Shortlist for The Women’s Prize for Fiction is announced

http://booksellers.co.nz/book-news/womens-prize-fiction-shortlist-announced

And it has two of my favourite books of recent months – Life After Life by Kate Atkinson (more on that soon) and Bring up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel.

Bring Up the Bodies cover image

2012 NZ Post Book Awards judges announced

The judging panel for the New Zealand Post Book Awards for 2012 has been announced, and last year’s NZ Post Supreme Book Award winner is heading up the judging panel.

The judges are Chris Bourke, David Eggleton, Mary Egan, Paula Green, and Reina Whaitiri (Kai Tahu).

Read the full announcement and article on the Booksellers NZ site - Last Year’s Supreme Book Award Winner is This Year’s Top Judge

Book Review: Wyatt by Gary Disher

Wyatt by Gary Disher - Cover Image

Book Review: Wyatt by Gary Disher, Text Publishing, RRP $23.95, ISBN 978-1-921656-81-1, Available now.

Wyatt is a professional thief, and he’s back in town after some time away. There’s a job involving a pretty lady, an evil Frenchman and some expensive goods,  and Wyatt’s the guy to sort it out.

And that is pretty much all you need to know about this book. Sure, it’s tightly written and engaging: I can see how it deserved to win the 2010 Ned Kelly Award for Best Crime Fiction – but at the end of the day, it just does what it says on the box.

Crime-type books are wildly popular, but the appeal of them largely escapes me. They all seem the same to me, like episodes of CSI: enjoyable at the time, but completely interchangeable.

While we’re on the subject, one fairly constant criticism I have of crime-type books (and one of the reasons I avoid them) is their cookie-cutter lady characters – or no lady characters at all (for a description of some stereotypical lady characters, see this handy flow chart). Disher does an okay job with the main lady character, and a laughable job on the others. There’s a bitter, man-less lady cop who would maybe be a lot happier if she just got a man, and a crazy stripper whose mental instability seems to be inextricably linked to her sexuality. We can compare and contrast to the equivalent male characters who have back stories which run for pages and whose happiness or unhappiness are not directly linked to what they do or don’t do in bed.

I’m not saying that two-dimensional lady characters make Wyatt a bad book  -  it’s just a shame that Disher missed an opportunity to make it better. And on the plus side, fewer three-dimensional characters leave more page space for car chases.

Still, I liked Wyatt, despite the fact he shot a bunch of guys (such a turn off), and is described as being so pretty that his face is instantly memorable unless he wears a funny hat to distract from it. Being that pretty is so hard.

The plot wasn’t predictable (though I can never guess who-dun-it in CSI either), and contained one or two genuine surprises. I also enjoyed the ending.

I enjoyed Wyatt from start to finish. It’s readable and fast paced. If you’re a fan of crime-type books, I would absolutely recommend it. If you’re not, then there are plenty of other great books out there you should read first.

BookieMonster and the NZ Post Book Awards

So, this morning I was idly reading this and then I saw this (it’s the call for expressions of interest in judging the 2010 NZ Post Book Awards, in case you don’t want to look) and in a minor moment of full-of-my-self-importance-ness, I thought hey! I could do that! I’m a blogger, I’m a book blogger, people read my blog and stuff, I’m not entirely unqualified! I can get my judgypants on!

Then I thought hehehe, look at me and my up-startyness.

So I sent out a little tweet: “In a completely crazy moment I’m actually considering expressing an interest in being at judge at the NZ Post Book Awards. What???!!!”

And it turns out you guys (and my lovely Twitter followers and my lovely fellow BookieMonster reviewer Rachel) are awesome enablers!

So Rachel and I have come up with a plan. We’re going to aim towards applying to be judges next year, or at least “expressing interest”. 200 books! It’s a lot, right? So we may be joint judges. We could be the “BookieMonster judge”. If that doesn’t go down well, we’ll just pretend to be conjoined twins or something.

In the meantime my loves, we need your help. This is naked ambition. It’s a bookie eat bookie world out there (well, no it’s not really), and we’re aiming to stake out our small (or large) section. So please, feel free to tell all your friends, family, workmates, teachers, students, volunteers, churchmates, pubmates, devilworshipmates, facebook friends, twitter followers, strangers on the street, neighbours, invisible friends, invisible enemies, visible enemies and stray dogs about BookieMonster.

I even have bookmarks if you know somewhere that would love to hand them out! Or if you just want some. Don’t throw them at people though. Paper cuts are not to be laughed at.

We don’t even mind if you’d like to namedrop us. “Oh, Fierce September, oh yes I read that last week and, as BookieMonster said Beale does an excellent job of placing a lot of the action in a New Zealand that is recognisable and at the same time quite alien.

Just make sure you namecheck us. We want everyone to know the BookieMonster name! And to visit us and say hello.

Anyway, what I’m trying to say using as many words as possible, in my way, is… we’re not above a bit of self-promotion. We’re not even above a lot of self-promotion. We’d like readers, we’d like lots of readers, we’d like more readers! Because ya’ll are amazing and stuff. *shy*