Monday, December 1, 2014

Penelope's 2014 Top 20 List

It's that time again! Time for Penelope's TOP 20 LIST! 
Get ready for hipster cats, psychotic mermaids, 
chocolate-y goodness, caveman heroes, 
and much much more...

1. Best Debut Collection of Short Stories...RIVER TALK by CB Anderson

This is a wonderful collection of short stories. Anderson's writing voice is at times sparse, lyrical, jarring. I adored the bittersweet snippets of life in Maine. Highly recommend this one!

2. Most Blood-Thirsty Mermaid Who Scared The Living Bejimminies Out of Me...Nomia in WAKING THE MERROW by Heather Rigney

WAKING THE MERROW also wins my favorite debut novel for 2014! This book totally rocked my boat. It's a cross-genre, horrifying twist on the mermaid legend that hops back and forth between current times and colonial times in coastal Rhode Island. Scary as hell, great writing, lots of humor, and the promise of more excellent things to come in this series. A HUGE winner!

3. Second-Most Embarrassing Reading Addiction for the Year (Includes Billionaires, Secret Babies, and Wide-Eyed Innocent Heroines)...HARLEQUIN PRESENTS

Thanks to Lexxi Callahan, I may have developed an unhealthy addiction to HP books. I think I read about 200 of them? I'm not counting, because A.) I'm in denial, and B.) I don't want to think about how much money I spent on secret babies this year. Anyway, it's almost impossible for me to pick just one favorite, but I think I've read THE BILLIONAIRE'S PREGNANT MISTRESS by Lucy Monroe about two dozen times. AND IT JUST KEEPS GETTING BETTER! *whimper*


4. Most Adorable Tea Time: BOSTON PUBLIC LIBRARY...Pinkies Up!

I took my daughter to the afternoon tea at the Boston Public Library, and it was delightful! We had cucumber sandwiches, Mutan White tea with lemon-vanilla and pink rosebuds, and delicious little sweet treats. If anyone is searching for a highly civilized activity in Boston, I highly recommend this ritual.


5. New Favorite Series Filled With Lusty Love and Chocolate-y Goodness...LAURA FLORAND's The Chocolate Series

I have a weakness for foodie books and for authors who make the setting jump off the page. Florand does both with exquisite care. You can practically taste the cinnamon-dusted chocolate as her luscious heroes pull them off the parchment paper. And forget about getting that ticket to Paris. Just read one of her books, and you will be happily transported to the most romantic city on earth--immersed in the sights, the scents, the charm. These books were created for true romance-lovers. Just lovely!

6. New Favorite Cocktail That Packs A Punch...THE MOSCOW MULE

What do you get when you combine icy cold vodka, ginger beer, fresh lime juice, simple syrup, and mint in a copper mug? NIRVANA, BABY!

7. Favorite Historical Romance...THE PIRATE'S SECRET BABY by Darlene Marshall

Marshall has the perfect balance for me...lusty romance, humor, flawless writing, colorful characters. I always love her stories. And you can't beat the title--score another point for secret babies!


8. Best Quirky Hipster Romance...GEEK WITH THE CAT TATTOO by Theresa Weir

Oh boy, did I love this book. A smart-ass cat with a POV, a beautifully-written story with music and humor and amazingly romantic moments. I am a HUGE fan of Theresa Weir. I adore authors who take risks and write outside-of-the-box...and then hit a gigantic home run. And this book hit it out of the park for me. Swoony.

9. Favorite Newly Discovered Horror Movie With A Twist...THE CABIN IN THE WOODS

This film came out in 2012, but I didn't watch it until this year. Holy canastas! This was brilliant. A fabulous play on horror victim vs. viewer, mixing up the cliches and expected characters with humor and great cinematography. LOVED!

10. Favorite New Hollywood Cutie Pie...CHRIS PRATT

Coz this...

And this...

And this...

Case closed.


