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Some of my favorite books from 2018

MY Goodreads Reader Challenge this year had me trying to read 175 books by December 31, 2018. I know…

As of today I’ve reached 165, which is pretty terrific considering I also wrote and had published 4 books this year – 1 novella and 3 books of 100,000 words +

Of all those books I read, I tried to whittle it down to my top 5, but I really had to do 6 because a couple were tied!! These were all 5 star reads for me and I wish I could have graded them higher, because they were such fab stories!!

AT FIRST BLUSH ( A Well Paired Novel) by Marianne Rice

Alexis Le Blanc enjoys her simple life in Crystal Cove, Maine. After taking a chance on romance and getting rejected, she has given up on love. Now she devotes all her time to running her family’s winery, Coastal Vines. She wants to keep it small and traditional, but her parents have other ideas—hence why they hire some big-shot marketing executive from Napa Valley to rev up business.

When Benito Martelli shows up in her family’s tasting room, she’s more than stunned to discover he’s the man who wined and dined her the night before. Alexis is beyond peeved at his deception in trying to get into her good graces for the sake of making money on her winery. At first, she wants nothing to do with him or his big business ideas, but she’s pleasantly surprised when they come to a compromise, and even more surprised when she gives in to the sparks between them.

Unfortunately, things don’t go quite as planned and Alexis is faced with complications she never could have predicted. Promises and secrets unravel, and she must decide if love and wine are as well paired as she hoped.

FATAL EVIDENCE ( Love on the Line Series, bk 3)) by Kari Lemor ––Okay, technically this came out in Dec. 2017,  but I read it in 2018, so it counts!!

What you don’t know can get you killed . . .  
 
Construction company owner Scott Holland doesn’t go looking for trouble, but he’s just stumbled on plenty. The rundown mill he’s bought is plagued with mysterious incidents, and his investment partner, heiress Heather Silva, is as stubborn as she is intriguing. Dumped by his ex because of his blue-collar job, Scott is wary of Heather’s privileged background. Yet he’s drawn to her independence and strength, especially as the “accidents” grow more terrifying.

Determined to succeed without anyone’s help—especially her wealthy parents—Heather clashes with Scott again and again. But a grisly discovery in the basement makes them both targets. Someone wants Heather and Scott silenced for good. And as a killer closes in, the only option is to trust each other—or become the next victims…

CAPTIVE HEARTS ( A Well of Lies, Book 2) by Gina Leuci

 

Grace Adams has discovered the true reason she was brought to the gated town of Wellington. Now she wants to leave more than ever. With the security level of the town raised to fortress level she is forced to marry the town’s police chief. Hoping to gain the trust of the townsfolk, they pretend to make their marriage look real. It isn’t long before their game of deceit and reality blur together.

When Police Chief Caleb Wellington returned to his hometown, he had his own reasons for increasing the town’s security. Now, he sees the town for what it is: a prison. His relationship with Grace opens feelings he hasn’t had in a while. The last thing he wants to do is say goodbye. But he made a promise to get her home and he is a man of his word.

BENDING THE RULES by Katie O’Sullivan

 

 

Investment analyst Dylan MacDonald has been away from Cape Cod so long it no longer feels like home, despite deep roots and a large extended family. After a routine assignment in Africa becomes life or death, the former workaholic is back on the Cape and unemployed. Getting entangled with his high school crush is definitely not in his plans… Even if she was the one woman who made him think outside the spreadsheet.

Co-owner of a successful Chatham boutique, friendly and popular Bella Costa seems to have it all… except a real relationship. She has a rule against dating local boys, keeping her love life limited to summer flings. The only guy she truly cared about left the Cape and never looked back. Until this summer. Now he’s re-igniting all kinds of unresolved feelings.

Will the past stand in their way, or can they bend some rules to find a future together?

THE ONE YOU CAN’T FORGET  by Roni Loren


Most days Rebecca Lindt feels like an imposter…
The world admires her as a survivor. But that impression would crumble if people knew her secret. She didn’t deserve to be the one who got away. But nothing can change the past, so she’s thrown herself into her work. She can’t dwell if she never slows down.

