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Monday, December 13, 2010

Penelope's Top 20 List for 2010


Yep, 2010 has been a doozy. Aside from the near-death experience (!!!!), it also had some interesting romance reading.

Here's Penelope's Top 20 for 2010:

1. Best New-To-Me Sub-Genre: Amish romance. A Simple Amish Christmas by Vannetta Chapman was an unexpected pleasure...sweet, romantic, and the hero has a beard. What more could a girl ask for?

2. Best Debut Novel: No contest. Carolyn Crane's phenomenal UF masterpiece Mind Games blew me right out of the water. The totally original, quirky and satisfying novel was ridiculously brilliant. Bravo, Carolyn!

3. The Best Book I Never Read: Lover Mine by JR Ward? I appear to have fallen off the JR Ward bandwagon, and I'm not sure when I'll get back on.

4. Best Quickie: Lena Goldfinch's The Language of Souls was just a gorgeous book. Beautifully written, and utterly romantic. I loved the symbolism, and I adored the final perfect kiss.

5. Best Fictional Beard: Ian from Robyn Carr's A Virgin River Christmas. A big ole lumber-jack style beard. And it's red. Win!

6. Best Tortured Hero: Malkom from Kresley Cole's Demon from the Dark. An abused blood slave, on the verge of sanity....a true savage hero. His path to redemption was that much sweeter (and sexier).

7. Biggest Disappointment: Blameless by Gail Carriger. Soulless was one of my favorite reads of the year. The delicious chemistry between Alexia and Conall was just too good to be true. The fact that Carriger kept these two characters apart until the bitter end of Blameless was an enormous misstep.

8. Most Totally Unexpected Kick Ass Book With Most Unlikely Heroine And Hero: Skin Game by Ava Gray. When I started reading this book, I didn't think I was going to like it. Or the characters. By the end, I was completely absorbed and praying for their HEA. Amazingly fabulous book.

9. Most Insane Temporary Reading Obsession: Tie between "Tycoon" books and aliens. What the hell was I thinking?

10. Biggest Bunch Of Marshmallow Fluff: Julia Quinn's Ten Things I Love About You. The Bridgerton series seems a lifetime ago.

11. Favorite Mystery: Annette Blair's Death By Diamonds. Vintage clothes, cool paranormal heroine, and a yummy love triangle made this the most adorable mystery I read in 2010.

12. Coolest Paranormal Descriptions: Water Bound by Christine Feehan. Rikki's affinity for water was spell-binding and awe-inspiring. Now that's what I'm talking about!

13. Favorite Christmas Read: A Virgin River Christmas by Robyn Carr. This book was so emotionally satisfying. And Ian was one of my favorite heroes of the year...a wounded gentle ex-soldier healed by the love of a good woman. Sigh.

14. Best Historical: A tie between The Endearment by LaVyrle Spencer and Lady Isabella's Scandalous Marriage by Jennifer Ashley. Both of these books were beautiful love stories.

15. Most Heroic Ferret In A Romance Novel: Dodger, in Married By Morning by Lisa Kleypas.

16. Favorite Recommendation By Another Blogger: Julia Barrett's Beauty and the Feast, recommended by Mandi at Smexybooks. Not only did I love this book, I love Julia, too...she's a total sweetheart and a wonderful writer. Good pimpin, Mandi!

17. Best Sex Scene: The bath scene in Kresley Cole's Demon from the Dark. Holy Macarena! Soap me up, Malkom. Come on, you know you wanna....

18. Best Heroine: This is a toughie. Runner-up for this category is Rikki in Water Bound. Christine Feehan took a huge chance creating an autistic heroine, but her risk totally panned out. Rikki is strong, loving, loyal and brave. She's a wonderful heroine. But my favorite heroine of the year goes to Denise in Jeaniene Frost's First Drop Of Crimson. Some other readers were not digging this book--it's quite different from Frost's Night Huntress series. But I thought this book was great, especially Denise, an ordinary woman thrown into extraordinary circumstances. Not only was she completely determined to save her family and Spade, I loved that she made a point to save another character who was unfairly slated for death. That was a truly heroic act.

19. Best Hero: My favorites for the year...Conall, the growly, sexy alpha werewolf from Soulless. Spade from First Drop of Crimson. Malkom, tortured sexy soul from Demon from the Dark. Aidan, hunkalicious Irish hero from Nora Robert's Jewels of the Sun. But my #1 favorite for the year is Lev from Water Bound. When Christine Feehan nails it, she nails it. Lev is a stone cold killer who is incredibly patient and understanding with the autistic woman he loves. Lev and Rikki's love story is a perfect example of Christine Feehan's mastery of the romance genre.