11. Favorite Pilgrimage of the Year/Most Inspirational Author Talk EVER!...LOUISE PENNY

My pal Bobbi Ruggiero and I were lucky enough to hear Louise Penny speak in Norwich, Vermont this past summer. Not only is she an incredibly talented author, she is also gracious, lovely, professional, kind, and thoughtful. I bow down to her greatness. And also give her T-shirts! Hee hee!

12. Favorite New-To-Me Author Writing Irish Small Town Romance...ZARA KEANE

I got a big kick out of LOVE AND SHENANIGANS, an adorable, quirky, funny and romantic story set in a small Irish town. Bravo, Zara Keane!

13. Stupendous New Super Hero Series...VIXEN by Julia Barrett

Totally unexpected mix of crazy-good writing, twists on the super hero concept, and even a spot of romance. I'm eating these up like sour cream-and-onion potato chips. I NEED MORE!

14. Most Embarrassing Neanderthal Hero Addiction I Just Can't Quit...LYNDA CHANCE

There are alpha male heroes...and then there are Lynda Chance alpha male heroes. Basically, a Lynda Chance alpha male hero makes a regular old alpha male hero look like a politically correct hipster who knits and has pet kittens. Lynda Chance alpha male heroes are cavemen who are crude, rude, sexy as all hell, and jacked on testosterone like a lab rat. This is without a doubt my #1 MOST EMBARRASSING ROMANCE ADDICTION for 2014. If I had to pick one favorite it would be SEDUCED BY THE AMERICAN MILLIONAIRE. The characters are a bit older, which I always like. And the hero is...I can't even...OUT OF CONTROL!

15. Favorite Beard of the Year...TOM MISON

Colonial America never looked so good. 

16. Best Furry Urban Legend...YETI

Is he cute and cuddly? Does he like to decapitate people? Depending on whether you adhere to the "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" version or Syfy "Yeti: Curse of the Snow Demon" version, you'll either get a super snuggly dude or a furry killer. Take your pick.

Yeti, Girls Gone Wild version

17. Favorite Inspirational Story...THE UNEXPECTED BRIDE by Lena Goldfinch

I don't read a lot of Christian inspirational stories, but this one was lovely. It included several of my favorite topics--mail-order brides and loggers! Goldfinch has a really gorgeous writing style and it was a perfect fit for this adorable book.

18. Most Ridiculous Over-Hyped Concept I Already Discussed Two Years Ago, People!...LUMBERSEXUAL

I think there have been about 4,972 articles about "lumbersexuals" in the last couple of months. My blog post from two years ago...WEENIES IN A PLAID SHIRT

Hipster + Plaid Shirt + Skinny Jeans = NOT A LUMBERJACK! I know for a FACT this guy can't use an axe to save his life.

Just say no to hipster lumberjacks!

19. #1 Most Embarrassing Book I Read This Year...CABIN BOUND SUBMISSION: BRED BY THE LUMBERJACK

In my defense...never mind. I have no defense. I spent $2.99 on this book and the tenses were skipping from present to past from sentence to sentence. And the lumberjack's name was Paul. And...*Penny hangs head in shame*

 I can't post the real cover. It's too embarrassing. Sigh.

20. Favorite Book Read in 2014...THE ROSIE PROJECT by Graeme Simsion

This book was actually published in 2013. I have a weakness for super smarty pants-characters, especially those who are awkward and totally lacking in social skills. Don Tillman fits the bill. He is a professor searching for a wife, in the most systematic, rational, reasonable way possible. But as we all know, love rarely follows our well-planned efforts. This book was a breath of fresh air--quirky, funny, adorable, sweet...and of course, romantic. I always embrace books willing to take a chance on a different kind of hero. This was fantastic.

Best of all, the sequel--THE ROSIE EFFECT--will be released soon. Yippppeeeeeee!

I hope you enjoyed the 2014 list. What was your favorite book this year?