Wes Garrett is trying to get back on his feet after losing his dream restaurant, his money, and half his damn mind in a vicious divorce. But when he intervenes in a mugging and saves Rebecca―the attorney who helped his ex ruin him―his simple life gets complicated.

Their attraction is inconvenient and neither wants more than a fling. But when Rebecca’s secret is put at risk, both discover they could lose everything, including what they never realized they needed: each other

She laughed and kissed him. This morning she’d melted down. But somehow this man had her laughing and turned on only a few hours later. Everything inside her felt buoyed. 

She felt…light.

She’d forgotten what that felt like.

HARD SELL ( 21 Wall Street, #2)  by Lauren Layne

He’s a Wall Street wolf. She’s been hired to tame him. From New York Times bestselling author Lauren Layne comes a wildly sexy novel of business and pleasure.

Twenty-eight and filthy rich, Matt Cannon is the youngest broker on Wall Street. He may be a “boy wonder,” but he’s every inch a man. Ask any woman—any night. But when Matt’s latest fling makes scandalous headlines, his clients get anxious, and his bosses at Wolfe Investments level an ultimatum: keep his assets zipped, get a “real” girlfriend, and clean up his act. Only one woman can help Matt with something this hard.

For PR genius Sabrina Cross, the best fixer in Manhattan, playing Matt’s steady is going to be a challenge, even if it’s just for show. They already have an explosive history, she can’t stand the cocky party boy, and worse—she can’t stop thinking about him. So who’ll dare to break her “no touching” rule first? Because when that happens, Matt and Sabrina’s game of let’s pretend will get so hot it could set both their reputations on fire.

Honestly, I don’t know what my goal is going to be for 2019, but if I keep seeing books like these fab ones listed on my goodreads browse pages, I think I may just have to up it to 200! We’ll see!

Happy reading in 2019, peeps. ~ Peg

Look for me here in 2019:

Tweet Me//Read Me// Visit Me//Picture Me//Pin Me//Friend Me//Google+Me// Triber// BookMe // Monkey me //Watch me

and here’s the link to my TELL ME ABOUT YOUR DAMN BOOK podcast interview, just in case you missed it: TMAYDB

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#TheGreatAmericanRead, Villains and Monsters, #PBS

This week’s edition of The Great American Read   ( my current TV watching obsession!) was all about VILLAINS AND MONSTERS in books. And the monsters aren’t exactly the kind that appear from under your bed!

This episode was fascinating for me because it made me take a second look at books I typically would never read: dark, tortuous anti-heroes, creepy villains, and tales of obsession. I like to stick to happy, peppy, HEA stories usually. Hee hee

So, the breakdown for the Villains, Monsters, and Evil Forces books on the 100 list are as follows.

OBSESSION. My dictionary defines it thus:an idea or thought that continually preoccupies or intrudes on a person’s mind. The books in this category are pretty recognizable. The Picture of Dorian Gray and Moby Dick.

  

Dorian is obsessed with growing old and Ahab is obsessed with the great white whale who bit off his leg.

 Thrillers. As a society we love to be scared. Truly. There’s nothing like being placed in a situation – like a movie theater -where you scream with fright at what’s on the screen, and then take a breath because you know it’s not real. The favorite books in this category are Gone Girl and then classic And Then there were none

 Written decades ago, this book started the genre of crime thriller. 10 people are invited to a secluded island under a false pretense and then systematically, to the words of an old children’s poem, are killed to serve some skewered sense of justice. Brilliant writing. Brilliant ending. No one did it better than Dame Agatha

Our next category is the dark side of human nature. George R.R. Martin has a great quote in this segment. He says, “the villain is just the hero who’s on the other side. ” Love that. Here, we have the classic DuMaurier Rebecca and Game of Thrones.  Has there ever been a creepier housekeeper than Mrs Danvers?

   

Institutional Evil is next on the list. These are the books that turn their attention to societal evil. Books such as The Handmaids Tale and Beloved fall into this category.

We see the United States during two courses of its history real and imagined. First, it’s slavery past in Morrison’s book, and then an imagined future where America is now called Galead and run by a group of men who rule over women. Even though this is a work of fiction, the parallels to what is going on in our society today is pretty terrifying.

