Monday, December 12, 2011

Penelope's Top 20 List For 2011

It's that time again! Time for Penelope's World-Famous Top 20 List....Enjoy!

1. Best Book With The Word "Penis" In The Title: The Princess and The Penis by RJ Silver

I thought it was a joke. But the joke was on me. The Princess and The Penis is the best self-pubbed book I've read this year. It's well-written, clever and laugh-out-loud funny. And it's written by a little green alien. Who knew?

2. Best Amish Romance: Jacob's Return by Annette Blair

Annette Blair never ceases to amaze me. She can write snappy mysteries, quirky romances, and emotional tear-jerker Amish stories. Jacob's Return is a powerful and intense love story. I bawled my eyes out at the end, and fell in love with this book.

3. Biggest Metrosexual: Roarke from JD Robb's Naked In Death

In spite of receiving death threats in Bertucci's from a rabid fan, I am sticking to my guns about Roarke. Based on the first book of the series, Naked In Death, I don't get the appeal. While Eve kicked butt, Roarke drank wine. Give me a freakin' break! I am firmly ensconced in the "I-Don't-Love-Roarke" brigade. I have a membership card and everything. (I appear to be the sole member of this club).

4. Most Over-Priced Quickie About A Horny Alien Gorilla Dude From Outer Space: Dementia 

Here's the book synopsis in a nutshell.... It's a 30 page quickie about a super horny alpha male gorilla alien dude from outer space who kidnaps an earth girl to use as a sex slave, chases after her in the jungle, and then she gets trapped by a super horny alien plant that fondles her sex organs and tries to suck her dry until she goes completely insane (hence the title Dementia), but then the "hero" finds her and boinks her for most of the 30 pages, and then they decide they are hopelessly in love with each other.

Any questions?

5. Most Misleading Cover: Northern Fascination by Jennifer LaBrecque

The cover shows a rugged bearded hero wearing a plaid shirt, with six-pack abs and ripped jeans. The hero in this book is actually an executive weenie who goes to Alaska to buy out an entire town. His only "tool" is a Blackberry. Oh Harly, how could you?

6. Best Cougar Story: The Unidentified Redhead by Alice Clayton

I could not stop laughing out loud at this hilarious, sexy cougar story. (And I don't even like cougar stories). This book has awesome pop culture references, smoky hot sex scenes, and an adorable British hero. It's a sure thing.

7. Best Sci-Fi Erotica: Captured by Julia Rachel Barrett

What if aliens came to Earth to capture humans and auction us off as a food source? This is the premise for Barrett's excellent sci-fi erotica Captured. I found it suspenseful, thought-provoking, and intelligent. Another winning story by Julia.

8. Characters I Most Want To Hit Over The Head With A Cast-Iron Skillet: Shelly Laurenston's Beasts.

They're immature, horny, foul-mouthed, hyper and the most unlikable characters I have ever encountered. I seem to be in the minority, because most folks love this series. I would really love to ding them over the head with a cast-iron skillet, although I don't think that would do any good. They would just pop back up and yell "bitch"!!!!

9. Best Cocktail Of The Year: The Gingerbread Man

This ain't your mamma's gingerbread recipe, baby. Bailey's, schnapps, and vodka will knock you on your ass faster than you can say "Ho, ho, ho!"

10. Most Disturbing Use Of A Jar Of Honey: Bearotica

I found my limit with hairy dudes, and it was Bearotica. This compilation of gay male "bear" stories was poorly-written, often disturbing, and liberally sprinkled with pots of honey. My therapist thinks I'll recover by 2015.

11. Favorite Spanky Elf Christmas Story: Santa's Wayward Elf by Paige Tyler

What do you get when you mix the mob, a naughty elf, a hot cop, and the Big Apple? One fun spanky elf story! Spanking and Santa Claus seemed to be the theme of the month for holiday erotica.

