something that changes the world, even just a little.

And the best bit is you can help me. Please click on the Givealittle widget to the right to donate, or see below!

This year I’ve had reason to be involved with a social/support group for queer youth, here in the Waikato. I’ve been amazed at the work they do and realised I want to do something to help groups like that, and help out young people (and their families/supporters) who feel alone, scared, bullied or just want to meet friends who understand. I’m particularly interested in helping kids outside urban areas to access the services or groups that are already available. I’ve seen the difference it can make to their lives and I don’t want to just leave it up to chance that other kids out there can also experience that difference.

I can’t do everything but what I can do is make connections, communicate with people, persuade and influence – and what I can’t do, I can find those others who can, and who also want to make a difference. So within the next year I want to start a non-profit organisation dedicated to working with, and fundraising for, projects for vulnerable youth of diverse sexualities and genders.

Where do you come in? Right now I need to meet people with the knowledge to make sure that what I set up is robust, well-planned, meets the right need and makes the difference I want it to. That takes money, mainly for petrol. I will be spending a few days in Auckland, meeting with contacts who are already working in this space, and I also need to work with community advisors who can help make sure I set up my non-profit organisation correctly.

I’ve set myself up a Givealittle page to raise a bit of money to do the above. The fantastic thing about Givealittle is you can give as little as $1 – and that $1 would be awesome!

The other thing which would be fantastic would be sharing this with people you think would be keen to support me, whether by making a donation, talking to me, donating webhosting space, donating any kind of service I may be able to use, or just by saying “good on you”. :) If they do then they can Contact Me.

So please donate to help me move towards my goal of helping others!

My next job is coming up with a great name for my cause. The youth have recommended Sparkly Rainbow Unicorns… I’m open to other suggestions. :D

*Unless you think I’m God, like my kitty does.

Why I agree you should be embarrassed to read YA books

So, this article from Slate, entitled Against YA: Adults should be embarrassed to read children’s books has caused something of a wild storm throughout the book community. But, with (insincere) apologies to the many commentators who hated it, I really agreed with it. Basically it’s a call to those who persist with the “I only read YA. I even have a t-shirt” line to perhaps think about it in a different way.

(I want this t-shirt though:

…anyway, as I was saying.)

Our reading habits will and should change over a lifetime. Reading is so personal and so communal we almost inevitably make the personal political (or at least extrapolate the personal opinion into the wider opinion). The serious literary types pooh-pooh the YA types. The paranormal romance types laugh at the serious literary types who can’t afford to eat. The YA types accuse others of being literary snobs, Dan Brown readers have no idea we’re looking down on them, and everyone laughs at those who read nothing but Mills & Boon.

It’s the nature of opinion.

And opinion changes.

For example as a kid I absolutely loved Roald Dahl, I read most of his books over and over. I still adore him and thoroughly enjoy reading his books. But the profundity of them has changed. To read them is enjoyable, and doing so reminds me why my 10 year old self related to the lovely characters, but my present self does not.

In my 20′s I was enamoured with “serious literature”: prize winners, difficult reads, often quite avant-garde stuff. I read it, not because I necessarily enjoyed doing so but because I was an English student and I wanted to have the experience of reading it, I wanted to push myself, to read for more than enjoyment and satisfaction and fun. I was, and in many ways still am, a literary snob.

Now, in my 30s, I still read a lot of those types of books – mostly prize winners – but I do so with one eye on my enjoyment levels. My time is becoming more limited, I don’t have hours to spend reading so I try to balance it more. So I read (and love) a bit of YA, I laugh and marvel at really good children’s picture books, I delve into the odd piece of easy reading… I’ve even discovered the joys of speculative fiction. And I still go head over heels for serious adult literature.

So what I took from this article was not the headline (which is obvious click bait, and dammit, why don’t I do that with my blog and stop being so high and mighty, on that note, see above), what I took was don’t let YA literature be all you read. Books for kids and teens are for kids and teens and we should be honest about that, and acknowledge that that’s what makes them good books. If I wanted to write a YA book but I didn’t write it for YAs then I would not be doing my job well, at all. If you’re not the target audience then of course those books can still speak to some part of your soul, my 15 year old soul was thrilled by The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood but in very different ways from my 25 year old soul and my 36 year old soul. And I imagine my 72 year old soul will again view it in a completely different way.

Also, just to really make you all mad, I didn’t think The Fault in Our Stars was all that great. It was fine but, jesus, it was so written for teenagers and, bless them, they are invariably annoying. We all were. That’s why we can relate.


Authors on Twitter

The Guardian has a list of 10 authors who are brilliant at Twitter. I am disappointed they haven’t done 10 book bloggers who are brilliant at Twitter. Who would want to miss these gems: