It's been a long, but exciting journey for me down the memory lane of the books I've read this past year. I am constantly amazed at the quality of independent authors that I've been lucky enough to read. In fact, I can honestly say in all the books I've read, there have only been two that I would call "duds" and one of them was a legacy author, so there you go.
Anyway, I'm all atwitter! It's all very exciting isn't it? So let's get on with the final two categories before we recap and consider the Supreme Grunter.
The final two categories are Best Action/Adventure book and Best Horror/Chaos/Mayhem book.
Best Action/Adventure Novel of 2015:
The first nominee in this category has the most unlikely of names: Masturbating with Strangers, written by a young American by the name of Bodhi Alvarez.
On Bodhi Alvarez' Amazon Author Page, it says; "Bodhi Alvarez always dares to push the envelope, and never met a curse word he didn't think looked great on paper." Most, if not all of those known curse words seem to appear at some point or another in "Masturbating With Strangers", so if you are easily offended, then this book is definitely not for you. Similarly, if explicit sex scenes are not your "cup of tea", then best steer clear of reading this particular novel.
The principal actor in this tale, Kevin Saunders is your typical over-achieving College graduate who suddenly realizes that the "American Dream" that he was brought up to believe in and base his life on, just doesn't exist. Like so many College graduates before him, Kevin was faced with the reality of a shrinking labor market and the need to "suck up" to the boss just to get a "job" as an unpaid intern. It was after Kevin had rebelled at one of these interviews that he decided enough was enough - Kevin would reject the "American Dream" and voyage out by himself to explore the world and "make a difference". Taking the last of his tuition loan checks for funding his voyage of self-discovery, Kevin walks off a cruise ship in Mexico and disappears into the hinterland of Central America. The book follows Kevin's triumphs and travails through Mexico, Belize and Costa Rica.
I absolutely loved the wonderfully descriptive writing style of Bodhi Alvarez and I appreciated the many insights into both the male psyche and life in general that Bodhi wove into Kevin's journey. Returning for a second to the title, this really was an insightful analogy of what casual sex, which seemed to be the goal of every College student, really was; masturbating with strangers! I did appreciate the analogy.
This is Alvarez' first novel. and I would just say well written - you have a rare talent. I look forward to seeing more from you in the future.
Check out Bodhi Alvarez here: http://tinyurl.com/zhogplc
Clarke is a master at painting a scene and telling a story, often a scene that most of us would struggle to imagine in our own minds, without her wonderful story to guide us. Amie: An African Adventure is quite simply a wonderful novel, a great story and it left me aching to read the sequel and to find out what happens next to our two heroes; Amie and Jonathon.
Amie: An African Adventure tells the story of newlyweds Amie and Jonathon who leave their comfortable if somewhat boring lives in suburban England to travel to deepest Africa, where Jonathon will supervise the construction of a desalination plant for a corrupt and brutal regime.
All is not well though in their adopted country, which is sliding into civil war as tribal conflicts quickly escalate into rebellion against the government forces. Caught in the middle and accused of spying, Amie escapes and begins a harrowing journey to walk to freedom and safety, in the next country.
Clarke paints a wonderful picture of the conditions and privations of the African bush and the struggle for survival. She also raises some fascinating questions about the morality and the ethics of Westerners dealing with regimes that put the elite first and to hell with the peasants. Power is gained by force and held by brutality. This is a fast-paced, wonderfully related and sometimes brutal story of a white woman alone in tribal Africa. I loved this book!
You can check out Lucinda E Clarke here: http://tinyurl.com/zjl24cp
AND THE WINNER IS:
Amie: An African Adventure by Lucinda E Clarke. Just an incredibly well told story.
Best Horror/ Chaos/ Mayhem Novel of 2015:
The first nominee in this category is an ensemble-cast horror story by May J Panayi called Malbed Mews.
Malbed Mews is without a doubt one of the very best novels (of any sort) I have read. Horror is certainly not my preferred genre and yet this wonderful book dragged me in and kept me totally captivated from the first page to the last. I was actually disappointed when the book finished as I had become so involved with the characters, action and events surrounding Malbed Mews. The basic plot is I'm sure one that has been covered before, but Panayi brought her own special touch and at times sardonic humour to this story.
