NZ Booklovers Awards 2020 Shortlist Announced

A mixture of well-known New Zealanders and new talent feature in the NZ Booklovers Awards 2020 shortlist announced today.

Books by Gregg McGee, Rachel Hunter, Josh Emett, Eleanor Ozich, Donovan Bixley, David Hall and Gavin Bishop are among the diverse range of titles nominated for the NZ Booklovers Awards, along with exciting new writers.

Six books are shortlisted in each of the three award categories: adult fiction, lifestyle books and children’s books. NZ Booklovers Director Karen McMillan says the awards, now in their second year, received 88 entries and the quality was superb.

‘The judges were excited to see the variety of books that our talented New Zealand authors have produced,’ she says. ‘Our fiction award celebrates the best in storytelling, a book that is well-written but also unputdownable. Our lifestyle award celebrates the non-fiction books that have the ability to enrich our daily lives. For our children’s book award, we were looking for picture books that engage young readers and foster a love of books. It was even more challenging task to decide on the shortlisted books in each category this year, but we are thrilled with the standard of the books. These are books that New Zealand families will read and treasure.’

The NZ Booklovers Award 2020 shortlisted titles are:
NZ Booklovers Award for Best Adult Fiction Book 2020
The Claim by David Briggs (Red Door Publishing)
The Fell by Robert Jenkins (Red Door Publishing)
Lost in the Spanish Quarter by Heddi Goodrich (HarperCollins)
Meltwater by Suzanne Ashmore (Mary Egan Publishing)
Necessary Secrets by Greg McGee (Upstart Press)
The Strength of Eggshells by Kirsty Powell (Cloud Ink Press)

NZ Booklovers Award for Best Lifestyle Book 2020
Big Ideas for Small Houses by Catherine Foster (Penguin Random House)
Homemade by Eleanor Ozich (Penguin Random House)
Mid-Century Living: The Butterfly House Collection by Christine Fernyhough (Penguin Random House)
Rachel Hunter’s Tour of Beauty (Bateman)
The Recipe by Josh Emett (Upstart Press)
Whole Again by Bronwyn Kan (Beatnik Publishing)

NZ Booklovers Award for Best Children’s Book 2020
Abigail and the Birth of the Sun by Matthew Cunningham, illustrated by Sarah Wilkins (Penguin Random House)
Dinosaur Hunter: Joan Wiffen’s Awesome Fossil Discoveries by David Hill, illustrated by Phoebe Morris (Penguin Random House)
How Maui Slowed the Sun by Donovan Bixley (Upstart Press)
Rugby 1, 2, 3, Whutupōro Tahi, Rua, Toru by Thalia Kehoe Rowden, Illustrated by Myles Lawford (Scholastic New Zealand)
Things in the Sea are Touching Me by Linda Jane Keegan, illustrated by Minky Stapleton (Scholastic New Zealand)
Wildlife of Aotearoa by Gavin Bishop (Penguin Random House)

The winner in each category will be announced on 19 March 2020, and each winner receives $500 from NZ Booklovers.

The Best Adult Fiction Book Award is judged by writer and literary editor Marcus Hobson, publishing professional Rachel White, and NZ Booklovers Director and author Karen McMillan.

The Best Lifestyle Book Award is judged by journalist and author Andrea Molloy, NZ Booklovers Director and author Karen McMillan, and publisher, home renovator and foodie Iain McKenzie.

The Best Children’s Book Award is judged by author and creative writing teacher Paddy Richardson, writer and former editor Heidi North, and early childhood kaiako and journalist Rebekah Lyell.

About NZ Booklovers is an online home for people who are passionate about books. Working alongside publishers, NZ Booklovers showcases both New Zealand and international titles. It provides reviews, author interviews, book news and competitions.

Director Karen McMillan heads up a talented team of contributors and reviewers, fellow readers and writers who are passionate about books and who believe literature inspires and enhances people’s lives. The NZ Booklovers Awards are the brainchild of Karen McMillan, with the aim of supporting the local publishing community and New Zealand authors.

Judges’ comments:
The Claim: ‘You know a good book by the way it stays with you long after you have put it down for the last time. Set in a remote part of the Southern Alps this is a book with only two main characters, Evan and Addie. Evan lives in an old cottage and in the summers, he prospects for gold. One stormy night he discovers the body of a woman and rescues her, cleaning her wounds and giving her space to recover. As they grow to know each other, a friendship develops, but we know that Addie is not telling him the truth. Wonderful realism and adventure in this story. I couldn’t wait for the whole truth to be revealed.’

The Fell: ‘An unexpected and excellent read; fast paced and surprising, sometime brutal, sometimes gripping, always darkly humorous. An unnamed narrator in an unnamed country at an unspecified time, gives the novel a constant sense of intrigue. A brutal boy’s school for difficult kids is the setting, and as you would expect there are moments of fun, but also sadness. Tricks will be played, people will leave and some will even die. Our protagonist will learn how to survive and even thrive. A twenty-first century Lord of the Flies.’

Lost in the Spanish Quarter: ‘Heddi, the central character, looks back on her time living and studying in Naples. There she fell in love with Pietro. The book tells their story from two perspectives, in the present through a series of emails, and looking back to the past when they fell in love. The silent character in this novel is the city of Naples, and the brooding volcano of Vesuvius behind it. Wonderful descriptions of the old city, the narrow streets and vociferous, temperamental inhabitants. Even the clammy heat of summer comes alive with these wonderful descriptions.’

