Tag Archives: Costa

Bookwitch bites #93

Luckily I didn’t run into either of these two chaps as I haunted Edinburgh this week. Twice. That’s twice I didn’t see them. In fact, I forgot to even think about Philip Caveney and whoever that is behind him. ‘He’s behind you!’ Lucky, seeing as I was running around all alone in the dark.

Philip Caveney with Plague Doctor on The Close

Lucky too, that I had not yet come across Chris Priestley’s A Creepy Christmas, the story he has written for 247 tales. That is another thing you don’t want to have on your mind as you’re out alone, in the dark or otherwise. Good to see that the 247 tales are still going strong.

Pleased to hear that Bali Rai won one of the categories at the Sheffield Book Awards this week; his quick read The Gun. Obviously, other books won too, and even more were commended. Read all about it here.

Have been alerted that Sophie Hannah – who seems to be successful at just about everything these days – has been shortlisted for the Nibbies. The event is on Tuesday next week. Lots of other authors are also on the various shortlists, and pirates would appear to be in as far as children’s book titles are concerned. (It was hard to find the lists, however. Something wrong with google? Can’t be me, can it?)

But I did find it a little tricky to discover the Costa shortlist, as well. (So definitely not me, then.) Sally Gardner, Diana Hendry, Hayley Long and Dave Shelton are this year’s hopefuls. I’ve read two.

Barry Hutchison, The Book of Doom

And speaking of awards, I was very happy to hear that Barry Hutchison got married last week. He had proposed in a fairly public sort of way, by putting it in one of his books. Glad it paid off, and that he has now been made an honest man of. More good Hutchison news is the arrival of the cover for The Book of Doom. Would quite like for the rest of the book to get here, too. Fast.

Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell, The Bone Trail

Fast is what another book would have managed, had I not been so busy running around a darkened Edinburgh. (See top.) A very early incarnation of The Bone Trail, the last in the Wyrmeweald trilogy by Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell has been made available to me. I happened to mention I wasn’t feeling especially patient.

Arrived home to find DHL had missed me. (Miss you too.) I arranged for redelivery on Monday. Except they turned up yesterday. As I squeezed the package (to find out what it might be, the way you do) it felt like a rucksack. Couldn’t see why Random House would send me one of those.

I will now stick a plain sheet of A4 to the back of The Bone Trail to prevent me accidentally looking at what seems to be the last page of the book. A witch likes some element of surprise.

Bookwitch bites #65

I got the dates for the Costa wrong, again. But luckily someone kept me in the loop, so I heard of Moira Young’s good fortune almost immediately. Very pleased for her, and not all that surprised. I never did read Blood Red Road, having come to the conclusion that I didn’t feel up to more ‘made-up’ language. Maybe I should give in? By some miracle, I have in my hands the new paperback, complete with Costa info on the cover, as well as a new book world acquaintance claiming it’s a dystopian spagetti western. That does sound OK.

Just received the news that Chris Columbus is going to write three children’s books. I gather the publishers are very happy. Now, the man might have directed Harry Potter film(s), but is he enough of a household name to cause people to run to the nearest bookshop and hand over their money? Especially for books ‘co-authored’ by Ned Vizzini? I don’t know, but find myself in some doubt.

I’m much more interested in the, by now slightly old, news that Lionsgate have bought the film rights to the Chaos Walking trilogy by Patrick Ness. I suspect his books will make for very good film(s), and look forward to that – ‘made-up’ language and everything – in due course.

Patrick Ness and Moira Young

And finally to Swiss Lady who watched television over Christmas. She learned about this author who had written ‘thousands’ of children’s books, some of which apparently still sell. Swiss Lady had never heard of this Enid Blyton, but was willing to believe the information, regardless.

I’m afraid I harbour grudges far too well, so couldn’t resist pointing out that her beloved, aka GP Cousin, was the very person who refused to lend his young cousin Bookwitch some of his Blytons, on the grounds of BW’s reduced age, not to mention being of the weaker sex, and generally not intelligent enough for the more advanced Blyton books.

Costa 2010

I was quite pleased to hear that the poet Jo Shapcott has won the 2010 Costa award for her collection Of Mutability. Not that I read much poetry, but I do enjoy seeing one of the least expected-to-do-well books doing just fine. And I imagine the prize money will come in handy for Jo.

With my children’s books hat on, I have to say that I would like the children’s book to win rather more often than the once it has happened so far. But great read though Out of Shadows was, I doubted that it and Jason Wallace would be able to beat all those popular adult books.

Jo Shapcott, Of Mutability

Had a quick look through the list of past winners, and I can only claim to have read three of them; The Amber Spyglass and The Curious Incident, both well before the award, and then I celebrated the start of Bookwitch by reading The Tenderness of Wolves. That was the year when I had a spy at the awards ceremony, with Adèle Geras as one of the judges, reporting back on what everyone wore and who said what, and so on.

Anyone out there who can do a full review of the ladies’ dresses? No, I didn’t think so.