The plot revolves around a converted building that has been turned into a modern block of flats in London. As the first residents begin to take up residence in their shiny, new, modern homes, it is clear something is not as it should be. Our main character Guy does some research and discovers that the old building, much of which has been retained, in the redevelopment, was once a mental hospital. Between the spirits of the previously dead patients and the evil that lurks in the basement of this building, there is non-stop action and excitement from the opening page. I absolutely loved this novel. I will be checking out more of this author's work. She is clearly talented.
Check out May J Panayi here: http://tinyurl.com/hyowpr7
It may be a cliche, but sometimes there really are books that you just can't put down - books that get under your skin; well, Underwood was just such a book for me. Although there is nothing particularly unique about the premise; a family trapped somewhere, by a quirk of nature and having to confront supernatural beings in order to escape, the author's personal style draws you into the story and demands that you continue reading.
As I said, the situation Peter Ford, his partner and their two young children found themselves in is not unique, they nevertheless have to find their way out of this non-existent town called Underwood, that exists in a 1970's time-warp and is ruled by a triumverate of evil; a sheriff, a judge and a vicar. To complicate matters some demonic form of creature lives in the woods that surround the town and requires to be fed at regular intervals with his favourite delicacy; fresh human meat. I won't spoil the story for anyone, but really Griffiths get his characterizations spot on and you do identify with them. Equally some of the little plot twists are well thought out and clever. I was impressed by many of the ideas he brought into his tale.
Colin Griffiths is a relatively new author and from what I can see on his Amazon page, already a very prolific one. It is wonderful that new writers, with a story to tell and a passion for telling it, are now able to access the world of publishing. It appears to me that Griffiths is well worthy of this new breed and I will definitely be reading his other books in the future.
Check out Colin Griffiths' full repertoire here: http://tinyurl.com/jlvsz97
AND THE WINNER IS:
Again, this was a very close call, but for the ability to tie so many diverse characters together in one story, I'm going to award the Grunter to the woman I now refer to as The Eclectic Indie Author, May J Panayi and her wonderful novel Malbed Mews Congratulations!
BUT, there is still one task left for me to do and that is to award THE SUPREME GRUNTER for 2015; the book that truly is my favourite book I've read this year.
With so much talent to choose from, it will be a difficult choice, so while I'm busy scratching my brain and any other bits that might itch, why don't you just chat among yourself and recap the possible winners:
Non-Fiction Book of 2015: Finding The Rainbow by Rachel McGrath
Funniest Book of 2015: Travesty by Hayden Bradford
Fantasy/Adventure Book of 2015: Darkspire Reaches by C. N. Lesley
Chic Lit Book of 2015: Desire by K French
Romantic Adventure Book of 2015: Soup by Angela Gascoigne
Romantic Action Book of 2015: Where Darkness Dwells by Lynnette Brisia
Historical Fiction Book of 2015: To Live Out Loud by Paulette Mahurin
Young Adult Fiction of 2015: Have You Seen This Girl by Carissa Ann Lynch
Science Fiction/Fantasy of 2015: The Corsair Uprising: The Azure Key by Trevor Schmidt
Action/Adventure Book of 2015: Amie: An African Adventure by Lucinda E Clarke
Horror/Chaos/Mayhem Novel of 2015: Malbed Mews by May J Panayi
Who will take home THE SUPREME GRUNTER FOR 2015?
DRUM ROLL PLEASE:
After an incredibly long and tiresome discussion with myself, and after having changed my mind several times already, I finally decided to award a tie! The BEST TWO BOOKS I READ IN 2015 WERE: The Second Coming and Just A Drop in the Ocean, by that incredibly talented and underrated indie author Grant Leishman.
Yeah Right! I can already hear the screams of "FIX!" from here.
Seriously, though I am pleased and incredibly proud to award the first ever SUPREME GRUNTER AWARD TO an author and a book that I had the most pleasure reading this year:
AMIE: AN AFRICAN ADVENTURE by LUCINDA E CLARKE
Congratulations and what a lot of fun that was.
Please be sure to join me here the same time next year for the second annual Grunter Awards. I had an absolute ball bringing this to you and I hope you will try some of these offerings yourself.
REMEMBER INDIE AUTHORS ROCK!
SOON WE WILL RULE TOO!
Till then; thanks for reading and have a wonderful peace-filled day!
EMBRACE THE OPPORTUNITIES LIFE PRESENTS TO YOU AND ALWAYS, ALWAYS FOLLOW YOUR DREAMS!
Have a great life and spread the love!
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