Hamilton Book Month 2014 – Good Reads Panel

March is Hamilton Book Month for 2014! And this year I’m taking part in the Good Reads Panel. Here’s a bit about what that is going to entail:

A lively panel chaired by award winning breakfast radio presenter Mark Bunting will speak on “What have you been reading lately? What’s new and coming to us in the next six months?”

Whare Tapere Iti
Academy of Performing Arts (via Gate 1 or 2B)
Waikato University
Thursday 13 March

So I, along with others, will be blathering on about books. Come along, it’s free and will be fun. This is my first time being part of a panel discussion, so be gentle with me! :)


Book Review: Raising Steam by Terry Pratchett

Raising Steam coverRaising Steam by Terry Pratchett, Doubleday, ISBN9780857522276, RRP $49.99

It is by turns amazing and fortunate (for us readers) that Discworld is now 40; Raising Steam is the 40th novel in Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series.

Look, you all know how I feel about Pratchett, and if this is your first time visiting (Aloha!) then look around! It won’t take long for you to find out. :)

But back to Raising Steam. We’re back in Ankh-Morpork and back with Moist von Lipwig, raconteur extraordinaire and puppet on a string to Lord Vetinari (aren’t we all, in a way?). After saving the Ankh-Morpork postal service, the Ankh-Morpork bank and the Ankh-Morpork mint, Moist is now charged with taking control of the new steam train service. We’ve got goblins again (they are great characters, incidentally), we’ve got Harry King, we’ve got Moist and Spike, we’ve got dwarves… all the elements are there for a great book.

And it is a great book. I’m damning with strong praise but that’s the Pratchett’s problem: his best books are AMAZING. His not-best books are great.

For new and well-read Pratchett fans Raising Steam will be a good read. The one quibble is it needs a firmer editorial hand, the story is slower than Pratchett’s usual and would have benefited from the odd slash through the longer deflections.

But the good news is Pratchett’s deflections cover the best and most thoughtful parts of the whole Discworld series. He considers racism, how technology changes social interactions, politics, terrorism, religion, gender and identity politics.

Discworld is a mirror to our world, a mirror that shows us as we truly are, shows us our history, and doesn’t let us turn away from the worst and the best parts of ourselves. I should learn not to quibble.

That’s the trouble, you see. When you’ve had hatred on your tongue for such a long time, you don’t know how to spit it out.

Book Review: Maia and What Matters by Tine Mortier and Kaatje Vermeire

Maia and What Matters cover imageMaia and What Matters by Tine Mortier & Kaatje Vermeire, Book Island, ISBN9780987669667, RRP $29.99.

The most beautiful picture book I’ve seen this year, Maia and What Matters is the latest from Kapiti Coast publisher Book Island – further proving that the best New Zealand publishers are congregating around Wellington.

Maia is “an impatient scamp”, lucky enough to have a Grandma just the same. They romp delightfully through Kaatje Vermeire’s absolutely stunning illustrations, capturing your heart with Tine Mortier’s equally delightful text.

Age does come for us all, however… and Grandma falls ill and suddenly she doesn’t romp (or talk) like she used too. Then tragedy strikes that little bit deeper.

I want to frame every page of this book. The pictures are beautiful and the story is gentle, heartfelt and honest in its depiction of the relationship between generations.

A book to make you wish you told your grandparents how much you loved them while they were with you. Or to remind you to romp with your grandchildren.

Where’d you go, BookieMonster?


How I have missed you. Many things have happened in my absence, of which I had little to do with. (I am into overuse and misuse of prepositions at the moment, sue me.)

These things included:

  • New Zealand author wins Booker Prize (the second NZ author to do so, which makes us muy successful [I am also into misuse of foreign language and overuse of brackets at the moment, sue me.])

Okay, so that was the most interesting thing that happened.

In not book news I moved house and Mr Monster and I are now joint owners of a mini-orchard and a well laid out pile of bricks and mortar. Yay!

Books what I have read recently:

Amongst many others, which I am hopefully going to actually write about. Seeing as, you know, that’s what I’m here to do. Onwards!

I have a confession… and here it is

It’s time to come clean.

I’ve been fooling you all for a while. Well, not so much fooling you, as just not ‘fessing up.

I am now, officially, a converted lover of e-readers. Not just any e-reader, oh no, the Kindle Paperwhite. It…is…awesome. It is 1NTERESTOMG*.

And it really is. I started my conversion quietly, with the Kindle app on a cheap Android tablet. I thought I really needed to start looking into ebooks, despite my well-covered natural aversion to them. I thought that would be a cheap way to at least find out what it was like reading ebooks. I thought “They’ll never replace “real” books, they don’t smell right.”

Then I started reading. And reading, and reading, and reading. It quickly became clear that I actually quite liked reading ebooks. And that I may as well give in and just buy a goddamn Kindle from the evil empire.

So here’s what I’ve learned:

  1. Ebooks can replace real books, even though they don’t smell right. But they feel great. My Kindle screen (and it’s a touchscreen) feels so good to the fingertips that I sometimes switch it off just so I can run my fingers over it. This is akin to the way I often smell books in book stores. Don’t judge.
  2. Reading ebooks is like discovering reading for the first time. I specifically remember exactly when I discovered how to read in my head (instead of reading out loud) and how it felt to go into my own little world of reading for the first time. I don’t know why but reading ebooks was like that. It’s a different experience but it’s JUST AS GOOD. Now I have two ways of reading! Hoorah!
  3. Maybe I’m missing something but I really miss having a description for each book. I spend a ridiculous amount of time deciding what to read next, and I’m guided by a precise but totally undefinable combination of “That sounds interesting”, “That’s what I feel like reading”, “That’s what I need to review next” and “That starts with P and purple starts with P and purple is my favourite colour, but maybe I’ll read this instead”. That sort of approach really needs all available information at all times. Am I being Kindle-clueless? Please let me know.

I’m not giving up books made of ink and paper and wood and glue and silverfish and bits of food and weird smells. The sound of a book being cracked open for the first time is simply something I’m not willing to let go.  I’m just catching up with the future.

*My new favourite term coined just this week in a Facebook message from a delightful NZ author who shall remain nameless.