Hmm, just had a thought. I had been invited to lunch with Jason Wallace for today. I had to decline, since lunching in London too often becomes both tiring and expensive. But maybe he’d have been able to do the clothes report? Or perhaps not. Maybe it was other questions his publishers had in mind. (Like what will he do with the £5000?)

Costa for Out of Shadows

I knew it! Jason Wallace has won the Costa children’s award for Out of Shadows. Not bad for a beginner, is it?

Despite me having read only two of the four shortlisted books and despite Bartimaeus being such a very good read, I still felt it was likelier that this thought provoking tale from Zimbabwe would come out on top.

Now ‘all’ that remains is to see what happens in three weeks’ time when the complete Costa has been decided on. Children’s books aren’t the likeliest of winners, and that will probably be the case here. (Not wanting to be negative, but, you know…)

The final judges are Andrew Neil as chair, with David Morrissey, Elizabeth McGovern, Natasha Kaplinsky and Anneka Rice. Famous people. Hope they know what they are doing. *

Right, that’s all on books for my ‘red day’. If you want more to read you can gaze at stars over on CultureWitch today.

* Of course they do. As long time witch favourite Tim Bowler has very very politely pointed out, he’s a judge too. And so are the other category judges. Those famous people will be carefully guided. (In my defence I will say that my information came from the Costa website.)

Bookwitch bites #37

It’s a new year. It’s the point where I used to worry about signing cheques with last year’s date, but now that we don’t do cheques, I suppose that’s one fear fewer.

So, new year. New books to look forward to. One I didn’t know about until quite recently is Adrian McKinty’s Deviant. He describes it as YA Noir. Sounds perfect to me. So with one thing and another, Adrian is bringing out two books in March, one for young adults and one for old adults.

New Costa winners, coming soon. Next week. And I feel that Jason Wallace will win the children’s award. His Out of Shadows is both excellent enough to win, and different enough. Though what it boils down to is that it feels like it will.

I received a telephone call out of the blue this week. Someone wanted advice, but I can’t actually say here what it was about. Literary advice, of sorts. I said what I felt was the right thing to say, and was told that ‘yes, that’s what Sara Paretsky said’. So pleased that we see eye to eye on things.

PS We’ll have a little post script here. There is a not very nice letter in the Observer today. Quite a few people have commented, telling the letter writer what they think of her theory that children’s authors stand to make a lot of money off the Booktrust free books to children. Hence their ‘selfish’ concerns to keep Booktrust going.

From Christmas to Costa

Three years ago as the tsunami news spread, I was reading a suitable (or perhaps unsuitable) book. With only days to go before the Whitbread announcement, I’d had this urge to read Geraldine McCaughrean’s Not the End of the World. I am currently, and I know, very belatedly, reading Elizabeth Laird’s Crusade.

We’ll see on Thursday.

Have just watched the programme about J K Rowling on television. The Observer thought it a wasted effort, or some such thing, so I was prepared to hate and sneer. No need. I thought it was a very good portrait of J K.

With minutes to go, it’s rather late to suggest you all watch The Shadow in the North, but I’m sure you’re all intending to anyway.

The Bower Bird

This being the unknown on the Costa shortlist, I just had to investigate. Ann Kelley’s The Bower Bird was all sold out, so I contacted the nice people at Luath Press, to ask if they could help. They could, as they’d just speeded up the paperback publication from May next year to this December, and what with their Edinburgh office being near a witchery (I don’t know, either) they sent the witch a copy.

The Bower Bird is a sequel, so it felt odd to start reading without knowing what had come before. In a way it didn’t matter, and the story works on its own. It’s yet another book about a dangerously ill child, of which there have been many recently.

Gussie is twelve, and needs a heart and lung transplant. I believe Ann Kelley is on a mission with this, as, sadly, her own son died in similar circumstances. But in this story I feel Gussie’s illness serves more as a plot device.

It’s a charming little book, set in St. Ives, and Gussie is an interesting and different sort of girl. But, she doesn’t feel like a real twelve-year-old. She’s more like how we adults would like an unusual child to be. And the first person narrative veers from an adult’s voice to a child’s and back again. I’d have liked more editing.

But the immediate feeling on finishing the book is of a lovely story, personal courage, and more information on birds and insects than I’ll ever need. I’m glad I got to read it. And next time I’d appreciate it if the press release has a spoiler warning, as I’m not used to having the end of the book revealed like that…

Costa shortlist

I’m losing touch with reality and would most likely forget my own birthday, let alone remember that it’s Costa time again. Thank goodness for newspapers that remind me.

The children’s shortlist (sounds nice, almost as if children had chosen the books) is:
Ann Kelley, The Bower Bird
Elizabeth Laird, Crusade
Meg Rosoff, What I Was
Marcus Sedgwick, Blood Red Snow White

I don’t know Ann Kelley at all, I’m afraid, but the other three books are definitely good choices, and I’m sure Ann’s is too. And I’ll try not to blush, but the Resident IT Consultant beats me on the number of shortlisted books read.

Six weeks until we find out who’s won. (Meg, I’ll come up with a prediction some time, only not today.)