Each year, I seem to read more books than ever and the Grunters grow in popularity and stature. This year has been no exception and as of 30/11/2018, I have read 182 superb books, this twelve month period. This compares to 142 in 2017 and makes this, the fourth iteration of these awards, the 2018 Grunter Awards, the biggest and best ever.
As always, remember these are my opinions only and if your book doesn't get a mention in these awards, it is no reflection on your book, it is merely a reflection on the breadth and depth of talent in the Indie Author industry and the sheer number of books I read.
So, without further ado, let's get on with the very first awards for 2018. This category is for: Anthologies and Collections.
The nominations are:
The Flowers of Penruddock - A Romance Collection by Ronnda Eileen Henry:
The Flowers of Penruddock: A Romance Collection from Ronnda Eileen Henry is a collection of seven substantial novellas that all focus on the mythical land of Penruddock, which Henry has created and expanded on over time. The novellas all take place over different periods of Penruddock’s history; a history, it seems that is measured by before and after the rule of Good King Adelard. King Adelard was the last King to rule over a unified and united Penruddock. Upon his death, the island nation was divided up into six kingdoms, each to be ruled by one of his six sons. The story of Good King Adelard and what led to his decision to split his kingdom is told in the fourth novella: Hyacinth – Love Royal and True and is in itself fascinating. Each of the seven novellas is named after the lead female character in the story, also being the name of a flower. So, we have Poppy, Rose, Violet, Hyacinth and more. As a bonus, at the end is a story written by the author titled: Cousins One and All, a Jane Austen fan fiction story.
I loved this wonderful collection of simple love stories. There is nothing pretentious about Ronnda Eileen Henry’s writing and in The Flowers of Penruddock: A Romance Collection, she gives us simple, sweet and uplifting love stories about real characters. I particularly liked that age, occupation and social status had no bearing in the character’s choices of who they fell in love with. Many of the stories are centred around nobility and royalty, where “love matches” are often the last consideration when arranging a marriage. More important are improving one’s status or adding a title to one’s family name. Henry’s characters rise above these material issues and true love is found, pursued and defended stoutly. Because all the stories revolve around the Island of Penruddock, albeit at different times in history, I always felt an affinity with the location of each new story. This is a long collection of stories, but one that can be delved into and read at one’s leisure. Each story stands alone and I can highly recommend this to anyone who loves, good, clean, but exciting romantic adventure. My favourite stories? – Marigold: Love in Two Acts, closely followed by Peony: Forged in Love, but truth be told, I enjoyed them all immensely.
Six Tales of Christmas by Jenny Twist:
Six Tales of Christmas by Jenny Twist is a collection of short stories, as the title suggests themed around Christmas. Uncle Albert’s Christmas explores the dilemma faced by many elderly people who can feel manipulated by their relatives, especially after their spouse has passed, when in reality all they want to do is be left alone with their memories, or pursue their own adventures. In, An Extraordinary Coincidence, Twist introduces us to a modern-day Joseph and Mary who are jokingly contemplating the wisdom of calling their soon to be born son; Jesus. Home for Christmas examines the plight of the elderly who are often forced into retirement homes against their will by relatives who just want them out of sight and out of mind, but, of course, assure them it is for their “own good”. Jamey and the Alien goes to the other end of the spectrum and looks at a “Christmas Miracle” through the eyes of a little boy whose father is terminally ill. Two more stories and a bonus ghost story, at the end, round out this lovely collection.
As with any collection or anthology, as a reader, we have our favourites, but I can honestly say, with perhaps the exception of An Extraordinary Coincidence, I found all of the stories, in their own way to be beautiful, moving and on message. Each story carried a strong homily about love and about family and Jenny Twist certainly got her points across in these Six Tales of Christmas. If I had to pick a couple of favourites, I would probably plump for Marion and Jamey and the Alien. The later story, with its “Christmas Miracle” was heart-warming and from a child’s perspective, very realistic. I will admit to not figuring out until right at the end that the “chewmer” eating Jamie’s father’s brain was of course a tumour. Marion was just beautiful. It was so easy to identify with the old man, who felt the loss of his beloved Marion more on occasions such as Christmas. It was just a sweet, wonderful, little tale. As I said, all these stories were fantastic and I can highly recommend this collection as a must read at Christmas (to put you in the right spirit) and any other time of the year that you need uplifting. Wonderful, Jenny Twist.
The Golden Helm: More Tales from the Edge of Sleep by Victoria Randall:
Short Stories are often the inspiration for novels and in The Golden Helm: More Tales From the Edge of Sleep, Victoria Randall has brought us an eclectic collection of tales built around sleep and dreaming. This is the theme that links the stories together, but the stories themselves are as wide and as varied as the imagination. Randall brings us tales as diverse as a journey back to the time of Christ in a time machine to offer Mary, Mother of Jesus, a parenting choice, in "Parenthood by Choice Inc. Invests in a Time Machine, through to a story of Aliens visiting the local library looking for information on Earth's defence systems, in Incident in the Library. In total the author has brought us twelve tales from The Realms on the Edge of Sleep, some long, some short, but all of them satisfying.
I think, as a reader, it is too easy to get caught up in the idea of reading full-length novels and it is wonderful, from time to time, to take a break and read some short stories, especially ones as well written as these in The Golden Helm: More Tales From the Edge of Sleep. As in any collection or anthology, there are some stories that spoke to me and warmed my heart more than others, but I can say each of them in this wonderful collection have something interesting and worthy of being said. My personal favourites are a little difficult to choose, but I was definitely taken by The Unicorn in the Garden, which I found to be extremely descriptively evocative and beautiful in its simplicity. Equally, the title story, The Golden Helm was sweet and rewarding. This whole collection is well worth the read and as I haven't read Victoria Randall before, I am sure I will be in the future. I must investigate her earlier Tales From the Edge of Sleep. An excellent collection of stories to be kept by the bedside for reading and rereading.
drum roll please!
EMBRACE THE OPPORTUNITIES LIFE PRESENTS TO YOU AND ALWAYS, ALWAYS FOLLOW YOUR DREAMS!
HAVE A GREAT LIFE AND SPREAD THE LOVE!
CHANGING THE WORLD – ONE READER AT A TIME