Meltwater: ‘This is a long burning story, from the abuse of a girl by people she trusts, to her eventual recovery and escape from the horrors, into a better place. Elizabeth has created thirteen different ‘selves’ to help her through life’s traumas, but eventually her psychiatrist will have to unpick all these people. They have clustered around to protect her, to help her fight or repress her memories or help her to paint and to write. They are all a vital part of her life. Extraordinary writing with a haunting power that means you won’t forget this novel for a long time.’

Necessary Secrets: ‘Over the four seasons of a year we are introduced to the Sparks family of Auckland. Patriarch Den is turning seventy and losing his grip on events around him, while his children in turn support him or plot to steal his home. Wonderful humour and biting satire make this an enjoyable read. The characters are, as always with McGee, larger than life and so perfectly drawn.’

The Strength of Eggshells: ‘The story of three generations of women: daughter, mother and grandmother. In the present day, Kate is looking for a mother she never knew. Kate’s mother, Jane, was badly scarred in a fire before Kate was born and her story is told by the doctor trying to coax words from her with a mix of reading and poetry. The grandmother, Meredith, was a settler in a valley off the Whanganui River, left to run a farm by her drunken, unfeeling husband. Confronting stories which weave together to make a brilliant, gritty story. This is so polished for a first novel, the characters are so real. It leaves you wanting more.’

‘Big Ideas for Small Houses is an essential read for anyone considering building their own home.  Catherine’s writing clearly communicates the benefits of smaller and smarter homes.  The gorgeous photography also provides a visually pleasing road map of how New Zealanders are adapting to the housing crisis.  Big Ideas for Small Houses is both an entertaining and informative read.  It’s full of innovative ideas and is beautifully presented.’

Homemade by Eleanor Ozich is a thoughtfully designed book encourages readers to ditch pre-made foods in favour of homemade essentials.  Eleanor’s accessible writing makes her back-to-basics approach to living highly desirable.  Homemade is a delightful guide, including recipes for eco-conscious household items.  Eleanor’s stunning photography perfectly complement her inspired solutions.’

Mid-Century Living: The Butterfly House Collection is a stunning book that showcases philanthropist Christine Fernyhough’s collection of mid-century New Zealand objects. The magnificent photography is accompanied by delightful storytelling. This extraordinary book celebrates our social and cultural history.’

‘Rachel Hunter’s Tour of Beauty superbly documents Rachel’s fascinating global wellbeing journey.    It is an authentic, refreshing and highly pleasurable read that evolved from the television show, Tour of Beauty.’

‘The Recipe is an essential collection of modern classic recipes.  Renowned Kiwi chef Josh Emett shares his favourite iconic dishes from over 100 fellow chefs around the world.  Curated in a simple, timeless hardback with mouth-watering photography, The Recipe is the definitive book for all home cooks.’

Whole Again is a fresh collection of recipes from contributors who are passionate about inspiring others to eat well.  Bronwyn Kan’s latest title expertly builds on the success of her previous book WHOLE: Recipes for Simple Wholefood Eating.  In this collaboration, she celebrates wellness and encourages others to creatively embrace wholefood living.’

Abigail and the Birth of the Sun is a gorgeous read-aloud story celebrating curiosity and melding the point where science and magic collide. Richly illustrated, it is a book full of wonder.’

Dinosaur Hunter: Joan Wiffen’s Awesome Fossil Discoveries: ‘As part of the Penguin Books Kiwi Hero series, Dinosaur Hunter tells the remarkable story of Joan Wiffen who, as a child, was curious about rocks and shells and grew up to discover fossils which proved dinosaurs had once lived in New Zealand. This is a meticulously crafted book telling the story of Joan’s trials – her father insisted that she leave school early since he didn’t believe girls needed education – her adventures – she finds an old map which leads her to her ‘treasure’ – and her determination to follow her lifelong interest in palaeontology. Beautifully illustrated, this is a rich and engaging story of a hero who is finally rewarded for her belief in her convictions.’

How Maui Slowed the Sun is a re-telling of the traditional story of how Maui slowed the sun’s daily journey across the sky. Filled with joy, energy and playful humour and illustrated by bright, quirky pictures which add further detail and fun, this is a book which would be great for both individual readers or reading aloud.’

Rugby 1, 2, 3 Whutupōro Tahi, Rua, Toru: ‘This beautifully illustrated rhyming book features all things rugby – from balls to boots, match officials to spectators. It is fabulous to see such an inclusive book about what is traditionally a male-dominated sport. There’s children of all shapes, sizes and colours take to the field. It is also bilingual, with both English and te reo Māori on the same double spread. A fun Kiwi picture book that invites everyone to join the rugby ruckus, boots and all, and have some fun with counting.’

Things in the Sea Are Touching Me: ‘This light-hearted rhyming story follows the experience of a little girl’s day at the beach with her two mums, as she unexpectedly encounters a range of sea life. Expressive illustrations show a variety of sea creatures in interesting perspectives. This charming book is also a much-needed boost to diversity in New Zealand literature; it is the first Kiwi picture book to feature same-sex parents. This is a wonderful read-aloud story that uncovers a world of playful surprises in the sea.’

Wildlife of Aoteaora: ‘From Dinosaurs to fleas and everything in-between, Wildlife of Aotearoa is a wonderful compendium of all the animals that have graced this land. It weaves history with the future, Te Reo, myth and conservation, complete with vivid illustrations. This book is a treasure chest.’

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