Christmas? Yeah, well that too, but no it is the time of year when I pass out my awards for INDIE AUTHOR EXCELLENCE! Also, colloquially known as "THE GRUNTERS". Now, getting A Grunter, may not YET hold the same honour as A Booker Prize or A Nobel Laureate, but hey, give it time.
What I love most about The Grunters is there's no messy voting, accusations of mass voter fraud, or indeed claims of Electoral College infidelity. what The Grunters are, pure and simply, are MY PERSONAL OPINION!
As always, the genres in which I've placed the books are my decision and my decision alone and the choices I make are mine alone also. These awards are one person's opinion, the decisions are final and no correspondence will be entered into.
So, how does one get the chance to win a Grunter? It's totally simple - if I read one of your books this year, then you are in to win a Grunter. This year I have read 142 Books and every one of them is up for these Awards.
Over the next few days, I will be bringing you the nominees and the Category winners, leading up to that most important award of all: "THE SUPREME GRUNTER 2016!" A truly coveted crown.
The first nominee in the ANTHOLOGY/COLLECTION Category is: EROTIC SHIVERS by M.S.TAROT
This collection of short-stories by M.S. Tarot, Erotic Shivers is a new experience for me. I've read erotica and I've read horror/paranormal, but a combination of the two; not so much. I can say that that combination of the two was fascinating, exciting, sexy and scary. This was a wonderful collection of short, sharp and interesting stories.
In total, there are six stories in this collection and at around 135 pages on Kindle, it is a good, solid read. The stories are incredibly varied and each of them had something special to offer. As always, when you read a collection of short-stories, there are bound to be your favorites. For me, the two stories I enjoyed the most were The Bag Snatchers and The Lord of the Devil's Night.
The concept of sex with aliens seems pretty horrific and I can assure you in Tarot's skilled hands, The Bag Snatchers has you wanting to retch in horror, but keep reading out of sheer fascination. A great, little tale. I loved the ending as well.
The Lord of the Devil's Night was my other favorite as we examine the mind and motivation of a serial arsonist. Tarot's writing brings the pain and suffering of the antagonist in this story, right into your mind. Just superb.
All the stories have an erotic thread and there is some explicit content, but combined with the horror effect, you almost forget these stories are erotica. I have been impressed with what I've read of M.S. Tarot to date and will be seeking his stories out in future.
Oddscapes and Quirkitudes, in of itself, is an intriguing name for a book, but for this book it fits it perfectly. This is a collection of short stories that are genuinely odd and quirky. What I particularly liked about this book was that, unlike many anthologies, it didn't focus on just one genre. Panayi is known to be an excellent storyteller across many genres and this certainly comes through in her collection of short stories. There are in total twenty-one fascinating little vignettes across; fantasy, post-apocalyptic or dystopian fiction, and people watching.
Until recently I had not been a fan of short stories and dare I say it, even dismissive of them as being uncompleted works in progress. This and other anthologies I have read recently has rapidly changed my perceptions. Short stories are a wonderful way to get across a relevant point or idea and make the reader think. This is certainly the case with Oddscapes and Quirkitudes, which allows Panayi's sometimes sarcastic and insightful style to resonate with the reader and to make him/her ask themselves the relevant questions posed by the author.
Like all anthologies there are some stories that resonate with me more than others and some that will stick in my memory long after the read. Of the three genres, the two I enjoyed the most were the Post-Apcalyptic and the People Watching.
I loved the incredibly accurate handle Panayi seems to have on the troubles that face our modern society and how we could so easily slip into a situation that renders a dystopian world. Two stories from this section that particularly intrigued me were; Nine Voices After the Apocalypse and History of Planet Earth. Both of these stories are absolute winners in my mind.
I adored all of the people watching stories and marvelled at Panayi's perceptions. My two favourites from this section were; Hospital Visions and The Reunion. Panayi simply has this marvelous ability to pick through the veneer of civilised lifestyle and tell it how it really is. Interestingly enough my favourite story in the book came from neither of those genres, but from the fantasy genre. The Initiation completely sucked me in and the ending was totally perfect. I loved it.
Panayi is a very talented, eclectic author and I love reading her work. This lastest just reinforces my belief that this woman is an "Indie Author" on the rise.
Mother's Day Magic: with Love rather caught me by surprise. I wasn't sure I would enjoy this anthology of relationships and love, all centered around the magical day that is Mother's Day - How surprised was I? This is a superb collection of stories by a number of talented authors. Of extra pleasure to me was the revelation that part of the profits from this collection would be donated to MS research.
Mother's Day Magic: With Love is a collection of twelve individual short stories and/or novellas, by twelve separate writers, of whom, eleven I think, are female. Every single one of the stories had something special about them and I wouldn't be overstating things to say that I enjoyed each and every one of them.
As always though there were some stories that touched me more than others. The first of these was An English Rose by Allyson R Abbott. I absolutely adored this story of a quintessential 85-year-old English woman who realizes before it is too late that maybe there is life left in the old girl yet. Maybe it's my colonial background, but the language and situations in this story absolutely resonated with me. I adored it.
Another story that captured my attention and my admiration for its clever writing was The Day Before Eclosion by Adrienne Ruvalcaba. I don't want to spoil the plot for anyone, but I found the metaphor the writer used was not only perfectly appropriate to the situation, it was moving in the extreme. This was a wonderful story.
The final story I want to mention that truly captured me was Vision of the Heart by Mary Crawford. This story was touching and moving as we followed the struggle of a once proud nurse who has had to give up her career due to the onset of blindness through macular degeneration. The story is redolent with emotion and understanding as we watch her journey of coming to terms with her blindness and the relationship with her children and husband. I absolutely loved this story, especially the Nursing College Reunion section; that revealed so much of the human condition.
I really could go on and on about these stories. Twelve wonderful stories and not a single dud among them. It is rare that you read a compilation where every story connects and excites you. This is such a collection.
The Grunter for Indie Author Excellence in 2016, in the category ANTHOLOGIES/COLLECTIONS goes to:
ODDSCAPES AND QUIRKITUDES BY MAY J PANAYI!
I just couldn't get over the amazing diversity in short-stories Panayi packed into this wonderful, little book. It was an absolute pleasure to read and a book I'd happily dip into time and time again, for a quick fix of Panayi's quirky style.
CONGRATULATIONS TO MAY J PANAYI - CATEGORY WINNER