12. Best Multi Boy Band Concert: NKOTBSB

The New Kids On The Block and The Backstreet Boys might be old, they might be bald, and their voices might crack on occasion, but they still got the moves! There's nothing like Donnie Wahlberg ripping off his T-shirt and showing off some fine-looking abs. A sublime moment of musical history, I'm sure.

13. Best Zombie Mash-Up: Jane Slayre by Sherri Erwin

It takes a lot of chutzpah to zombify a well-beloved classic like Jane Eyre. Erwin has managed to add humor and horror into the classic tale, and transform Jane into an empowered monster-slayer. Me likey!

14. New Favorite Mystery Series: The Liam Campbell Series by Dana Stabenow

I sucked down this whole series in a matter of days. These books have got it all....stunning Alaskan setting, conflicted romance, fascinating storylines, and even a bit of the paranormal. Killer series. (And I mean that both ways).

15. Best Book With Marauding Cavemen, The Bermuda Triangle, T Rex, Plane Wrecks, Time Warps, and Hot Conquistadors: Island Heat by Jill Myles

This book was right up my wacky alley. It packed everything into one story, and for some crazy reason, it worked. Surprisingly, it's the only book nominated in this category.

16. Best Beard: Nash in Winter Woman

Nash is a pioneer who lives a brutal life in the wilderness. He is wild and raggedy and beardy. A big, scraggly beard. (Which he unfortunately shaves off, but let's pretend that didn't happen, shall we?). The pioneer beard wins. Also known as The Pa Ingalls Beard Of Achievement.

17. Best Steampunk: The Iron Duke by Meljean Brook

I'm hoping that I never experience a zombie apocalypse, or a world like Brook's steampunk vision. Dark, disturbing, fascinating, scary as hell. What an incredible back-drop for a love story! This book is excellent.

18. Best Heroine

This is always a toughie. I adored Thalia in Zoe Archer's Warrior....she is a beautiful, strong-willed and loyal woman, and the perfect match for her hero. I also loved Cordelia in Winter Woman. She transforms herself from a scrawny city girl into a heroic pioneer. Linnet in Eloisa James' When Beauty Tamed The Beast is a wonderful mix of contradictions...vain and lovely, sharp and thoughtful. And Mina in The Iron Duke is a phenomenal heroine...brave and resourceful and passionate. But the #1 heroine for the year is.....none other than Jane from Jane Eyre. Despite all obstacles and heart-break, she maintains her strength, her integrity, and her love. Jane is a wonder, and my favorite heroine of 2011.

19. Best Hero

I met some very cool heroes this year. Max in The Reluctant Nude was quirky and charming and endearing. Nash in Winter Woman was like a big wounded bear dedicated to keeping his new woman safe and protected in the wilderness. Piers, in Eloisa James' When Beauty Tamed The Beast, is one of the greatest heroes I've ever seen. Brilliant and blunt and angry. What a wonderful love story! But my pick for Best Hero of 2011 is the quintessential wounded soul, Rocky McRochester from Jane Eyre. Edward Rochester is filled with passion, and flaws, and pride. And love. I adore his long-winded monologues. I adore his melodramatic proclamations. I adore his acceptance and love for Jane. Hot damn, Rocky is the one!

20. Best Book

I read some doozies this year. (No, I'm not talking about Bearotica!). Shadowfever wrapped up Karen Marie Moning's epic series with a bang. It was an extraordinary journey, filled with incredible imagery and drama. The Iron Duke was a stunning steampunk vision, Warrior was a passion-filled adventure, and When Beauty Tamed The Beast was a perfect bit of storytelling. Winter Woman, an oldie but goodie, was one that I will re-read again and again. But the best read of the year was a classic that I was lucky to discover at the ripe old age of 45. Why I waited that long, I have no idea. Jane Eyre is my kind of story. It takes you to the edge of the abyss, a place filled with despair and tragedy, and then it brings you hope. It gives you joy and love and hope for the future, as a man crushed by tragedy embraces his soulmate and salvation. Holy macarena.....that is one of the greatest final scenes ever! EVER! I had a wonderful reading year in 2011, and Jane Eyre was the greatest gift of all.

All My Best,