The corrupt and all powerful Villain is next. This is where the phrase absolute power corrupts absolutely is a perfect description. The Harry Potter books, The Stand, and Alice in Wonderland fall into this category.

  

Voldemort covets all the power in the universe as his own. Randall Flagg can read people’s minds and souls to get them to believe in him and him alone, and who can ever read about the Queen of Hearts and not see her as a totalitarian nincompoop?

The last category of Evil concerns those characters who choose ambition over ethics. The Watchers and Frankenstein explore this topic in full detail. Everyone always forgets that Frankenstein is not the monster’s name. Victor Frankenstein is the doctor who wants to reanimate a man and create life. He sees himself as a human God above the spiritual one and he, it turns out, is the true monster in this tale.

 

My takeaway from this episode is that evil, monsters – real and imagined, and villains who live on the dark side of society are just as readable and fascinating as the good guys in white hats who combat them.

Watch the Great American Read every Tuesday at 8 pm on PBS and vote for your favorites anytime here.

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What do you mean I can’t read that book?!

I’ve been writing a great deal about books recently since the Great American Read has started broadcasting on PBS. I actually gave a real voice to the title of this post when I was a teenager. I’d gone to my local library and asked for a copy of Lady Chatterly’s Lover, a book I’d heard about in an advanced English class and was told the library didn’t have a copy because the book was, currently, on the banned list.

This wasn’t the 1950’s  McCarthy era, folks. This was 1977.

Until this time I never even knew a book COULD be banned from public libraries or from being sold in  commercial book stores. Since this was decades before the Internet made everything sellable ( banned or not, legal or not) I had no recourse and wasn’t able to read the book until I got to college and it was part of another advanced english course as required reading. My college, apparently,  had no problem selling it to its students in the college bookstore. In all honesty, when I finally did read it, I didn’t see what the big deal had been about. If the powers who be banned the book in an effort to try and  protect teenagers  from reading about and then having sex by not allowing them to read about mutual and consenting sex, they were doing a piss-poor job, because I’d already read a much passed around copy of The Happy Hooker as a freshman in middle school. Every kid in my class had thumbed through it- some had even underlined a few passages. As far as I know, no one who read the book grew up to become a  prostitute or had sex with an animal. That whole “letting kids have access to books like that gives them leeway to have sex” is just stupid in my opinion. Again, this was the 1970’s. We didn’t have access to internet porn; R rated  movies were enforced, and cigarettes came with warning and age labels. I wasn’t even allowed to purchase a COSMO magazine until I was 18 and could show proof of age.

Things are different now, aren’t they? Not better, just….different.

Back to the banned books, the topic of this little conversation, one sided though it is.

Censorship is a concept I have a great deal of trouble with. As an American, but more as a writer. Freedom is very precious to me – in all aspects of the word. The dictionary defines censorship thus: the suppression or prohibition of any parts of books, films, news, etc. that are considered obscene, politically unacceptable, or a threat to security.

Now, I get the threat to security argument. There is no way the general public should have – in my opinion – access to classified documents where the publishing of such could endanger lives or the security of this nation or anyone in it. That’s a given for me. No argument on my side.

But that’s were my opposition to censorship ends.

The mutual exchange of information is what makes us an elevated species. We think. We have ideas. We share those ideas with likeminded – and not likeminded – individuals via speech, in the media, and yes, in books. As far as I know, human beings are the only species on the planet with a written language. And a beautiful written language, at that. Words mean things. Words form things, like philosophies, goals, opinions, theories, conclusions. The exchange of ideas is a freedom  we have in this country, where in other countries it can be used as the reason for imprisonment or a death penalty.

To censor someone’s thoughts, feelings, and ideas from being written and shared with others because a collective body of elected officials deems them obscene, politically unacceptable or against the norm is not the definition of freedom of speech by any measure. This freedom’s a biggie, folks. It’s defined in the bedrock of our Constitution.

Again, this is just my opinion and no one has to agree with it or me. But I do have the right – morally, legally, ethically, and spiritually, to state it, write it, and share it. That’s what being an American means.

I’ll get off the proverbial soapbox now.

This past week, the American Booksellers Association celebrated their annual Banned Books Week by posting 10 of the most challenged and banned books of the year.

