NZ Booklovers Awards 2024 Winners Announced

Nick Davies, Eileen Merriman, David Hill, Sacha Cotter, Carlos Lehnebach, Claire Regnault, Rebecca Rice, Isaac Te Awa and Rachel Yates are winners in the 2024 NZ Booklovers Awards announced today.

‘We are delighted to announce five award-winning books that families in New Zealand will enjoy for many reasons,’ says NZ Booklovers Director Karen McMillan. ‘Our winning novel is a stunning sunset noir novel that blends genres. Our lifestyle-winning book is an extraordinary tribute to Aotearoa New Zealand’s botanical heritage. The new category for Young Adult is a wonderfully evocative story with strong messaging around mental health and wellbeing. Our Junior Fiction winner is a page-turning thriller about courage, teamwork, friendship and caring for the environment. The winning children’s picture book will engage young readers and foster a love of books. We are very grateful to Lighthouse PR, Benefitz, The Kiwi Kids’ Bookstore and Duckling Publishing for sponsoring these awards.’

El Flamingo by Nick Davies wins the NZ Booklovers Award for Best Adult Fiction Book 2024, published by YBK Publishers New York. Sponsored by Lighthouse PR.

The judges say, ‘In yet another packed shortlist for the Best Adult Fiction category, the judges agreed that one novel edged ahead to be pronounced the winner. El Flamingo is a delight from start to finish, with a storytelling style that is deceptively easy to read but is likely the result of numerous drafts. Davies has done a terrific job of blending the genres, nailing the tone and characterisation, and having great fun in the process.  El Flamingo is an exhilarating debut, so perfectly paced and plotted, and with a central character to fall in love with. Lou Galloway is an unforgettable character full of self-deprecating wit. His strong, clever narrative voice is what makes this novel so engaging. This is a tale infused with heart and soul, a sunset-noir novel with an exotic Latin-American vibe that has it all: action, suspense, intrigue and a compelling love story.  This outstanding novel is fresh, surprising and fun. It is all killer and no filler when it comes to impeccably crafted writing, characterisation and pace. This is storytelling at its best.’

Flora: Celebrating Our Botanical World. Edited by Carlos Lehnebach, Claire Regnault, Rebecca Rice, Isaac Te Awa, and Rachel Yates wins the NZ Booklovers Award for Best Lifestyle Book 2024, published by Te Papa Press. Sponsored by Benefitz.

The judges say, ‘Flora: Celebrating Our Botanical World is an extraordinary tribute to Aotearoa New Zealand’s botanical heritage, curated from Te Papa’s extensive collections. This expansive and visually striking hardback invites readers on an immersive journey into the world of flora.  Flora is undeniably impressive, with immense aesthetic appeal. Visually delightful and highly informative, it is a culturally significant celebration of our botanical heritage. Flora transcends traditional boundaries by intertwining botanical wonders with a diverse range of art forms, including decor, fashion and photography.

More than a mere collection of images, Flora explores botanical themes through 12 truly insightful essays. The depth of its content, complemented by its elegant presentation appeals to a broad audience. Flora’s sheer scale and visual allure not only elevate its impact but highlight its curation by an expert, cross-disciplinary team. Flora has surpassed its ambition of inspiring readers to feel a sense of mīharo, of wonder, for plants and flowers in all their representations. Flora emphasises the cultural imprint of flora and transforms the book into a true taonga, a treasure for all to enjoy.’

Catch a Falling Star by Eileen Merriman wins the NZ Booklovers Award for Best Young Adult Book 2024, published by Penguin Random House. Sponsored by The Kiwi Kids’ Bookstore.

The judges say, ‘This is the prequel to acclaimed New Zealand YA author Eileen Merriman’s wonderful novel Catch Me When You Fall returning to trace the backstory of love interest, Jamie Orange. Magnetic and troubled, Merriman creates a dramatic and wonderfully rich narrative around this young man as he navigates some pretty hefty dynamics personally, and relationally. Jamie’s charismatic confidence dazzles friends and crushes alike…until it doesn’t, leaving relationships fraying under the weight of his unpredictable behaviour. Of the many excellent aspects of Eileen Merriman’s writing, it is the realism that she creates within these fully formed characters that stands out. The ability to accurately capture the nuances of language and the roundness of her central characters that really sets her apart as an author. A wonderfully evocative story with strong messaging around mental health and wellbeing.’

Below by David Hill wins the NZ Booklovers Award for Best Junior Fiction Book 2024, published by Penguin Random House. Sponsored by The Kiwi Kids’ Bookstore.

The judges say, ‘When Liam dares his classmate Imogen to come on a forbidden tour of the railway tunnel being drilled through a nearby mountain, he hopes she’ll quit protesting about it damaging the

environment. As the pair reach the huge tunnelling machine deep beneath the ground, everything goes horribly wrong. With nobody knowing where they are, and the water beginning to rise, the former arch-enemies have to work together to survive. Below walks the fine line of being compelling without being too scary for the intended audience. David Hill has crafted yet another excellent read that combines a pacy plot with an ecological theme.  It is a page-turning thriller about courage, teamwork, friendship and caring for the environment, and showcases Hill’s extensive research that he puts into every one of his stories. With Below, Hill delivers a rich cast of characters and a gripping read for junior readers 8-11.’

Dazzlehands by Sacha Cotter, illustrated by Josh Morgan, wins the NZ Booklovers Award for Best Children’s Picture Book 2024, published by Huia Publishers. Sponsored by Duckling Publishing. 

The judges say, ‘A cow goes moo, a chicken goes cluck, a pig goes… Dazzlehands? What the..? The latest from the author of The Bomb continues his riff on celebrating diversity and individuality. Dazzlehands dazzles from the get-go, with its bright pink and silver cover and the intrigue of a pair of bejewelled trotters thrust skywards. Whose hooves are these? And why are they so sparkly? Reminiscent of the stubborn back-and-forth in Green Eggs and Ham, this playful tale is funny and fun to read aloud; perfectly ludicrous and imaginative in the way that picture books should be. Morgan’s rainbow-bright illustrations are entertaining in their own right, with many of the pictures telling their own story. Great to see a Māori main character too (the farmer).’

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 believe literature inspires and enhances people’s lives. The NZ Booklovers Awards are the brainchild of Karen McMillan to support the local publishing community and New Zealand authors.

Entries for the NZ Booklovers Award 2025 will open soon; more information to come in the future.

For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact Karen at or 027 693 9044

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