I was so delighted to find my collection of poems, The Letterbox Cat, was shortlisted for the LIANZA Book Awards I set off to read all the other finalists in my category. I had already read a LOVED Barbara Else’s The Volume of Possible Endings. You can read what I thought about it here . I had also read and LOVED some of those who made the long list, especially Mary McCallum’s .
This is what I thought of the other finalists’ books. Whatever you think of awards this is a great way to discover story diamonds you haven’t read.
In no special order:
Conrad’s last Supper by Leonie Agnew: This is set in 1978 when Auckland’s Bastion Point was occupied by Maori protestors. Conrad is a Pakeha boy who thinks Tane, God of the Forest, might help him solve his family problems. It is a daring book. It is funny and moving and surprising. You start reading and you don’t want to stop! It is a book that makes you think and a book that makes you feel. I loved this book!
Trouble in Time by Adele Broadbent. This is a time-travel story as Ben goes back to 1935 to when his Poppa was 12. Ben discovers all kinds of surprising things about himself and his Poppa. I loved the switch between the two times and the way Poppa becomes more than just a boring old man. Genius! I felt though that book had a missing ingredient but I wasn’t quite sure what that was! Maybe detail to make place and people fuller. Which got me thinking about the ingredients you need when you write a story and decided there is no magic formula or recipe.
Monkey Business by Donovan Bixley. This book is like a graphic novel and it is full of tremendous action. What I loved about this book was the way it made life on a ship become so real with such glorious detail. I felt like I was ON THAT SHIP as I read. That was magnificent. It is a fun book to read but it didn’t make me think about the really dreadful side of pirates. I wondered if the author could have put some splinters into the story to make you think about that, just a little.
I loved reading all four books and thought they all deserved their finalist spot very much indeed.
A short bit from review of Barbara’s book:
I loved the first two books in this series very much indeed (The Travelling Restaurant and The Queen and the Nobody Boy). Both books show a dynamo imagination at work and an ear that knows how to make a good sentence. These novels sing as you read, but more importantly they take you into a world that catches hold of you on every stoney path and in every mysterious corner.