First all the books in these awards were read by me in 2023 but could have been published at any time up to and including 2022 (with the exception of the covers as that includes all the covers I have seen during the year whether or not I have read the book). I have seen a lot of covers!
Cover of the year
I love the idea of the character brewing stories and sending them out into the world.
Short story of the year
This is a great series and I love this festive short story.
Six flats – and now seven tenants. What stories do they hold?
Paul and April may have settled comfortably into cohabitation, but now a third occupant has come to share the top floor. Will this be the beginning or the end of their domestic bliss?
On the middle floor, Joshua now resides at Number Two. Young, astute, and friendly, he nevertheless remains an enigma. Until Betty invites him along to Christmas dinner…
And then there’s Betty. Stoical, caring, tactical Betty. She can be found making Christmas puddings on ‘Stir Up Sunday’ – but is that all she’s stirring this time?
Join the residents – new and old – this Christmas for a tale of friendships, good cheer, and, as usual – a good many secrets
The wonderful Betty is back in festive spirit as characters old and new gather for Christmas. Jane Harvey's relatable cast celebrate Hummingbird House style. Excellent short story to indulge in during a break in the festivities or to get you in the mood in the lead up. Great treat sized addition to a fabulous series. Why not curl up and read them all?
Novella of the year Walking in the rain Cheryl Burman
Burman knows how to write in a lyrical, almost poetic, way that perfectly draws a picture in your mind so that you ARE the character drowsing on the bus or shivering in the cold. Read this book. You'll be glad you did.' Goodreads
Once, Alf's bruised heart let love slip by. Now he's ready, but is he too late?
1954, Australia. Three years ago in a hospital in the Snowy Mountains, Alf stood by while the woman he loved re-united with her wayward husband. These days, Raine and Teddy are his best friends, their children call him Uncle Alf. Now Alf stands by as his days slip into loveless tedium.
June, a nurse, witnessed the anguish in Alf’s eyes. A spark flared between them. A tentative kiss was exchanged. But Alf’s heart wasn’t ready. Life moved on.
Pushed into searching for a new start, Alf returns to the mountains. He tells himself finding June isn’t the reason he’s there. Which is probably for the best, because it seems June has already found the man of her dreams.
Can the stars be made to align this time? Or will life move on again?
The (standalone) sequel to Keepers: ‘A treat to savour’ Discovering Diamonds
I was eager to read this book and as is always the case with this author she didn't disappoint. I made the fatal mistake of thinking I would read a couple of chapters before I went to bed. I found myself unable to go to bed till I finished the whole thing.
Cheryl Burman's writing urges you on through this gentle tale as befits the MC. Her realistic characterisations and descriptive settings take the reader on the characters journey as if they were sitting next to them.
Alf just might be one of my favourite characters in fiction.
Fans of Keepers will lap this up. Those who haven't read it will want to.
Novel of the year
In 1645, in the Suffolk village of Wickthorpe, Martha Lightbody is accused of practising witchcraft and condemned to ‘trial by drowning’. Before she vanishes beneath the surface of Dark Water Lake, never to be seen again, she places a curse upon the men responsible. The mystery of her disappearance, and the curse, become village folklore.
More than three hundred years later, in 1988, when a young girl drowns, sixteen-year-old Deborah Ryecroft is accused of being an incarnation of the original Wickthorpe Witch. She leaves the village, vowing never to return.
Now in her late forties, circumstances bring Deborah back to Wickthorpe where she receives a mixed reception. Whilst some villagers want her out, others, including neighbour, Tom Oldfield, are more welcoming.
But then anonymous, threatening notes start dropping through her door …
And another body is discovered in Dark Water Lake.
I love books set in villages and this one doesn't disappoint. There are plenty of secrets. A well navigated dual timeline with a cast of relatable characters. I was rooting for the MC from page one.
It is rare these days for me to think about a book when I'm not reading it and rarer for me to still think about it after I've finished. Carolyn Ruffles got her story in my head and it showed no intention of leaving. I await book two to get my answers.
Children's book series
Cheating a bit here this series is finished but I loved the first two books.
The Brass Ring series by K. L. Small
THE MAGIC CAROUSEL PROMISES ONE THING: ADVENTURE!
When Russell’s eccentric, storytelling grandpa moves in with the family, Russell loses his bedroom and has to take Grandpa to the carousel in the park every day. As if he doesn’t have enough to deal with already. He’s flunking fifth grade, bullied at school, and his dad’s drinking has made him feel like a failure. Russell dreams of being a firefighter but fears he isn’t courageous enough.
Then Russell rides a carousel horse with Grandpa. Thanks to a magic brass ring, he finds himself magically transported into the past, where he faces life-and-death challenges. Each ride is a new, risky adventure. If he’s not careful, he could be trapped in one of his wild adventures forever!
This is the award-winning first story in the Brass Ring Series.
Loved the idea of this. Read it all in one day, wish it could have been one sitting. An action packed adventure story. Rooted for Rusty all the way through. Well researched imaginative story. Looking forward to more from Rusty.
Adventures on the Christmas Carousel!
Grandpa gave Rusty the magic brass ring that turns every carousel ride into an exciting time travel adventure. With Christmas fast approaching, Rusty wants to buy Grandpa a special present to say thanks. But he doesn’t have much money.
The solution to Rusty’s problem could lie in Santa’s Christmas Carousel. Its animals can talk, and they all say he must ride the carousel. But that takes money too.
Rusty is about to learn a big lesson about gift-giving and the real meaning of Christmas.
This is the second book in The Brass Ring Series.
K L Small's 2nd book in The Brass Ring Series takes Rusty on more adventures. The author knows how to keep the reader reading. Another well written heartwarming tale you will want to gobble up. Perfect Christmas reading.
Newsletter/Substack of the year
Joanne Paulson - Joanne's substack
I like to be entertained and this is definitely entertaining.
Joanne's substack is a rich and varied landscape in her own unique voice.
If you follow her on social media signing up is a must.