20. Best Book: I love the unexpected. Gail Carriger's Soulless was a mix of steampunk inventions, paranormal politics, had a wicked sense of humor, a hilarious heroine, and a sexy werewolf hero. It was delicious. Skin Game was a wild, sometimes violent, sexy, suspenseful ride. These were both in the running for best read of 2010. But my absolute favorite for the year is Carolyn Crane's Mind Games. The premise is stunningly original, the storyline fascinating, the characters compelling, the writing superb. I was pissed off when it was over. Something tells me Carolyn Crane is just beginning her ascent to literary greatness. In my not so humble opinion.

All my best,
Penelope

28 comments:

Mandi said...

*nods* Mind Games is the awesome. Great list Penny!!!

Penelope said...

Hi Mandi! Mind Games was out-of-the-ballpark good. Thanks for the review of Beauty and the Feast..I am so glad I discovered Julia!

D.L. said...

I really need to go get Mind Games! I have yet to read one bad word about it.

If you do get back on the J.R. Ward bandwagon, hopefully Lover Mine won't disappoint. I loved it. I'm totally in love with John Matthew :)

Penelope said...

Hey DL....I already bought Lover Mine (in hardcover, no less!) so I am sure at some point I will give in and read it. I didn't love how the relationship between Xhex and JM was panning out in Lover Avenged, but from what I heard about LM, it sounds like their story is pretty intense and good. It's on the TBR pile!

D.L. said...

I did not like Lover Avenged very much, so IMHO, it gets better.

Carolyn Crane said...

Penelope!!! It is such a huge honor that you put Mind Games up for not only best debut but best book! You can't imagine what it is to wake up and see this! I just don't know what to say, I'm so thankful and happy. Thank you!!! *tear trails down cheek* Seriously.

Oh, also, fabulous - Malkom from Demon from the Dark, a perfect tortured pick. Wow! And clearly I need to pull Skin Game off my shelf.

Fictional beard. LOL.

Penelope said...

Carolyn...You so deserve it. Mind Games is stellar. And you totally have to read Skin Game. You will LOVE it. Read it this week. You will not be sorry!

KB/KT Grant said...

Most heroic ferret. lmao.

Awesome list!

Penelope said...

KT--I can't actually think of any other books with a ferret, but I'm sure there are some out there. But probably not as heroic as Dodger. :)

Natascha said...

I have to agree with you Pen, Dodger is the very bestest ferret in all of romance fiction. I'm not kidding, I felt horrible when he got his ass slammed against the wall. The valiant ferret rises!

Annette Blair said...

Penelope, I was thrilled to find your note about Death by Diamonds as best mystery on your Top 20 list. I'm honored and thrilled to have made the cut. Merry Merry & ho, ho, ho!

Penelope said...

Hi Natascha....I really loved that book. Lisa Kleypas creates the most amazing characters. And ferrets!

Penelope said...

Hi Annette...thanks so much for stopping by....can't wait to read the next one! Go, Team Wiener! hee hee....

Julia Rachel Barrett said...

Amazing list! Cannot believe I'm on it! Thanks, Penny! You've thrown me in with some incredible authors/books. And your post is pretty funny too! Soap me up Malkom...

Penelope said...

Hi Julia! I just loved your book, and I'm so glad I got to meet you "online" this year. Merry Christmas!

Vannetta Chapman said...

Thanks, Penelope. I'm so glad you liked A Simple Amish Christmas and that you like the genre! Falling to Pieces is up next, girlfriend ... an Amish murder mystery. How does that sound? : )

Penelope said...

Vanetta...that sounds great! I can't wait!

GABY said...

Thanks for the recommendations. I will go and check some of them ;)

GABY said...

Thanks for the recommendations. I will go and check some of them ;)

Penelope said...

Hi Gaby! Thanks for stopping by!

AnimeJune said...

I must disagree about the heroic ferret! But then, you'd have to read Judith Ivory's THE PROPOSITION to meet Freddy the Ferret and find out! :)

Penelope said...

AnimeJune....are you kidding me???? There is another heroic ferret? Awesome! Thanks for telling me!!!

Juju at Tales of Whimsy.com said...

I'm with you on 1 & and need to check 11 :)

Great list :)

Lindsay Kiernan said...

I love that you made up a category for Dodger! How does she do that? Pets are usually props at best and at other times annoying. Kleypas made him into a character that I wanted to follow down dark passageways to see what mischief he'd lead me to!

I also have to agree with the marshmallow term. I recently read my first Quinn and loved the style. I've read a few more, all recent releases, and I have to admit that it feels like eating marshmallows; fluffy but not quite filling. I will have to check out her earlier books I guess.

Great list! Thanks for the recommends!

Hannah said...

That's such a great list! I agree, Dodger was unforgettable.

Penelope said...

Hi Juju! Thanks so much for recommending A Simple Amish Christmas. Loved that book! And you should definitely read Annette's mystery...it's right up your alley. You'll really enjoy it!

Penelope said...

Hi Lindsay! I loved all the Hathaway books. You should read Julia Quinn's older stuff, in particular the Bridgerton series. They are wonderful.

Penelope said...

Hi Hannah! I just loved that book!