This is the list and you can read about the books yourself. I was very surprised at several of those that made this list.

In the past, other books that are now considered part of our great American collective and which were banned included: A Light in the Attic, Forever, by Judy Blume, Cujo by Stephen King, The Catcher in the Rye, and even something as wonderful as Charlotte’s Web was banned because reading about the death of Charlotte was considered to be too emotionally harmful and upsetting to children. The idiots that made who call completely missed the entire premise of the book.

I don’t pretend to know everything there is to know about censorship, and I’m sure the individuals who make and try to enforce the tactic think they are doing a service. Obviously, those individuals are not writers because if there is one thing I know – and know without a shadow of a doubt – writers are writers because they have stories to tell that will uplift some, enable others to lift themselves,, entertain the masses, and provoke thought and actions in others. Writers write for the joy of writing, for the happiness it brings them and others.  And in this country one of our basic tenants is the pursuit of three things one of which is happiness.

Off the soap box now and off to exercise my freedom to write.

Yu can find me here: Tweet Me//Read Me// Visit Me//Picture Me//Pin Me//Friend Me//Google+Me// Triber// BookMe

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The Great American Read

Piggybacking off of Saturday’s post, I love books.

But you know that… hee hee.

This year on PBS  a documentary about books is playing that is near and dear to my heart. It started last May with a two part episode of the 100 favorite books in America as voted upon by hundreds of thousands of people. The show is hosted by the wonderful, smart, and wickedly witty Meredith Vieira .

The premise is easy. From these 100 books listed, PBS watchers will vote on the #1 favorite book to read.

I have several favorites in the list, including, but not limited to,  these:

 

 

 

 

 

          

 

Then there a few books that I question. I won’t list all of those but I will tell you my least favorite book of all time, THE CATCHER IN THE RYE, is also on this list. Don’t judge me. I just think this book was a waste of my sophomore year in English in high school. And why in the name of all that’s holy is 50 Shades of Gray on the list???

Okay, enough ranting about the ones I don’t like.

You should view the list and see if your favs ( and not favs) made the list. Then, I recommend you watch the show and on your favorite!!! I’ve even been toying with the idea to start reading the 100 books ( even the ones I hated!) in 2019. Many of the books I’ve never read before and I think – at this advanced age (heehee) – I should broaden my reading horizons.

Just a thought for now, but I’m giving it thoughtful consideration.

 

Seriously, though…if you like to read, this is a great show to watch. Each episode digs deep into the category of books they are doing. For instance, there’s a show about debut books from first time authors like Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With The WindDid you know that was her first and only book ever published?

There’s a show all about the romance genre ( a personal fav for me!) titled WHAT WE DO FOR LOVE. It includes books like  Jane Eyre   and Pride and Prejudice.  

There’s an episode  even about the human condition that highlights books such as thePilgrim’s Progress and Siddhartha.

One of my favorite episodes is the one on friendship. It features The Adventures of Tom Sawyer,  A Separate Peace and  Charlotte’s Web,

Again, this is a great series to watch if you love books, love to read, or are just trying find out a little more about the authors and why they wrote the books they did.

So, if you’re looking for a change from all the negative stuff on commercial television nowadays, this is a really nice way to spend a few hours. You won’t only be entertained, but you’ll learn something along the way as well. Make it a family watch and gather up the kids, grab some popcorn, watch and DISCUSS the books with one another!

Reading and the Great America Read. They’re good things.

When I’m not watching TV or reading you can find me here:Tweet Me//Read Me// Visit Me//Picture Me//Pin Me//Friend Me//Google+Me// Triber// BookMe

 

 

 

 

 

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7 books challenge….

I’ve been doing one of those Facebook challenges this week where every day you post a book cover of one of your favorite all time books and no explanation of why it’s a fav.

So, these are the ones I’ve put up:

 

This is a pretty eclectic bunch of reads, no? All of these books MEANT something to me and changed me in some way.

Books: they’re a good thing!

Upload covers, or tell me, some of the books that have influenced you the most over your life. I love to hear how books have challenged people and changed them.

When I’m not reading you can find me here:Tweet Me//Read Me// Visit Me//Picture Me//Pin Me//Friend Me//Google+Me// Triber// BookMe

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